If asked the question, “What have you done for your brain today?”, how would you answer? Most likely, you’d say “I don’t know” or perhaps “Nothing”. If that’s the case, you are missing an opportunity to protect and improve your current and future self.
It's a great concern that most people rarely pay attention to the single most important organ in their body – their brain. That is until it’s broken. Our brain is responsible for managing virtually every system, emotion, feeling, and reaction we will ever have. It’s responsible for our ability to communicate, walk, and take care of ourselves and our family. Ultimately, it’s responsible for our independence, and when our brain stops functioning correctly, independence is one of the first things we lose.
Your brain is made up of about 100 billion neurons that are used to gather signals (gray matter) and millions of nerve fibers or axons that transfer these signals (white matter). The medical community previously believed that once a neuron is destroyed, it is gone forever. Fortunately, scientists have now proven that our brain is able to generate new neurons, or brain cells, throughout our entire lifespan – this process is called neurogenesis. With new cells continually generated, repaired, and rejuvenated, our emphasis should be to provide the necessary tools that our body needs to build the strongest, most viable brain cells possible.
Below we have identified 7 pillars you can follow each day to ensure that your brain is receiving nearly everything it needs to perform at an optimal level. Incorporate these simple habits into your daily life and discover just how healthy and powerful your brain can be: *
Adherence to a healthy diet is imperative in improving cognitive performance and reducing the risk of cognitive decline over time. The Mediterranean diet has been studied for years and is considered one of the best dietary models for brain health and longevity. Research has determined that adhering to a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Mild Cognitive Impairment.
Components of the Mediterranean diet include; eating plenty of plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts; replacing unhealthy fats with healthy fats that include EPA and DHA; using herbs and spices instead of salt; replacing red meat with fish and poultry; and enjoying meals with friends.
Another diet that was originally used to treat pediatric epilepsy, the Ketogenic Diet (KD), is now showing promise of neuroprotection in other central nervous system disorders. While limited in numbers, the scientific evidence collected from clinical studies in humans has supported KD therapy for use in adult epilepsy, adult malignant glioma, and AD.
The classic KD is typically composed of a macronutrient ratio of 4:1 (4 grams of fat for every 1 gram of protein and carbohydrates combined), shifting the energy source used by the body from carbohydrate to fat. To increase flexibility and compliance with the diet, modified KDs have been made to include a 3:1, 2:1 or 1:1 ratio.
One of the key contributors that make these diets influence brain health is Omega-3 fatty acid. These influential nutrients have been proven by science to reduce age-related decay of brain mass and function, promote brain function of healthy brains, and attenuate brain damage after injury.
Brain Armor believes in a nutrition first approach, but science has proven how difficult it can be to get all of the nutrients you need from diet alone. In fact, research has demonstrated that 95.7% of Americans fall below the recommended amounts of Omega-3s. To complement a healthy diet, Brain Armor has created a line of vegan friendly, ultra-pure Omega-3 supplements that include other brain nourishing vital nutrients, designed to support structural brain health at every stage of life. *
There are plenty of common reasons to be physically active, including improved balance and mobility, lowering blood pressure, and looking your best for bathing suit season. Yet exercise is far more powerful than you may know.
Natural deterioration of the hippocampus (the part of the brain associated with memory) as we age, leads to memory impairment in later adulthood. Research has shown that hippocampal volume can decrease 1-2% each year in healthy older adults. Strategies to fight this loss in brain matter are an important topic and aerobic exercise has emerged as a promising low cost and accessible treatment to improve cognitive outcomes.
Aerobic exercise is defined by the American College of Sport Medicine to be any activity that uses large muscle groups and can be maintained continuously in nature. Muscle groups used during this type of exercise will rely on aerobic metabolism to generate energy, which is how it gets its name. Good examples of aerobic exercises include cycling, walking, dancing, hiking, jogging, running, and swimming.
One study found that natural hippocampal deterioration can be reversed with aerobic exercise intervention. In this study, an aerobic exercise group that trained 3 days per week experienced an increase in the size of the hippocampus by close to 2% over a year, compared to a stretching and toning control group that displayed a 1.4% decline in hippocampal size over the same period of time. Since hippocampal volume decreases 1-2% annually with age, adding this 2% with aerobic training is equivalent to adding 1-2 years’ worth of volume back to the hippocampus. Additionally, research has found that aerobic exercise can increase hippocampal volume in those who are already affected by mild cognitive impairment.
Aerobic exercise may have positive effects on the brain by increasing functional connectivity and activation, increasing cerebral blood volume, and increasing gray and white matter of the pre frontal cortex, which plays a significant role in memory, intelligence, and language. With improvements in cognitive structure from aerobic exercise, come improvements in cognitive function.
Brain Armor products are built with clean nutrients to support strong brains and exercise efforts. Studies show that supplementation with Omega-3s produce perceptual-motor benefits in exercisers by improving complex reaction time and efficiency, improving peripheral neuromuscular function, and reducing soreness, which can increase performance. With Brain Armor, you can support your brain and exercise routine with one all natural dietary supplement. *
We all know the recommended amount of sleep is 7-8 hours per night, but who has time for that? Between work, kids, cleaning, and other responsibilities, we’re lucky if we get 5 hours. Now what if we told you that sleep is just as important as food and exercise to your health and cognitive longevity?
A 2013 study that came out of the University of Rochester found that sleep is the time when the brain removes toxins that accumulate during wakeful hours and can contribute to brain disorders such as AD. "Taking out the brain trash" occurs as a result of the glymphatic system using the brain’s blood vessels to pump cerebral spinal fluid through the brain's tissues, pumping out garbage that collected during the day. Researchers explained that this process takes a lot of energy, energy that we only have during sleep when we are not actively processing wakeful information.
Sleep is also the time when you retain and improve any physical tasks learned. While you might have always been told that "practice makes perfect", research shows that practice is not the only thing you need to maintain motor skills, you also need quality sleep. Studies show that significant improvement in a trained skill are only seen across a night of sleep, and not over a similar period of waking hours, suggesting that sensorimotor skill may require adequate sleep for optimal consolidation and learning. Sleep is also where you consolidate memories, retain material learned during the day, and gain insight. Has anyone ever told you to "sleep on it"?
Omega-3s appear essential for sleep regulation, and evidence shows that higher levels of DHA are correlated with higher levels of melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone in the body that regulates the sleep-wake cycles. Studies have shown Omega-3 supplementation may improve sleep disturbances in adults and children. One study found that compared to the children who took soybean or corn oil, those who took Omega-3 oil experienced nearly 1 hour more sleep each night, and experienced seven fewer waking periods per night. Brain Armor products provide ultra-pure algae-based Omega-3 fatty acids in age appropriate levels to help support the best sleep possible. *
You can’t stop exercising your biceps after age 50 and expect them to stay strong for a lifetime. This stands true for your brain, too. Physicians now commonly advise adults to engage in mentally stimulating activities on a regular basis to keep the mind young.
Several epidemiological studies support this theory. Research has concluded that more years of education is correlated to lower risk of AD, with risk of AD being two to four times higher in those having fewer years of education. However, it does not have to be formal education, as longitudinal studies have found that older adults without dementia who participate in daily intellectual activities, such as puzzles, show less cognitive decline over time. Neurobiology studies also support this theory and have observed positive physiological changes in the brain of older adults after memory training, compared to controls. Lastly, clinical trials have shown improved memory function after memory enhancement training and sustained engagement in new learning skills in older adults.
Omega-3 fatty acids have proven critical for neural membrane integrity and function to support mental stimulation. The DHA and EPA found in Brain Armor products are sourced from an exclusive strain of algae farmed in the United States, tested daily for superior quality control. Brain Armor products are vegan friendly, non-GMO, soy free, and contain no artificial flavors or colors, making them the preferred choice for people of all ages. *
Cognitive decline and memory loss are typical for the aging population, but not inevitable. While many people look straight toward medicine and pharmaceuticals for brain support, some studies suggest that you should actually be looking toward your friends, instead.
Social relationships, both quantity and quality, affect mental and physical health. In one large community-based study of older adults who were dementia free at the start, it was observed that adults who were the most socially active (in the 90th quartile) experienced only one quarter of the rate of cognitive decline experienced by the least socially active individuals (in the 10th quartile). In another study it was found that high levels of social integration predicted a significantly slower rate of memory decline in adults over the age of 50, spanning a 6-year period. Furthermore, several studies consistently show that individuals with the lowest level of involvement in social relationships are more likely to die than those with greater involvement. For example, this early study showed that the risk of death of men and women with fewer social ties was more than twice as high as those with the most social ties.
So the more face-to-face friends we have, the lower our risk for death and cognitive decline, but why? How do social relationships make such a big difference? Researchers explain that social ties greatly impact health behaviors and therefore, health outcomes. For example, having a spouse or children may instill a sense of responsibility that can influence a person’s decisions around health behaviors like eating a healthy diet, exercising, or not smoking. Additionally, many religions provide outlines to health behaviors and if you are involved in that social group you may be more likely to follow these guidelines.
Supplementary research suggests physiological mechanisms to explain the link between social ties and health outcomes. It has been determined that supportive interactions reduce physiological responses to existing stressors, and support neural adaptations in the face of challenges. So the next time you feel like you need a friend to talk to, it’s likely because you do. *
In the United States nearly 1 in 5 adults lives with a mental illness (approximately 44 million in 2016). Despite the high prevalence of these conditions and productive treatments that have been found, there are still perceived stereotypes and prejudice around mental health and seeking treatment. This stigma can come in 2 forms, public stigma and self-stigma.
Researchers have identified additional barriers such as lack of perceived need, perceived ineffectiveness of treatment, problems accessing care, financial hardship, and inconvenience. Therefore, it is not surprising that, only one third of young adults with mental health concerns have participated in a treatment program. Without treatment and support, adults with mental health needs are at a higher risk for dropping out of school, limiting professional growth, and unemployment. This needs to change.
We seek personal trainers when we want to get physically fit. We seek medical doctors when we have physical illness. We need to seek mental health professionals when we want to be mentally fit. When needed, treatments have been developed and tested to successfully reduce symptoms for many cognitive health concerns. Consumer reports published an article that concluded the majority of people benefited substantially from psychotherapy, and that long-term treatment worked considerably better than short-term.
To further supplement mental fitness, Omega-3s have been proven to reduce depressive and stress symptoms and improve mood. Brain Armor’s line of all natural dietary supplements help support finding the balance of self-care and professional care, allowing you to be the best version of yourself. Why do it alone when you can have a team on your side? *
People typically have annual checkups with their doctor to assess overall health status and receive standard blood work. There is one more test that should be included in your health arsenal, your Omega-3 Index (O3i).
An O3i is a simple blood test that reflects the percentage of Omega-3s compared to the total amount of fatty acids present in the red blood cell membranes. Higher O3i has been correlated with larger total normal brain volume and hippocampal volume in aging populations, suggesting reduced risk of the normal brain atrophy that is commonly seen with aging. Moreover, studies have shown that positive changes in brain structure with higher O3i scores lead to improved brain function and are inversely associated with dementia in older adults.
Additionally, Omega-3 supplementation can benefit more than the aging population. Associations have been established between blood O3i and cognition and information processing scores in adolescents. And for athletes, especially those participating in contact sports, higher O3i's may promote brain health and attenuate long-term damaging neural effects of continuous contact during games and practices. Scientific evidence suggests that the red blood cell levels of Omega-3 fatty acids are inversely associated with total mortality rates in all populations.
To increase your O3i, you simply have to increase your consumption of DHA and EPA by eating marine products rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, or by using an Omega-3 supplement like Brain Armor. The optimal O3i is >8% while an index <4% may be regarded as a risk factor. Supporting these parameters, a recent study from the Journal of Clinical Lipidology found an inverse association with O3i and total mortality. Furthermore, they determined that this number is a better indicator of longevity than one of the most widely known markers of wellness, cholesterol. In a head-to-head comparison the scientists found that a higher O3i was significantly associated with reduced risk for 4 out of the 5 health outcomes, while cholesterol was unrelated to risk for any of the health outcomes.
In addition to improved longevity and decreased risk for total mortality, higher O3i is associated with the slowing of age-related cognitive decline, reduced incidence of age-related macular degeneration, attenuation of age-related increases in arterial stiffness, and reductions in risk for coronary death. *
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