Natural Brain Boosters
Summer holidays are long-gone and you’re now gearing up for the holiday season. By now you should be back into the groove of things. For kids and adults alike, this time of year can come with challenges and with the winter holiday finish line on the horizon, it may be time to give yourself a brain boost to ensure you have the endurance necessary to get there in one piece. Other than sleeping well, eating healthier, exercising and reducing psychological stress. What else can you do? The good news is there are many remedies to gently support cognitive health and focus.
We get it — life can be fast-paced, so it’s not always possible to eat perfectly no matter how hard you try. A multivitamin has you covered; it will supply your brain with the mineral and vitamin components it needs to stay alert, focused and energetic, especially on the days your food intake lacks in quality. B12 for example has been shown in some studies to improve memory especially if the concentration of B12 in your blood is low or deficient.
Vitamin D deficiency is another concern for people who live in northern latitudes and unfortunately a deficiency in this nutrient is also associated with cognitive impairment and decline. Although some foods such as dairy and juice are fortified with vitamin D, it doesn’t seem to be enough. A good multivitamin will contain vitamin D; however, you may also wish to take it as a separate supplement.
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If you regularly drink tea you are experiencing the brain boosting effects of L-theanine. In fact, L-theanine is what gives green tea the umami or rich flavor it has. L-theanine is an amino acid that promotes relaxation by influencing your brain’s chemistry. It promotes a calm mood and good quality restorative sleep, an important determinant of health. In human and animal studies, L-theanine has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety while improving cognitive function. It’s available as a supplement, however you can also just drink green tea which has a host of other beneficial health effects.
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The Ginkgo biloba tree is one of the oldest species of tree found in the world with an average lifespan of 1,000 years or more. Also known as the maidenhair tree, Ginkgo biloba has been shown to increase circulation, especially to the extremities, including the brain. When taken regularly, Ginkgo may help stave off Alzheimer’s related dementia and improve mood and memory in the older population. A 2011 study from the journal Evidenced-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine was able to demonstrate that an extract of Ginkgo biloba improved working memory in elderly participants after 14 days of administration.
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Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Your brain is fat — well, actually 60% fat in composition to be exact. Polyunsaturated, omega-3 fatty acids are the main fats in the brain that form a protective barrier for your nerve cells and help speed the transmission of nerve impulses. The Mediterranean diet is one of the most beneficial diets to follow with respect to prevention of age-related dementia and memory loss. Along with limiting red meat and eating a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, it is also recommended to eat at least one serving of fish each week. Supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids may also be beneficial in preventing memory loss.
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Rosemary Essential Oil
You may associate the herb Rosemary with roasted potatoes or turkey stuffing. Rosemary or Rosemarinus officinalis is a perennial herb found in the Mediterranean region and the aroma of this herb can possibly boost your memory and mood. In a study found in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, healthy volunteers were asked to perform subtraction and visual information processing tasks in a cubicle diffused with the scent of Rosemary essential oil. The researchers found that performance on cognitive tasks was significantly related to the concentration of the active ingredient 1,8 cineole absorbed through inhalation. The higher the concentration of this active constituent, the better the performance on these tasks.
Rosemary oil can be added to a diffuser and used while you’re studying. You can also try adding it to more of your meals if you enjoy the flavor and you don’t have to wait for thanksgiving to do so.
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Although the brain experiences change that can affect mental function as you age, brain health and cognitive function can also be a concern for anyone, young or older, who must focus on tasks for work or school. This fall and winter consider what you are doing to support your brain health. Regular exercise, sleep and healthy plant-based eating creates a solid foundation for brain health. Try reducing stress your as much as possible and then consider supplements that may add a beneficial boost.