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Probiotics and Brain Health: Unveiling the Gut-Brain Connection

Probiotics and Brain Health: Unveiling the Gut-Brain Connection

Degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, pose significant challenges to healthcare systems and affect millions of lives worldwide. Traditionally, the focus has been on direct neurological interventions and pharmacological treatments. However, a new and promising area of research is emerging, one that links the health of our gut to the functioning of our brain. This connection, known as the gut-brain axis, is shedding light on how our digestive system could play a crucial role in brain health.


The gut-brain axis refers to the complex communication network that connects your gut and brain, involving multiple biological systems. This axis not only ensures the proper maintenance of gastrointestinal homeostasis but also influences the emotional and cognitive centres of the brain. Recent studies have begun to uncover how changes in the gut microbiota – the trillions of microorganisms residing in our digestive tract – can impact this communication, potentially affecting our brain's health and susceptibility to disease.

Enter probiotics – live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. Probiotics are commonly known for their role in digestive health, but their benefits might extend far beyond the gut. Emerging research suggests that probiotics could play a significant role in supporting brain health, potentially offering new ways to treat or even prevent degenerative brain diseases. By influencing the gut microbiome, these beneficial bacteria might help to maintain a healthy gut-brain axis, offering a beacon of hope in the battle against these challenging conditions.

As we delve deeper into this article, we will explore the intricate relationship between the gut and the brain, the role of the microbiome in this dynamic, and how leveraging the power of probiotics could open new doors in treating degenerative brain diseases. The potential of probiotics in this field is not just a scientific curiosity; it represents a paradigm shift in how we approach brain health and disease.

Understanding the Gut-Brain Axis

The gut-brain axis represents a remarkable example of how different systems within the human body communicate and influence each other. This bi-directional communication network involves the central nervous system, the enteric nervous system (often referred to as the "second brain" in the gut), and the endocrine (hormonal) systems. It's through this intricate network that the gut can send and receive signals to and from the brain, impacting everything from our mood to our immune response.

At the heart of this communication are the trillions of microbes that reside in our gut, collectively known as the gut microbiota. These microorganisms do more than just aid digestion; they produce neurotransmitters like serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which play crucial roles in regulating mood and anxiety. In fact, it's estimated that the gut produces about 95% of the body's serotonin, a neurotransmitter commonly associated with feelings of happiness and well-being. This production illustrates a direct pathway through which the gut microbiota can influence brain function and emotional health.

Recent research has further illuminated the gut-brain connection by demonstrating how changes in the gut microbiome can affect brain function and, conversely, how the brain can influence gastrointestinal function and composition of the gut microbiota. For instance, stress can lead to alterations in gut motility and secretion, microbiome composition, and intestinal permeability, potentially contributing to various gastrointestinal disorders. This stress-induced change in the gut can then feedback to the brain, affecting mental health and behaviour.

Moreover, studies have shown that individuals with certain neurological disorders often exhibit alterations in their gut microbiome. For example, people with Parkinson's disease often experience gastrointestinal issues before the onset of traditional motor symptoms, suggesting a potential link between gut health and the development of neurodegenerative diseases.

Understanding the gut-brain axis is crucial in appreciating how probiotics might influence brain health. By positively altering the gut microbiota, probiotics could potentially modulate this complex communication network, offering therapeutic benefits for brain health and a promising avenue for the treatment of degenerative brain diseases.

The Microbiome and Brain Health

The human microbiome, particularly the gut microbiome, is a complex ecosystem within our body, playing a pivotal role in our overall health, including brain health. This vast collection of microbes, primarily bacteria, but also viruses, fungi, and protozoa, has a profound impact on the body's physiology, from metabolism to immune function, and significantly, on brain function and health.

The microbiome influences brain health through several mechanisms. Firstly, it affects the body's immune response. A substantial portion of the immune system is located in the gut, and the microbiome directly interacts with it. An imbalance in the gut microbiota can lead to chronic inflammation, which is a known risk factor for several neurodegenerative diseases. By maintaining a healthy and balanced microbiome, this inflammatory response can be modulated, potentially reducing the risk of brain diseases.

Secondly, the gut microbes produce various metabolites, including short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate, propionate, and acetate, which have systemic effects, including on the brain. These SCFAs can cross the blood-brain barrier and influence brain function and neuroinflammation. They are also known to affect the expression of genes in the brain that are involved in neural growth and repair.

Furthermore, the gut microbiome can influence the brain's stress response system, known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. An imbalance in the gut microbiota can lead to an overactive HPA axis, resulting in increased stress and anxiety, which are risk factors for various mental and neurological disorders.

Research has also shown that individuals with certain neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, often have altered gut microbiota. While it's not clear if these changes in the microbiome are a cause or effect of these diseases, it suggests a strong link between gut health and brain health. 

The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in brain health by modulating immune responses, producing beneficial metabolites, and regulating the body's stress response. Understanding this connection opens up new possibilities for using probiotics to positively influence the microbiome and, by extension, support brain health and potentially mitigate the risks of degenerative brain diseases.

Probiotics: Definition and Mechanisms

Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when consumed in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. These beneficial bacteria and yeasts are often referred to as "good" or "friendly" bacteria. They are naturally found in the human body, particularly in the gut, and are also present in certain foods and supplements.

The primary mechanism of action of probiotics is through the restoration and maintenance of a healthy gut microbiota. They contribute to the microbial balance in the gut by competing with potentially harmful bacteria for nutrients and attachment sites on the intestinal walls. This competition helps prevent the overgrowth of harmful microbes that can lead to illness or inflammation.

Probiotics also strengthen the gut barrier function, which is crucial in preventing harmful substances from entering the bloodstream and causing an immune response. They enhance the production of mucin, a component of mucus that acts as a barrier in the gut lining, and stimulate the production of tight junction proteins, which are essential for maintaining the integrity of the gut barrier.

Probiotics can modulate the immune system, enhancing its ability to fight off pathogens while also preventing it from becoming overactive and causing inflammation. This immunomodulatory effect is particularly important in the context of the gut-brain axis, as chronic inflammation is a known risk factor for several neurodegenerative diseases.

In addition to these benefits, certain strains of probiotics can produce neurotransmitters, such as GABA and serotonin, which can have direct effects on brain function. They also produce other beneficial substances, like SCFAs, which have systemic effects, including on the brain. 

Probiotics work by promoting a healthy balance of gut microbiota, enhancing gut barrier function, modulating the immune system, and producing beneficial substances that can impact brain health. This multifaceted approach underscores the potential of probiotics as a therapeutic tool in maintaining brain health and combating degenerative brain diseases.

Probiotics in the Treatment of Degenerative Brain Diseases

The exploration of probiotics as a potential treatment for degenerative brain diseases is a burgeoning field of research, driven by the growing understanding of the gut-brain axis. Probiotics, by influencing the gut microbiota, hold promise in modulating brain health and offering a novel approach to managing neurodegenerative conditions.

One of the key ways probiotics may benefit brain health is through the reduction of systemic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a common feature in many neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. By balancing the gut microbiota and reducing gut permeability, probiotics can help lower the levels of proinflammatory cytokines, substances that can exacerbate neuroinflammation and neuronal damage.

Additionally, probiotics can influence the production of neurotrophic factors, which are essential for the growth, survival, and differentiation of neurons. For instance, Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains have been shown to increase the levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a key molecule involved in neuroplasticity and cognitive function. This increase in BDNF could potentially slow or even reverse some aspects of cognitive decline in degenerative brain diseases.

Emerging research also suggests that probiotics may play a role in the modulation of neurotransmitters, directly impacting mood and cognitive functions. Certain probiotic strains can produce or stimulate the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA, which are crucial for regulating mood, anxiety, and cognitive processes. This psychobiotic effect of probiotics opens up possibilities for their use not only in neurodegenerative diseases but also in managing mental health disorders.

Clinical trials have begun to explore the efficacy of probiotics in treating symptoms of degenerative brain diseases. For example, some studies have reported improvements in cognitive function and quality of life in Alzheimer's patients following probiotic supplementation. However, it's important to note that this research is still in its early stages, and more extensive clinical trials are needed to fully understand the potential of probiotics in this context.

The role of probiotics in the treatment of degenerative brain diseases is a promising area of research. By modulating the gut microbiota, reducing inflammation, influencing neurotrophic factors, and affecting neurotransmitter levels, probiotics offer a multifaceted approach to supporting brain health. As our understanding of the gut-brain axis continues to evolve, probiotics could become a key component in the management and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Nutrients Generated in the Gut and Their Impact on Brain Health


The gut microbiome is not only a complex ecosystem of microorganisms but also a biochemical factory that produces a variety of nutrients and metabolites, many of which have significant impacts on brain health. Among these, short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate, propionate, and acetate are particularly noteworthy.

SCFAs are produced when gut bacteria ferment dietary fibres. These fatty acids serve as a primary energy source for colon cells and have systemic effects, including on the brain. Butyrate, for instance, has anti-inflammatory properties and can strengthen the blood-brain barrier, thus playing a protective role against neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. It also influences gene expression related to brain health and can promote the growth and repair of neurons.

Propionate and acetate, other SCFAs, also have beneficial effects on brain function. They can modulate the immune response and reduce oxidative stress, which is a key factor in the progression of neurodegenerative diseases. Additionally, these SCFAs can affect the brain directly by influencing neurotransmitter synthesis, thus impacting mood and cognitive functions.

Beyond SCFAs, the gut microbiota also influences the production and availability of essential vitamins and amino acids that are crucial for brain health. For example, certain gut bacteria are involved in the synthesis of B vitamins, which are vital for brain function and the maintenance of neural structures. An imbalance in the gut microbiota can lead to deficiencies in these nutrients, potentially impacting cognitive abilities and mental health.

The gut microbiome's role in metabolising and modulating the availability of these nutrients underscores the importance of a balanced diet rich in fibres, probiotics, and prebiotics. Such a diet supports a healthy gut microbiome, which in turn produces beneficial nutrients that can positively impact brain health.

The nutrients generated in the gut, particularly SCFAs, play a crucial role in maintaining brain health. They help in modulating inflammation, protecting neural structures, and influencing neurotransmitter levels. This highlights the potential of targeting the gut microbiome through diet and probiotics as a strategy for supporting brain health and potentially mitigating the progression of degenerative brain diseases.

Challenges and Considerations

While the potential of probiotics in treating degenerative brain diseases is promising, there are several challenges and considerations to acknowledge. Firstly, the field of gut-brain axis research is relatively new, and many studies are still in preliminary stages. The complexity of the microbiome and its interactions with the brain means that definitive conclusions are yet to be drawn, and more extensive, controlled clinical trials are necessary.

Another consideration is the specificity of probiotic strains. Not all probiotics have the same effects, and the benefits seen in research may be specific to certain strains. This specificity underscores the importance of personalised medicine in choosing the right probiotic supplement.

Additionally, the dosage and duration of probiotic treatment for brain health are not yet well-established. Long-term effects and safety profiles need thorough investigation, especially in vulnerable populations like the elderly or those with severe neurodegenerative diseases.

While probiotics offer an exciting avenue for brain health, careful consideration of these challenges is essential for their effective and safe application in treating degenerative brain diseases.

Future Directions

The future of probiotics in the context of brain health is ripe with possibilities. As research continues to unravel the complexities of the gut-brain axis, we anticipate more targeted probiotic therapies tailored to specific neurological conditions. Advances in microbiome sequencing and bioinformatics will enable a deeper understanding of individual microbiome profiles, paving the way for personalised probiotic treatments. Moreover, the integration of probiotics with other therapeutic strategies, such as diet modification and pharmacological interventions, holds promise for a more holistic approach to managing degenerative brain diseases. Continued research and innovation in this field are essential to fully harness the potential of probiotics for brain health.

Conclusion: Probiotics and Brain Health

The exploration of probiotics in the context of brain health marks a significant shift in our approach to treating degenerative brain diseases. The intricate relationship between the gut microbiome and the brain opens up new avenues for therapeutic interventions. While challenges remain in fully understanding and harnessing this connection, the potential benefits of probiotics in enhancing brain health are clear. Continued research in this field is crucial, offering hope for innovative treatments that could improve the lives of those affected by these conditions. Embracing the gut-brain axis in medical science signifies a promising frontier in neurodegenerative disease management.

Discover more about enhancing your brain health with probiotics and explore a range of water for health products.

Further Reading

For further reading on the topic of probiotics and brain health, here are some recent articles that provide in-depth information and insights:

  • Gut microbiota's effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis - This article from PMC discusses the significant interest in the bidirectional communication between the central nervous system and gut microbiota, known as the gut-brain axis. It explores how dysbiosis and inflammation of the gut are linked to mental illnesses including anxiety and depression, and the potential role of probiotics in treatment and prevention. Read more.
  • Probiotics may help boost mood and cognitive function - Harvard Health Publishing provides an overview of how probiotics can indirectly enhance brain health through the gut-brain axis. The article discusses the biochemical signalling between the nervous system in the digestive tract and the central nervous system, including the brain. Read more.
  • The Gut-Brain Axis: Influence of Microbiota on Mood and Mental Health - This article from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) discusses the influence of microbiota on mood and mental health, highlighting the gut-brain axis. It covers the bidirectional communication network that links the enteric and central nervous systems and the impact of gut microbiota on mental state, emotional regulation, and neuromuscular function. Read more.

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Golden Elixir: Unveiling the Brain-Boosting Wonders of Monatomic Gold

Golden Elixir: Unveiling the Brain-Boosting Wonders of Monatomic Gold

In the quest for optimal brain health, humanity has long turned to the treasures of the earth, seeking remedies and enhancers hidden in nature's depths. Among these, monatomic gold, a lesser-known but intriguing element, stands out for its purported benefits to brain health, particularly its impact on the pineal gland. This article delves into the mystical and scientific realms of monatomic gold, exploring its potential as a brain-boosting elixir.

 Monatomic gold, often referred to as ormus gold or white gold powder, is not the typical gold found in jewellery. It is a unique form of gold, where atoms are not bound to each other, but exist as individual entities. This singular atomic structure is believed to endow monatomic gold with properties that go beyond the conventional attributes of metallic gold.

Historically, monatomic gold has been shrouded in mystery and revered in various cultures. Ancient alchemists and sages speculated about its extraordinary abilities, particularly its potential to enhance mental clarity, spiritual insight, and overall well-being. Today, these historical perspectives intertwine with modern scientific inquiry, as researchers and holistic health practitioners explore the effects of monatomic gold on the human brain.

The focus of this exploration is often the pineal gland, a small, pinecone-shaped gland located in the brain's epithalamus. This gland, sometimes referred to as the "third eye," has been a subject of fascination and speculation for centuries, both in scientific and spiritual contexts. It is known for producing melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep patterns, but ancient traditions suggest it plays a much larger role in consciousness and spiritual awareness.

This article aims to shed light on the potential benefits of monatomic gold, with a particular emphasis on its impact on the pineal gland and overall brain health. Through a blend of historical insights, current research, and anecdotal evidence, we will explore the reasons why this ancient remedy is gaining renewed interest in the modern world. Whether you are a sceptic, a curious reader, or a seeker of alternative health practices, join us on this journey into the golden world of monatomic gold and its brain-boosting wonders.

What is Monatomic Gold?

Monatomic gold, a substance that seems to bridge the gap between science and mysticism, is more than just a precious metal. It is a unique form of gold, distinguished not by its lustre or physical beauty, but by its extraordinary atomic structure and potential health benefits, particularly for the brain.

The Unique Structure of Monatomic Gold

  • Atomic Composition: Unlike the gold used in jewellery, which consists of clusters of gold atoms, monatomic gold is composed of single atoms not bound to each other. This form is also known as "ormus gold" or "white powder gold."
  • Physical Properties: Monatomic gold is characterised by its white powder form, a stark contrast to the metallic gold we are familiar with. This difference in appearance is a direct result of its unique atomic structure.

Historical and Cultural Significance

  • Ancient Alchemy: Historically, alchemists have been fascinated by monatomic gold, attributing to it mystical properties and the power to enhance spiritual enlightenment and physical well-being.
  • Cultural References: Various ancient civilizations, including the Egyptians and Sumerians, reportedly used monatomic gold for its health and spiritual benefits. It was often regarded as a substance of the gods, a tool for spiritual transformation and enlightenment.

Modern Perspective

  • Scientific Interest: In contemporary times, the interest in monatomic gold has extended to the scientific community, with researchers exploring its potential effects on the human body, especially the brain.
  • Holistic Health: The holistic health community has also embraced monatomic gold, promoting it as a supplement for enhancing mental clarity, focus, and overall cognitive function.

Theoretical Mechanisms

  • Proposed Benefits: Proponents of monatomic gold suggest that its unique atomic structure allows it to interact beneficially with the body, particularly the brain and the nervous system.
  • Potential Interactions: Theories suggest that monatomic gold could help in the optimisation of neural pathways, potentially leading to improved cognitive functions and a healthier brain.

Monatomic gold is not just another supplement; it is a substance steeped in history and mystery, with a unique atomic makeup that sets it apart from conventional gold. Its potential benefits, particularly for the brain and the pineal gland, make it a subject of growing interest and ongoing research in the realms of both science and holistic health.

The Pineal Gland: A Key to Brain Health

The pineal gland, often described as the "third eye" in spiritual and mystical traditions, is a small endocrine gland nestled deep in the centre of the brain. This pea-sized gland, though small in size, plays a significant role in maintaining various aspects of our brain health and overall well-being.

Understanding the Pineal Gland

  • Location and Structure: The pineal gland is located in the epithalamus, near the centre of the brain, between the two hemispheres. Its pinecone-like shape has inspired its name.
  • Biological Function: The primary function of the pineal gland is to produce melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles and circadian rhythms. Melatonin is crucial for healthy sleep patterns, which in turn are essential for overall brain health.

Importance in Brain Health

  • Regulation of Sleep: The pineal gland's production of melatonin directly influences sleep quality, which is vital for cognitive functions like memory, learning, and decision-making.
  • Mood Regulation: Adequate melatonin levels are also associated with mood stabilisation. Disruptions in pineal gland function can lead to mood disorders and affect mental health.

The Pineal Gland in Historical and Cultural Contexts

  • Symbol of Enlightenment: In various spiritual traditions, the pineal gland is seen as a gateway to higher consciousness and spiritual awakening.
  • Historical Views: Ancient civilizations, including the Egyptians and Greeks, revered the pineal gland, believing it to be the link between the physical and spiritual worlds.

Modern Scientific Inquiry

  • Research on Pineal Gland Health: Recent scientific studies have focused on understanding how the health of the pineal gland affects overall brain function and ageing.
  • Impact of Environmental Factors: Research also examines how modern lifestyle factors, such as exposure to artificial light, can affect the pineal gland and disrupt natural rhythms.

The Pineal Gland and Cognitive Function

  • Cognitive Implications: There is growing interest in how the health of the pineal gland might influence cognitive abilities, including focus, clarity of thought, and creativity.
  • Potential for Neuroprotection: Some studies suggest that a healthy pineal gland might protect against age-related cognitive decline.

The pineal gland, though small, is a critical component of our brain's health ecosystem. Its influence on sleep, mood, and potentially even cognitive abilities places it at the centre of discussions about brain health and wellness.

Monatomic Gold and the Brain

The intersection of monatomic gold with brain health marks a fascinating area of exploration, blending ancient wisdom with modern scientific curiosity. Let’s delve into how monatomic gold is believed to interact with the brain, including the theories and research that support its potential benefits.

Theoretical Interaction with the Brain

  • Enhancing Neural Conductivity: One theory posits that monatomic gold could enhance the conductivity of the neural pathways. This could potentially lead to improved signal transmission within the brain, enhancing cognitive functions such as memory, focus, and clarity of thought.
  • Cellular Level Impact: Research also suggests that monatomic gold might interact with the cells at a molecular level, potentially aiding in cellular regeneration and brain health.

Research and Scientific Perspectives

  • Current Studies: While extensive scientific research on monatomic gold is limited, some preliminary studies and theoretical models suggest potential neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing effects.
  • Expert Opinions: Some neuroscientists and holistic health practitioners have discussed the possible benefits of monatomic gold, emphasising the need for more research.

Potential Cognitive Benefits

  • Memory and Learning: Anecdotal reports and some preliminary studies suggest that monatomic gold may aid in improving memory and learning capabilities.
  • Mental Clarity and Focus: Users of monatomic gold often report enhanced mental clarity and focus, although these effects are yet to be scientifically validated.

Monatomic Gold and Brainwave Activity

  • Influence on Brain Waves: There is a growing interest in how monatomic gold might influence brain wave patterns, potentially leading to states of heightened awareness and concentration.
  • Meditation and Mindfulness: Some practitioners believe that monatomic gold can enhance meditation practices, possibly by affecting the brain's alpha and theta waves, which are associated with deep relaxation and creativity.

The relationship between monatomic gold and brain health is an intriguing subject that sits at the crossroads of ancient tradition and modern science. The exploration of monatomic gold's effects on the brain, particularly its potential to enhance cognitive functions and brainwave activity, remains a promising and captivating field of study.

Potential Benefits for the Pineal Gland

The pineal gland, often enshrouded in mystery and revered in various spiritual traditions, is a focal point in understanding the potential benefits of monatomic gold. This section explores how monatomic gold may positively influence the health and functioning of the pineal gland, based on current theories and anecdotal evidence.

Enhancing Pineal Gland Function

  • Potential Activation: One of the most discussed potential benefits of monatomic gold is its ability to 'activate' or 'energise' the pineal gland. This concept, often rooted in spiritual contexts, suggests that monatomic gold could enhance the gland's functionality, potentially leading to improved overall well-being.
  • Improving Melatonin Production: Given the pineal gland's role in melatonin production, there is speculation that monatomic gold might aid in regulating sleep patterns by supporting the gland's natural functions.

Monatomic Gold and Pineal Gland Decalcification

  • Decalcification Theory: A popular theory in holistic health circles is that monatomic gold may help in the decalcification of the pineal gland. Calcification of the pineal gland, often attributed to environmental and dietary factors, is believed to hinder its function.
  • Anecdotal Reports: Some individuals who have supplemented with monatomic gold report experiences that align with the notion of pineal gland decalcification, such as clearer thinking and heightened intuition, though these claims are yet to be scientifically proven.

Potential Impact on Consciousness and Spiritual Awareness

  • Expanding Consciousness: There is a long-standing belief, both in ancient traditions and among modern users, that monatomic gold can aid in expanding consciousness and enhancing spiritual awareness, roles traditionally attributed to a healthy pineal gland.
  • Meditative and Mindful States: Users often report that monatomic gold supplementation leads to deeper and more profound meditative states, suggesting a possible link to pineal gland health.

The potential benefits of monatomic gold on the pineal gland are a subject of great interest, particularly in the realms of holistic health and spiritual wellness. As research continues, the intrigue surrounding monatomic gold and its relationship with the pineal gland remains a captivating topic, promising new insights into the intricate connections between supplements, brain health, and consciousness.

Personal Experiences and Anecdotal Evidence

While scientific research into the effects of monatomic gold is still evolving, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence and personal experiences that highlight its perceived benefits.

Collection of Personal Stories

  • Diverse Experiences: Accounts vary widely, with some individuals reporting significant improvements in mental clarity, focus, and cognitive function, while others note more subtle changes.
  • Enhanced Mental Clarity and Focus: A common theme among many users is the experience of enhanced mental clarity and focus. Individuals often describe feeling more alert and mentally sharp after beginning supplementation with monatomic gold.
  • Improved Meditation and Spiritual Practices: Those engaged in meditation and spiritual practices frequently report that monatomic gold has deepened their experiences, attributing this to a more active and healthy pineal gland.

Perceived Benefits on Cognitive Health

  • Memory Improvement: Some users claim improvements in memory recall and retention, suggesting a potential cognitive benefit of monatomic gold.
  • Increased Creativity and Problem-Solving: Reports of heightened creativity and enhanced problem-solving abilities are also common, with users attributing these changes to the supplement.

Impact on Well-being and Mood

  • Mood Stabilisation: Several individuals note a positive impact on their mood, including feelings of calmness and reduced anxiety.
  • Overall Well-being: A general sense of improved well-being is a recurring sentiment, with users often describing a feeling of being more balanced and in tune with themselves.

The Need for Personalized Approach

  • Individual Differences: The wide range of experiences underscores the importance of considering individual differences in biology and lifestyle when evaluating the effects of monatomic gold.
  • Consultation with Health Professionals: As with any supplement, it's advisable for individuals to consult with healthcare professionals before starting monatomic gold, especially when considering its potential impact on brain health.

The personal experiences and anecdotal evidence surrounding monatomic gold paint a complex picture of its potential benefits, particularly for brain health and the functioning of the pineal gland. These stories, rich in personal insights, continue to fuel interest and debate in the holistic health community, contributing to the ongoing conversation about the role of monatomic gold in enhancing cognitive and spiritual well-being.

Safety and Considerations

As with any supplement, the use of monatomic gold requires careful consideration of its safety and potential side effects.

Understanding the Safety Profile

  • Limited Scientific Research: It's important to note that the safety profile of monatomic gold is not extensively documented in scientific literature. This lack of comprehensive research means that potential risks and side effects may not be fully understood.
  • Reports from Users: Anecdotal evidence from users generally suggests that monatomic gold is well-tolerated, but individual experiences can vary.

Recommendations for Safe Usage

  • Starting with Low Doses: For those who choose to use monatomic gold, beginning with a low dose and gradually increasing it can help in monitoring the body's response and minimising potential side effects.
  • Monitoring and Adjusting: Users should closely monitor their reactions to the supplement and adjust the dosage or discontinue use if adverse effects are observed.

Ethical and Quality Considerations

  • Source and Purity: Ensuring that monatomic gold is sourced from reputable suppliers is crucial. The purity and quality of the supplement can significantly impact its safety and efficacy.
  • Avoiding Overreliance: It's important not to over-rely on supplements like monatomic gold as a cure-all solution. A balanced approach that includes a healthy diet, regular exercise, and mental wellness practices is essential for overall brain health.

While monatomic gold presents intriguing possibilities for brain health and the enhancement of pineal gland function, its use comes with considerations of safety and responsibility. As interest in monatomic gold continues to grow, so does the importance of understanding its safety profile and potential impact on health and well-being.

Conclusion: Monatomic Gold Brain Health

The exploration of monatomic gold in the realm of brain health, particularly its potential effects on the pineal gland, represents an intriguing fusion of ancient lore and modern scientific inquiry, generating a wave of positive interest. Anecdotal evidence and preliminary research suggest that monatomic gold may enhance cognitive functions like memory and focus, and possibly improve the health of the pineal gland, leading to better sleep quality and mood regulation. These promising indications, though yet to be fully validated by rigorous scientific studies, point towards a potentially significant impact on mental and overall well-being.

Incorporating monatomic gold into health practices is an exciting prospect that marries age-old wisdom with cutting-edge health strategies. Individuals considering its use are encouraged to make well-informed decisions, to ensure a safe and beneficial experience. This journey into the world of monatomic gold is not just about tapping into its possible health benefits; it's also an exploration into a more holistic understanding of wellness. It opens up a dialogue between traditional beliefs and scientific research, offering a unique opportunity to explore how ancient elements can be reinterpreted and utilised in our modern quest for health and vitality.

As we continue to uncover the mysteries and potential of monatomic gold, we are reminded of the ever-evolving nature of health and wellness, where the past and the present coalesce to pave the way for future discoveries.

Discover the Potential of Monatomic Gold for Your Brain Health

Are you intrigued by the potential benefits of monatomic gold for brain health and the pineal gland? Explore the world of Monatrace Gold Monatomic Gold, a unique supplement offered by Water for Health. Designed with your well-being in mind, this product may be the key to unlocking enhanced cognitive function, mental clarity, and overall brain health.

Experience the benefits of Monatrace Gold Monatomic Gold today and embark on a journey towards a more balanced and harmonious state of mind.

Further reading

For further reading on the topic of monatomic gold, brain health, and the pineal gland, here are some resources you might find informative:

  • Pineal Calcification, Melatonin Production, Aging, Associated Health Consequences and Rejuvenation of the Pineal Gland: This scientific article, available on the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website, discusses the pineal gland's role in melatonin production, its calcification, and associated health consequences. It provides a detailed overview of the pineal gland's functions and potential rejuvenation strategies. Read the article here.
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Pomegranate - An Ancient Fruit with Infinite Wisdom

Pomegranate - An Ancient Fruit with Infinite Wisdom

Pomegranate has multiple modes of action influencing various bodily systems; hence the reason pomegranate, in particular the standardised extract offers a plethora of health benefits; recognising the potential of this remarkable fruit led to the creation of Skin+Beyond.

The following blog will showcase the therapeutic modes of action and benefits pomegranate extract (PE) has to offer. Backed up by over 3,000 studies on PubMed. PE exhibits many attributes including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, prebiotic, mitophagy (regeneration of cellular parts), autophagy, skin protection, hormone and gene regulation.

NB Patented, pomegranate extract (PE) is different to the fruit since it contains the key compounds linked to health in standardized amounts, mainly from the inedible peel.

ANTIOXIDANT

PE contains potent antioxidants, namely punicalagins that are not only unique to pomegranate, but possess powerful bioactive free radical scavenging properties, with Pomella® standardised to 30% punicalagins. (1)

PE upregulates Nrf2 activity, an important mediator of antioxidant signalling during inflammation by boosting antioxidant enzymes e.g. superoxide dismutase. (2)

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY

Inflammation is the key driver of all ageing processes and not just skin, mediated at every stage of disease progression by nuclear factor kappa beta (NF-κB), the master inflammatory pathway.

Punicalagins found in PE not only demonstrate potent anti-oxidant activity, but anti- inflammatory by suppressing the master inflammatory pathway, NF-κB that is implicated in every chronic disease including skin ageing, cancers, heart disease, stroke, autoimmune diseases e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s to name a few. (3)

PREBIOTIC

Pomegranate extract or PE exerts potent prebiotic properties that not only boosts gut health, but all areas of health.

PE polyphenols are converted into Urolithin-A by gut microbes. (4) This novel anti-ageing postbiotic improves mitophagy, the regeneration of the mitochondria or energy plants of the cells. (5) See under “Mitophagy” below.

PE polyphenols, especially punicalagins that are unique to pomegranate have put Urolithin- A in the higher echelons of health compounds with wide ranging benefits including skin, gut, joints, muscle, heart, brain, exercise performance and longevity to name a few.

Further PE via prebiotic action boosts akkermansia muciniphila, a novel probiotic strain that protects the gut barrier from inflammatory damage and exerts weightloss, anti-obesity and anti-diabetic properties as well as protecting the digestive tract from inflammatory/immune disorders e.g. IBD, Crohn’s. (6)

MITOPHAGY

Mitochondrial dysfunction is the root to most if not all conditions of ageing. (7)

Due to age and/or poor lifestyle factors, the mitochondria (energy plants of the cells) are not replaced or regenerated via mitophagy, causing a reduced output of cellular energy (ATP) and more free radicals. Combined they lead to ageing of different bodily systems e.g. skin, joints, heart, brain, muscle, immune etc.

Mitophagy represents a new paradigm in anti-ageing, courtesy of Urolithin-A and transcription factor EB, that is metabolized (in the gut) and upregulated respectively via pomegranate polyphenols. By optimising mitophagy, you are essentially giving your engine (mitochondria) a tune up that runs the car (body) better with less exhaust emissions (free radicals in cells).

AUTOPHAGY

Similar to mitophagy, but this clearing and recycling process involves other parts of the cells that have become senescent or aged, including toxic and damaged aggregated proteins that are the hallmarks of neurodegeneration.

Autophagy plays an important role when it comes to ageing and longevity. As a person ages, autophagy decreases, which can lead to a build-up of cellular junk parts that hamper normal cellular functioning, and cause inflammation and mitochondrial damage.

Transcription factor EB (TFEB) regulates autophagy. (8) See directly below.

TRANSCRIPTION FACTOR EB (TFEB)

Pomegranate extract or PE also shows a separate mechanism of improving or rebooting mitophagy by activating the gene regulator, Transcription Factor EB (TFEB) independent of the gut postbiotic, Urolithin-A. Singapore researchers made this remarkable finding in 2019. (9)

TFEB has widespread implications for health including neuroprotection, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory attributes. (10)

In fact improved expression of TFEB via pomegranate balances the immune response so effectively that it has been linked to the prevention of sepsis, a significant finding since sepsis has been implicated in 20% of global deaths. (11)

TFEB has been referred to as the master regulator of mitophagy (12) and autophagy. (13)

COLLAGEN AND ELASTIN SYNTHESIS

PE protects dermal fibroblasts (collagen and elastin producing cells) from UV damage similar to MitoQ, a £60 per month super antioxidant. This potent antioxidant and anti- inflammatory activity gives PE the ability to boost collagen and elastin synthesis. (14)

NB Dermal fibroblasts provide the machinery for dermal hyaluronic acid or HA synthesis and should be the key priority in targeting skin hydration. Importantly HA from creams and ingestible formats is cleared quickly and degraded from the dermis. (15)

ANTI-GLYCATIVE

Glycation is a process caused by free radicals from stimuli such as UV light and sugars reacting with proteins and fats to form advanced glycation end products (AGEs); these AGEs damage keratin, collagen and elastin in connective tissues e.g. skin, joints, vascular system (heart, brain), resulting in premature ageing. In fact glycation is a major issue for diabetics. (16)

Pomegranate especially in the patented Pomella® extract form, is a natural AGE product inhibitor and anti-inflammatory agent, showing great potential as an anti-glycative agent, thus slowing the progression this damaging process. (17)

SKIN

Pomegranate offers so many mechanisms of action on skin health that it genuinely offers “All in one skin solution” that is 100% natural including the following:

Antioxidant

PE and specifically Pomella® exerts potent, synergistic effects on protecting keratinocytes from free radical induced oxidative damage. (18)

PE protects the collagen and elastin producing cells, the dermal fibroblasts from DNA damage caused by free radicals, specifically the DNA of mitochondria that generate cellular energy, the lifeforce of all bodily systems including skin.

Skin ageing researchers in the UK, made a remarkable finding when PE compared well to MitoQ, a patented super antioxidant when protecting against UV induced damage. Further PE has many other therapeutic properties other than antioxidant. (19)

NB This was an inferior pomegranate product, and PE has many more attributes than just antioxidant.

Further antioxidant action of PE bioactives prevent glycation that damages keratinocytes and alters ceramide (fats) production in the epidermis, and damages the collagen and elastin structures in the dermis and the extracellular matrix. (20)

Anti-inflammatory

The key polyphenol unique to PE, punicalagins exerts potent anti-inflammatory attributes on via the inhibition of NF-κB, TFEB upregulation and courtesy of its gut metabolite, Urolithin-A Inflammation drives more free radicals and oxidative stress, leading to damage to epidermis and dermis layers of skin. (21)

Prebiotic

PE also boosts skin barrier integrity via the prebiotic action in the gut that influences the skin via the gut-skin axis. It does this by making Urolithin-A that exerts gut barrier protection, which is anti-inflammatory, in turn protecting the skin via the gut-skin axis. (22)

Further PE boosts the novel probiotic, akkermansia muciniphila that also exerts gut barrier protection, that is anti-inflammatory in turn protecting the skin via the gut-skin axis. (23)

Mitophagy

PE improves mitophagy via the gut metabolite Urolithin-A and upregulation of the gene expressor, transcription factor EB (TFEB). Both keratinocytes (keratin) and dermal fibroblasts (collagen and elastin) benefit from regenerating their mitochondria or energy plants via the mitophagy process that declines with age and/or poor lifestyle. (24)

Autophagy

If senescent cells and aggregated proteins are not cleared in the ECM due to a breakdown in autophagy, mitochondrial damage will result, thus effecting collagen synthesis and hyaluronic acid synthesis.

Autophagy plays a key role in the health of keratinocytes and dermal fibroblasts, thus optimising keratin, collagen and elastin production. (25)

Fortunately pomegranate extract or PE via the upregulation of transcription factor EB (TFEB) stimulates autophagy. (26)

Collagen and Elastin Synthesis

Pomegranate extract or PE boosts collagen synthesis by protecting the dermal fibroblasts from oxidative damage and improving mitophagy. This amazing finding has only come to light recently and it represents a paradigm shift in bodily ageing. This study showed in relation to skin urolithin A increased type 1 collagen expression and reduced MMP-1 expression. (27)

NB MMP-1 is largely responsible for collagen and elastin degradation along with glycation.

Anti-Glycative

PE prevents and slows glycation, a process caused by environmental stimuli e.g. UV rays and where sugar in the form of circulating glucose reacts with proteins, in turn forming advanced glycation end products or AGEs that damage the collagen matrix in skin as well as other areas such as joints; PE inhibits glycation significantly. (28)

PE and its polyphenols have been shown to prevent methylglyoxal (MGO) induced DNA damage of keratin producing cells (keratinocytes), and boost collagen and hyaluronic acid production in the extracellular matrix. (29)

NB Damage to keratin via AGE products also affects the structure and production of ceramides. Although PE does not directly boost ceramide production, it indirectly does and the niacinamide in Skin+Beyond boosts ceramide synthesis by 34%. (30)

This in turn helps to retain moisture and skin barrier integrity, thus maintaining firmness and protecting skin from environmental insults that cause inflammation and associated damage.

How do these qualities of PE improve skin health?

Please note there may be references to other extracts, but they have the same amounts of the key bioactive compounds e.g. 30% punicalagins.

  • PE boosts water content by +51% in the stratum corneum, and +40% increase in skin hydration overall since PE boosts the production of hyaluronic acid that has impressive water retention properties (31)
  • Pomegranate boosts hyaluronic acid (HA) in the extracellular matrix by 50%, and prevents cross Cross linkages prevent removal of damaged collagen (32)

NB The extracellular matrix or ECM that makes up over 70% of the skin, is the key player in repairing and regenerating the skin. (33)

  • PE reduces wrinkle volume or depth by -26% and skin roughness by -31% (34)
  • PE boosts blood microcirculation by reducing blood vessel permeability; this increases nutrient, water and oxygen delivery to the skin layers, in turn improving radiance (35)
  • PE reduces the appearance of dark spots or hyperpigmentation and inhibits tyrosinase to decrease melanogenesis, reducing both melanocytes and melanosomes (36)
  • PE can be helpful for severe cases of acne, especially when it’s inflammatory driven evidenced by papules and pustules. By reducing inflammation in the gut via S+B prebiotic action, you will alleviate all inflammatory linked skin conditions (37)
  • PE protects against free radicals and oxidative stress caused by environmental stressors e.g. UV sunlight, pollution and toxins (38)
  • PE improves skin tone and reduces dark spots and blemishes (39)
  • Pomegranate extract also has been proven to boost hair health; the researchers found better hair strength, increased hair density and thickness, and an improved speed of hair growth in the participants (40)

HORMONE

Pomegranate extract or PE promotes hormone health since it contains the highest amount of oestrogen in the plant kingdom; hence the reason it is a boon for postmenopausal women; further PE boosts healthy estrogen in younger women, and prevents xenoestrogens (toxic metabolites) from chemicals and other products e.g. plastics

Pomegranate extract or PE offers postmenopausal protection from osteoporosis, heart disease, moods and hormone cancers e.g. breast; these benefits extend to all women. (41)

MUSCLE

Longevity is very dependent on the amount of muscle you have! Sarcopenia is a muscle wasting condition that accelerates over 40, and is central to chronic decline and early

mortality. Believe it or not muscle wastage is linked to cognitive decline and even dementia. (42)

Pomegranate extract or PE makes Urolithin-A in the gut, which boosts mitophagy that prevents and reverses sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass); muscle mass and strength are the ultimate determinants in preventing chronic decline and improving longevity. (43)

Further Urolithin-A actually boosts NAD+ levels and upregulates the sirtuin-1 gene in skeletal muscle. NAD+ is a crucial co-factor in cellular energy production or ATP in the mitochondria.(44)

NB The sirtuin-1 gene is central to longevity, and NAD+ is often referred to as “The biggest discovery in regenerative medicine” or “The secret of life and anti-ageing”. Importantly niacinamide, another ingredient in Skin+Beyond is an effective precursor for making NAD+. No need for expensive NR and NMN precursors.

CARDIOVASCULAR

Pomegranate is often referred to as “The heart fruit” due to its positive effect on multiple factors that lead to heart disease and stroke. effective multiple mechanisms of action, including the reduction of arterial plaque by 36% in one year and that includes the carotid arteries supplying the brain with blood, in turn preventing and reducing the risk of stroke as well as heart attack. (45)

There is no such thing as bad cholesterol; oxidized cholesterol (oxLDL), a key factor in heart disease, is when LDL becomes oxidised or damaged due to inflammation from poor lifestyle. A further study showed a 59% reduction in oxidised cholesterol (oxLDL), a more accurate predictor of arteriosclerosis and associated heart attacks compared to LDL cholesterol. Further the study showed: (46)

  • 130% increase in antioxidant capacity
  • 21% reduction in systolic blood pressure
  • 39% improvement in arterial plaque in one year

BRAIN

Due to various stimuli e.g. toxins, infections, gut inflammation (gut-brain axis), neurons come under assault via oxidative stress, inflammation and free radicals. Resultant neuroinflammation results from overstimulated microglia, the immune cells of the brain and key protectors of neurons. (47)

Pomegranate extract or PE has been demonstrated in a recent study to control (balance) microglia activation and dampen neuroinflammation, in turn protecting brain cells from further damage in an Alzheimer’s model. (48)

Further autophagy helps clear these toxic, aggregated proteins. When autophagy is dysfunctional in microglia, phagocytosis (clearing damaged cells and toxic proteins) breaks down and neuroinflammation ensues, leading to neurodegeneration.

Autophagy is boosted by the upregulation of Transcription Factor EB or TFEB (49), which in turn is upregulated by pomegranate extract or PE polyphenols as identified by researchers from Singapore in 2019. (50)

Another key factor in the initiation and progression of neurodegeneration is mitochondrial dysfunction. Caused by environmental stimuli induced oxidative stress and inflammation, and the breakdown in mitophagy system that removes and regenerates the damaged mitochondria, the energy plants of the cells. (51)

Pomegranate upregulates or boosts mitophagy via the production of the gut metabolite Urolithin-A and the upregulation of the gene expresser, TFEB. Further the pomegranate metabolite, Urolithin-A exerts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory attributes, and crosses the blood-brain barrier to protect neurons and their mitochondria (energy plants), in turn preventing the chronic microglia response (overreaction) that causes neuroinflammation, protein aggregate formation, and potential neuronal damage and loss. (52,53)

Glycation plays a role in the formation of amyloid protein aggregates, the hallmark of Alzheimer’s, and further amyloid proteins found in Alzheimer’s patients show evidence of glycation. This is significant when you consider that pomegranate prevents and retards glycation (see under “Anti-glycative”) and prevents the formation of amyloid plaques or deposits via microglial inhibition and autophagy as discussed here.

Interestingly the researchers in this study concluded that oxidative stress causes both

glycation and amyloid protein formation, and therefore effective treatment strategies could include antioxidants, and in particular polyphenols that are well studied for proven for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory attributes. (54)

The gut-brain connection

It’s often overlooked that the gut and brain are dependent on each other for optimum health via the gut-brain axis making the gut microbiome a key player not only in preventing neurodegenerative and mental health conditions; hence the reason the gut is often referred to as “The second brain”. (55)

When the good to bad microbes in the gut become imbalanced known as gut dysbiosis, the immune system reacts with an inflammatory response that migrates to the brain via the vagus nerve and in the case of gut barrier damage via the bloodstream.

If gut dysbiosis and associated gut inflammation is left unchecked, the intestinal barrier can be breached, often referred to as leaky gut syndrome, in turn allowing microbes, undigested food particles and toxins into the bloodstream. This prompts a chronic immune response and inevitable autoimmunity that causes a plethora of disease states e.g. irritable bowel disease Crohn’s, type I diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, MS, MND, Alzheimer’s.

The prebiotic activity of PE has three mechanisms of action:

  • The gut metabolite, Urolithin-A protects the gut from inflammation and damage, which in turn prevents neurological and psychiatric problems via the gut-brain axis or leaky gut (56)
  • PE boosts the numbers of akkermansia muciniphila, a novel probiotic that protects the gut barrier, in turn preventing damage and resultant inflammation and gut barrier permeability that causes brain inflammation (57)
  • Boosting of probiotic numbers including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria family strains keeps a healthy balance of good to bad microbes (58)

IMMUNITY

Pomegranate improves immunity via multiple mechanisms of action. Mitophagy (via Urolithin-A and TFEB) or the regeneration of mitochondria to prevent uncontrolled immune responses such as chronic inflammatory chemical release and excess immune cell activation. The key is a balanced response to threats. (59)

Gut health equals immune health since 70% of immune cells are made in the gut. The potent prebiotic activity of PE promotes gut health. (60) See above under “Brain”.

Further PE upregulates TFEB that in turn improves immune health, so much so it has been shown to prevent sepsis, a pervasive condition due to imbalanced immune response, that can be deadly. (61)

GUT & DIGESTION

Prebiotic action of pomegranate polyphenols as outlined above under “Brain” protect both the gut and beyond the gut into the digestive tract; worthy of special note is the novel gut microbe akkermansia muciniphila (AKKM) boosted by pomegranate polyphenols. (62)

AKKM consumes mucin in the gut wall, in turn releasing short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that protects the digestive tract including the colon from inflammatory disorders (IBD, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s) and cancers including colon. (63)

METABOLIC HEALTH

Pomegranate improves metabolic health by exhibiting cardiovascular (See under “Cardiovascular”), anti-obesity and anti-diabetic properties. It does so via a range of modes of action e.g. anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, prebiotic. However rising star in metabolic health is the exciting probiotic, akkermansia muciniphila that is boosted by pomegranate polyphenols and exerts its metabolic enhancing attributes through its actions in the gut and digestive tract. (64), (65)

JOINTS

Pomegranate extract or PE exerts multiple modes of action on preventing and improving joint and bone disorders.

Pomegranate extract or PE exerts potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that protect the fibroblasts (collagen and elastin producing cells) in joints and bone from free radical induced oxidative damage. (66)

PE boosts collagen synthesis and inhibits collagen and elastin degrading enzymes (MMPs), in turn boosting and protecting the health of joints and bone. Further PE exhibits ant- glycative properties, in turn protecting connective tissue from this other degrading process affecting connective tissues. (6768)

PE upregulates the gene encoder, transcription factor EB or TFEB that improves mitophagy (similar to Urolithin-A) and autophagy, in turn protecting joints and bones from degenerative disorders including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. (69)

Further pomegranate contains the highest amount of oestrogen in the plant World; post- menopausal women are low in oestrogen, which is also linked to joint and bone conditions. (70,71)

SPORTS PERFORMANCE & RECOVERY

As well as the joint and bone promoting properties of PE (See under “Joints”); PE has potent sports performance and recovery attributes. (72)

LIFESPAN

The pomegranate gut metabolite Urolithin-A promotes NAD+ and Sirt-1 gene expression, both linked to increased muscle mass and increased lifespan. (73)

Further Urolithin-A prevents and reverses sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass); muscle mass and strength are the ultimate determinants in longevity. Hence the reason Urolithin-A also increased the lifespan of c. elegans worms. (74)

CANCER

Pomegranate extract or PE demonstrates potent anti-cancer activity in many cancers including breast, colon, prostate, skin and lung. (75)

Written by Clark Russell, Founder of Skin + Beyond, a unique, hybrid prebiotic drink with patented Pomegranate Extract for skin and much, much more. 

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Boosting Brain Health and Mood: The Synergy of Gut Health and Vitamin B's

Boosting Brain Health and Mood: The Synergy of Gut Health and Vitamin B's

In today's fast-paced world, mental well-being and cognitive function have become paramount not just for productivity, but for overall quality of life. While many factors contribute to the health of our minds, emerging research has spotlighted two key players: the health of our gut and the intake of Vitamin B's. This article delves into the intricate connection between these elements and their combined influence on brain health and mood.

The brain, often regarded as the control centre of the body, is influenced by numerous internal and external factors. From the foods we consume to the stress we experience, every aspect of our lives has the potential to impact our cognitive function and emotional state. Among these, the role of our gut, often referred to as the "second brain," and the essential Vitamin B complex, have garnered significant attention from the scientific community.

As we navigate through this article, we'll uncover the profound ways in which our gut health and Vitamin B's work in tandem to support and enhance our brain's performance and emotional well-being. By understanding this synergy, we can take proactive steps to nurture our minds and elevate our mood, leading to a more fulfilling and balanced life.

Understanding Brain Health

The brain, a complex and intricate organ, serves as the epicentre of our thoughts, emotions, and actions. Its health determines not only our cognitive abilities but also our emotional responses and overall well-being. But what exactly does "brain health" entail, and why is it so crucial?

Definition and Significance of Optimal Brain Health

  • Brain Health Defined: At its core, brain health refers to the ability to remember, learn, plan, concentrate, and maintain a clear and active mind. It's about being able to draw on the strengths of your brain—information management, logic, judgement, perspective, and wisdom.
  • Why It Matters: A healthy brain allows us to function effectively in daily life, make informed decisions, and connect with others on an emotional level. It's the foundation for mental well-being and resilience against external stressors.

Common Factors Affecting Brain Health

  • Age: As we age, certain cognitive functions can naturally decline. However, with proper care and stimulation, the brain can remain sharp and active throughout life.
  • Diet and Nutrition: What we consume plays a pivotal role in brain health. Nutrient-rich foods provide the essential building blocks for brain cells and neurotransmitters.
  • Physical Activity: Regular exercise increases blood flow to the brain, promoting the growth of new neurons and enhancing cognitive function.
  • Mental Stimulation: Engaging in mentally stimulating activities, such as reading, puzzles, or learning a new skill, can strengthen neural connections and boost brain health.
  • Stress: Chronic stress releases excessive cortisol, a hormone that, in high amounts, can interfere with memory and learning.
  • Sleep: Quality sleep is vital for memory consolidation and overall cognitive function.
  • Social Connections: Engaging in social activities and maintaining strong interpersonal relationships can ward off feelings of isolation and depression, both of which can impact brain health.

Understanding these factors provides a roadmap to nurturing our brain health, allowing us to take proactive measures to enhance our cognitive abilities and emotional well-being.

The Gut-Brain Connection

The gut and the brain, though seemingly unrelated, share a profound connection that has been the subject of extensive research in recent years. This connection, known as the gut-brain axis, plays a pivotal role in our overall well-being, influencing everything from our mood to our cognitive abilities.

Overview of the Gut-Brain Axis

  • What is the Gut-Brain Axis? The gut-brain axis refers to the bidirectional communication between the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and the enteric nervous system (the nervous system of the gastrointestinal tract).
  • How Do They Communicate? This communication is facilitated through various pathways, including neural connections, hormones, and immune system interactions. One of the primary messengers in this system is the gut microbiota, the diverse community of microorganisms residing in our intestines.

How Gut Health Impacts Mental Well-being

  • Mood Regulation: Certain strains of gut bacteria produce neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which play a crucial role in mood regulation.
  • Stress Response: An imbalanced gut can lead to an exaggerated stress response, potentially leading to anxiety and depression.
  • Cognitive Function: Gut health can influence brain plasticity, learning, and memory.

The Role of Gut Microbiota in Cognitive Function and Mood Regulation

  • Neurotransmitter Production: A significant portion of the body's serotonin, a neurotransmitter linked to happiness and well-being, is produced in the gut.
  • Inflammation Reduction: A healthy gut can reduce systemic inflammation, which has been linked to various neurological conditions, including depression.
  • Protection Against Neurological Diseases: Some research suggests that a balanced gut microbiota can offer protection against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Understanding the intricate relationship between our gut and brain underscores the importance of maintaining a healthy gut. By nurturing our gut health, we can positively influence our brain function, mood, and overall mental well-being.

The Power of Vitamin B's

Vitamin B's, a group of water-soluble vitamins, play an indispensable role in maintaining optimal brain health. Their impact on cognitive function, energy production, and mood regulation has made them a focal point of nutritional neuroscience.

Introduction to the Vitamin B Complex

  • What are Vitamin B's? The Vitamin B complex comprises eight essential vitamins, each with its unique role in promoting brain health and overall well-being.
  • Importance in Brain Health: These vitamins are crucial for various neural functions, including neurotransmitter synthesis, energy production, and DNA repair.

Specific Roles of Different Vitamin B's in Brain Health:

  • B1 (Thiamine): Essential for glucose metabolism, thiamine ensures that the brain receives adequate energy. A deficiency can lead to memory disturbances and cognitive decline.
  • B3 (Niacin): Supports brain function and can help reduce the risk of age-related brain disorders. It also plays a role in producing several neurotransmitters.
  • B6 (Pyridoxine): Crucial for the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which regulate mood. It also aids in myelin formation, which insulates nerve fibres.
  • B9 (Folate): Supports brain development and function. A deficiency during pregnancy can lead to neural tube defects in infants. In adults, low folate levels are linked to depression.
  • B12 (Cobalamin): Vital for nerve function, the synthesis of neurotransmitters, and DNA production. A deficiency can lead to memory loss, fatigue, and mood disturbances.

The Link Between Vitamin B Deficiencies and Mood Disorders

  • Depression and B Vitamins: Several B vitamins, especially B6, B9, and B12, are directly linked to neurotransmitter synthesis. A deficiency can disrupt this process, leading to mood imbalances.
  • Cognitive Decline: Chronic deficiency in certain B vitamins can lead to decreased cognitive function, memory loss, and increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Energy and Fatigue: B vitamins play a central role in energy metabolism. A deficiency can result in fatigue, lethargy, and reduced cognitive function.

Incorporating a balanced intake of Vitamin B's is paramount for brain health. Whether through diet or supplementation, ensuring adequate levels can significantly enhance cognitive function, mood regulation, and overall mental well-being.

Synergy of Gut Health and Vitamin B's

While the individual roles of gut health and Vitamin B's in brain function are significant, their combined impact is even more profound. Together, they create a synergistic effect that can greatly enhance cognitive abilities and emotional well-being.

How a Healthy Gut Aids in the Absorption of Vitamin B's

  • Digestive Efficiency: A healthy gut ensures efficient digestion and absorption of nutrients, including the Vitamin B complex.
  • Microbial Synthesis: Certain gut bacteria are capable of synthesising B vitamins, further contributing to the body's overall levels.
  • Barrier Function: A well-functioning gut barrier prevents the loss of essential nutrients, including B vitamins, ensuring they are effectively absorbed into the bloodstream.

The Combined Effects on Brain Function and Mood

  • Neurotransmitter Production: A healthy gut microbiota supports the synthesis of neurotransmitters, and adequate Vitamin B levels further enhance this process, ensuring optimal mood regulation.
  • Reduced Inflammation: Both a balanced gut and sufficient Vitamin B intake can reduce systemic inflammation, which is linked to various neurological conditions and mood disturbances.
  • Enhanced Cognitive Abilities: The combined effects of optimal gut health and Vitamin B intake can lead to improved memory, attention, and other cognitive functions.

Practical Steps to Harness the Synergy

  • Dietary Choices: Consuming a diet rich in probiotics, prebiotics, and Vitamin B-rich foods can nurture both the gut and brain.
  • Supplementation: For those with specific deficiencies or dietary restrictions, supplements can be a valuable tool to ensure optimal levels of gut-friendly bacteria and Vitamin B's.
  • Lifestyle Habits: Regular exercise, stress management, and adequate sleep can support both gut health and Vitamin B levels, further enhancing their combined benefits for the brain.

Understanding the interplay between gut health and Vitamin B's offers a holistic approach to brain health. By nurturing both aspects, individuals can unlock enhanced cognitive function, improved mood, and overall better mental well-being.

Simple Steps to Promote Brain Health

Achieving optimal brain health is a holistic endeavour, encompassing both dietary and lifestyle choices. By integrating practices that support gut health and ensuring adequate Vitamin B intake, one can significantly enhance cognitive function and mood stability.

Dietary Recommendations for a Healthy Gut and Adequate Vitamin B Intake

  • Probiotic Foods: Incorporate foods like yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi to boost beneficial gut bacteria.
  • Prebiotic Foods: Consume foods such as garlic, onions, asparagus, and bananas to feed and nurture the beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  • Vitamin B-Rich Foods: Prioritise foods like whole grains, legumes, lean meats, eggs, and leafy greens to ensure a steady intake of the Vitamin B complex.
  • Limit Processed Foods: Minimise the intake of sugary, processed, and fried foods, which can disrupt gut health and nutrient absorption.

The Importance of Probiotics and Prebiotics 

  • Role of Probiotics: These are live beneficial bacteria that can restore and maintain a healthy gut microbiome, supporting digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Role of Prebiotics: These are non-digestible food components that act as food for probiotics, helping them thrive and maintain a balanced gut environment.

Lifestyle Changes to Support Gut and Brain Health

  • Regular Exercise: Physical activity can promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and enhance blood flow to the brain.
  • Stress Management: Engage in relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga to reduce cortisol levels and support gut and brain health.
  • Adequate Sleep: Ensure 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to allow the brain to repair and regenerate and to support a balanced gut microbiome.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to support digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • Limit Alcohol and Caffeine: Excessive consumption can disrupt gut balance and interfere with Vitamin B absorption.

By integrating these simple yet effective steps into daily routines, individuals can create a foundation for optimal brain health, ensuring clarity of thought, emotional stability, and a heightened sense of well-being.

Conclusion: Gut Health and Vitamin B's

The intricate dance between our gut health, Vitamin B's, and brain function shows the extent of the interconnectedness of our body's systems. As we've journeyed through this article, it's evident that the path to optimal brain health and mood stability is multifaceted, encompassing both dietary and lifestyle choices.

 The profound influence of our gut, often dubbed the "second brain," coupled with the essential role of the Vitamin B complex, underscores the importance of a holistic approach to well-being. By nurturing our gut microbiota and ensuring adequate Vitamin B intake, we not only enhance our cognitive abilities but also pave the way for emotional resilience and balance.

Ready to embark on a journey towards optimal health? Explore the wide range of products at Water for Health and discover solutions tailored to your unique health needs.

Further Reading

B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review

This comprehensive review delves into the intricate roles of B vitamins in brain function, emphasising their collective effects on various aspects of brain function, including energy production, DNA/RNA synthesis/repair, and the synthesis of numerous neurochemicals and signalling molecules. Read the full article here

The role of vitamin B12 in viral infections: a comprehensive review

This article explores the potential benefits of vitamin B12 in balancing immune responses, especially in the context of viral infections. Read the full article here

Gut microbiota's effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis

This article provides an in-depth understanding of the gut-brain axis and its implications for mental health. It discusses the bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain and how disturbances in the gut microbiota can influence mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Read the full article here

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What Is N-acetyl-L-cysteine and How Does it Boost Health?

What Is N-acetyl-L-cysteine and How Does it Boost Health?

You may not have heard much about NAC. N-acetyl-L-cysteine, or NAC for short, is a powerful amino acid. It may just be what you need to boost overall health and wellbeing. It’s fascinating because NAC has been used to treat a wide range of ailments. Even in clinical settings. From Schizophrenia to respiratory conditions. As always, our whole body is connected. It seems straight forward, but we often forget this simple fact. This means that a molecule like NAC can impact a wide range of areas of the human body. In this article we’ll explore the science behind NAC, and how it can treat a wide range of health issues.

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Why You Should Take NAC Daily

Why you should take NAC Daily

Have you ever heard of NAC? It stands for N-Acetyl Cysteine. Cysteine is deemed as a non-essential amino acid… Because your body can produce it on its own. On the other hand cysteine is often considered semi-essential Due to the fact that modern lifestyle factors can result in depleted cysteine levels.

It’s crucial in many metabolic processes. Namely; detoxification, respiratory conditions, brain health and fertility. As well as being a building block for protein. NAC is the supplemental form of cysteine, a precursor to the most potent antioxidant - Glutathione! Glutathione is made from the amino acids; cysteine, glycine and glutamic acid. It’s produced in the liver. Therefore any liver condition could result in depleted cysteine levels.

People with HIV or AIDs are also at risk of being deficient in cysteine. Additionally, environmental toxins and medication can all reduce liver and kidney function. This means that your body could have difficulty clearing out waste products. Resulting in an increased need to supplement to support health and wellbeing. Other than vitamin C and glutathione, NAC can be consumed to boost overall health.

That’s because detoxification is vital to keep the body clean and functioning smoothly. In this article we’ll explore the benefits of NAC and whether it’s a good idea to consume it daily as part of a healthy lifestyle routine.

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Is Supplementing with DHA Essential for Brain Health?

Is Supplementing with DHA Essential for Brain Health?

Is Supplementing with DHA Essential for Brain Health?

An essential omega-3 fatty acid and a predominant structural component of the brain (roughly made up of 60% fat), Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a vital nutrient, playing multi-functional roles for brain health and disease prevention. The turnover of DHA in the brain is swift.

Optimal DHA intake is crucial during pregnancy and also while breastfeeding, as it's vital for brain development in utero and infancy.

DHA is also required for the maintenance of normal brain function in adults. Increasing research suggests that DHA intake above standard nutritional requirements can decrease your risk of or modify the course of several brain diseases.

DHA is 'essential' as our bodies can't synthesise it, so we have to get it from food. The most abundant and absorbable form of DHA is oily fish like sardines, wild salmon and mackerel.

You need to eat two portions of fatty fish a week to provide your body with adequate amounts. You can also ensure you're getting enough by taking a daily fish oil supplement.

While research is ongoing regarding the effects of DHA consumption for several diseases and disorders, positive results have emerged for cognitive decline, Alzheimer's, learning ability, ADHD and depression. In this article, we'll aim to answer many of the most common questions surrounding DHA – and suggest ways to increase your intake.

4 Ways in Which DHA Can Support Brain Health

  • 1) May protect against cognitive decline and reduce Alzheimer's risk

    There are many benefits to supplementing with fish oils .If you don't eat much oily fish, taking supplements might help to improve your cognition.

    In 2013, a randomised controlled trial (RCT) demonstrated this by splitting 176 healthy adults with low DHA status into two groups.

    One took fish oil supplements for six months, while the other took a placebo.

    Memory notably improved in the DHA group versus placebo. Women showed the most significant improvements in episodic memory, and men exhibited the greatest advances in reaction times of working memory.

    A trial published in 2017 showed positive effects from DHA supplementation on hippocampal volume and cognitive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment.

    240 elderly MCI patients took part in the Chinese study. They also had a loss of volume in the hippocampus (the brain area associated with memory).

    One group supplemented 2g DHA per day for 12 months versus placebo. The DHA group showed significantly improved cognitive function and also had decreased loss of hippocampal volume.

    Higher DHA intake appears to correlate with a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease. Some evidence suggests that higher DHA intake and increased DHA blood levels may decrease Alzheimer's and dementia risk.

    Chronic inflammation can contribute to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, and DHA has the potential to decrease inflammation in the brain.

    Some researchers suggest a promising strategy for Alzheimer's prevention is to maintain a healthy nerve cell population in the brain with consistent DHA consumption, long term.

    2) May aid depression

    Many positive studies researching the link between fish oils and depression focus on both EPA and DHA, and a diet higher in oily fish may decrease depression symptoms.

    While some studies show that a higher proportion of EPA to DHA has more beneficial effects on depression, DHA is still essential for good mental health and deficiency is associated with depression.

    DHA may help mediate depression in women, and much research finds supplementation with both EPA and DHA is most effective for depressive symptoms.

    One small study found a correlation between lower DHA consumption and depression.

    DHA supplementation in healthy pregnant women may reduce the risk of postnatal depression.

    Related: The Standalone Benefits of High EPA Fish Oil

    3) May help to reduce the risk of ADHD and relieve symptoms

    ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed neurodevelopmental disorders in schoolchildren in the UK.

    Symptoms continue into adulthood, and ADHD often comes with other developmental conditions, including autism , dyslexia, and dyspraxia.

    ADHD symptoms can fall into the categories of inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

    Some people may experience inattentiveness but not the other two, and this is known as ADD, which often goes undiagnosed as it can be less noticeable.

    While research into supplementation with omega-3 fats EPA and DHA are inconsistent, enough positive studies warrant further investigation.

    Omega-3 fats are essential for brain and nervous system function, and DHA deficiency in infancy could increase the risk of ADHD in early life.

    Some research shows that supplementing with omega-3 fats, specifically DHA, may improve literacy and behaviour in children with ADHD. 

    A 2013 study showed improved spelling and literacy, hyperactivity and behaviour in children supplementing with high daily doses of either DHA or EPA.

    In children with ADHD, DHA may improve word reading and oppositional behaviour. This change may be more pronounced in children with learning difficulties.

    Supplementing with DHA may also improve spelling, attention, hyperactivity, restlessness and overall ADHD symptoms.

    While several studies show that behaviour in children with ADHD significantly improves with EPA and DHA combined, some researchers think DHA is more important.

    Brain mapping shows that a person with ADHD has a brain that functions differently. It appears that there may be a deficiency of the neurotransmitter noradrenaline, which controls dopamine production.

    Dopamine is a feel-good neurotransmitter with many tasks, including our reward-centred behaviour.

    Low noradrenaline and skewed dopamine levels can result in impaired brain function in four parts of the brain:

    • The frontal cortex
    • Limbic system
    • Basal Ganglia
    • Reticular activating system

    These parts of the brain are associated with organisation, executive function, regulation of emotions and attention.

    Deficiencies in these brain areas can result in impulsiveness, inattention, lack of organisation and more.

    DHA supports dopamine and serotonin production, improving mood and sleep. It may also reduce hyperactivity.

    4) DHA is essential for children's brain health  

    Adequate DHA intake is vital during pregnancy and while breastfeeding as it's essential for brain development both in the womb and in infancy.

    DHA deficiency may also increase the risk of ADHD.

    Research shows that children with higher blood levels of DHA and total omega-3 are more likely to pass a test to determine executive function (the ability to plan and organise, recall facts, multi-task, pay attention and switch focus).

    Research suggests that babies born to mothers with increased blood levels of DHA had advanced attention spans well into their second year.

    During their first six months, these infants were two months ahead of those born to mothers with lower DHA levels. 

    Researchers analysing the results of several trials concluded that omega-3 fats, particularly DHA, may improve brain function and mood in children.

    Kids with low literacy ability and those with little DHA in their diet seem to benefit most from having increased omega-3s.

    Deficient DHA could negatively impact learning and behaviour in healthy children. It appears that they might benefit from supplementing with DHA as it can improve brain activity, cognition and behaviour. 

    Poor sleep negatively affects cognitive function, focus, concentration and learning. It can considerably affect school performance and behaviour in children.

    In 2014, researchers noted associations between lower blood DHA levels and increased sleep disturbance. They found that supplementing with DHA improved their sleep, it was less disturbed, and some children had an average of an extra 58 minutes of sleep per night.

    Conclusion

    A trial published in 2017 showed positive effects from DHA supplementation on hippocampal volume and cognitive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment.

    DHA is considered by many to be a brain nutraceutical. It's a primary structural component of the brain and is crucial for brain growth, development, and maintaining normal brain function in adults.

    It may help to protect against cognitive decline, reduce Alzheimer's risk and aid depression. DHA may also help to improve ADHD symptoms and increase brain activity and cognition in healthy children.

    It can enhance brain function and mood in children with inadequate DHA in their diet and those with low literacy.

    You can't synthesise DHA and must get it from food by eating two portions of oily fish per week (sardines, mackerel, anchovies, wild salmon, herring etc.).

    Sadly, many people are justifiably concerned about the toxicity in fish from heavy metals, pesticides and other contaminants and opt for a fish oil supplement instead.

    UnoCardio X2 is an ultra-pure fish oil from WHC that's third-party tested for purity, freshness and stability. Providing 420mg of DHA per dose, this high-strength supplement helps you meet your daily quota of essential fatty acids. It is currently ranked #3 (of 54) in Labdoor's independent league table of fish oils. Each pack provides a two-month supply.

    Written by Rebecca Rychlik, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

    Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click  here  to find out more.

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Can Ketones Help Alleviate Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Can Ketones Help Alleviate Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer’s Disease affects around 44 million people, and with no known cure, a diagnosis can feel like a death sentence. But is there a solution right under our noses?

Emerging research indicates that dietary changes – specifically those geared towards improving metabolic health – can have a profound effect on sufferers of Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders.

Indeed, there was an entire section of presentations at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) dedicated to brain ketone metabolism and advanced ketone strategies.

In essence, dietary interventions “train” the brain to use ketone bodies instead of glucose for energy, with attendant benefits for cognitive function and energy supply.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the evidence.

Ketones for Alzheimer’s: The Basics


Ketosis is a natural metabolic state wherein the body produces ketone bodies out of fat, and uses them for energy instead of carbs.

It is the principle of the ketogenic diet, which has become massively popular in recent years but has also been used in epilepsy cases for over a century.

Ketone bodies are molecules generated in the liver which are capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier and providing energy in the absence of glucose.

That’s right, ketones are perfectly able to meet the brain’s energy needs.

Alzheimer’s is caused by cellular dysfunction and an abnormal buildup of protein in and around brain cells, leading to their decreased function and eventual death.

The main risk factors are age (risk doubles every five years after you reach 65), family history, cardiovascular disease and head injuries.

With the brain unable to effectively metabolise glucose, ketones step in as a welcome alternative energy source – and a neuroprotective one, at that.

A weight of scientific evidence indicates that ketones can alter the brain’s metabolism in ways that reduce neuropathology and alleviate behavioural symptoms.

Ketones have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, serving to prevent damage to cells in the brain.

Ketones for Alzheimer’s: The Available Evidence


2019 University of Sherbrooke study underlined the benefits of ketogenic medium-chain triglycerides (kMCT) for seniors with mild cognitive impairment.

Over a period of six months, the 52 subjects were given a daily placebo or the aforementioned kMCT supplement, and their results recorded.

The results were astonishing: measures of episodic memory, language, executive function and processing speed improved in the kMCT group, with increased brain ketone uptake positively linked to several cognitive measures.

“The energy problem in the brain can be corrected by supplying ketones to replace the problem with glucose,” said lead author Stephen Cunnane.

Also in 2019, a small study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease sought to test the efficacy of a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet.

The Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers found small but measurable improvements on standardised brain function/memory tests in 14 older adults with mild cognitive problems suggestive of early Alzheimer’s.

According to Jason Brandt, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences and neurology, “Using dietary changes to mitigate cognitive loss in early-stage dementia would be a real game-changer. It’s something that 400-plus experimental drugs haven’t been able to do in clinical trials.”

In 2018, meanwhile, a clinical trial testing the feasibility of the ketogenic diet for Alzheimer’s Disease found that cognition was improved in seven very mild and four mild AD patients.

In this one, subjects had to faithfully follow the keto diet while also taking MCT supplements over a period of three months.

Those who did so exhibited a 4.1 point improvement in cognition on the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale Test (ADAS-Cog).

Given that a 4 point improvement is deemed clinically meaningful, this was no small feat. All scores returned to normal when the participants returned to their normal diets.

Earlier studies have had similarly impressive results. In 2012, for example, older adults following a low-carb diet benefited from “improved verbal memory performance”, with elevated ketone levels believed to be responsible.

As noted in the study, “While this effect may be attributable in part to correction of hyperinsulinemia, other mechanisms associated with ketosis such as reduced inflammation and enhanced energy metabolism also may have contributed to improved neurocognitive function.”

In 2016, a further study was conducted to determine if ketones could help a 63-year-old male patient with younger-onset Alzheimer’s.

Amazingly, gradual improvements occurred over the course of a year, including in memory recall, word finding, task completion, conversation and social participation.

It’s worth reading the entire study to appreciate just how life-changing ketone supplementation was for this particular individual.

How to Increase Ketone Production

There are many methods of reaching ketosis. One is by fasting, which depletes the body’s glucose stores and in the process induces natural ketone production.

Another is by following a high-fat, low-carb ketogenic type diet, perhaps with the inclusion of medium chain triglycerides such as coconut and MCT oil which boost ketone production.

Other things which can help you more readily get into ketosis include intense physical exercise (fasted cardio is particularly effective), consuming an adequate protein intake and drinking coffee in the morning.

You might also consider supplementing with exogenous ketones. These can increase ketone concentration in the blood without activating starvation mode. Exogenous ketones make it easier to enter ketosis and also mitigate common side effects of the keto diet.

If you’re keen to maximise ketone generation, you could try all of the above in combination: pursue a ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting, a busy exercise protocol and exogenous ketone supplementation.

Conclusion

A 2017 study published in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy suggested that one third of Alzheimer’s cases could be preventable if people take action to address modifiable risk factors. As we have demonstrated above, there is also hope for those already diagnosed.

Remember, in the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease the brain is unable to efficiently use glucose as an energy source. The principle of replacing glucose with ketones is a sound one, and offers promise for those wishing to preserve cognitive function into their senior years.

The important thing is to cut out the sugar and starches to help the body make a metabolic switch.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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6 Ways to Help Prevent Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease

6 Ways to Help Prevent Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease

Around 50 million people have dementia worldwide, and Alzheimer’s disease contributes to 60-70% of those cases. So it's no surprise that many of us are frighteningly aware of the potential threat of living with these conditions.

Dementia is a chronic and progressive syndrome with a range of conditions that affect brain function, the most common being Alzheimer’s disease.

With dementia, the nerve cells in the brain become damaged, impairing messaging signals to and from the brain.

Every person is unique, and symptoms vary but can include problems with memory and the processing of information, including dates and times, lapses in concentration and focus, and confusion.

Communication can also become difficult; for example, someone may grapple with finding the right words; they might become repetitive and struggle with reading and writing.

They may also become depressed and anxious, experience mood swings, lose confidence and become more introverted.

A person with Alzheimer's loses the connections between nerve cells in their brain due to proteins building up and forming plaques and tangles, resulting in nerve cell death and lost brain tissue.

Someone with Alzheimer’s also has less chemical messengers in their brain and signalling becomes defective.

While the threat of dementia and Alzheimer’s is very real, here are six things you can do to help reduce your risk of getting them.

1) Control your blood sugar levels by limiting sugar intake


Type 2 diabetes can be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, so it’s vital to keep an eye on your overall sugar intake.

According to the Canadian Alzheimer’s Society, recent studies suggest that people with Alzheimer’s have brains in a diabetic state. Glucose is utilised incorrectly in their brains, which may be caused by nerve cell death.

Beta amyloids are protein fragments found in the brain, and they are a by-product of the breaking down of a larger protein called amyloid precursor protein (APP).

A healthy brain will dismantle and discard beta amyloids, but this mechanism becomes impaired in someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Consequently, they build up between the nerve cells of the brain, forming hard, insoluble plaques.

These plaques are toxic and disrupt brain cell function. They have also been shown to interfere with the insulin receptors in the brain, impacting insulin production and causing the brain cells to become insensitive to insulin. 

Advanced glycated end-products (AGEs) are proteins and lipids that have become damaged from exposure to sugar. When blood sugar is chronically high, they become more prevalent, significantly impacting on the development of degenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and diabetes.

AGEs cause direct damage to the brain, stimulating oxidative stress and inflammation and harming blood vessels. 

To decrease your chances of developing Alzheimer’s, dementia or diabetes, it’s vital to monitor your sugar intake and eat healthily.

Be aware of hidden sugars in packaged and processed foods, including breakfast cereals. Try to avoid these foods altogether, reduce your consumption of sugar-laden treats and cook from scratch whenever possible.

Swap foods like white bread, pasta, and rice for the brown, whole-grain versions which are higher in fibre and digest more slowly, helping to regulate blood sugar.

Eat a wide variety of fresh vegetables and some fruits, and include healthy protein with every meal.

2) Consider taking a berberine supplement


Berberine is a natural, yellow alkaloid found in several healing plants such as Oregan Grape, Tree Turmeric, Goldenseal, Barberry, Cork-Tree and Chinese Goldthread. 

There are an increasing amount of studies looking into the health benefits of berberine, of which there are many.

There is substantial evidence suggesting that berberine has the potential to limit the development of Alzheimer’s disease by inhibiting contributing factors.

These include metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure and increased blood lipids (fats).

There is also compelling research illustrating that berberine may help to reduce amyloid plaques and tangles in the brain.

Plus, it may prevent other risk factors, including the development of plaque build-up in the arteries, free radicle damage and brain inflammation.

3) Take vitamin D


There are multiple vitamin D receptors in the brain, which suggests that vitamin D plays a part in brain function.

The Vitamin D Council state that vitamin D protects the brain and helps to prevent the development of plaques and neurofibrillary tangles that form in Alzheimer’s patients.

Lower vitamin D is linked to poor cognitive function and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. In a cross-sectional study involving 225 older patients with probable AD, those with sufficient vitamin D levels showed better cognition than those with low vitamin D status. 

Scientists are still exploring whether vitamin D supplementation can help to prevent dementia and memory loss. However, in the meantime, there’s no harm in taking a daily vitamin D supplement, particularly during autumn and winter.

If you are concerned that your levels are low, get tested by your GP. Otherwise, Public Health England recommends adults and children over the age of one take over 10mcg of vitamin D daily during the winter months.

The Vitamin D Council’s recommendation is higher: it’s 5,000 i.u. daily, or 125 mcg.

4) Eat plenty of oily fish or take a good fish oil supplement

There is a good deal of research attributing consumption of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA to improved brain health (either by eating fish or taking supplements).

Though results from studies centred around dementia and Alzheimer’s are mixed, there is research supporting eating oily fish to prevent or delay cognitive decline, and it has been linked to better cognitive performance in the elderly.

Inflammation is associated with all manner of degenerative diseases, and fish oils have the potential to increase pro-resolution molecules in the brain, effectively reducing inflammation. Consequently, fish oil consumption is associated with lower rates of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

In one clinical trial, positive effects were seen in a small group of patients with mild AD after supplementing for six months with 1.7 g DHA and 0.6 g EPA.

So, eating oily fish three times a week could help to lessen your chances of developing dementia – but there are no guarantees. However, seeing as they are essential for overall healthy brain function, what’s the harm in ensuring you get adequate levels of omega-3 fish oils in your diet?

If you’d prefer to take a daily supplement, try our WHC fish oil capsules, which are high in purity and potency and certified by Labdoor as the best of the best.

5) Walking and regular exercise


According to the Alzheimer’s Society, regular physical exercise is one of the best things you can do to decrease the likelihood of dementia.

They state that several studies looking at aerobic exercise in middle-aged and older adults have reported improvements in thinking and memory and reduced dementia risk.

Although more definitive research is needed, data collected from 11 prospective trials have shown a potential 30% risk reduction for dementia and 45% for Alzheimer’s in middle-aged people.

There is also some research supporting the positive effects of exercise in later life when it comes to reducing cognitive decline and avoiding dementia. 

Regular exercise in all forms can work wonders when it comes to reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. However, you may not find it easy to schedule regular exercise into your life, or you may have restrictions as to the type and amount of activity you can do.

Walking can be a fantastic, gentle way to incorporate exercise into your everyday life without having to carve out a chunk of time to crowbar it into your day. It’s also an activity people can do at varying levels of fitness.

Whether you take the stairs instead of the lift, stride out on your lunch break, or walk that extra bus or train stop, you can find ways to move throughout your day. Ideally, you need to increase your heart rate and get a swift pace going, but if that’s too hard initially, take it at your own pace.

A 20-year study shows that walking just five miles a week can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline by helping to maintain greater brain volume.

If you’re healthy and want to reduce your chances of succumbing to Alzheimer’s or dementia, then walking a minimum of six miles per week would be good.

6) Mental stimulation and social interaction

We are social creatures, and scientists have found that limited contact with others is linked to disease and a shorter lifespan, regardless of whether or not you feel lonely.

A study by the University of Southampton, spanning 50 years, involving 9,119 people has also found that socially engaging in community activities is linked with better cognitive function at the age of 50.

So, whether you consider yourself to be particularly sociable or not, or feel that you need company or not, as part of a healthy lifestyle, it’s essential to interact socially.

Mental stimulation such as performing challenging tasks, discussing current events, listening to music, baking, gardening, doing puzzles and playing word games is also linked to improved cognitive function

Staying mentally active, stimulating your brain through communicative tasks, interaction and organisation can help to prevent the onset of mental decline and Alzheimer’s.

Collected research from the Cochrane Library shows that it may also help to delay the worsening of symptoms for those with mild to moderate dementia.

So if you want to encourage optimal brain health, be sure to socialise, interact, volunteer and get involved with your community.

Stimulate your mind daily, learn new things, challenge yourself, play memory games, and enjoy puzzles and word games. You might even consider learning a new language.

Conclusion

There are no guarantees in life, but it’s good to know your options and follow a few basic principals if you want the best chance for a healthy brain as you age.

Eat a balanced, healthy, real food diet and stay adequately hydrated. Sleep well, manage stress effectively and find the time to do the things you love.

Avoid sugar and eat foods that encourage blood sugar balance such as fibrous vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and include protein with every meal. Eat plenty of healthy fats, especially oily fish.

Make a concerted effort to keep your mind active and consistently try new things. Spend regular time with others and involve yourself in group activities. 

Take regular exercise. Walking is excellent and suits people at all levels of fitness. It’s a superb all-round exercise, and as little as five miles a week can be enough to reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Get out in the sunshine as much as possible during summer, and take a daily vitamin D supplement, especially during autumn and winter. Other potentially protective supplements to consider are berberine and fish oils.

This article is written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

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Exploring the Heart–Brain Axis and How Stress Kills

Exploring the Heart–Brain Axis and How Stress Kills

Exploring the Heart–Brain Axis and How Stress Kills

The nervous and cardiovascular systems have a bidirectional relationship. This means that if there is an injury or imbalance in one system, it will impact the other.

Over the past two decades, many scientific studies have been carried out to gain a deeper insight into this complex intertwining relationship.

Heart health can be seriously impaired with an imbalance in the central nervous system, meaning that emotions can physically impact cardiovascular health.

In this article we’ll explore the heart-brain axis and look how the brain affects the heart – and vice-versa.

How Stress Can Kill You


Did you know that you can die from an extreme stressor? Researchers at Yale University School of Medicine have found that stress can actually lead to sudden death, as the sympathetic nervous system alters heart rhythm in both animals and humans.

Scientists have found that mental stress is exaggerated in people with abnormal heart rhythms. The lead researcher in the Yale study stressed (pardon the pun):

Patients should be aware that stress really can alter arrhythmias or make heart rhythms dangerous.”

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the endocrine system (responsible for releasing hormones) are managed by the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS can be broken down into two parts – the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.

This delicate interplay can be thrown off balance with a hyperactive sympathetic nervous system. In this circumstance, the nervous system can seriously injure the heart.

Heart-Brain Axis: A Clinical Perspective


The heart-brain axis has become better understood from a clinical perspective in recent years and can be broken down to the following two approaches:

  1. The effects of cardiovascular disease on the nervous system (such as strokes).
  2. The effects of neurological disorders on the cardiovascular system (known as heart brain disorders).

Sudden Death and the Heart-Brain Connection

The brain-heart connection has long been known. Back in 1942, Harvard Medical School Professor of Physiology Walter B. Cannon published an interesting paper entitled “Voodoo Death,” in which he discussed death from fright.

Cannon believed that death from extreme emotions was likely because of “hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system.

Cannon’s work linking intense emotions (like fear) with illness has formed the basis for much of our modern understanding of the physiological response systems. Cannon proposed that the impacts of emotions on the body could be explained as follows: “By a lasting and intense action of the sympathico-adrenal system.”

Today we would refer to the “sympathico-adrenal system” as the HPA-axis and the sympathetic nervous system.

What is the Role of the HPA Axis?

The HPA axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) is the name we give to a set of interactions between the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands in the brain and adrenals, which are located on top of each kidney.

The HPA axis is our stress response system that is meant for survival purposes. Unfortunately, in modern times chronic stress is normal and people often fall ill due to excessive stress.

Factors That Cause an Autonomic Storm


Overwhelming or life-threatening events that trigger the stress response create an autonomic storm.

During an autonomic storm, the nervous system gets overly stimulated and this can even cause physical cardiac lesions.

George Engel found that sudden death could be tied to the following eight life-altering events:

  1. The impact of the death of a close person
  2. During acute grief
  3. On threat of loss of a close person
  4. During mourning (or on the anniversary of a sad event)
  5. On loss of status or self-esteem
  6. Personal danger or threat of injury
  7. After danger is over – recurring thoughts of the event
  8. Reunion, triumph or happy ending

CNS Control of Cardiovascular System


There is a complex interwoven network of neurons that are involved in the processing and control of cardiovascular function.

An area in the brain known as the “insular cortex” is thought to be responsible for the regulation of the heart-brain axis. Stimulating higher cortical centres in animal studies has shown to affect the heart.

The brain region known as the “amygdala” receives information from the prefrontal cortex and is relayed to the hypothalamus. In ideal conditions, this area should modulate the effects of intense emotions on the heart.

What is the Role of the Vagus Nerve?


The autonomic nervous system (ANS) consists of both the parasympathetic and sympathetic parts. This entire system is modulated by the vagus nerve.

The vagus nerve connects the brain to the body. Interestingly, overstimulation of the vagus nerve is the most common cause of fainting.

Stress can over stimulate the vagus nerve and impact your blood pressure and heart rate.

The Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems

The Sympathetic System

A series of enzymatic reactions are involved in the triggering of the sympathetic nervous system.

The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is commonly known as the fight-or-flight response. Part of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), the sympathetic nervous system is triggered in response to perceived or real stress in our environment.

This activates a cascade of stress hormones called “catecholamines” which include adrenaline and noradrenaline.

Parasympathetic Nervous System

The parasympathetic nervous system is also known as the “rest-and-digest” phase.

This is when we relax and allow our minds and bodies space to recuperate. Just one of the systems can be activated at any time.

Therefore, finding a healthy balance and taking up healthy habits to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system is important for immune system health.

8 Ways to Calm your Sympathetic Nervous System

A healthy balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic activity is essential for overall health. However, all too often we find ourselves overwhelmed with stress. Here are 8 natural ways to relax your central nervous system:

  • Diaphragmatic breathing
  • Meditation
  • Visualisation
  • Eat in a relaxed state
  • Yoga
  • Time in Nature
  • Massage
  • Quality Sleep

Practising all of the above will serve to soothe your sympathetic nervous system for the betterment of your health. What are you waiting for?

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.

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Proven Scientific Benefits of Combining Omega-3 & Vitamin B

Proven Scientific Benefits of Combining Omega-3 & Vitamin B

According to several research studies, it may be better to take a combination of vitamins instead of brain-healthy B vitamins or omega-3 on their own.

B vitamins are reported to slow cognitive decline in some people, especially folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.

However, clinical trials have had mixed results, which has confused outcomes in the past. The reason for the mixed results may be due to a variation in omega-3 levels.

In this blog, we will summarise the main advantages of combining omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B. As the evidence stands, doing so will potentiate the impact of both.

Omega-3 Boosts the Effects of Vitamin B


An international study from the Universities of Cape Town, Oslo, Oxford and the UAE discovered that higher levels of omega-3 may boost the effects of vitamin B.

Vitamin B has already been shown to slow cognitive decline in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

A link between omega-3 levels, homocysteine and brain atrophy rates has already been established. The latest Oxford study was focused on the effects of B vitamins and omega-3 in the prevention of cognitive decline.

The omega-3 levels of the participants were measured at the start of the two-year study, wherein participants were split into two groups: one was given vitamin B and the other a placebo. The researcher, Dr Abderrahim Oulhaj, reported:

We found that for people with low levels of omega-3, the vitamin supplements had little to no effect. But for those with high baseline omega-3 levels, the B vitamins were very effective in preventing cognitive decline compared to the placebo.”

In other words, the reason people may not respond as well to vitamin B treatment may be due to low omega-3 levels in their blood.

Nutrition plays a part in brain health, cognitive decline and the development of dementia. Researchers at The Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing (OPTIMA) are on a mission to understand the causes, treatment and prevention of dementia.

Is Vitamin B Good for your Brain?

B vitamins when combined with omega-3 supplements (like fish oil) may help improve thinking and memory. B vitamins play a role in preserving brain health and can be obtained from a balanced healthy diet.

 Studies show that a significant percentage of the developed world is deficient in at least one of the B vitamins.

Folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 are the most studied B vitamins. We know a lot more about these three (compared to the other 5), as they have been the focus of research.

That being said, all 8 B vitamins are essential for brain health and indeed overall health. We cover this topic in greater depth in our article What is Vitamin B: A Comprehensive Guide.

Vitamin B Deficiency in Pregnancy


B vitamins are co-enzymes, meaning they help enzymes do their job. A deficiency in folate (folic acid) or B9 during pregnancy can lead to birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly.

Like other B vitamins, B9 is water soluble and comes in two forms – folate and folic acid. Folate is the natural form that derives from food and folic acid is the supplement form of B9.

Surprisingly, folic acid is 85% bioavailable and folate is less easily absorbed in the body (50% bioavailable).

B9 is involved in breaking down homocystine, creating blood cells and the formation of DNA and RNA. During periods of rapid growth, for example pregnancy and childhood, B9 is critical for the formation of a healthy body.

How Does Vitamin B Deficiency Affect Brain and Body?


There are many illnesses associated with vitamin B6, B12 and folate deficiencies such as osteoporosis, bone thinning, atherosclerosis, blood clots, heart attack, coronary artery disease, stroke, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Vitamin B regulates the amount of homocysteine in the blood; high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is created as a by-product of the breakdown of proteins, are toxic to the body and can cause disease.

Rampant levels of homocysteine are a known byproduct of excess meat intake.

The findings of 19 research studies that measured homocysteine levels in relation to the consumption of omega-3 and vitamin B were unanimous: the combination of Omega-3 with B vitamins was more effective than omega-3 or B vitamins alone at lowering homocysteine levels.

Is a B Complex Good for the Brain?


Vitamin B is important for energy metabolism and is essential for health and wellbeing.

As mentioned, there are eight B vitamins and together they form “B complex vitamins”. In particular, B12 (cobalamin) is good for brain health as it protects sensitive nerve endings. This protective sheath ensures that nerves are not overly impacted by oxidative stress and free radicals.

What are the 8 B Vitamins Called?


The eight B vitamins are as follows:

  • Thiamine (B1)
  • Riboflavin (B2)
  • Niacin (B3)
  • Pantothenic acid (B5)
  • Pyridoxine (B6)
  • Biotin (B7)
  • Folate (B9)
  • Cobalamin (B12)

Do B Vitamins Help with Depression?

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) plays a major role in the synthesis of dopamine, serotonin, ?-aminobutyric acid (GABA), noradrenaline and the hormone melatonin.

A deficiency in this particular B vitamin can result in disordered sleep, behavioural changes and HPA-axis changes that all affect how we experience life.

Folate (Vitamin B9) and vitamin B12 (Cobolamin) are also essential for healthy brain function. A deficiency in any of the B vitamins can result in neurophsychiatric symptoms.

A third of psychiatric admissions have a folate or B12 deficiency. Folic acid and B12 may play a role in the prevention of mood disorders.

In Conclusion

Our understanding of the complex relationship between nutrition and health is improving due to the work of various research studies, some of which are cited in this article.

Omega-3 levels have repeatedly been found to impact our ability to absorb B vitamins, and B vitamins are essential for both mental and physical health. Ensuring optimal omega-3 intake from our diet may boost our ability to absorb B vitamins.

If you’re after a supplement, we recommend pairing Revitacell B-Complex, a vitamin B formula which supplies all 8 essential B vitamins – with a high-quality fish oil. UnoCardio 1000 is ranked #1 by independent aggregator Labdoor, so it’s a terrific option. In addition to 1.2g of highly pure omega-3, it contains vitamin D3.

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.

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Does the Gut-Brain-Axis Affect Neurodegenerative Disease?

Does the Gut-Brain-Axis Affect Neurodegenerative Disease?

Recent explosive and ever-evolving research studies have been paying a lot of attention to the gut-brain axis (GBA) or mind-body connection.

Looking at the body as a “whole” system rather than fractured systems is now becoming the mainstream approach to health.

In particular, the gut microbiota has been a focus due to the impact it has on our overall health... and quite rightly so!

For a long time, microorganisms have been researched to find out more about their ability to alter the mind and how they contribute to diseases.

This has been explored in detail in a recent study that highlighted how the microbiome changes the brain and plays a major role in the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.

What Is the Gut Microbiota/Microbiome?

To set the record straight, gut flora, gut microbiota and microbiome all mean the same thing. It’s often cited in modern literature that there are more bacterial cells then human cells in the body, however a more recent study has discovered that we have roughly the same number of human cells as bacterial cells.

This finding doesn’t affect the massive impact that microbes have on our health.

The microbiome is made up of trillions of microbes such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. Bacterial cells are the most widely-researched microbe in the human body. Although there are bacterial cells in all areas of the body, they are most concentrated in the colon.

When we say “gut microbiome”, we are normally referring to the colonisation of bacteria in an area of the large intestine called the cecum.

Microbes are the Key to Health

Ensuring that we have a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut is often the missing link in many chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases like depression.

The bidirectional relationship between the gut and the brain has been implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, autistic disorders, anxiety disorders and major depressive disorder.

Related: Which Foods to Eat and Avoid for Better Mental Health

Working to ensure that we have a healthy gut microbiota will produce a strong immune system, which helps to ward off disease. Additionally, neurotransmitters serotonin and GABA are produced in the gut and alter mood and sleep cycles, which have a massive impact on the progression of diseases like depression.

The microbiota can also alter the expression of BDNF and has been found to affect anxiety, hyperactivity and cognition in animal models.

What is Serotonin?

Although serotonin is a brain neurotransmitter, it’s estimated that 90% is made in the gut.

Serotonin impacts our lives on many levels as it controls mood, sexual function, appetite, sleep, memory, learning, temperature regulation, and some social behaviour.

Produced by the enterochromaffin (EC) cells lining the digestive tract, serotonin is a key component in the gut-brain axis.

What is GABA?

Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, GABA for short, is the body’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter and is also responsible for growth of embryonic cells and stem cells.

GABA’s main role is the reduction of excitability in the central nervous system. GABA counteracts glutamate (the body’s main excitotoxin) and promotes a restful sleep and also aids in the regeneration of muscle tissue.

Optimal homeostasis (balance) in the body results in vibrant health, where neurotransmitters can function correctly to signal healthy patterns of rest and action.

Some of the “good” bacteria in our gut, for example Bacteroides ssp, Parabacteroides and Escherichia, produce high amounts of GABA. Therefore, promoting good bacteria is essential for overall health and wellbeing.

The Developing Brain

The gut and brain are anatomically far apart, however they have a powerful relationship. In fact, optimal bacterial gut flora plays a major role in the post-natal development of both the immune and endocrine systems.

Indeed, a balanced microbiome has a massive impact on human development during pregnancy and beyond.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays an important role in brain development in children. Reduced BDNF has been found in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Maternal lifestyle factors that alter the microbiome, for example smoking or drinking can alter the children’s neurodevelopmental processes. Taking measures to balance the microbes in the gut is therefore essential to enhance healthy development.

Related: 15 Proven Ways to Increase Your Brain’s Growth Hormones

Molecular Pathways Involved in the Gut-Brain Axis

Your brain and gut are in constant communication, connected by an information highway known as the vagus nerve. Interestingly, the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA)-axis that is responsible for the stress response is also involved in the transmission of information through the CN during digestion.

As such, it is important to be in a relaxed state and free from stress when eating and digesting food.

The microbiota affects brain function through gut permeability, also known as “leaky gut”. Due to the bacterial metabolites GABA and serotonin being created in the EC cells that line the gut, permeability can alter the brain’s function.

Additionally foreign proteins can cross the gut brain barrier and cause inflammation. Cytokines are pro-inflammatory proteins that cross the blood-brain barrier, depositing protein and causing neuroinflammation.

This disrupts cell functioning and may lead to the formation of plaque.

5 Steps to Heal Your Microbiome

“Follow your gut” is a commonly used phrase that may be more important than we previously thought.

If your gut microbiome is out of balance, it can affect all areas of your life. Healing your microbiome is an indubitably important step in reclaiming your health.

The key is to boost the beneficial bacteria and reduce harmful bacteria. Here are five steps that you can take today to heal your gut.

  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Go to bed early as lack of sleep alters the gut microbiome
  • Cut out processed foods and sugars from your diet
  • Cut out artificial sweeteners – studies show that they reduce the amount of beneficial bacteria in the gut
  • Reduce stress – stress has been shown to reduce helpful bacteria and promote harmful bacteria

Conclusion

The importance of a healthy gut microbiome cannot be underestimated. The good news is that you can turn your gut health around in a matter of days according to current research.

To feed your microbiome, it is important to eat a lot of dietary fibre. Fibre works as a prebiotic and feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Opt for a largely plant-based diet that is rich in green leafy vegetables and follow the “5 Steps to Heal Your Microbiome” above to promote good bacteria and reduce the harmful bacteria in your gut.

If you are interested in learning more about gut health, we would encourage you to read our article 3 Key Factors You Must Consider When Trying to Improve Gut Health.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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15 Proven Ways to Increase Your Brain’s Growth Hormones

15 Proven Ways to Increase Your Brain’s Growth Hormones

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a neurotrophin, which is a family of proteins involved in the growth and survival of neurons. BDNF works differently in the developing or adult (fully-formed) brain as follows:

  • Developing Brain: BDNF regulates brain neuron survival and growth in the growing brain.
  • Adult Brain: BDNF plays an important role in learning and memory processing.

Increasing BDNF can significantly enhance cognitive abilities and is a possible additional treatment in neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, taking natural steps towards enhancing BDNF can significantly improve memory, learning and outcomes. In this article we’ll explore 15 scientifically proven ways to naturally up-regulate your BDNF production. Let's do this.

1) Green Tea


Green tea contains polyphenols that are known to protect the brain. Additionally, green tea is rich in antioxidants that are neuroprotective.

Even low doses of green tea have been shown to enhance BDNF.

Of course, the caffeine in green tea is useful in blocking the inhibitory neurotransmitter Adenosine and enhancing the firing of important neurons.

2) Curcumin


Curcumin (curcuma longa) is the bioactive, fat-soluble nutrient derived from turmeric root that has been shown to boost BDNF levels.

The surge of BDNF promotes the growth of new, healthy brain cells, improving cognitive function, protecting the brain and enhancing mood.

To get the most out of curcumin, select a highly bioavailable source such as CurcuWIN, the key ingredient in our formula Maximized Turmeric 46x.

3) Omega-3 Fatty Acids


Omega-3 fatty acids (PUFAs) are required for the brain and central nervous system to function correctly. Unfortunately, most people don’t consume enough omega-3s from their diet.

To reach the required intake of EPA and DHA from omega-3, Americans would have to consume four times as much fish. Fish oil or vegan omega-3 supplements (from algae), meanwhile, are a suitable alternative.

Omega-3 has been shown to increase BDNF levels in many studies, and has even proven successful in helping with traumatic brain injuries. In animal models, oxidative damage and omega-3 levels were only balanced out by omega-3 supplementation.

Omega-3s have been found to promote brain function and calm the stress response in patients with bipolar disorder (BD), too. PUFAs are a promising therapy for people suffering from BD.

4) Prebiotics


Prebiotics are considered food for probiotics. Prebiotics are therefore required for a healthy microbiome.

Healthy gut microbiota influences brain activity and boosts BDNF levels. You can take prebiotics and probiotics as a supplement or eat prebiotic-rich foods.

Foods rich in prebiotics include: Asparagus, banana, leek, garlic, onion and dandelion greens.

For more information on prebiotics, read our article Prebiotic Supplements: What Are They and Who Needs Them?.

5) Resveratrol


Resveratrol has gained popularity for its neuroprotective effects and the fact that it is found in red wine. Resveratrol increases BDNF and, as a consequence, reduces fatigue.

In a study conducted on mice, which examined chronic fatigue, the hippocampus enlarged and an improvement in expression of BDNF was observed. It is thought that these factors account for resveratrol improving brain activity and mobility in brucella abortus induced fatigue in mice.

6. Magnesium

Antidepressant-like activity was found in animal models when they were administered magnesium. The results were associated with higher BDNF activation.

Studies have shown that 48% of Americans don’t consume the RDA of magnesium (Mg), which puts them at risk for many diseases.

Alongside genetic and environmental factors, poor nutrition has been attributed to the onset of many psychiatric disorders, in particular low plasma or serum folate, B12 and magnesium (Mg).

Elevation of brain magnesium increases synaptic plasticity (its ability to grow and change) and BDNF expression.

Did you know that magnesium is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies?

7. Dark chocolate


You’ll be delighted to know that dark chocolate is food for your brain. Dark chocolate (not milk chocolate) should be consumed to benefit from the neuroprotection offered when the BDNF pathway is activated. The polyphenols in dark chocolate produce the brain-healthy results.

Tip: Chose a pure dark chocolate, avoid milk chocolate and select chocolate that is low in sugar.

8. N-Acetyl-Cysteine


N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) is a semi-essential amino acid. Your body can produce N-Acetyl-Cysteine from other amino acids in ideal circumstances. NAC helps to regulate glutamate which is the brains main excitatory neurotransmitter.

BDNF is directly involved in the therapeutic effects of NAC.

9. L-Theanine


L-Theanine balances glutamate by blocking the receptors from getting over-excited. Found in green and black tea and also in supplement form, L-Theanine is increasingly used to help with relaxation, stress and as a sleep aid.

L-theanine up-regulates BDNF levels which improves mood and is being tested as an antipsychotic therapy.

10. Adaptogenic herbs


Adaptogenic herbs contain bioactive compounds that support the brain, allowing your body to adapt to stressful situations or increase energy as required. These are our top 5 adaptogenic herbs:

Rhodiola – Increases BDNF in the brain and has been found to have anti-depressant effects in animal studies.

Bacopa – Chronic stress in animal models was alleviated with the administration of bacopa. BDNF levels were also enhanced.

Ginseng – Has an anti-stress effect on the brain. BDNF is one of the recognised neuroprotective agents in this process.

Baicalin – Has neuroprotective effects due in part to the enhanced expression of BDNF.

Ashwagandha – promotes neuroplasticity and up-regulation of BDNF.

11. Zinc


Zinc is an essential mineral that is involved in the proper functioning of the brain and central nervous system. Studies have shown that zinc increases the expression of BDNF, providing an anti-depressant effect.

Zinc deficiency is extremely common; in fact according to WHO one third of the world is estimated to be zinc deficient.

Zinc deficiency has detrimental effects on the brains function.

12. Exercise


Exercise at any stage of life is the cheapest, easiest and most effective way to quickly boost BDNF levels and improve cognitive function.

In fact, cognitive decline in animal models was reversed with short bouts of mild exercise. Exercise boosts brain activity, growing the brain and improving memory.

Get moving!

13. Sunlight / Vitamin D


BDNF levels have been found to increase in the summer months and decrease in the winter months. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why that is.

What’s more, low levels of BDNF correlate with seasonally affective disorder (SAD).

Vitamin D supplementation is essential in the northern hemisphere during the winter months.

14. Intermittent fasting


Intermittent fasting (IF) can increase BDNF levels. Eating all of your food inside an 8 hour window in any 24 hour period is the easiest way to follow the IF protocol.

15. Ketogenic diet


The ketogenic diet was developed to treat people with epilepsy.  So its benefits to mental health have long been known.

When the body doesn’t have access to glucose as a form of fuel (from carbohydrates, fruit or sugars) then it turns to fat. This is known as ketosis.

Ketosis boosts BDNF levels. Some people have trouble entering ketosis or sustaining a ketogenic diet. For this reason, it is possible to consume ketones instantly as a supplement.

Conclusion


There are many natural ways to enhance your BDNF levels and improve cognition. Many of the foods that boost BDNF are rich in “polyphenols” which are antioxidants that protect the body against oxidative stress and inflammation.

This protection allows the brain to produce stem cells, BDNF and promotes conditions that improve brain health.

Many people are not aware of the fact that our brains can grow and develop, even as adults. Share this article with anyone you feel could benefit from learning about the scientifically-proven, brain-enhancing nutrients that can promote BDNF to improve mood and brain function.

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.


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Can the Ketogenic Diet Improve Cognitive Health?

Can the Ketogenic Diet Improve Cognitive Health?

Nutritional ketosis or the Ketogenic Diet (KD) - "keto" for short – was originally developed as a treatment for epilepsy in children in the 1920s. As such, the KD has always had its roots as a treatment for mental disorders.

The keto diet has been scientifically proven to reduce markers for cognitive decline such as pain and inflammation, as well as improve mitochondrial respiration (helping our cells breath) and reduce oxidative stress.

The diet is now being studied for its efficacy in the treatment of a wide range of cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD) and depression, due to its neuroprotective effects.

In this article, we shall take a closer look at the ketogenic diet and investigate its implications for brain health specifically.

Why is Keto Trending Now?


You might be wondering why we are just learning about the keto diet now, if it’s been around for almost a century and has so many healing effects on the body and mind.

There are many reasons for the KD being pushed back. Both the interests of commerce and the discovery of diphenylhydantoin (an anti-seizure medication) in 1938 shifted the focus of physicians. It’s easier to prescribe a drug than to tailor a ketogenic diet for each patient.

The viability of the KD is often put into question when it’s administered incorrectly. For example, if the macronutrients are not given in the correct proportions. For this reason, in 2015 Raymund Edwards invented the Optimal Ketogenic Living (OKL) chart, which is an easy way to make sure you get what you need from your keto diet to reap the best rewards.

Another reason the ketogenic diet has been put on the back burner is that in the mid-19th century, ketones were found in patients with advanced diabetes. This finding led many physicians to vilify the KD, despite thousands of reports to the contrary.

Since then, many studies have been carried out to discover the exact mechanisms of ketones in the body. Recent findings have uncovered the many healing benefits of the ketone metabolites on metabolic diseases.

Low-Fat vs High-Fat: A Brief History


The low-fat, high-carb diet craze swept the world in the 1960’s as the correlation between high-fat and heart disease became popularised.

After 1980, the low-fat hype had firmly taken hold and was accepted as the “healthy choice”. In fact, the low-fat ideology began back in the 19th century as both an aesthetic practice and a healing modality.

This approach assumed that fat was the main factor for disease and totally washed over all of the other elements needed for good health. Removing all of the fat from food resulted in high amounts of refined carbs, sugar and salt being used extensively to give the food taste.

Without the additives, ultra-processed food that has had its fat removed is bland and tasteless. Now we have scientists creating chemical concoctions that manipulate our senses with fake foods that hit the “bliss point” – tricking our brains into thinking that the food is good.

For a deep dive on dietary fat, check out our blog Good Fats, Bad Fats.

A New Era for the Ketogenic Diet


Fast forward to 2019 and we have an obesity epidemic, chronic illness and heart disease is the number one killer. Go figure.

The low-fat high-carb approach doesn’t seem to be working for health or weight loss. So we need a new approach. Hence the KD is gaining massive popularity worldwide.

Ketogenic diets are re-emerging as a viable way to reduce inflammation in the brain and other areas of the body to reclaim health.

Brain inflammation can be fatal in head injuries, where it does the opposite of its desired effect. Instead of helping to heal the brain, inflammation makes matters worse. Suppressing inflammation is a key issue after brain injury.

Additionally, excitatory cells are also more active in injured brain tissue, which can lead to cellular death.

Neuroprotective Effects of the Keto Diet

The neuroprotective benefits of the keto diet cannot always be followed in brain injured patients due to their physical condition. For this reason, a group of neuroscientists led by Chris Dulla at Tufts University School of Medicine have created a KD mimicker drug called 2-deoxyglucose (2-DG).

Their trial showed some promising results, as the 2-DG treatment reduced cell excitation, lessened cellular death and prevented the development of epileptic brain activity.

The KD drug is only intended as a short-term solution for brain-injured patients who cannot follow the ketogenic diet due to physical constraints.

A new research paper has been released studying a previously unmanageable brain tumour called Glioblastoma, or GBM for short. Glioblastoma is the most aggressive form of brain cancer and mortality from this condition is largely connected to systemic inflammation.

As with all cancers, the fuel is glucose and glutamine. One pivotal way to suppress tumour growth is to remove the fuel source, reducing cancer viability and invasion.

In the study, they prescribed a calorically-restricted ketogenic diet (KD-R)to reduce sugar circulating in the blood. (Neuroprotective ketone bodies are increased when following the KD.)

The Effect of Ketones on the Brain

Ketone bodies protect the brain from neurodegeneration (depletion of the neurons in the brain). While our bodies are using ketone bodies (fat) as a fuel source, there is a significant decrease in glucose, leptin, insulin and pro-inflammatory markers. This makes the ketogenic diet a good choice for those with brain conditions including brain injury.

The ketogenic diet has been found to have both anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Ketone bodies activate the body’s Nrf2 antioxidant defence mechanism, which is a process by which the body up-regulates its detoxification pathways.

When this process is activated, harmful free radicals that stimulate inflammation are mopped up.

The blood ketone levels of ?-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate increase when we are in ketosis. Both compounds are neuroprotective and non-fermentable. Being non-fermentable is a key component in its healing capacities, as cancer cells have gone through several stages of mutation and use ancient fermentation pathways for fuel.

Tumours are incompatible with the healthy energy production of the oxidative phosphorylation (OxPhos) pathways. Cancer does not use oxygen or ketone bodies for fuel, so the KD-R is an ideal approach in the treatment of brain cancer.

The Metabolic Switch


When switching the diet from using glucose as fuel to using ketone bodies (fat), we change how the body produces and uses energy.

The brain is not static in its fuel options. Previously we thought that the brain, once formed, was fixed. However, that has not proved to be the case. The brain is highly adaptable.

Switching up the fuel source to ketone bodies has proven to adapt neural networks and enhance resistance to stress, injury and disease.

Conclusion

As mentioned earlier, the Ketogenic Diet was originally designed as a treatment to heal brain disorders – but it is proving to have far more wide-reaching health benefits.

Ongoing research in both animal and human models further explains the intricacies of how the body adapts to using fat for fuel. The KD has neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can enhance cognitive abilities and promote brain healing.

If you’ve found this article interesting, and are considering embarking on the keto diet – for cognitive benefits or perhaps to lose weight – you’ll want to avoid keto flu. Our blog on the subject is required reading!

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Nutritional Supplements for Parkinson’s Disease: 3 Promising Options

Nutritional Supplements for Parkinson’s Disease: 3 Promising Options

Parkinson’s Disease is a debilitating and progressive neurological condition believed to affect around 150,000 people in the UK. While the majority of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s are aged 50 or over, younger people are not immune.

Managing a life with Parkinson’s is incredibly onerous, particularly since the symptoms worsen with the passage of time. What’s more, the condition tends to be associated with both physical pain and depression.

There is a range of treatments offered to sufferers of Parkinson’s, including medication, deep brain stimulation and physical therapies. In this article, we take a closer look at three nutritional supplements that could also help in the treatment and prevention of this terrible affliction.

What is Parkinson’s Disease?


As described by the NHS, ‘Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years.’

The main symptoms include involuntary tremors in various parts of the body, slow movement and stiff, inflexible muscles.

Other symptoms can include mild cognitive impairment or dementia, anxiety and depression, insomnia, nerve pain, problems balancing, difficulty swallowing, dizziness, blurred vision or fainting caused by a drop in blood pressure, excessive sweating and digestive issues.

People with Parkinson’s don’t have enough dopamine as the nerves that produce them have died.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that messages parts of the brain and nervous system to control and coordinate movement, and without enough of it, the body starts to move awkwardly and slowly.

No-one is entirely sure what triggers Parkinson’s Disease, but researchers believe it is down to genetics and also environmental factors such as exposure to herbicides, pesticides, traffic and industrial pollution. As such, we should all make a concerted effort to minimise the harm pollution can cause to our bodies.

PD progresses slowly, and according to the NHS, it is only when around 80% of the nerves have died within the substantia nigra part of the brain that symptoms usually start to show.

Other triggers can include certain medications such as antipsychotics, other progressive brain conditions like Progressive supranuclear palsy and Corticobasal degeneration, and Cerebrovascular disease (where several small strokes cause parts of the brain to die).

1) Berberine


Berberine is a natural, yellow alkaloid, found in several healing plants such as Oregan Grape, Tree Turmeric, Goldenseal, Barberry, Cork-Tree and Chinese Goldthread.

It has been used in both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years and is well known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects.

There are emerging studies assessing the potential of Berberine for treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and one found that Berberine has many positive capabilities against PD including neuroprotective effects and the potential to counteract neurodegeneration.

DPP-4 inhibitors are diabetic medications that block the action of DPP-4, an enzyme that destroys incretin. Incretins are hormones that regulate insulin release and glucose production in the liver.

Researchers have evaluated the effect of DPP-4 inhibitors for Parkinson’s Disease, as elevated incretins in the brain appear to encourage the growth of nervous tissue and have neuroprotective actions.

Berberine has also demonstrated DPP-4 inhibiting capabilities which may partly explain it’s anti-hyperglycaemic capacity.

In fact, several favourable studies have shown the powerful glucose-lowering/modulating effect of berberine, and according to Parkinson’s UK, a new study by UCL suggests that 32% of people with type-2 diabetes are likely to develop PD.

One study pretreated human dopamine nerve cells with Berberine before exposing them to a PD-promoting neurotoxin. They found that, compared to the untreated cells, the ones in the berberine group had a significantly increased survival rate. This demonstrated the ability of berberis to protect dopamine nerve cells from death and oxidative damage.

Berberine is a powerful AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) trigger. Found in numerous organs, including the brain, this ‘metabolic master switch’ is an enzyme which plays an active role in metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes. It works at a cellular and physiological level and is involved in a wide range of biological functions including lipid, glucose and energy balance.

In an interview with Dr Mercola, Dr Michael Murray, a naturopathic physician, highlighted that AMPK increases nerve growth factor and helps to protect against the type of oxidative stress leading to Parkinson’s Disease

He also states that Berberine acts as a powerful neuroprotector, partly by improving mitochondrial health and function.

Another study on mice published in 2014 showed that berberine enhanced motor balance and coordination by preventing neuronal damage to dopamine nerve cells; it also improved short-term memory by inhibiting cell death in the hippocampus part of the brain.

Finally, It’s important to note that far more research is needed and studies have conflicting results, with some showing a link between berberine and potentially toxic effects on the brain. It can also interact with certain medications, so always discuss taking it with your GP if you are taking any prescribed drugs.

Our Planet Source Berberine supplies a generous 1200mg dose. It’s Non-GMO, vegan-friendly and free from corn, sugar, salt, wheat, soy, gluten and artificial ingredients.

2) Fish Oil


Studies have shown mixed results as to whether or not those with PD have low omega-3 levels in the brain, although some have found significantly reduced levels of DHA.

Some small in vivo and in vitro studies for Parkinson’s have had positive results where omega-3s have reduced dopaminergic nerve cell death in the brain, improved memory, suppressed inflammation and decreased oxidative stress.

Dyskinesia is abnormal, uncontrolled, involuntary movement that can be experienced in those with PD after long-term dopamine treatment. In a small animal study, administration of DHA delayed the onset of Dyskinesia from levodopa, a dopamine therapy drug for Parkinson’s.

One small 12-week study had very favourable results from supplementing PD patients with a daily combination of 1,000mg omega-3 and 400IU vitamin E.

Overall, there was a significant improvement in the Unified Parkinson’s disease rating scale. There was a marked reduction in C-reactive protein (an inflammatory marker) as well as increased glutathione and antioxidant capacity. Insulin levels, sensitivity and resistance were also markedly improved.

A recent Swedish study also discovered that a protein found in fish, parvalbumin, could help to prevent the formation of alpha-synuclein plaques that are synonymous with Parkinson’s, suggesting that the consumption of fish oils could help to prevent the disease.

Add to all of this the benefits of fish oils for enhanced cognitive performance, and reducing the brain inflammation associated with Alzheimer’s and PD, and supplementation as a treatment for Parkinson’s certainly justifies further investigation.

To browse our selection of superior WHC fish oils, click here. WHC produce two of the top 3 rated fish oil supplements in the world, as rated by independent laboratory Labdoor. They are UnoCardio 1000 (#1) and UnoCardio X2 (#3).

3) Curcumin


Curcumin is the primary active ingredient in turmeric. It’s an antioxidant-rich polyphenol known for its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic and immune-boosting properties.

Research of curcumin in the realms of Parkinson’s is small, but there have been positive results in both cell and animal studies where it has demonstrated significant neuroprotective qualities.

Some studies also showed curcumin to have marked anti-inflammatory effects, protecting the substantia nigra and increasing dopamine levels. Furthermore, in two of the trials, curcumin effectively reduced neuronal cell death and improved functional outcome in animal models.

Researchers carrying out a systemic review of all these studies concluded that curcumin should definitely be a candidate for further investigation as a neuroprotective drug for Parkinson’s Disease patients.

Curcumin is notoriously difficult to absorb, and it is hard to find supplements that are as effective as they claim to be.

Maximized Turmeric 46x contains CurcuWIN®, a novel water-soluble curcumin formulation. It contains turmeric extract 20-28%, and a hydrophilic carrier 63-75% to enhance bioavailability.

In a double-blind study comparison, CurcuWIN® proved to be 46x more absorbable than a 95% curcuminoid extract. To find out more, click here.

Diet and Parkinson's

According to a 2017 research paper entitled The Role of Diet and Nutritional Supplements in Parkinson’s Disease Progression, “Foods associated with the reduced rate of PD progression included fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, nuts and seeds, non-fried fish, olive oil, wine, coconut oil, fresh herbs, and spices (P < 0.05).

“Foods associated with more rapid PD progression include canned fruits and vegetables, diet and non-diet soda, fried foods, beef, ice cream, yogurt, and cheese (P < 0.05).

Nutritional supplements coenzyme Q10 and fish oil were associated with reduced PD progression (P = 0.026 and P = 0.019, resp.), and iron supplementation was associated with faster progression (P = 0.022).”

According to michaeljfox.org, “Iron supplements can decrease absorption of levodopa so they should be separated from medications by at least two hours.”

Foodforthebrain.org works with people with Parkinson’s to create personalised nutrition plans based on their health history, symptoms and test results. Their dietary action plan is a useful resource, providing simple, actionable advice.

Conclusion

It’s clear that we need to find more effective forms of treatment for Parkinson’s Disease.

Current drugs such as Levodopa aim to mimic the effects of dopamine but over time become less effective and cause unpleasant side effects that can significantly impact quality of life.

Berberine, fish oils and curcumin all warrant further investigation, but that depends on who’s willing to invest in this kind of research. We don’t imagine the big pharmaceutical companies will be queuing up as these supplements are already widely available in the marketplace.

Of course, it’s not just about treatment: prevention is also hugely important, and due to their potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects, these three supplements show massive potential in that area too.

Written by Rebecca Rychlik, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

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Nutrition for the Brain: What to Eat for Brain Function, Mood

Nutrition for the Brain: What to Eat for Brain Function, Mood

Early last year we wrote a long blog article entitled Nutrition for the Heart, covering the best foods to eat for healthy cardiac function. Having updated the article recently, it made sense to us to craft something of a companion piece focusing on nutrition for that other vital organ: the brain!

Just as decades of research and insights have led to a broad understanding of the best diets for heart health, there is a great deal we know about nutrition for the brain.

In this article, we intend to summarise some of that research while making dietary recommendations for those who are concerned about preserving mental function well into their senior years.

Which Nutrients Contribute to Brain Function?

Before we look at which foods are beneficial for brain health, we’d like to hone in on specific nutrients which have been shown to nurture the brain in some sense.

Although it is not, in our opinion, a definitive guide, the EU Register on Nutrition and Health Claims is, at any rate, a useful (if incomplete) archive of nutrients and their relationship to health. As far as brain function is concerned, several nutrients are covered in the document.

Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

There are a few claims for DHA in the EU Register. Firstly, “DHA contributes to maintenance of normal brain function.” Secondly, “DHA maternal intake contributes to the normal brain development of the foetus and breastfed infants.”

DHA is, of course, a type of omega-3 fatty acid most commonly found in oily, fatty fish but also in flax, pumpkin and chia seeds, walnuts and soya beans.

The human brain is composed of 60% fat, with half being of the omega-3 variety. It is therefore no surprise that DHA is deemed vital for our brains, which utilise such nutrients to forge cells and aid our capacity to memorise and learn.

The neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter has noted that “DHA not only turns on the growth of new brain cells, but offers protection for existing brain cells while it enhances the ability one brain cell to connect to the next, a process called neuroplasticity.”

Dr. Perlmutter “generally recommends at least 800mg of DHA for adults and oftentimes even more.”

According to a 2018 study, children with higher whole blood levels of both DHA and total omega-3 were more likely to pass a Dimensional Change Card Sort (DCSS) test, the kind used to determine “executive function”.

Executive function defines the ability to plan and organise, recall facts, multi-task, pay attention and switch focus. What’s more, there is some evidence that DHA helps to improve reading ability and reduce behavioural problems in children.

For more on the specific brain health benefits of DHA, and omega-3s more generally for young people, take a look at our article on the topic.

It is interesting to note that DHA is the only individual nutrient which carries the “contributes to maintenance of normal brain function” claim, although the macronutrient carbohydrate also carries the claim. This may ring alarm bells for those who pursue low-carb and ketogenic diets: later in the article we’ll look at how such diets affect brain health in general.

The EU Register is rather densely worded, and although the usage of the brain function claim is limited, the following nutrients are said to “contribute to normal cognitive function.”

Iodine

The role of iodine in brain health is perhaps best highlighted by alluding to an unfortunate fact: iodine deficiency is the most prevalent and preventable cause of mental impairment in the world.

Iodine mediates the effects of thyroid hormones on brain development and influences multiple structures and systems including neurotransmitters and the hippocampus.

In particular, iodine is needed for the production of thyroid hormones T4 and T3. Interestingly, studies highlight a link between low T3 and low serotonin.

A trace element, iodine is especially vital for pregnant mothers due to its role in the foetal development process.

As with DHA, iodine isn’t naturally produced by the body: it must be obtained from the diet. Food sources include cow’s milk, seafood, sea vegetables and iodised table salt.

There is some evidence to show that iodine supplements can improve brain power in children suffering from even modest deficiencies.

Iron

As noted in a 2014 review paper, “iron is involved in many fundamental biological processes in the brain including oxygen transportation, DNA synthesis, mitochondrial respiration, myelin synthesis, and neurotransmitter synthesis and metabolism.”

As with iodine, iron deficiency is a well-established cause of impaired cognitive, language and motor development. What’s more, variations in iron levels appear to correspond with differences in brain structure integrity.

This is partly due to the fact that myelin, the insulating layer that sheaths nerves in the brain, has a high iron content.

Research suggests that the dietary iron you eat as a teenager can protect brain integrity later in life.

Zinc

Zinc plays an essential role in regulating communication between brain cells and may also be involved in governing memory formation: the highest concentrations of brain zinc are located among neurons of the hippocampus, the ‘nerve centre’ of learning and memory.

Unsurprisingly, chronic zinc deficiency has been linked to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Well-powered clinical studies (including this one) have also demonstrated the benefits of supplemental zinc for depression.

Water

The brain is mostly water (80%), and proper hydration is better than just about anything for cognition and concentration.

Water helps with memory retention and mood, while increasing blood flow and oxygen to the brain. It can reduce headaches and anxiety and improve problem-solving.

It should go without saying, but making sure you drink enough water every day is very important for brain health, just as it is for general health.

Although the aforementioned nutrients are the only ones mentioned as having any benefits for the brain in the Register, a body of evidence shows positive associations between other nutrients and brain function.

Most particularly, nutrients like EPA (a vital hormonal component of brain cells), vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium and B vitamins.

What to Eat for Brain Health

In general, eating a diet high in vegetables, fruits and whole grains appears to be beneficial for long-term brain health. In this respect, a brain-healthy diet is not all that dissimilar from a heart-healthy diet.

That said, there are some differences and certain foods which appear to be more central to brain health than heart health. Indeed, there are several foods which appear to offer a protective effect against age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Eating mushrooms more than twice a week, for example, may prevent memory and language problems occurring in over-60s. This is due to the presence of a unique antioxidant in mushrooms.

Low DHA levels have been repeatedly linked to a heightened risk of Alzheimer’s and memory loss, again emphasising the value of including fatty oily fish in your diet.

Other foods which are commonly touted for their brain health benefits, usually due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, include blueberries, blackcurrants, leafy greens, turmeric, tomatoes, avocados, nuts and pumpkin seeds, oranges, eggs, dark chocolate and both coffee and green tea.

If you are keen to preserve brain health throughout your life, it’s as much about what to avoid as what to add to your basket. With this in mind, swerve – or try to limit your consumption of – pro-inflammatory oils like canola and sunflower, fried foods and trans fats, sugar-sweetened drinks, refined carbs and alcohol, the latter of which is a nervous system depressant.

Eating a poor diet can set the stage for cognitive decline including memory problems and, yes, even Alzheimer’s. Maintaining a healthy weight is also important, as evidenced by a 2019 study showing that excess pounds on the body equates to less brain volume.

Nutritional Psychiatry: Can Good Food Boost Mood?


Coined to describe the positive effect of food on markers of depression, nutritional psychiatry is a burgeoning field of research that offers hope to the tens of millions of people currently using antidepressant medication.

Numerous studies show that diets largely composed of the nutritious foods mentioned earlier – namely fish, vegetables, fruit and unrefined whole grains – correlate with low depression and anxiety.

The SMILES trial, published in 2017, was just one of them: 67 depressed people were recruited and given either sessions with a clinical dietician or ‘social support’. After three months, a third of the nutrition group were in remission, compared to just 8% of the social support group.

There was also a study of 60,000 Australians by the University of Sydney which showed that every extra vegetable you add to your plate lowers overall stress levels by 5%.

The World Journal of Psychiatry, meanwhile, identified a dozen ‘antidepressant nutrients’ in a 2018 paper investigating the potential for foods to both prevent and treat depressive disorders. They were: iron, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, vitamin C, potassium, selenium, zinc, vitamin A, thiamine (a.k.a vitamin B1), vitamin B6, folate (a.k.a vitamin B9) and vitamin B12.

The highest-scoring foods, incidentally, were oysters, mussels and other seafoods; organ meats; leafy greens, lettuces, peppers and cruciferous vegetables.

The role of our gut microbiota has been increasingly highlighted in recent years, with the term ‘mind-gut connection’ achieving popularity. It essentially describes the bidirectional links between the state of the gut and the brain: the influence of intestinal organisms on neurotransmitter production; the role of the cranial nerve extending from brain stem to abdomen.

Serotonin, the so-called feel-good hormone, is predominantly manufactured by nerves in your gut. Thus, the importance of maintaining gut health to promote mental function is quite clear.

Much has been written about the mind-gut connection, and the possible role probiotics have to play. The reasoning goes something like this: if we can positively influence our microbiome by introducing probiotics, perhaps we can improve mood and protect the ageing brain.

Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi and kefir are the best dietary sources of probiotics, but if you’re going to incorporate a supplement, go for a high-strength option like Progurt: it contains considerably more beneficial bacteria than any other, and its bacterial strains are human-origin. Just disperse a sachet in water and drink.

Low-Carb Diets and Brain Health

As mentioned earlier, carbohydrates are the only macronutrient cited by the EU Register on Nutrition and Health Claims as having a tangible benefit for the brain. However, those largely eschewing carbohydrates needn’t worry.

On a carb-restrictive ketogenic diet, the brain is mainly fuelled by ketones rather than glucose from carbohydrates.

However, it can still obtain glucose from the body’s natural process of gluconeogenesis, facilitated by the liver.

Indeed, there is a widening body of clinical evidence highlighting the benefits for the brain of low-carbohydrate diets – specifically for psychiatric and cognitive disorders.

In one groundbreaking study from 2018, people with mild Alzheimer’s disease were able to improve their brain function by eating a ketogenic diet and thus elevating their blood ketone levels over a three-month period.

The take-home? Carbs can fuel the brain, but they aren’t the only source. For a snapshot of the research in this field, this Healthline article is a valuable resource.

Conclusion

Brain function is undoubtedly food- and water-dependent. However, it is challenging to comprehensively describe the various mechanisms at work.

What is clear is that we can, to a large degree, protect our brains and fend off depression by paying close attention to the food that goes in our mouth; by drinking plenty of water; and by assiduously ensuring we avoid nutritional deficiencies.

If you need to quickly reverse a deficiency, meanwhile, a high-quality supplement is a good place to start.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Fish Oil: Liquid Gold for the Heart, Brain & Inflammation

Fish Oil: Liquid Gold for the Heart, Brain & Inflammation

Fish oil has long been one of the world’s most popular health supplements – and for good reason.

Typically associated with cardiovascular and brain health, omega-3 fish oil capsules are, in fact, linked with an extensive array of benefits due to their healthful provision of Essential Fatty Acids.

Indeed, recent research has uncovered hitherto unknown benefits. You might know that omega-3s slash cardiac risk, but were you aware that they may keep gut bacteria in balance, protect against vision loss in the ageing, and help to reduce osteoarthritis pain?

In this article we evaluate the scientific evidence undergirding fish oil liquid and capsules, and aim to show why omega-3 supplements remain one of the most safe and effective dietary products currently available.

Fish Oil Reduces Inflammation


Acute inflammation is a necessary immune response, protecting us from infection and illness, and encouraging wounds to heal. But sometimes, for various reasons, once triggered our systems go into overdrive and molecules don’t signal effectively to halt the inflammation process.

Things start to get out of control, and the inflammation becomes chronic. 

Over time, long-term inflammation can damage healthy cells, tissues and organs, leading to premature ageing and chronic conditions such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune disorders and cancer.

But could taking fish oils help to protect you from this?

These days, it’s relatively common knowledge that omega-3 fats are highly beneficial for our health with potent anti-inflammatory properties.

Fish oils, in particular, have been noted for their ability to reduce inflammatory markers and oxidative stress significantly, and their healing properties have been linked to all manner of conditions such as Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, anxiety and depression, ADHD, arthritis, high blood pressure, age-related macular degeneration and psoriasis.

As well as helping to suppress inflammation, fish oil appears to promote T-cells, white blood cells that play a crucial role in the immune system.

According to one 2017 study, fish oil could both prevent and treat inflammation and oxidative stress caused by air pollution, “delivering a 30-50% reduction in harm.”

Fish Oil and Pro-Resolving Molecules


To try and understand how they work in the body, some researchers have looked at the biological mechanism behind fish oils.

In the past, the halting of inflammation was seen as a passive process caused by the natural withdrawal of pro-inflammatory signals once the job is done. Modern medicine’s approach has reflected this, with anti-inflammatory drugs being designed to suppress those signals causing the inflammation.

However, it now appears that the stalling of inflammation is an active step performed by a particular set of chemical mediators, and it is the dysregulation of these ‘pro-resolving’ molecules that leads to chronic inflammation and disease.

Oily fish and fish oils are the most bioavailable source of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and it is these two omega-3 fats that have been found to directly generate resolvins and protectins, pro-resolving chemical mediators that control the duration and magnitude of inflammation.

EPA and DHA are also key in producing lipoxins, another pro-resolution molecule.

In research, resolvins are linked to the reduction of inflammation and protection from arthritis, colitis and asthma. Protectins, meanwhile, can protect the synapses and circuitry of the brain.

A neuroprotectin called NPD1 is promptly produced in response to oxidative stress in the brain after injury, helping to protect against brain damage. It can also preserve neural and retinal cells, promoting brain and eye health.

Lipoxins are powerful anti-inflammatory triggers that are being looked at for their potential role in protecting against all manner of inflammatory diseases including kidney failure, cancer, Alzheimer’s and viral infections.

In studies, people suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases show reduced levels of these pro-resolution molecules. Ageing also affects their production, which could be one of the reasons why increasing age and chronic inflammation are often linked.

Omega-3 Deficiency Increases Mortality Risk


Alarmingly, a lack of omega-3 fats – including fish oil – is one of the dietary risks with the highest mortality rates in Americans.

Nutritionally, we need a healthy balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fats, but unfortunately, the typical Western diet is high in omega-6, and way too low in omega-3 fats.

This imbalance causes a distorted ratio which encourages chronic low-grade inflammation, so it’s essential to get the balance right by increasing our omega-3 intake.

The three main omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), EPA and DHA. ALA is found in plant foods like nuts and seeds. It can convert to EPA and DHA, but only in minimal amounts, so consuming oily fish or taking a fish oil supplement is the best way to get adequate levels of EPA and DHA.

In research, consumption of fish oils has been directly linked to increased pro-resolving molecule production and the reduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

So it stands to reason that if you are ageing, not getting enough EPA and DHA in your daily diet, suffer from an inflammatory disease or want to look after your brain health, increasing your fish oil consumption could be beneficial.

5 Key Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fish Oil

1) Cardiovascular Health

Fish oils can help to reduce triglycerides and blood pressure, improve vascular function, block clot-forming platelet activation reducing the risk of stroke, and protect those at high risk of arrhythmia and potential heart attack.

In one trialheart attack survivors took a high-dose fish oil supplement for six months and showed significantly improved heart function and considerably reduced inflammation biomarkers, way beyond recommended care guidelines.

In another 14-year study with 2,735 adult participants, long-chain fatty acids like those present in fish oils were associated with a lower risk of congestive heart failure.

In 2011, patients on statins with coronary artery disease were split into two groups. One was given a daily 1800mg EPA supplement while the others stuck with statins only. After 48 weeks, EPA was shown to significantly reduce oxidative stress and inhibit the progression of arterial stiffness.

A 2018 trial also demonstrated that use of a high EPA fish oil sharply reduced the rate of cardiovascular events in individuals with a history of heart disease or Type 2 diabetes. Indeed, statin-treated adults with heightened triglyceride levels saw a 25% reduction in their relative risk of heart attacks, strokes and related cardiac events compared to a placebo control group – all from taking a purified EPA fish oil.

Results of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) published in mid-2019, meanwhile, indicated that greater plasma levels of EPA reduced the risk for heart failure in initially middle-aged respondents, after a median follow-up of 13 years.

A similar observation was made for plasma levels of DHA, as well as EPA and DHA combined, once again showing the cardiovascular benefits of omega-3 supplementation.

2) Brain Health

Several studies have supported the consumption of oily fish to help brain function and prevent or delay cognitive decline, and it has been linked to better cognitive performance in the elderly.

Preliminary studies on 12 patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) showed an improvement in symptoms after supplementing with fish oils with antioxidants for 4 to 17 months. The fish oil increased Resolvin D1 (a DHA generated resolvin) and reduced inflammation in the brain.

Inflammation is linked to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and due to its power to increase pro-resolution molecules in the brain and thereby reduce inflammation, fish oil consumption is associated with lower rates  of neurological diseases like these.

Much more research is needed, but time and again, fish oils are researched for their benefit to Alzheimer’s (AD). While there is still no conclusive evidence to support their use as a treatment for this horrendous disease, some studies show positive results in specific areas.

In one clinical trial, positive effects were seen in a small group of patients with mild AD after supplementing for six months with 1.7 g DHA and 0.6 g EPA.

In 2015, results from a study involving ageing American adults (229 cognitively normal individuals, 397 patients with mild cognitive impairment and 193 patients with Alzheimer’s disease), showed that those who supplemented with fish oils over several months had less cognitive decline and brain shrinkage.

This did not include those suffering with, or with a genetic predisposition to, AD.

3) Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes

Low-grade inflammation and increased oxidative stress in the white fatty tissue of the chronically obese increase the risk of insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, amongst other things. It’s also linked to metabolic syndrome which predisposes you to type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Supplementing with fish oils can increase levels of lipoxins, resolvins and protectins leading to the lowering of inflammation within fatty tissue and the prevention of developing obesity-related complications.

Some early research supports calorie restriction and the inclusion of dietary long-chain fatty acids like those found in fish oil as a therapeutic treatment for metabolic syndrome.

Interestingly, although more research is needed, some studies have linked fish oil consumption to increased weight loss.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you could be more vulnerable to cognitive impairment and dementia, as well as eye complications like diabetic retinopathy.

One study demonstrated the potential of fish oils to reduce oxidative stress in the brain and lower the risk of cognitive decline in diabetics.

Another six-year observational study tracked the fish oil consumption of over 3,000 type 2 diabetic men and women between the ages of 55 and 80. Those who met the target of 500mg of fish oil per day, or two portions of oily fish a week, were 48% less likely to develop diabetic retinopathy.

4) Cancer

Cancer is another disease associated with chronic inflammation, and a growing number of studies are revealing fish oil’s potential to slow and prevent some cancers because of its ability to mediate and control inflammation by increasing pro-resolving molecules like lipoxins and resolvins.

In some studies, cancers including colon, pancreatic, prostate, and breast cancer have been positively affected by omega-3 fats.

According to some research, women with previously diagnosed and treated early-stage breast cancer who have higher levels of EPA and DHA from fish oils, have a 25% less chance of further complications than those with lower levels.

In one Indian study, omega-3 fats including the EPA and DHA found in fish oil, inhibited breast tumour development. This was, in part, down to their inflammation-reducing capabilities. The review recommended the use of omega-3 supplementation as an adjunct to conventional treatment, to enhance its effectiveness and potentially reduce the required dosage.

Omega-3 fats have the potential to decrease the risk of prostate cancer and slow its progression. In a study with 48 men, those taking 5g of fish oil per day for four to six weeks before surgery showed reduced cancerous tissue and decreased cancer proliferation.

Fish oil can also help with the side effects of cancer treatment. For example, one trial involving lung cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy showed that supplementing with 2.2g of fish oil per day enabled them to maintain weight and muscle mass, rather than having to endure treatment-related weight loss.

5) Anxiety and Depression

Omega-3 fats, particularly EPA and DHA found in fish, are considered the most critical healthy fats for feeding the brain and boosting mood.

Although studies aiming to determine a correlation between fish oil intake and depression have varied and contrasting results, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that low levels of PUFAs, particularly EPA and DHA, can make us more susceptible to depression.

Clinical trials researching fish oil supplementation to treat depression are also mixed, but there are many to support their use for relieving depression and improving other related symptoms. For example, low levels of omega-3 affect the brain’s dopamine systems which can alter our mood. Fish oil supplements containing higher EPA to DHA seem to have the most significant effect on depression.

There have been some positive results in the realms of postnatal depression and also bipolar disorder, where omega-3 supplementation is more effective for the depressive stage rather than the manic stage.

Introducing a Superior Range of High-Quality Fish Oils

Water for Health represents WHC Health Consulting in the UK and Ireland. WHC produce fish oil supplements that are of outstanding quality, with exceptional purity, and the highest concentration of EPA/DHA available.

The fish oils manufactured by the company are combined with other valuable nutrients to give you a range of products to support overall health, in particular brain, cardiovascular and joint health.

WHC pride themselves on the purity of their supplements with PCBs, heavy metals and pesticides consistently testing below detectable limits.

Out of respect for the environment, the fish are harvested from sustainable sources using cold environmentally-friendly technology. Only fish that are recognised as not being endangered are used, such as anchovies, sardines, mackerel and herring.

A balanced mix of rosemary and tocopherol extracts maintains the freshness of each WHC supplement.

Since 2015, WHC’s UnoCardio 1000 has been classified as the world’s best-quality fish oil supplement by the US independent laboratory Labdoor. Of 53 products tested, it was the only one to be awarded an overall ‘A’ rating, taking into account quality, purity and value. In short, it is recognised as the best of the best. Sister product UnoCardio X2 is currently ranked #3. 

Conclusion

We trust this article has resonated with you. Next time you see a story in the media claiming that “fish oils are useless,” you can refer to the numerous studies quoted here; and know that there are many more if you only choose to look.

The science is not unanimous, for some studies show little or no benefit of fish oils for certain conditions. However, it is always worth digging deeper: how much fish oil was used? Were the dosages appropriate? Was EPA, DHA or the inferior ALA favoured?

Fish oil is not a panacea to all health problems, however there is enough evidence to show that it can be massively beneficial when used correctly.

Have a look at our Fish Oils Comparison Chart to see the vast difference between our products and others on the market.

This article was written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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EPA Fish Oil: The Standalone Benefits of High EPA Omega-3

Most of us understand or at least appreciate that omega-3s can confer benefits on our health.

But did you know that there are three types of omega-3 fatty acid, each associated with its own roles and actions in the body?

In this article we aim to focus our attention on EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), a marine omega-3 well studied in the field of clinical nutrition.

Indeed there may be circumstances under which prioritising EPA becomes important, particularly in relation to mental health but also for pregnancy, cardiovascular health, joint problems and weight loss.

EPA Fish Oil: What Is It?


Eicosapentaenoic acid is a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) commonly found in the oils of cold-water fish such as sardines, herring, mackerel, trout and salmon.

However, it should be noted that most fish contain higher levels of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) than EPA. The EPA molecule is made up of 20 carbon atoms and five double bonds.

Like us, fish are unable to effectively biosynthesise EPA and DHA, both of which are produced by plankton which the fish then eat.

However, the presence of these fatty acids in the systems of fish equips them for living in icy-cold waters, working as a kind of biological antifreeze. The oils also facilitate oxygen uptake.

When EPA and DHA Work Together


To a large extent EPA and DHA work together, and therefore their roles – at least in some instances – are indivisible.

For example, both contribute to the maintenance of healthy blood pressure and blood triglyceride levels, and by extension healthy heart function.

It is this partnership between the Essential Fatty Acids – this artery-protecting, triglyceride-lowering teamwork – which makes omega-3 one of the most beneficial nutrients for cardiovascular health.

What is EPA Good For?


EPA, however, has many benefits on its own, and so it is worthwhile parsing out their effects a little. The precursor of series 3 prostaglandins, EPA has beneficial knock-on effects for our kidneys, platelets, immune system, arteries and triglyceride levels.

As well as blocking the production of pro-inflammatory series 2 prostaglandins made from omega-6 fatty acids, s3 PGs help prevent problems involving clot formation, such as pulmonary embolism.

Let’s look at some other specific examples where EPA can have a positive effect.

EPA Fish Oil for Depression


The anti-depressive effects of EPA were noted in a 2009 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Researchers learned that although the effect of pure DHA on depression scores was negligible, “symptoms of depression were reduced in 13 studies using supplements containing greater than 50% EPA and in 8 studies using pure ethyl-EPA.”

A separate study published two years later assessed 15 different trials with close to 1,000 participants and came to the same conclusion: that omega supplements comprised of 60% or more EPA were the most effective in reducing depression.

Finally, a 2012 study featuring 81 participants showed benefits for those who received 1,000 mg per day of EPA over a period of 12 weeks; in fact, six patients demonstrated a 50% or greater improvement on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, compared to zero for the DHA group!

One reason for this is that EPA is an essential hormonal component of brain cells, and as such has a clear influence on the way cells interact with one another via the bloodstream.

Depression is quite clearly tied to the way in which cells communicate with neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, which regulate the perception of emotions.

There’s even evidence that post-natal depression is linked to low levels of omega-3 in the brain and tissues of the mother.

If you are suffering from depression, you should strive to maintain a high intake of EPA and monitor the results; you might also consider using an EPA-rich fish oil supplement in conjunction with an antidepressant. Diet, as ever, can be helpful.

EPA Fish Oil and Anxiety, ADHD

Anxiety has a relevant co-morbidity with depression, and indeed many doctors speculate that increased cellular inflammation in the brain is the root cause of both disorders. A therapeutic dose of EPA, therefore, may provide the same benefits for both conditions.

This topic was well explored by the biochemist Barry Sears, PhD, in an article for Psychology Today.

Dr. Sears references a 2008 study which showed decreases in anxiety among substance abusers who maintained a high EPA intake of 2,000mg per day. (Interestingly, a higher DHA intake correlated with lower end-of-trial anger scores.)

Though the study concluded that the topic should be further explored for various psychiatric conditions, there have been precious few conducted in the decade since.

EPA During Pregnancy


The benefits of DHA fish oil for pregnancy are well understood, with omega-3s contributing to the normal visual development of infants up to 12 months.

Maternal intake also contributes to the normal brain development of the foetus and breastfed infant, as well as the normal development of the eye. DHA is an absolutely crucial nutrient for early life.

But what about EPA?

As it transpires, many of the studies showing omega-3 benefits for pregnant women used fish oil supplements containing both EPA and DHA.

While DHA provides more specific benefits, such as those mentioned above, the intake of general omega-3 supplements has been shown to correlate with larger birth weights, prolonged pregnancy without detrimental effects and healthy nervous system development in the foetus.

There is even some evidence to suggest that fish oil can reduce the risk of premature birth.

Clearly there are benefits to both EPA and DHA during pregnancy, and so the focus should be on obtaining a healthy ratio of EFAs in any supplement consumed during the period.

EPA Fish Oil for Weight Loss


Because both EPA and DHA activate receptors in the body that speed up metabolic rate, fish oils have shown promise for weight loss.

That isn’t the only reason, though. Some studies show that fish oil increases satiety after a meal, thereby indirectly reducing your calorie intake.

However, other research outcomes have actually shown the opposite, with effects varying depending on health status, body weight, nutrition and who knows how many other factors.

While more investigation is needed, it is interesting to note that EPA has been identified as the PUFA which counters reductions in levels of leptin (the satiety hormone) which occur during weight loss. In other words, weight loss provokes a fall in satiety, leading to overeating (and weight gain) – and EPA can prevent this.

Omega-3 is especially useful for fat-burning when combined with aerobic exercise, because it improves the flow of blood to muscles during training. Indeed, researchers at the University of South Australia tested whether tuna oil – a rich source of omega-3s – could provide weight-loss benefits when used as an adjunct.

The group who followed the protocol lost an average of 4.5 lbs over the 3-month period, while those who took fish oil and did not exercise lost no weight.

Perhaps the take-home should be this: do not consume fish oil and expect the pounds to fall off. But if you are exercising, an omega supplement could yield better rewards for your efforts. An EPA-enriched diet could also help to preserve lean body mass.

EPA for Cholesterol and Heart Health


As mentioned, EPA works with DHA to help maintain healthy blood pressure and triglyceride levels. However, it appears that EPA by itself has major benefits for cardiovascular health.

In a 2018 study, the prescription fish oil drug Vascepa was linked with a 25% reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. Vascepa is a pure EPA supplement, delivering 1g of EPA per capsule.

The high EPA fish oil was tested on 8,179 patients for a period of five years. Every volunteer had elevated levels of triglycerides at the outset, and they also had either established cardiovascular disease or Type 2 diabetes, plus a minimum of one other cardiovascular risk factor.

After the study ended, the patients who received Vascepa were shown to be 25% less likely to have a coronary event than those in the control group.

It seemed the drug’s effectiveness stemmed from its ability to decrease triglycerides without increasing LDL (‘bad cholesterol’) levels.

Does Food Provide Enough EPA?


As mentioned, most fish contain a higher DHA content than EPA; hence why it is often necessary to use a highly concentrated EPA supplement to achieve a significant therapeutic dosage.

Certainly you do not want to have to eat the quantity of fish necessary to consistently hit such a daily target, both due to the risk of trace mercury and other heavy metals present in fish and also because chomping your way through that much seafood would be incredibly onerous!

That said, regularly eating 2-4 portions of oily fish per week will ensure a balanced intake of DHA and EPA – and so this should remain a priority.

If you do not eat fish, an EFA-rich oil such as flaxseed oil will do: it is the most omega-3 rich of all edible oils, though its main component is Alpha-Linoleic Acid (ALA), the precursor to EPA and DHA.

Many people may wonder how much EPA constitutes a ‘therapeutic dose’. Certainly there will be some therapeutic benefits to eating oily fish a few times per week, but in many of the aforementioned studies a higher daily dose was used: anywhere between 500mg and 2,000mg EPA. To put that in context, a can of white tuna provides just 200mg of EPA.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article has been of value. Clearly there are very many health benefits associated with omega-3 fatty acids, but perhaps a closer look at eicosapentaenoic acid was long overdue.

Of course, we would recommend getting the synergistic benefits of fish oil by eating a few portions of sustainably-sourced fatty fish each week. However, a fish oil supplement is a great choice if you want a continuous therapeutic dosage.

As indicated, striving for a high intake of EPA in particular comes with a number of positives.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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