One of the most precious parts of our body is our mind, and the significant increase of mental illnesses such as Alzheimer’s is bringing new attention to how we can support brain function and avoid the memory loss or ‘senior moments’ that we believe is just a result of ageing. The fact of the matter is, age doesn’t have to bring memory loss, and people of all ages are experiencing brain fog and anxiety which is reducing their ability to enjoy their greatest resource – the ability to think coherently. So let’s discover what healing superfoods we can take to avoid losing our mind, and make it stronger than ever.
Bacopa (also called Brahmi) is a perennial plant with white or blue flowers and grows throughout Southern Asia. It has been commonly cited as a nerve tonic in Ayurvedic medicine, and has been traditionally used to enhance learning and memory through it’s neuroprotective and antioxidant properties.
The active constituents for cognitive function have been linked to saponin compounds called bacosides. They have been shown to improve neurotransmission among brain cells, repair damaged neurons and improve nerve synapse performance, and increase serotonin production.
Research trials have suggested that Bacopa can help provide relief for the following conditions:
- Memory recall
- Anxiety and depression
It’s important to note that Bacopa is not addictive. After centuries of use in Ayurvedic medicine, there are no recorded side effects. It is safe to use by anyone, regardless of age or gender.
So if you are stressed, anxious, confused, sleepless, or losing your memory, Bacopa is a healing herb that has a proven ability to handle all these symptoms.
Cacao (cuh-cow) beans are the seeds of the fruit tree, Theobroma cacao, that grows in the shades of the rainforest north and south of the equator. All chocolate is made from cacao, the edible part of the bean after it has been harvested, dried, fermented, and hulled.
Cacao is considered a highly beneficial medicine containing over 300 chemical compounds. Unfortunately, many of the products produced from raw cacao are destroyed through processing, cooking, refining, and otherwise denaturing the original source. A good example of this is chocolate bars that have very low levels of cacao compared to other ingredients such as sugars, dairy, hydrogenated oils, and artificial flavourings.
Cacao also has more antioxidants flavonoids than blueberries, red wine, or green tea. In fact, it has been measured to have up to 4x the antioxidants found in green tea!
The certain euphoria or happiness you associate with chocolate is well documented scientifically. Cacao has been shown to increase levels of specific neurotransmitters in our brains that helps promote a positive outlook, facilitates rejuvenation, and lift our spirits. These specific effects are a result of the following:
- Endorphins – cacao stimulates the secretion of them to produce a pleasurable feeling.
- Serotonin – cacao raises the levels of seretonin and acts as a anti-depressant, which helps promote a sense of well being.
- Anandamide – also known as the ‘bliss chemical’ as it is released by the brain when we feel happy. Cacao contains N-acylethanolamines that increase levels of anandamide in the brain and enzyme inhibitors that slow its breakdown. This helps promote longer periods of relaxation.
- Phenylethylamine (PEA) – a natural chemical compound created and released by the brain when we are in love. Acts as a mood elevator and anti-depressant, and helps increase focus and alertness.
The benefits of cacao are most potent in its raw form and typical chocolate bars should not be considered therapeutic. Look for high levels of cacao and minimal processing and additional ingredients such as sugar and dairy, to really enjoy it’s mind enhancing benefits.
Maca has been cultivated and grown high in the Andes for thousands of years. This hard crop grows where no other cultivated crop can survive, flourishing at altitudes of 9,000 to 14,000 feet in extreme climate of cold winds and strong sunlight.
Maca is abundant in amino acids, phytonutrients, healthy fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. This healing superfood has the ability to increase energy and stamina, oxygenate the blood, support neurotransmitter production, and enhance libido.
Maca’s ability to increase one’s mental capacity is due to the fact that it works directly on the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. It also has the healing power to rejuvenate the adrenal glands, which helps us cope with stressful situations.
In the end, maca’s ability to drastically improve mental function comes from ‘brain friendly’ qualities like healthy fatty acids and minerals, and it’s adaptive qualities that allow us to handle stressful situation with more ease.
Known in Eastern medicine as the “mushroom of immortality” and “King of Herbs”, Reishi is a medicinal mushroom that grows in various regions of the world where damp and temperate conditions exist.
Reishi is known to have multiple benefits to the body, most notably:
- Immune function
- Cardiovascular function
- Adrenal function
- Liver function
- Nerve function
- Mental function