Sluggish Brain: Trinny and Shabir

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Between work, home life, social life and just about everything that we pack into our schedules, it is not surprising that our brains are literally burnt out often resulting in brain fog or mental fatigue. Memory loss is one of the most common fears that people have as they get older, so together with Trinny, I am going to look at steps to boost brain power and hopefully protect your memory from fading.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s

We tend to use the terms interchangeably however they are different. It is normal to have some memory lapses however in the case of dementia, this affects one’s ability to carry out everyday tasks such as driving, cooking, shopping and so on.

A normal person may forget where they put their keys sometimes however someone with dementia may forget where they put their keys frequently and may even forget what keys are used for.

Dementia is defined as a clinical syndrome that may result from a number of diseases including Alzheimer’s. It is diagnosed as impairment of at least two functions carried out by the brain, for example an inability to comprehend or verbalise language and form short term memories.

In Alzheimer’s, nerve cells are lost in the hippocampus which is the learning and memory centre. So the reasons for Alzheimer’s are very specific which include some of the reasons mentioned below. Aside from Alzheimer’s, dementia may also be caused by damage to the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the nerve cells in the brain and this is termed vascular dementia.

It is important to realise in most cases, dementia is not genetic.

There are many reasons for memory loss which include stress, ageing, head injuries, too much information in one go and a hormonal connection, due to high cortisol levels.

It is theorised that as we get older, plaques develop in between nerve cells that disturb the signals of nerve impulses. Another thing that occurs is that the nerves get tangled so that sometimes signals are transmitted to the wrong set of nerves causing confusion. This is all linked to one thing – inflammation.

So what can we do about this?

First and foremost is the fact that what you eat matters. A UCLA study found that the Mediterranean diet is one of the main lifestyle factors that could help to prevent the brain from developing toxic plaques and tangles that are associated with age related decline in memory. (plaque is composed of a toxic protein called beta-amyloid in between nerve cells that prevents transmission of nerve impulses)

The Mediterranean diet includes fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, nuts and seeds, consuming fish, especially oily fish, and eating meat ideally only once a week. You could equally call it the anti-inflammatory diet since inflammation is a known culprit for many things within our bodies.

Equally, this diet provides sustained energy from medium chain triglycerides found in oily fish, olive oils and also from complex carbs that sustain physical and mental energy.

The same study at UCLA also found that those who were undertaking exercise on a regular basis had the lowest levels of plaque and tangles. More studies need to be performed to find out if one type of exercise is better than another, however the important thing is to undertake some form of exercise regularly.

Further tips to enhance memory and concentration

Feeding the brain – we have already talked about the Mediterranean diet and adding some of the foods we mentioned such as avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds should be of benefit in improving blood flow to the brain, will help form structural components of brain cells and may protect your brain from ageing and damage.

Dehydration – it is absolutely imperative that we hydrate our bodies. The brain tissues contain 73% water so that the type and quantity of fluid that we consume can be just an important. Studies indicate that a 2% decrease in hydration levels can greatly affect memory and attention.

Resting your brain – it is absolutely important that you get adequate sleep. During sleep, your brain consolidates memories, removes toxic debris and repairs itself. A lack of sleep will affect attention, memory and concentration. Try to aim for between seven and nine hours; if you have difficulty sleeping then try using a supplement such as Cherry Night powder or the new Herbal Sleep PM.

Exercise – as mentioned earlier, physical exercise raises the levels of a protein that stimulates the production of new brain cells and nerve connections. We know the virtues of walking, for example, which often increases vitality and enthusiasm whilst lowering tension and fatigue.

Brain exercises – just as the body benefits from exercise, so does the brain. Brain training programs, acronyms, mnemonics (patterns of letters, words, shapes etc) are all useful as is meditation.

Focusing your brain – this might be the most overlooked way of improving your memory. It is rare for someone to focus on one task only – people are often distracted by telephones, computers and are often multi-tasking.

Cleansing your brain – if you smoke, think about a cessation program because the toxins from this can damage your brain cells.

Consider Vitamin B12 supplements

A surprising common reason for mental fog and memory problems is vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is required for healthy brain function and to repair the sheaths surrounding the nerves. As we age, we lose the protein in the stomach called intrinsic factor which transports vitamin b12 from the intestines into the bloodstream resulting in deficiencies.

It is recommended that you get your B12 levels checked especially if you are over the age of 50. A supplement with sublingual forms such as Methyl B12 lozenges or B12 Boost Spray may help. These forms by-pass the GI tract delivering B12 straight into the bloodstream.

Consider a nootropic

Nootropics are a buzzword for a range of drugs, nutrients and herbs that can help improve our attention, memory, recall and other brain functions.

Theoretically there are many things that could be termed nootropics such as caffeine (helps concentration temporarily but after that you often get a slump). This has led to the creation of a definition of a nootropic.

Definition of a Nootropic

The idea that a drug or a herb may improve your intelligence, or improve your memory, may seem like science fiction, but scientists are working on new compounds that can help enhance various functions carried out by the brain.

When you look at nootropics, you will note that there are actually many herbs and nutrients ( as many as 80 synthetic compounds and natural ones) that may work in different ways to either help protect the brain or help provide fuel for the cells in the brain to work efficiently or have an effect on the production of neurotransmitters by the brain.

Typical examples include Ginkgo biloba, Turmeric and Sage Leaf which all work in varying ways and so many manufacturers tend to use a combination of vitamins and herbs together as a brain boosting supplement – one such supplement is Neubria’s Spark for Memory.

Many people refer to nootropics as smart drugs, which is wrong. Smart drugs are basically stimulants that are prescribed usually for ADHD or sleeping disorders such as Ritalin, amphetamines and other classes of drugs. In a healthy individual they will provide intense short-term focus without providing any other benefits to the brain and used regularly they are not without side effects because they can increase blood pressure, cause a fast heart rate and so on.

Synthetic nootropics belong to a class of compounds called the racetams such as piracetam. There is still debate over whether these compounds actually help to provide any long-term benefits and they are not without side effects, which can include headaches, dizziness, nausea and so on.

The nootropic that I favour is called Limitless Plus – this contains:

A very specific extract derived from the non-GMO tomato fruit called Noomato. We know that the tomato fruit is rich in vitamins such as C and A as well as containing a broad range of antioxidants most notably lycopene. Lycopene is a potent anti-inflammatory so this helps to ensure healthy processing of information at the synapses. The anti-inflammatory properties also help to protect our nerve cells from degradation.

Neumentix is included in the formulation and is a specific extract from non-GMO spearmint. Spearmint contains over 50 different types of antioxidants including rosmarinic acid which protect the cells from oxidative damage. It is also thought that it may enhance acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in learning and memory. It is understood that this chemical is deficient in those with dementia.

Limitless Plus fits the definition of a true nootropic and provides both short-term and long-term benefits. It is ideal for anyone that needs short term concentration for exams and also for anyone who is worried about brain function and does not wish to take pharmaceuticals.

A Nootropic For 2020

Tomoatoe selection of various colours

Nootropics is the buzzword for a range of supplements that can dramatically improve functions carried out by the brain such as attention, focus, memory, ability to recall information and general brain health.

Nootropics are becoming a popular way to provide your brain with an extra boost it may need and are therefore often referred to as smart drugs. The idea that a drug or herb may enhance your intelligence, improve your memory and help the ability to recall information may seem like science fiction, but scientists and drug manufacturers are increasingly working on new compounds that enhance various aspects of the functions carried out by our brain.

What are memory enhancing pills?

There are many traditional herbs and nutrients that are reported to improve memory, help cognitive function, focus and recall. Herbs such as Turmeric, Ginkgo Biloba and Bacopa Monieri are three herbs that have shown great promise for numerous years and may help memory and attention. Supplements such as Neubria’s Spark – For Memory contains all the herbs mentioned above, alongside Sage, CoQ10 and specific vitamins and minerals to help protect your brain. This supplement could be classified as a nootropic, but to benefit from these traditional herbal extracts you do need to take them on an ongoing basis.

What are Nootropic foods?

Many foods or food derived ingredients such as fish oils, dark chocolate and coffee are often referred to as nootropics. We know that omega 3 essential fatty acids found in fish oils and caffeine in coffee appear to be good for the brain, but these foods, especially fish oils, would need to have been ingested for long periods of time in order to obtain benefits to the brain. And let’s not forget exercise. There is strong evidence that regular exercise improves memory and fends off age-related cognitive decline. 

So, what is a true nootropic?

By definition, a true nootropic must be able to:

  • Enhance one’s memory and the ability to assimilate and process information.
  • Protect the brain tissues from chemicals and toxins.
  • Help brain function, even at times of extreme stress such as exams and work deadlines.
  • Display no side effects.

It is easier to categorise nootropics in terms of synthetic versions and natural ones. There are over 80 synthetic and natural nootropic substances on the market. For the sake of clarity, smart drugs are not nootropics. Smart drugs are prescription only medicines that are used to treat ADHD, sleep disorders and other concerns. In a healthy individual they will provide intense short term focus without conferring any other benefits to the brain. Invariably they are not without severe long-term side effects and so I do not recommend them.

Synthetic nootropics are synthesised in a laboratory and lack long-term studies and their safety may be questionable such as the racetam group of nootropics including piracetam. Natural nootropics on the other hand consist of compounds and herbs which have been proven to be safe and effective. Most of them support memory, brain function, focus and mental alertness often by boosting neurotransmitters in the brain.

Limitless Plus is a nootropic supplement combining two of the safest herbal extracts, Noomato™ and Neumentix™.

Noomato™ is an extract derived from the non-GMO tomato plant. The tomato fruit is loaded with a broad range of vitamins including vitamins C and A as well as potent antioxidants including the extensively studied antioxidant called lycopene. In studies, Noomato™ has been found to promote the function of the synapses – these are complex junctions between nerve cells used to transmit signals of information to process, store and recall information. Noomato™, with its high antioxidant properties, works to quench inflammation which disturbs the way in which we process information and of course may be responsible for the degradation of the nerve cells.

Neumentix™ is a unique extract derived from non-GMO spearmint which contains over 50 different types of polyphenols including rosmarinic acid which helps improve brain function by:

  • Protecting the nerve cells from damaging free radicals.
  • Enhancing the amount of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is involved in learning and memory.
  • Promoting new nerve cells.

Limitless Plus fits the definition of a true nootropic and it provides both short and long-term benefits for the brain; its effects are cumulative, so the longer you take this supplement, the more effective the benefits. This innovative botanical supplement is aimed at students and seniors most interested in a safe, non-pharmaceutical solution to keep their mind clear and focused. It is also equally suitable for gamers and those with brain-fog that often accompanies pressure of work. 

What Is All The Fuss About Adaptogens?

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You might have noticed adaptogens have been popping up in health and wellbeing articles and posts recently. But, you’re not alone if you’re not entirely sure what an adaptogenic herb is and why people are hailing them as energy boosters and stress relievers. Here’s a straightforward guide to adaptogens and their health benefits.

What are adaptogens?

They are natural herbs that help to support and balance our hormonal equilibrium or our hypothalamic pituitary endocrine axis as it’s technically known. This equilibrium is split into three sections or axis, your brain adrenal, brain thyroid and brain gonadal. All three have to be balanced to ensure your mood, metabolism, immune system, libido and energy levels are all functioning optimally.

Who can take them?

Adaptogenic herbs have been used to help rebalance hormones and improve overall wellbeing for centuries. They’re generally deemed as safe for everyone to take. However, we recommend consulting your health practitioner if you’re taking medication or are pregnant.

What are the key adaptogenic herbs?

Maca

Wellbeing gurus and hipsters have helped boost the profile of this adaptogen with maca lattes. But, don’t be fooled into thinking that you’ll get the same energetic boost from the sprinkling you get on a coffee as you would from mixing a couple of teaspoons of good quality powder into your morning juice. Maca is renowned for helping to supercharge energy levels and the root is also thought to help with fertility and libido concerns.  

The supplement: Organic Maca Root Extract by Viridian

Moringa  

Another great option for those who want an energy boosting pick-me-up, moringa is the healthy alternative to your mid-afternoon caffeine fix. It also helps your body deal with stress, and impressively contains more than 90 nutrients and over 40 different antioxidants. It’s no surprise that it’s also known as the miracle tree. Moringa powder has an earthy, peppery flavour, which makes it perfect for mixing in with soups and juices.     

The supplement: Moringa Green Superleaf Powder by Aduna

Astragalus

If you find that you’re always feeling under-the-weather with depleted energy levels, it is worth looking into astragalus. It’s renowned for its immune-boosting powers and helps to increase your interferon and white blood cell counts. Shabir recommends taking an astragalus supplement from autumn through spring to fight off any colds and infections.

The supplement: Astragalus Extract by Swanson

Ashwagandha 

This wonder herb helps support your HPA (brain-adrenal axis) and regulate your cortisol (stress hormone) levels. It’s also thought to help conditions such as arthritis thanks to its anti-inflammatory benefits. Ashwagandha should be your go-to if you’re battling with stress and anxiety. While ashwagandha won’t give you the instant high that prescription drugs do, you will notice a difference in a week or so if you take it consistently.  

The supplement: KSM-66 Ashwagandha Plus by Wild Nutrition

Rhodiola 

Another good adaptogen for those who suffer from stress regularly is rhodiola as the herb helps your body deal with physiological and psychological stress. Small studies have shown that rhodiola can support your brain when you’re stressed and reduce mental fatigue. 

The supplement: Magnolia Rhodiola Complex by VH

Holy Basil

Also known as tulsi, holy basil has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and helps to boost brain power. If you struggle to concentrate or regularly get a foggy brain, holy basil could help improve your cognitive function.

The supplement: Wholistic Holy Basil by Pukka

How To Improve Your Focus

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If you had to guess, how long do you think you can focus on one task without getting distracted? With emails and Facebook notifications popping up on your screen, not to mention the temptation of checking What’s App messages or news alerts on your phone, it’s much harder than you think to stay focused.

Most of us check our phone at least 28 times a day and spend well over 60 minutes on it. Don’t believe me? Download Moment, a phone app that tracks your daily phone usage and highlights just how much you use it. Aside from avoiding your phone though, how else can we stay focused and boost our productivity levels? Read More…

How To Boost Brain Power

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It is a scientific fact that people over time will lose a certain amount of brain power for several reasons, which is why many individuals seek to boost brain power in order to help improve memory and brain function. Suggestions in the loss of brain power include the ageing issue, not providing the brain with enough stimulation, problematic brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s and a lack of dopamine.

What is dopamine?

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a chemical found in the brain and responsible for transmitting signals in between nerve cells within the brain. Read More…