Daily Archives: July 12, 2018

Brain Nutrients – Food for Thought

FoodForThoughtJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

While we primarily conceive of nutrition in terms of energy production and support for building and repair processes, throughout history, many cultures have traditionally used plant foods and spices as a means for prevention and protection against disease. In modern times, the ability of dietary factors to influence brain health are only now beginning to be recognized. Over the last decade, research has provided evidence that dietary components may influence mechanisms and molecular systems that maintain mental function, more specifically synaptic plasticity. Synapses or junctions, where virtually all important brain activity emerges, effectively control neuronal communication. Plasticity is the ability of the brain to adapt to new information; synaptic plasticity is the brain’s ability to strengthen or weaken the synaptic function as a result of learning. For example, repeating song lyrics strengthens the related connections in the brain that make it possible to easily recall the words.

A sharp mind and memory formation depend on the vitality of the brain’s network of interconnecting neurons. Research has established that synaptic activity, including synapse-specific modifications of synaptic strength, plays a vital role in learning and memory. The ability to learn and remember, as well as other mental and emotional processes, can be influenced by  factors such as stress, lack of stimulation or neurotoxins that may cause synapse dysfunction. A balanced diet, adequate amounts of physical activity, proper sleep, and healthy environmental interaction appear to have the potential to alter brain heath and mental function. Nutrients that influence cognition act on the necessary cellular processes for the maintenance of brain health. Encouraging results of clinical and preclinical studies raise the possibility that dietary interventions may be a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities, protecting the brain from damage, promoting repair, and counteracting the effects of aging.

Adults of all ages looking to preserve brain heath and function throughout their lifespan, should consider following a healthy lifestyle to help protect and strengthen the synapses that keep minds active and alert. Lifestyle tips for healthy brain function include stress reduction and relaxation techniques, brain stimulation though demanding intellectual tasks, cardiovascular exercise to oxygenate the brain, adequate sleep, not smoking, taking alcohol in moderation and eating a nutritious diet that includes brain supportive nutrients. Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), select nutrients have the capacity to affect neural pathways associated with synaptic plasticity that positively affects cognitive function. These dietary components have been identified as having effects on membrane fluidity, the regulation of neurotransmitter pathways, synaptic transmission and signal-transduction pathways.

DHA Omega-3 essential fatty acids, specifically DHA, are normal constituents of cell membranes and are essential for normal brain function. Dietary consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is one of the best-studied correlations between food and brain evolution. As the human body is not efficient at synthesizing DHA, we are largely dependent on dietary sources, such as oily fish, shellfish and algae. Dietary deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids has been associated with increased risk of mental health disorders, including dementia and depression. DHA may enhance cognitive abilities by facilitating synaptic plasticity, or through its positive effects on metabolism, glucose utilization, and mitochondrial function.

Turmeric/Curcumin – Studies suggest that curcumin has bioactive antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuro-protective effects. Population studies have shown that those who regularly consume curcuminoids as part of their traditional cuisine, such as in India and Asia, scored significantly better on cognitive function tests. Chronic low-grade inflammation plays a major role in many degenerative conditions. Curcumin’s strong anti-inflammatory properties may inhibit inflammation at the molecular level to help prevent or fight chronic inflammation. Curcumin may also boost levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which supports synaptic plasticity and cognitive function, as well as the survival of existing neurons and the differentiation of new neurons.

Flavonoids – Flavonoids, phytochemicals found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, have been identified as promising bioactive compounds capable of influencing certain aspects of brain function, including cerebrovascular blood flow, and synaptic plasticity and strengthening. Dietary flavonoids are believed to have the potential to protect against neurotoxin damage, suppress neuroinflammation, and promote memory, learning and cognitive function.

B vitamins – Per the NIH, B complex vitamins are absolutely essential for every aspect of brain function. These synergistic micronutrients work at a cellular level to support energy production, healthy mood and cognitive performance, as well as DNA/RNA synthesis and repair, and the synthesis of numerous neurochemicals and signaling molecules.

CoQ10/Ubiquinol – Found in virtually all cell membranes, CoQ10 (ubiquinone) is a powerful antioxidant and a vital participant in oxygen utilization and cellular energy production. By aiding energy production and protecting organ cells from oxidative stress and free radical damage, CoQ10 supports the overall health of all bodily cells, organs and tissues. Animal studies have shown that oral administration of CoQ10 can exert neuroprotective effects that may prove useful in the future treatment of neurodegenerative disease.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality supplements in support of brain and overall health:

ProDHA 1000 mg...ProDHA 1000 mg Strawberry by Nordic Naturals®: This high potency formula offers research- backed benefits for brain, eye, and nervous system health, as well as emotional wellbeing. Sourced from purified deep sea fish oil. Natural strawberry flavor. Naturally preserved with rosemary extract and d-alpha tocopherol. Gluten free, no artificial ingredients, Non-GMO verified.

Ubiquinol-QH 100 mgUbiquinol-QH 100 mg by Pure Encapsulations®: This product provides Kaneka QH™, a readily absorbable, active antioxidant form of CoQ10, in support of cellular energy production, cardiovascular health and free radical protection. Gluten free, hypoallergenic, Non-GMO formulation.

Curcumin 500 with...Curcumin 500 with Bioperine by Pure Encapsulations®: This product supplies 500 mg of turmeric standardized to contain 95% curcuminoids in support of a healthy inflammatory response, cellular health, and healthy liver, colon and musculoskeletal function. Bioperine® is added for enhanced bioavailability and absorption. Gluten free, hypoallergenic, Non-GMO vegan formulation.

FlavonALLFlavonAll by Douglas Laboratories®: This broad-spectrum flavonoid-based supplement delivers eight of the most concentrated and well-researched standardized plant extracts highly regarded for their beneficial antioxidant properties. Ingredients include Pycnogenol®, as well as grape seed, bilberry, and milk thistle extracts. Soy free, vegan formulation.

Active B-ComplexActive B-Complex by Integrative Therapeutics®: This product provides the full complement of bioavailable B vitamins in support of numerous biochemical processes and overall healthy function. Gluten, wheat, dairy, soy and artificial ingredient free, vegetarian formulation.

References:
Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/
Boost your memory by eating right. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/boost-your-memory-by-eating-right
Nutrients for a Sharp Memory. http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/1217p24.shtml
4 Types of Foods to Help Boost Your Memory. https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/healthy-aging/memory-boosting-foods
Do Memory Problems Always Mean Alzheimer’s Disease? https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/do-memory-problems-always-mean-alzheimers-disease
The synaptic plasticity and memory hypothesis: encoding, storage and persistence. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3843897/
10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric
Flavonoids and brain health: multiple effects underpinned by common mechanisms. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2775888/
Coenzyme Q10 administration increases brain mitochondrial concentrations and exerts neuroprotective effects. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC21173/