Nourishing the Brain

Nourishing the Brain

Did you know that your brain uses about 20% of your energy each day? That means we burn on average 320 calories just to think!+ No wonder the brain needs good sources of energy from the foods we consume, and often a little extra help from nutrient supplementation in order to balance out the gaps caused by poor diet choices, stress, and more.

In the following studies, we see nutrients that helped the brain perform better at attention, executive function, and more. Here’s what they discovered.

Ashwagandha for cognition

A single dose of ashwagandha improved executive function, attention, short-term and working memory. In this study, 13 healthy volunteers, aged 18 to 59,  took a placebo or 400 mg of ashwagandha before taking a six-hour battery of cognitive tests. After four days’ rest, participants switched placebo and ashwagandha and repeated the tests. All kept a food diary during the four days preceding each test.

During the ashwagandha phases, both groups saw improvements in working memory and attention, including reaction time and accuracy of sorting cards, reasoning, learning, executive control, responding to changing schedules of reinforcement, and impulsiveness.

Ashwagandha appears to have cognition-enhancing properties that may help sustain and preserve cognitive performance and memory throughout life, which suggests adults may benefit from regular supplementation, doctors said. 

Reference: International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health; 2022, Article No. 191911852

Omega-3s boost brain health in younger adults

Even at younger ages, it appears adding omega-3 fatty acids to the diet protects for most brain-aging factors. This study measured DHA and EPA omega-3 levels and compared brain volume and cognitive function in 2,183 participants, average age 46, who were free from dementia and stroke. Some participants (22 percent) carried a gene, APOE4, that raises chances for heart, circulatory, and cognitive issues.

Overall, higher omega-3 levels were linked to better abstract reasoning, and to larger volumes of the hippocampus, which plays a major role in learning and memory. Carriers of the APOE4 gene who had higher omega-3 levels saw less small-vessel disease than those with lower omega-3 levels.

Those with lower levels of DHA tended to have smaller brain volumes and a vascular (blood vessel) pattern of cognitive impairment, even in those free of clinical dementia. “Intervening early to maintain the optimal Omega-3 Index value of at least 8 percent could play an important role in staving off cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease,” doctors concluded.

Reference: Neurology; October, 2022, Article No. 201296

Resveratrol boosts cognition in postmenopause

Blood flow in the brain naturally declines with age, and maintaining good cerebral circulation can preserve cognition. In this study, 129 women, postmenopausal for at least one year, took a placebo or 75 mg of resveratrol twice per day for 12 months, then switched groups for another 12 months.

Compared to the placebo phases, while taking resveratrol, cognitive performance improved, and the decline in brain blood circulation slowed. Doctors also saw lower fasting blood sugar levels for resveratrol.

In two tests of cognition, during the resveratrol phases, participants had faster information-processing speed, and could more easily switch between two different concepts, and think about multiple concepts, compared to placebo.

Discussing the findings, doctors said during the resveratrol phases, resting brain blood flow improved, and brain blood vessels were more flexible compared to placebo, suggesting resveratrol may slow age-related cognitive decline, and preserve cognitive function.

Reference: Nutrients; 2020, Vol. 12, No. 3, 828

BetsyHealth Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before trying a supplement, especially if you have a medical condition, including being pregnant or nursing, take prescription or over-the-counter medications, or are planning on having surgery.

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Article copyright 2022 by Retail Insights for Well Being. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom:

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