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Proper Nutrients for Healthy Brain Aging

BrainDiet1Jacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Along with a growing aged population comes the desire to preserve healthy cognitive function throughout one’s lifespan. An interdisciplinary field of research known as nutritional cognitive neuroscience investigates the impact of nutrition on cognition and brain health with aging. This research demonstrates that many aspects of nutrition, from entire diets to specific nutrients, can affect brain structure and function. Emerging evidence indicates that optimal nutrition may potentially preserve cognitive function, slow aging progression and reduce the incidence of debilitating diseases in healthy aging populations. Recent advances in the study of the beneficial effects of plasma levels of nutrient biomarkers on the aging brain aim to establish effective nutritional interventions to promote healthy brain aging.

Biomarkers provide measures of nutritional status of bioactive chemicals in foods, which can indicate a healthy level of nutrients, as well as nutrient deficiencies. Epidemiological studies have identified approximately 100 biomarkers that correlate with dietary intake, such as vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, polyphenols, fatty acids, amino acids, metabolites and enzymes. These biomarkers can be used to estimate the intake of a wide range of dietary components, including overall fruit and vegetable intake, whole grains, salmon, red meat, tea and wine, as well as food additives and contaminants.

In one study, reported in the March 2019 edition of Neurolmage, scientists at the University of Illinois examined 32 key nutrients present in significant amounts in the Mediterranean diet. Shown in previous studies to provide nutrients that confer protective effects on brain health, the Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, whole grains, olive oil and seafood and limits red meat and sweets. The study linked higher blood levels of several key nutrients with more efficient brain connectivity and enhanced performance on cognitive tests, supporting previous research that linked better brain function in older adults who most closely followed a Mediterranean style diet.

Multiple studies have shown that adherence to the Mediterranean diet lowers the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), as well as reduces the likelihood of progression from MCI to dementia. The University of Illinois study applied a rigorous approach to the study of diet and brain health. As opposed to relying on food intake surveys, researchers used MRI high resolution brain imaging to evaluate brain network efficiency in addition to measured blood levels of nutrients and cognitive function tests. Per leading researcher Aron Barbey, U. of I. psychology professor in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, “Functional MRI’s can indicate the efficiency of individual brain networks, which has to do with how information is communicated within the network.”

Researchers looked at local efficiency, or how well information is shared within spatially  confined brain regions, as well as global efficiency, the number of steps required to transfer information from one region to any other region in the network. Different nutrient patterns appeared to moderate the efficiency in different brain networks. The study suggests that diet and nutrition moderate the association between network efficiency and cognitive performance. The researchers found what they termed “robust” links between five nutrient biomarker patterns and better results on memory, general intelligence, and executive function tests. Nutrients in the biomarker patterns include antioxidants, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, lycopene, carotenoids, riboflavin (vitamin B2), folate (vitamin B9), vitamin B12 and vitamin D, which all appeared to work synergistically.

The U. of I. study has highlighted the potential impact of nutritional factors and individual micronutrients on brain and cognitive performance, particularly in the older population. Of particular interest are the B vitamins, folate, B12 and B6, as mild deficiencies in these vitamins are relatively common in older adults. Studies have provided evidence of an association between these B vitamins and many aspects of cognitive performance, especially in seniors. Evidence continues to mount that higher intakes and serum concentrations of folate, B6 and B12 may influence cognitive performance, as well as neurological and physiological function.

The growing and promising field of nutritional cognitive neuroscience will continue to advance our understanding of the beneficial effects of nutrition on aging brain health. Ultimately, nutritional therapies will be developed to support targeted treatment of cognitive and neurological impairments in the aging brain. In the meantime, preliminary evidence indicates the effectiveness of supplementation in enhancing cognitive performance in older adults. Along with the Mediterranean diet, regular exercise and healthy sleep, therapeutic nutritional supplements may play a protective role in brain health and have a positive impact on cognitive performance, mood and wellbeing as we enter our golden years.

Professional Supplement Center offers unique and effective quality formulations in support of brain and whole body heath and function:

Synergistic Brain...Synergistic Brain Health by Diamond Formulations: This product is specifically formulated with well-researched therapeutic nutrients that work collectively to support long-term brain health and function. Key ingredients with potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties optimize cellular energy production, reduce oxidative stress, enhance neurotoxin detoxification and promote the production and communication of brain neurotransmitters in support of the maintenance of healthy cognitive function. Free of wheat, yeast, soy, gluten, animal and dairy products, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and artificial colors, sweeteners and preservatives. Non-GMO formulation.

Comprehensive...Comprehensive Nutritional Panel by Spectracell Laboratories: This micronutrient test kit offers an accurate, scientifically proven method of assessing nutritional deficiencies. This test  measures 35 nutritional components, including vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, antioxidants, and metabolites. Test kit, shipping labels and a complimentary post-test in-person or telephone consultation with our Registered Nurse to discuss test results is included.

Cognizin Citicoline...Cognizin® Citicoline 250 mg by Healthy Origins®: This formula provides clinically studied nutrients that provide antioxidant defense, stimulate neuronal communication and support healthy cognition. Free of starch, wheat, gluten, corn, soy, barley, fish, shellfish, nuts, tree nuts, eggs and dairy. Non-GMO formulation.

Vital Brain Natural...Vital Brain Powder™ by Vital Nutrients: This lemon flavored powdered formula provides powerful nutrients that support mental performance, healthy cognitive function, healthy mood and brain wellness. Free of wheat, barley and rye gluten, casein, whey, eggs and sugar. Contains soy.

CogniAidCogniAid™ by Designs for Health®: This herbal extract formula is designed to help support heathy mood and cognition by supporting the maintenance of neurotransmitters, neuronal health and healthy nerve impulse transmission. Featured ingredients include a wild blueberry complex, green tea extract and bacopa monnieri. Gluten free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

Nutritional Cognitive Neuroscience: Innovations for Healthy Brain Aging. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4893495/
Nutrients in Blood Linked to Better Cognition and Brain Connectivity in Older Adults. https://neurosciencenews.com/aging-blood-cognition-nutrients-10385/
Study links nutrient patterns in blood to better brain connectivity, cognition in older adults. https://news.illinois.edu/view/6367/730014
B Vitamins, Cognition, and Aging: A Review. https://academic.oup.com/psychsocgerontology/article/56/6/P327/610645
Does the Mediterranean Diet Impact Brain Health and Memory? https://www.verywellhealth.com/mediterranean-diet-brain-health-98428

Have You Fed Your Brain Today?

Feed_BrainJacquieIconBy Jacquie Eubanks

Looking to boost your brainpower or preserve your memories? You may want to start with nutrition and hydration. Nutrition plays a critical role in both long and short term brain health. The brain is composed of 100 billion brain cells, called neurons, that require a steady diet of good healthy fats, protein, complex carbohydrates and micronutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. While many know we need to drink water regularly throughout the day to stay hydrated, some may not realize that water is essential to optimal brain health and function and that even mild dehydration has a negative effect on brain performance. In short, our bodies need healthy nutrition and a good amount of water daily for optimal function. Unhealthy food choices can damage the brain and the body, and can cause every organ and cell of the body to work harder to maintain physical and mental functioning.

The better you feed your brain, the easier it is for your body to support elevated brain function and stabilize blood sugar and energy levels. Ideally, one should start with a nutritious diet at a young age and continue throughout life to get the most therapeutic benefit, but now is as good a time as any to change your diet to positively influence your long term health. In fact, studies of women who followed a healthy diet during middle age showed that they were 40% more likely to live well into their 70’s without chronic illness and physical and mental health challenges. It’s safe to say, we would all want to maintain our mental edge well into our golden years.

Growing research suggests that eating a healthy diet, such as the traditional Mediterranean diet, can help boost our cognitive function and may help to prevent age-related brain atrophy, thereby reducing the risks of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The Mediterranean diet incorporates low amounts of dairy and meats and high amounts of healthy fish, plus fruits, veggies, olive oils, legumes, whole grain complex carbs, nuts and, of course, a nice glass or two of red wine. On the other hand, the standard American diet is composed largely of unhealthy fats, processed foods, added sugars, simple carbs, unlimited amounts of meat and low amounts of fruits and vegetables, which does not support a healthy, nutritious diet or a healthy brain.  

Why is the Mediterranean eating plan so powerful for physical and mental health?

  • The diet helps to lower inflammation and oxidative stress, underlying causes of age- related chronic diseases and cognitive loss.
  • The high fiber grains, fruits and vegetables help to slow digestion and improve glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, while providing antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals.
  • Diets high in antioxidants may improve memory by fighting the free radicals that can damage brain neurons.
  • Fish provides essential fatty acids, so important for maintaining normal cognitive functions, mental clarity, concentration and focus.
  • Dairy products provide vitamin D, which aids the growth of new neurons, supports memory functions and improves mood. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to poor memory and cognitive function.
  • Nutrient-rich complex carbs provide glucose, the brain’s principal source of fuel. Complex carbs are the body’s main source of energy and help keep blood sugar levels stable, while elevating brain function. Simple carbs have no nutritive value and cause blood sugar to spike rapidly, followed all too soon by a crash that can leave you feeling depleted of energy.
  • The diet contains natural sugar not added sugars. Natural sugar found in complex carbs breaks down slowly to provide longer lasting energy. Excessive glucose in the form of added sugar can increase free radical inflammatory stress on the brain and can be detrimental to brain functions, such as attention span, short-term memory and mood stability.

If changing your diet could slash your risk of developing cognitive decline and neurogenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s, would you do it? A study recently published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, found that following a combination of the Mediterranean and the Dash diet, appropriately named the MIND diet, can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 53% in those who closely follow the diet. The study showed that even those who follow the diet moderately well can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by about 35%.

Very similar in content to the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet is aimed at preventing high blood pressure and is highly recommended by the National Institutes of Health and The American Heart Association. The diets are similar in nature and either is considered a top nutrition plan for heart and brain health and function, as both diets are nutrient and vitamin rich and high in fiber. The Mediterranean diet is slightly richer in heart and brain healthy fats and omega-3’s, while the Dash diet is lower in sodium and fats.  

Whichever way you choose to go, the combination of moderate daily exercise and a brain and heart healthy diet plan can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke and offer favorable protection against the risks of developing Alzheimer’s. While a number of factors may contribute to cognitive decline, including genetics, environment and lifestyle, good nutrition is now believed to be a very effective prevention measure.

Vitamins and minerals that boost brain power include antioxidant vitamins C and E, B complex vitamins, which support neurotransmitter production and help to preserve brain function and mental acuity, and magnesium, which helps to protect the brain against neurotoxins.

Professional Supplement Center offers these and other great products that support healthy brain function:

Cognitive Rx
Cognitive Rx™ by Complimed – This very comprehensive anti-aging brain health formula provides nutritive support for healthy mental function and memory, as well as antioxidant support for brain and nerve tissue. Gluten and dairy free vegetarian formulation.

Super Lion's ManeSuper Lion’s Mane by Mushroom Wisdom – Long used in Traditional Chinese medicine to promote immune and digestive health, Lion’s Mane has been shown to inhibit the formation of toxic peptide in brain cells and stimulate the synthesis of nerve growth factor (NGF), which may protect nerves in the brain and body from age-related deterioration. Wheat, soy and dairy free formula.

Vital Brain Powder
Vital Brain Powder by Vital Nutrients – This product supports brain health and vitality and cognitive function, including mental focus, memory, concentration, positive outlook and overall brain wellness. Gluten and dairy free. Contains soy.


ProDHA 1000 mg StrawberryPro DHA™ 1000 mg Strawberry by Nordic Naturals – This pure, high potency formula promotes neurological health and supports healthy mood, memory and cognitive function. Sourced from purified deep sea fish oil and third party tested for toxins or contaminants. Gluten and dairy free, Non-GMO formulation.

Adopt a Mediterranean diet now for better health later. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/adopt-a-mediterranean-diet-now-for-better-health-later-201311066846
New MIND diet may significantly protect against Alzheimer’s disease. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-03-mind-diet-significantly-alzheimer-disease.html
Mediterranean Diet Linked to Larger Brain Volume.
Have You Fed Your Brain Today?
Healthy Brain for Life.
Mediterranean Diet for all.