The Healthy Brain
A healthy brain requires an adequate supply of oxygen which, in turn, is dependent upon a healthy heart and circulation. In order to achieve this we should ensure that we follow a healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables and wholefoods. Oily fish is also beneficial. A good diet will help you to avoid high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, raised cholesterol and high blood sugar levels. Regular physical exercise is vital for a healthy circulation, ensuring adequate oxygen-enriched blood reaches the brain.
The brain itself also needs to be exercised and reading, doing crosswords and puzzles, or even undertaking a course of study can help to achieve this.
Avoid tobacco and reduce alcohol consumption – both affect the brain adversely.
Stress and anxiety can cause the brain to become over-active and are often accompanied by insomnia. Chronic stress will deplete the body of vital nutrients, particularly the B-vitamins, and therefore should be addressed as a priority.
As we age, many of us will experience a gradual decline in cardiac and brain function, but help is at hand!
Ginkgo leaf contains amino acids, bioflavonoids, and substances known as ginkgolides and is primarily used as a circulatory tonic, particularly improving the circulation in the lower limbs and brain. In clinical trials elderly patients with chronic cerebral insufficiency demonstrated a significant improvement of symptoms including vertigo, tinnitus, headache, short-term memory, vigilance and mood changes. However, heart rate, blood pressure and blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides were unaffected, and ginkgo had no effect on normal healthy subjects. Ginkgo appears to improve glucose utilisation within the brain and to increase alertness. It has also been shown to improve the eyesight in senile macular degeneration.
You should seek professional advice before taking ginkgo if you have been prescribed blood-thinning medication such as aspirin or warfarin.
Neurotone tablets contain the herbs hops, skullcap and valerian and are used for the symptomatic relief of tenseness and irritability.
The B-vitamins (also known as B-Complex) have an essential role in the maintenance of a healthy brain and nervous system. They include thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, cobalamin and folic acid. Depletion of this group of vitamins is marked in those who suffer from chronic stress or who consume too much alcohol. Those following a vegan diet should also ensure they have an adequate intake. Symptoms of deficiency can include tingling sensations, poor balance, depression, fatigue, irritability, memory loss and confusion.
Good food sources of the B-vitamins include liver, yeast, wholegrains, pulse, eggs, milk, cheese and green leafy vegetables. People suffering from stress or whose diets are lacking in the B-vitamins should consider taking a B-Complex supplement.
Co-enzyme Q10 is an important antioxidant that protects the body from free radical damage. It is a component of every cell in the body, particularly in the heart and it also helps to regulate blood pressure.
As we age, the amount of Co-enzyme Q10 in our bodies declines and this has been linked with cardiovascular and neuromuscular disease. The use of Statins can also result in deficiency.
As we have seen, a healthy heart and circulation is vital in order to ensure adequate oxygen-enriched blood reaches the brain.
The above information is for guidance only, and is not intended to take the place of diagnosis and treatment by a qualified practitioner. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or taking any other medication, you should seek advice from a health professional.