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. 

Could Crosswords Boost Your Brain?

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For years, Sudoku has been hailed a way to help fend off dementia and a recent study has consolidated this idea. Researchers at King’s College London and the University of Exeter found that those who regularly do crosswords and number puzzles have healthier cognitive functions.

“We’ve found that the more regularly people engage with puzzles such as crosswords and Sudoku, the sharper their performance is across a range of tasks assessing memory, attention and reasoning. The improvements are particularly clear in the speed and accuracy of their performance,” says Dr Anne Corbett, of the University of Exeter Medical School, who led the research.

Over 17,000 healthy people, aged over 50, took part in the study and researchers concluded that those who regularly play these puzzles have the brain function of someone up to 10 years younger. However, Corbett is quick to state that doing “We can’t say that playing these puzzles necessarily reduces the risk of dementia in later life but this research supports previous findings that indicate regular use of word and number puzzles helps keep our brains working better for longer.”

Dr Doug Brown from the Alzheimer’s Society is equally as cautious: “We know that keeping an active mind can help to reduce decline in thinking skills. This new research does reveal a link between word puzzles, like crosswords, and memory and thinking skills, but we can’t say definitively that regular ‘puzzling’ improves these skills.”

Picking up a pencil and doing the daily crossword might help boost your brain more than downloading the latest app though. A study in 2017 by the University of Pennsylvania called into question the power of commercial brain training apps, specifically Lumosity, in improving cognitive functions. The study monitored 64 healthy adults, who used the app for 30 minutes everyday, for five days a week, across a 10 week period and concluded that the training didn’t have any affect on brain functions or decision making.

What are the other brain boosting options for those who hate crosswords and puzzles?

Get your Zzz’s: It will come as no surprise that getting enough sleep is crucial for making sure your brain is performing at A-game level. A study in 2018 by the University of Illinois found that those with diabetes who slept badly had poorer brain power than those who regularly slept better. Making sure you get at least seven hours of shut-eye each night will ensure you’re more alert and focused.

Dabble in nootropics: You might have heard of the word ‘nootropics’, but still be unclear as to what they actually are. Essentially, nootropics help to stimulate your brain and you’ve probably used them already with the caffeine in your morning coffee. Natural nootropics, such as those formulated by Neubria, use ingredients such as ginkgo biloba and turmeric extract to help sharpen your memory and improve your focus and concentration levels. Whether you want to improve your word recall or just need a helping hand to get you through a long meeting at four o’clock, it’s definitely worth exploring the brand.

Stock up on blueberries: According to research by the University of Exeter, drinking concentrated blueberry juice everyday can boost the blood flow to your brain and improve cognitive functions.

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…