Monthly Archives: March 2018

brain

National Brain Health Week: Smart Foods and Supplements

This week is Global Brain Awareness Week, a campaign which promotes awareness of brain health and research.

While many of us know about the link between fish oil and brain health, there are a number of other nutrients which have been shown to support the brain, improving memory and focus, and protecting against age-related cognitive decline.

Read on for some valuable ‘brain boosting’ foods to add to your weekly shopping list, and some useful ideas to incorporate them simply and easily into your everyday meals and snacks.

1. Breakfast Brain Booster: Supergreens

A recent study on brain health and nutrition conducted at Rushmore University Medical Center found a ‘protective benefit from just one serving per day of green leafy vegetables’ (1). Leafy greens such as kale, romaine lettuce and spinach are a rich source of vitamin K, believed to slow brain ageing and improve memory and cognitive abilities.

Add a handful of kale into your fruit smoothie each morning, or stir spinach into your scrambled eggs. Supergreens powders – leafy greens in concentrated form – are also easy to add to smoothies or stir into porridge.

2. Smart Snacking: Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate boosts mood, focus and alertness, making it a guilt-free snack. Just a couple of squares of dark chocolate supplies enough potent flavonols to boost the brain’s supply of oxygen, enhancing brain function for around two hours (2).

Try a couple of squares of good quality dark chocolate, a cup of cocoa or a handful of raw cacao nibs mid-morning, to keep you alert until lunchtime.

3. Lunchtime: Brain Boosting Beetroot

Dietary nitrates, such as those naturally present in beetroot, boost blood flow to the brain. An optimum supply of blood and oxygen to the brain is essential for mental alertness and cognitive function. A recent study confirmed these benefits, showing that older adults displayed brain patterns and activity similar to much younger adults after a daily shot of Beet-It beetroot juice and a brisk walk (3).

Try a beetroot and goat’s cheese salad for lunch, or add nitrate-rich rocket and raw grated carrot to sandwiches and wraps. A shot of beetroot juice is another great way to boost your dietary nitrates after lunch. Follow with a brisk walk to boost the flow of oxygen to the brain and keep your brain sharp throughout the afternoon.

4. Dinner: Black and Blue Brain Boosters

Anthocyanins – touted as being the most valuable plant pigment for brain health – help to repair and protect brain cells. These powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients are found in very dark coloured plant foods such as black beans, black rice, aubergines, blueberries and blackberries.

Studies have found that these blue-black foods rich in anthocyanins improve brain signalling, which has a positive effect on learning and short-term memory (4).

Try a bean chilli for dinner, using brain-boosting kidney beans and black beans. Use anthocyanin-rich black rice instead of white or brown rice. Tart and juicy blackberries work well with evening meals too, mixed with fresh side salads or paired with rich meats such as duck or venison.

References
1. Morris MC et al (2017) Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline. Neurology. December 20.
2. University of Nottingham. “Boosting Brain Power — With Chocolate.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070221101326.htm (accessed March 4, 2018).
3. Meredith Petrie W. et al (2017) Beet Root Juice: An Ergogenic Aid for Exercise and the Aging Brain. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Volume 72, Issue 9, 1 September 2017, Pages 1284–1289
4. Krikorian R et al (2010) Blueberry Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Apr 14; 58(7): 3996–4000.

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bacteria

Just How Beneficial Is ‘Good’ Bacteria to the Body?

It’s quite well known that the good bacteria of our internal microbiome help to support the health of the digestive system. However, recent research has highlighted other areas where using specific good bacteria could support other areas of health and wellbeing. This includes intimate health, skin health, mood and memory.

Good bacteria for mood and memory

In the last decade, it has been revealed that the brain and the gut are in constant communication with each other. This has led to a field of research known as ‘psychobiotics’, investigating the link between the gut flora and the development of psychological problems (1).

Specific bacteria shown to be helpful for mood and memory
  • Studies have indicated that probiotic treatment can induce behavioural and psychological changes, including improved memory and reduced anxiety (2). The strains with the most consistent research include Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria bifidum.
  • In a study on chronic fatigue syndrome, supplementation with L. casei was linked to a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms (3).
  • L. rhamnosus has been shown to reduce stress induced anxiety and depression (4).
  • A study providing L. acidophilus, L. casei and B. bifidus (2 billion of each) over 8 weeks: The patients who had received the probiotic combination had significantly decreased total scores on the Beck Depression Inventory. In addition, they had significant decreases in systemic inflammation (2,5).

Good bacteria for intimate health

Vaginal infections affect 300 million women worldwide:

  • 75% of women will suffer thrush at least once in their lives and over 5% will suffer recurrent episodes more than 4 times a year.
  • Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is actually the most common cause of vaginal infections in women of childbearing age, affecting up to 84% women. BV in some women may also produce irritation and discomfort. Left untreated BV can lead to infertility and premature labour.

Treatment for BV (antibiotics) can lead to the overgrowth of candida, resulting in thrush. Likewise, treatments for thrush can lead to dysbiosis in the vaginal flora, resulting in a change in vaginal pH leading to BV. Therefore, a product which can address both issues, without the need for a woman to know which infection she has and offering prevention as well as treatment of both, will help to break the vicious cycle many women find themselves in.

Specific bacteria researched for intimate health

A combination of Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus plantarum and Bifidobateria animalis subsp. lactis has been extensively researched for their role in the maintenance of vaginal pH and control of bacteria and yeasts, and has been shown to be effective against both thrush and BV infections.

In a trial carried out using L. rhamnosus, L. plantarum and B. animalis subsp. lactis the women who were using the supplement reported effective relief from:

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Discharge
  • Dryness (6)

Good bacteria to support skin health

The link between skin health and the health of the gut is not new. Researchers as far back as 1930 suspected a link between gut health and skin health – modern research though, has confirmed the importance of this relationship.

This means that good bacteria could be very helpful in reducing the severity of all manner of skin complaints.

Did you know?
    • 40% of those people who suffer with inflammatory bowel diseases, also struggle with some form of skin disorder.
    • Unbalanced gut flora is 10 times more common in those people who are suffering with acne rosacea.
    • Many skin conditions including acne rosacea, psoriasis and dermatitis have now been shown to be linked to increased levels of unfriendly bacteria in the gut.
Specific good bacteria researched for benefits in skin health

A combination of Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus reuteri and Lactobacillus rhamnosus, has been extensively trialled for its action on skin health. This specific combination has been found to inhibit the following pathogens: (7)

  • Staphyloccocus aureas – responsible for skin infections, pimples, impetigo, boils, abscesses and cellulitis. The combination of bacteria can inhibit this pathogen within 24 hours.
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa – responsible for inflammation, sepsis, skin infections and dermatitis. The bacteria are strongly effective in reducing this pathogen within just 3 hours and they maintain their inhibitory effect for over 24 hours.
  • Propionibacterium acnes – responsible for skin discomforts such as acne vulgaris and oily skin. The bacterial combination has been shown to have the ability to inhibit this bacteria within 48 hours with a continued reduction over 7 days.
  • Staphylococcus epidermis – an opportunistic pathogen responsible for unbalanced skin microbiota and the worsening of skin conditions. The 3 strains reduced levels of this pathogen within 3 hours.

Written by Jenny Logan, Natures Aid Technical Training Manager

References
1. The best probiotics for mood: Psychobioitcs May enhance the Gut-Brain Connection. Kathleen Jade, UHN Daily, Apr. 2017.
2. The effects of probiotics on depressive symptoms in humans: a systematic review. Caroline J K Wallace Ann Gen Psychiatry 2017
3. A randomised, double blind, placebo controlled, pilot study of a probiotic in emotional symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. A Venket Roo et al, Gut Pathog, 2009
4. Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behaviour and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse, via the Vegas nerve; Javier A Bravo et al, Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2011
5. Nutrition 2015 Sept 28 pii 50899-9007
6. Intimique FS – Efficacy Dossier – Principum Division – Rev 01/01/2017
7. Synbalance ProBeauty Shield – Efficacy Dossier Rev 01 2017

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