Nutrients To Enhance Brain Functioning
As older adults will soon become the largest segment of our population, there will be a proportional rise in age-related illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. What does this have to do with memory loss? Well, poor blood circulation in cardiovascular disease means that there’s a problem getting enough blood to the brain, in general, which means that the brain isn’t able to obtain maximal amounts of energy. And diabetes means that there’s a problem getting the brain’s main energy source, glucose, into brain cells. Studies have shown that nutritional deficiencies are linked to cognitive decline. Eating foods that contain these micronutrients, as well as taking supplements, replenish the low levels of necessary vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients and help to support and maintain adequate levels of important nutrients in your body.
However, standard supplements sometimes offer limited support in raising the level of your nutrients, especially if you’re already deficient. Also, various factors can affect whether you’re receiving adequate amounts of a nutrient: efficient transfer of the supplement from your gut to the appropriate tissues (in this case, your brain) and rate of absorbability of the nutrient.
Here are some of the most effective nutrients that I recommend to my patients. More are explained in my new book, The Gene Therapy Plan.
Rhodiola and Other Herbs
Memory loss or amnesia refers to increasing forgetfulness that may or may not be accompanied by an inability to recall past events. Memory loss can be either age-related or the result of brain injury or disease. Its cause will determine whether it’s short–term or long–term. Signs of memory loss can be sudden or gradual, reversible or irreversible. Simply getting older without any disease contributing to cognitive deficits will not result in significant memory loss. However, alcohol, medications, drugs, injury, and diseases are just some of the various causes of noticeable memory loss.
Rhodiola is a root from an arctic plant that helps the body manage stress. Research has shown that rhodiola decreases anxiety, depression, and fatigue. It has also been shown to improve cognitive decline in humans, as well as support memory and brain function in animal studies. In conjunction with rhodiola, I combine three additional herbs: Eleutherococcus, Huperzia and Schisandra. The main active ingredient in Huperzia, which comes from Chinese club moss, is huperzine H, a neuroprotective compound which protects the brain from the formation of amyloid, a plaque-like substance called beta-amyloid that causes memory loss and cognitive decline. Studies have shown that huperzine H reverses memory loss and agitation in people with senile dementia.
In the age when misplacing your car keys may indicate the greater underlying problem of early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, there are simple measures that you can take to strengthen your memory skills. For instance, memory supplements are wonderful brain boosters: Various studies of ginkgo biloba have been shown to improve memory in the same degree as prescription drugs. Although studies do not demonstrate that ginkgo biloba is prophylactic against dementia, they do show that it helps improve conditions in those who already have dementia.
Ashwagandha is an ayurvedic herb that has been used for centuries. It’ll provide you with a jolt of energy. It also provides adrenal support, which is good for controlling cortisol, a stress hormone. It’s been shown to suppress cancer, and animal studies show that Ashwagandha improves brain function in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that’s involved with memory.
Must-Have Memory Boosters
My therapeutic recommendation to all my patients who wish to improve their memory is the following:
- PQQ 20 mg daily
- Bacopa monniera extract 500 mg twice daily
- CoQ10 200 mg daily
- Carnosine 500 mg daily
- Krill oil 1000 mg daily
Vitamin C: Improves Mood And Memory
A series of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials found that herbs and nutrients play a beneficial role in improving mood and memory. One of the supplements used in the series of trials was a plant extract containing a flavonoid called Enzogenol® Pinus Radiata bark extract; it was administered with or without vitamin C to a small pool of older adult men. Greater improvements in cognition were demonstrated in the vitamin C-supplemented group.
Omega-3 Fats Treat Memory Loss
Your brain responds to bioactive nutrients. Research reveals that omega-3 fat sources such as cold-water fish and oils lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Diets high in saturated fat are associated with memory loss, whereas diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., wild salmon, trout) reduce this risk. An abundance of ecogenetic foods will prevent and treat memory loss, including the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil, fish, fruits, vegetables, and nuts (all foods that will significantly reduce age-related dementia). In the Journal of Neurology, researchers reported that older adults who consumed a diet that was rich in vitamins B, C, D, E, and omega-3 fatty acids scored better on cognitive tests and had less brain shrinkage (obtained through radiologic imaging that was associated with Alzheimer’s disease). Researchers measured 30 nutrient biomarkers and found that vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids were the ones most consistently linked to brain health.
Limit Butter and Red Meat
Butter and red meat are some of the foods that contribute to heart disease and obesity because they are high in saturated fats. A study reports that a diet rich in saturated fats also contributes to poor cognitive functioning. Instead, opt for foods that contain unsaturated fats that are healthier for you such as avocados. Avocados have a high monounsaturated fat content, which doesn’t clog your arteries. But they are a high-calorie food, so try adding a quarter of a slice of avocado to your meal twice a week. Avocados also reduce blood pressure, another benefit because hypertension raises the risk of cognitive deficits.
Grapes/Grape Juice/Fish Oil To Control Inflammation
Controlling inflammation is key to preventing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Polyphenolic substances contained in foods such as grapes have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that protect brain health. One study showed that Concord grape juice helps to reduce dementia and improve cognition in older adults. Concord grapes contain polyphenolic substances known as anthocyanins. Studies show that anthocyanins can cross over into brain tissue (the blood-brain barrier is semipermeable and allows only selective materials access) and are found in areas of the brain that are associated with regulating cognition.
Cognitive decline due to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s is linked to inflammatory molecules that cause damage in the brain. Pro-resolution molecules play a crucial role in blocking these neuronal inflammatory molecules and preventing neurodegenerative damage that is associated with memory loss. Data shows that supplementing with omega-3s in patients with early, mild Alzheimer’s disease slowed down their cognitive decline as measured by the Mini-Mental Status Exam.
People with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), an age-related cognitive decline, experienced improvements in memory, learning, and attention when taking 900 mg of DHA supplements. Also, Parkinson’s disease patients with depression experienced reduction in depressive symptoms after supplementing their diet with fish oil for 12 weeks. Another study showed that DHA (supplements) help to improve cognition, as well as learning, memory, and verbal fluency among older women with or without cognitive impairment.
Resveratrol Powers Up The Brain
There’s nothing to “wine” about when it comes to resveratrol. Resveratrol is found in foods such as grapes, wine, and blueberries. Blueberries have been shown to protect the brain from free radical damage, which is a risk factor for developing cognitive problems such as Alzheimer’s disease. I recommend eating a cup of blueberries daily to keep your mental faculties intact. Some additional studies supporting the healthful benefits of resveratrol-containing foods:
Scientists found that resveratrol found in wine and grapes helps to lower the risk of cognitive decline in mice; resveratrol appeared to increase insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), which is involved in the production of new blood vessels and nerve cells in the hippocampus—a part of the brain that controls the formation of memories, particularly long-term memories.
It’s clear that the health benefits of resveratrol are plentiful—it bolsters cardiovascular health, blood glucose levels, and even cognition. However, another resveratrol-like compound called pterostilbene is emerging as a nutrient that has been shown to possess a greater ability than resveratrol in improving many health conditions. Resveratrol and pterostilbene were administered to mice that had been genetically engineered to exhibit symptoms that replicate age-associated cognitive decline. Researchers reported that pterostilbene dramatically improved cognition, as opposed to resveratrol. They accounted for the differences based on the chemical structure of these two compounds—pterostilbene is more lipophilic (it has a greater ability to combine with or dissolve in lipids or fats) than resveratrol.
Pterostilbene Preserves Cognition
Pterostilbene, an herbal supplement, is emerging as a nutrient that has been shown to possess a greater ability than resveratrol in improving many health conditions. Resveratrol and pterostilbene were administered to mice that had been genetically engineered to exhibit symptoms that replicate age-associated cognitive decline. Result: Pterostilbene dramatically improved cognition, as opposed to resveratrol.
Our brain has a specialized barrier that permits specific substances to enter it from the bloodstream; however, highly lipophilic substances like pterostilbene cross the blood-brain-barrier unhindered. This is good news for preserving cognition and preventing dementia. While the researchers have yet to apply their findings in human studies, the results of their research demonstrate the prospective health benefits of pterostilbene, which has also been shown to work on a genetic level by increasing the number of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα). PPARα is important in regulating various processes in the body such as energy homeostasis, nutrient metabolism, immunity, and inflammation.
Vitamin E & Nuts: Antioxidant Powerhouses
You can’t read about cognition and memory without coming across information on vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that protects the brain and other tissues in the body from free radical damage. Studies have shown that vitamin E helps to minimize cognitive decline as you age. How can you add more vitamin E in your diet? Besides going to your local drugstore and getting vitamin E, you can choose to eat nuts and seeds, which are loaded with it. Try almonds, cashews, flaxseeds, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, and walnuts, and to limit your sodium intake, go for the unsalted kind.
Almonds are packed with antioxidants, and are a great source of fiber and protein (helps with fullness and digestion). Eating six almonds daily as a snack will help you maintain a good weight, boost your heart health, and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Walnuts contain alpha-linoleic acids, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidant-like polyphenols. This ecogenetic food fights off free radicals and prevents the wreckage from proinflammatory compounds. Including walnuts in your diet is easy: Toss a couple in your salad or eat them alone. Either way, you’re bound to improve brain health. A study that explored the health benefits of tree nuts—walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and pecans—found that tree nuts are important in the prevention of age-related brain dysfunction. Due to their salubrious compounds such as flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, phenolic acids, omega-3 and omega-6 fats, folate, vitamin E, and fiber, tree nuts can lower free radical damage, block proinflammatory compounds, and improve cognition.
Add Herbal Supplements for Healthy Aging
I hope that you will not be overwhelmed by the abundance of supplements that can lessen many of the health effects of aging. Check with your own health care professional before taking any supplement and follow the guidelines in my new book, The Gene Therapy Plan, which continues to be a Top Seller in Amazon’s listings. Remember, all of my recommendations enhance the functioning of your DNA, and you will be amazed by the differences they can make in your life. I can also tell you that expressions of gratitude—to others and from others—is a sure boost to health. I’ve felt it, firsthand, in my recent appearances for my new book. Now, it is my turn to say thank you. Thank you for being a part of our Genechanger Revolution.