FOOD FOR THOUGHT—NUTRIENTS FOR BRAIN HEALTH

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Your brain is powerful. You can even use it to think about how the brain itself works. Crazy, right? But this power doesn’t make your brain immune to factors that impact the rest of your body. Lifestyle and environment can affect your brain health. Luckily, there are nutrients for brain health shown to support cognitive function.
Lipids
For a long time, dietary fats (lipids) have been connected to brain health. Originally, lipids’ effect on the cardiovascular system was thought to facilitate that connection. But more recent research shows dietary fats have more direct actions on the brain.
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (like DHA from fish oil) normally make up cell membranes throughout your body. And like other saturated fat, they’re fundamental building blocks for your brain cells. That’s part of the reason fish is often called a brain food.
Flavonoids
The antioxidant effects of flavonoids are well-established in a test-tube setting. But these plant compounds—like cocoa, ginkgo, and grape-seed extracts—have more complex actions in the body that is continually being researched.
Some flavonoids show promising results in maintaining healthy brain function. Quercetin—a flavonoid that’s a major component of ginkgo biloba extracts—has been shown to maintain memory and learning abilities in some studies. Further research on the subject is needed.
B Vitamins
Adequate levels of the B vitamin folate are essential for brain function. The proof? Folate deficiency can lead to neurological disorders, like depression and cognitive impairment.
Clinical trial results have deepened the connection between folate and cognitive function. These studies have shown folate supplementation—by itself or in conjunction with other B vitamins (B6 and B12)—to be effective at maintaining healthy cognitive function during aging.
Other Nutrients
There are more nutrients for brain health. Here’s a short list of the other nutrients with researched roles in brain health:
Alpha lipoic acid has been shown to maintain memory and cognitive function.
Vitamin E, or α-tocopherol, has also been implicated in cognitive performance. Decreasing serum levels of vitamin E were associated with poor memory performance in older individuals.
Curcumin is a strong antioxidant that seems to protect the brain from lipid peroxidation and nitric-oxide-based radicals.
Several gut hormones or peptides—like leptin, ghrelin, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1) and insulin—have been found to support healthy emotional response and cognitive processes.
Energy Production
The brain runs your body. And it takes a lot of energy to literally be the brain of the operation. Healthy macronutrients are necessary to fuel your brain and provide the energy it needs.

The mechanisms involved in the transfer of energy from foods to neurons are likely to be fundamental to the control of brain function. Processes that are associated with the management of energy in neurons can affect brain plasticity.
Far-Reaching Impacts
Lifestyle and diet have long-term effects on your health. That means they are likely underestimated for their importance to public health—especially when it comes to healthy aging. But they’re important to your brain. The gradual and sometimes imperceptible cognitive decline that characterizes normal aging can be influenced by the nutrients you feed your brain through a healthy diet.
These impacts go beyond your life, too. Through epigenetics, you pass on traits to your children and their children. Newer studies back this up. They indicate that these nutritional effects on your brain might even be transmitted over generations by influencing epigenetic events.

Reference

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PROBIOTICS MAY LESSEN THE SEVERITY OF UPPER RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS IN COLLEGE STUDENTS

probiotics

 

Certain probiotic strains are known to influence immune function and may help improve health-related quality of life (HRQL) during upper respiratory infections.

Recent research published in the British Journal of Nutrition shows that supplementing with the probiotic strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG® and Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis BB-12® may help improve health-related quality of life during upper respiratory infections.
The study participants included 231 normally healthy college students living on campus in residence halls at the Framingham State University. The students were randomized to receive either a placebo or a probiotic powder containing a minimum of 1 billion colony forming units each of Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG® and Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis BB-12®. The students completed The Wisconsin Upper Respiratory Symptom Survey-21 to assess HRQL during URI. Reporting of HRQL outcomes included self-reported duration, symptom severity and functional impairment of URI.
When compared to the placebo group, the average duration of URI was significantly shorter by 2 days in the probiotic group. The group on the probiotics also reported a 34% lower average severity score compared to placebo. The probiotics group also missed significantly fewer school days, although there was no difference in number of missed work days.
Although more research is needed to determine specific mechanisms involved and the possible cost-benefit of preventive supplementation, the combination of probiotic strains LGG® and BB-12® may be valuable tool in improving the health-related quality of life during exposure to upper respiratory infections.

Smith TJ, Rigassio-radler D, Denmark R, Haley T, Touger-decker R. Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG® and Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis BB-12® on health-related quality of life in college students affected by upper respiratory infections. Br J Nutr. 2013;109(11):1999-2007.

 

from : Ask the Scientists