Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Recharge Your Brain!

Our brains are truly amazing, and plays a vital role in our thoughts, actions, and regulating our bodies.  Optimal brain health is critical throughout life and there are many things we can do to support this.

Healthy lifestyle choices are important including things like exercise, healthy nutrition, and even “brain games” like luminosity, crossword puzzles, or chess. Beyond these, there are many vitamins, herbs, and other nutrients that help support brain health and also prevent cognitive decline as we age. 

Nutrition is so important!  The foods I recommend to include in a daily diet to support brain health include: Coconut oil/MCT oil, Spirulina, Raw/unsalted nuts and seeds, Avacado, green tea, and blueberries.

Some of my favorite brain boosting supplements and herbs are:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
            * Polyunsaturated fat high in fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, and algae (like spirulina).  We cannot make omega 3’s and must obtain it from our diet.  The EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) and DHA (decosahexanoic acid) are the active components of omega-3’s.  When choosing a supplement you want to look for a high EPA & DHA content. 
            What does it do?
            * DHA is particular is essential for brain function, especially in the developing brains of children.
            * EPA modulates inflammation, regulates mood and behavior and is important in cardiovascular health
            * Research in depression, and mood disorders has found improvements in patients supplementing with Omega-3 fatty acids
            How to get it? 
            Foods like: spirulina, algaes, nuts/seeds (chia, flax, walnut), fish
            Supplement:  Flaxseed oil, Omega-3 fish oils or Cod liver oil, Krill oil.
            *Caution if you are on blood thinning medication as omega-3’s can further thin the blood.

Vitamin B-12
            * A water soluble vitamin found mainly in meats and fish.
            What does it do?
            *Vital in the production and maintenance of nerves, cell growth and function.
            * B-12 can be difficult to absorb from the diet, or low in vegan/vegetarian diets as such deficiency is quite common.
            How to get it?
            *Food: meat, fish, and spirulina all contain B12
            * Supplements: sublingual or chewable B12 is better absorbed than supplements
            * Injections:  The best and most absorbable way to increase B12 levels is through injections.  These can be administered by your naturopathic Doctor on a weekly basis, as needed. 

            * 5-Hydroxytryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, a brain chemical important in regulation of moods, sleep, headaches and fibromyalgia.
            How to get it? 
            * Supplement:  L-Tryptophan, Griffonia, and 5-HTP are all options to increase serotonin.
            * Caution if you are taking any mood medications including SSRI’s, & MAOI’s.  

Gotu Kola
            What does it do?
            * Has been shown to slow cognitive decline in elderly and middle aged patients.  Reduces the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain, increases GABA production, and acts as a brain antioxidant.
            How to get it?
            *Found in supplement, tea, and tincture form.

Ginkgo Biloba
            What does it do?
            * Preventative and protective against ischemia induced cerebral and cardiovascular tissue damage.  An effective vasodilator and and reduces blood viscosity. 
            * Has been shown to improve concentration and memory.
            How to get it?
            *Found in supplement, tea, and tincture form.

            *Caution if you are on blood thinners or have history of stroke.

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