Review by Catherine’s Cabinet
Do you know how many times a day I utter the sentence, “my brain hurts”? Okay, it doesn’t literally hurt, but my brain feels like absolute mush sometimes. We’re all guilty of taking on too much and then having to deal with what becomes that oh-so-familiar crash and burn effect. Well, I don’t like it, folks!
We eat foods that help to satisfy our tummies, but what about our brains? Have you ever thought about putting something in your body that will help to support the hard drive to your body’s computer? Hmm? (*shakes finger at you) Well I want to tell you about one awesome brain supporting nutritional supplement and I’ll even give you 5 of my personal favourite brain boosting foods too! Are you ready?
There are so many supplements like this pterostilbene on Amazon that can help the most complex structure in the human body to keep doing what it does best. I could give you a laundry list for days, but I’ve decided to keep it simple for you by talking about one of the best ones out there on the market, Cerebrum by Renew Life.
I’m sure by now you’ve heard all about Omega-3 fish oils, right? Well, Cerebrum is an Omega-3 fish oil with Cereboost, which is a unique extract of American Ginseng. So, you might be thinking, why do I need fats though? And what is American Ginseng – isn’t that what my grandma takes so that she can moonlight as a crossword puzzle ninja? Um, well the answers are simple, because fats are awesome and I sure hope your grandma does.
About two-thirds of your brain is composed of fats (so when I called my brother a “fat-head”, I was actually being quite scientifically correct), but not just any kind. Essential Fatty Acids are one type of fat (i.e. your Omega-3’s & 6’s) and are used to build brain cells. Loss of Fatty Acids are linked to neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Brain and central nervous system disorders remain the nation’s leading cause of disability, and account for more hospitalizations and prolonged care than almost all other diseases combined.
Just a quick note about fish oils: ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS go for high quality, third-party verified fish oil to ensure that you are obtaining the cleanest product possible due to high levels of toxicity. For example, all of the Renew Life fish oil products have been verified and approved by the International Fish Oil Standards Program (IFOS).
So what about American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) then? Well studies have shown that it can increase human cognitive function and more specifically, memory. Your brain encases about 100 billion or more nerve cells which can send signals to thousands of other cells at a rate of about 200 miles per hour! In the age of information overload, we could all use a little extra support to help increase memory and concentration. “This revolutionary product helps increase cognitive performance by ten percent for a 6-hour period (Schloey, 2010).”
In addition to omega-3 supplements for brain health, Renew Life Founder, Dr. Brenda Watson, offers these 4 tips for staying sharp:
1. Increase level of mental activity (puzzles, games)
2. Increase physical activity (20 minutes per day is all it takes)
3. Increase social engagement
4. Eat well and check vascular risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol and stress
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m not a supplement-driven nutritionist. But with that said, there are some necessary general foundational items that are required as we simply aren’t getting enough from our foods anymore. We may also require a therapeutic dosage of a specific vitamin, mineral or compound to aid in dealing with an ailment or condition, which has been recommended by a professional health care practitioner.
In honour of the 20th Anniversary of Brain Awareness Week which runs this year from March 16th to 22nd, I’ve decided to highlight my top 5 brain boosting foods!
Catherine’s Cabinet Top 5 Brain-Boosting Foods
1. Fermented Foods (AKA probiotics-rich foods)
Have you ever heard of something called the gut-brain connection? Well, your gut houses what is called your enteric nervous system. This contains about 500,000,000 neurons, which is more than your spinal cord! Replenishing the billions of beneficial bacteria that reside within your gut will help to keep your digestive system in check and therefore your brain too. Along with helping you digest, assimilate and break down foods, these bacteria can also boost your immune system. Fermented foods contain tons of live good bacteria so next time you’re looking for a gut-brain boost, grab some kombucha, saurkraut, kimchee, miso or kefir! (Now do you see why my friends make fun of me?)
2. Coconut Oil
Yeah yeah, I get it. EVERYONE is using it. But here’s one reason why. Coconut oil is a source of saturated fats – but the GOOD kind! It contains something called medium chain triglycerides (MCT) which the body uses to boost metabolism and produce energy, leaving glucose for the brain to utilize. Due to it’s anti-inflammatory effects, coconut oil has been used to treat and prevent neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s.
Did you know that blueberries contain more vitamin C than oranges? These powerful antioxidant-rich foods can help the brain by protecting it from oxidative stress. The flavonoid compounds found in these little blue gems has been shown to help with neuron communication. This means better memory, cognitive function and learning. Uhhh did I mention that they’re also nature’s candy? Delicious.
Yes, I said chocolate. No, I don’t mean the ones you find at the convenience store by your house. I’m talking about raw cacao. It’s chock full of iron, zinc, magnesium, antioxidants, fibre and more! The flavonols contained in raw cacao can help to improve the function of your blood vessels, thus leading to increased memory. More importantly, can we talk about how happy people are when they’re eating chocolate? Win – Win.
5. Nuts and Seeds
Two words: Good Fats. Being both sources of Omega 3’s and 6’s as well as specific vitamins and minerals has it’s advantages. I do understand that there are a lot of nut allergies out there, so that’s why I have also included seeds! Most nuts and seeds are great sources of vitamin E which has been shown to protect the brain from free radicals, meaning it will help to prevent some forms of dementia. They also contain some B vitamins and protein, which can help to boost your energy and mood. So next time you’re feeling low, shove some pumpkin seeds in your face.
Make sure to follow along with the #CatherinesCabinet Instagram account! For more information and helpful tips, make sure to stay up to date with all things Health & Nutrition on my website, Catherine’s Cabinet.
Catherine Sugrue, CNP