Brain Food – Top Supplements for Mental and Emotional HealthAMANDA BURKE, CNP, BA (hons.) October 1, 2016
When watching the evening news, with all of its trauma and drama, it is easy to come to the conclusion that we have a mental health crisis in our midst. According to the World Health Organization, by 2020 Major Depressive Disorder will be the second leading cause of disability throughout the world. It was not too long ago that mental health was a taboo subject that nobody talked about. But today that is changing.
Thanks to great research being done in the area of nutritional medicine, it is now known that good brain nourishment can not only prevent many of the health related issues associated with mental decline, but we may be able to tap into innate brain capabilities that were previously unexplored. Many people are excited to learn that not only can they stack the odds in their favour for prevention of age-related, inherited, and environmentally-induced mental decline, but they can potentially reverse the brain’s biological age and access abilities like never before.
If you are concerned because a particular mental health challenge runs in your family, or you’re noticing ‘brain fog’ seeping into your daily awareness, or you’ve been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, dementia, or even Alzheimer’s, there is hope for recovery. Not only is there hope but true promise through the science of orthomolecular nutrition, nutraceuticals, and herbal supplementation. Here are some supplements to consider if a strategy of prevention and optimization for brain health is your goal.
Supplements For Optimal Brain Health
- A high dose probiotic with L-Glutamine
- Serrapeptase (an enzyme created by the silk worm) – 120,000 SU
- Curcumin (Longvida™) – 400mg
- Magnesium L-Threonate – 144 mg
- Co-enzyme B-Complex with Sensoril, Ashwagandha, Rhodiola and Panax Ginseng
The Brain-Gut Health Connection
The first two supplements on my list are there to help clean up the gut, often referred to as the ‘second brain’. Many great books have been written on this topic, and what is important to understand is that an unhealthy gut leads to the proliferation of pathogens that feed off of undigested food, creating micotoxins. These micotoxins then pass into the bloodstream and can bypass the blood-brain barrier, creating ‘brain fog’ and challenges with thinking. So cleaning up the intestinal tract has many benefits.
It’s also a good idea to address leaky gut syndrome. This condition results from damage to the intestinal wall caused by pathogens like moulds, yeast, fungus, and bacteria. A leaky gut can be treated with nutrients such as:
- Serrapeptase to break down the biofilm barrier which pathogens create to protect themselves from the human immune system;
- An anti-microbial agent that can clean up the pathogens. (There are many great antifungal and anti-parasite formulations out there – look for ones that include herbs like wormwood, oregano, cloves, garlic, and black walnut hull.)
Once the pathogenic microbes have been cleared out with enzymes and herbs, the next step is to repopulate the intestinal tract with friendly bacteria from a high dose probiotic formula that features 250 mg of L-Glutamine to strengthen and heal the intestinal wall. Look for a product formulated to be GMO-free, non-irradiated, gluten-free, and dairy-free.
Curcumin for Brain Inflammation
Science has recently confirmed that inflammation of the brain is connected with depression and that if we can clear that inflammation we can provide amazing benefit to those suffering from this condition. One valuable anti-inflammatory herb is turmeric root; its active ingredient – curcumin – confers brain protection to those who take it by helping to control the inflammatory process. In a recent interview, clinical psychologist Dr. Adrian Lopresti, MS, PhD, cited research done on patented curcumin which demonstrated that: “[Patented Curcumin] was more effective than a placebo in reducing overall depressive symptoms.”
One can also use some of the great anti-inflammatory foods that are available, many of which are listed in Julie Daniluk’s book Meals that Heal Inflammation. And many culinary spices that you are already using can be incorporated more regularly into the foods you prepare for yourself to boost their anti-inflammatory effect – find more information in Suzanne Somers’ book Breakthrough: 8 Steps to Wellness.
For the best therapeutic effect, one can use patented curcumin in supplement form, as it is more concentrated. An important benefit of working with patented ingredients is the higher concentration and stability of those ingredients, which ensures that the bioavailability required to get good results is present. Remember, it is not just what you eat and supplement with that makes the difference, it is what you can digest, absorb, and assimilate. So, you want to have high bioavailability for this reason.
Of all the patented curcumin products currently available, one in particular is delivering proven results in the area of depression, and this is Longvida™. Not only is it the most studied patent, with 16 published studies and others underway, but it is the most studied for its benefits in the cognitive health category. One of the features of Longvida curcumin is that it has the unique ability to pass through the blood/brain barrier, which may account for its brain-health effects. Longvida has also been proven to help Alzheimer’s patients through its ability to upregulate the neurogenesis marker known as synaptophysin, and also decrease plasma amyloid-beta by a full 11%.
Another mechanism through which Longvida may help to improve mental health is its ability to aid liver function. There has always been an association between liver dysfunction and melancholia throughout medical history, and so an added benefit to the liver comes with Longvida supplementation.
Magnesium for Brain Health
Magnesium L-Threonate is a form of magnesium clinically proven to confer a number of brain-health benefits. The major advantage of supplementing with magnesium in this form is that it’s the only form known to pass through the blood-brain barrier. As a result, it is able to concentrate in the brain and spinal fluid, allowing the brain tissues to regenerate, the mind to relax, and the nervous system to function more optimally. This form of magnesium is patented, and according to one researcher, “Magtein™ restores the prefrontal cortex synaptic density of the brain, which controls complex cognitive behaviour and emotional response, executive reasoning, planning, [and] decision making. What I have found most interesting is that Magtein increases synaptic plasticity and density in both hippocampus and prefrontal cortex regions of the brain.”
Both the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex control mood, memory, and focus. So this is why magnesium is recommended by orthomolecular doctors around the world for prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s, dementia, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and memory decline. For more information on the effects of toxins and nutritional deficiencies on the brain, see the work of Dr. Russell Blaylock, MD, a former neurosurgeon with much to say on the topic. A great interview with Dr. Blaylock can be found in Suzanne Somers’ aforementioned book.
Also recommended is a good B-complex formula in a high dose and coenzyme form. The coenzyme form is the most bioactive in the body, with the highest bioavailability and best absorption rates. Also recommended for their synergistic effects are the herbs ashwagandha, rhodiola, and panax ginseng because they provide additional anti-stress support. This group of herbs synergistically work together as adaptogens to assist the body-mind in adapting to stressful conditions. When people take these herbs in combination with each other and with a bioactive B-complex, the results can be quite powerful, with the user feeling a sense of wellbeing and increased enjoyment of their life.
The reason for this is that B-complex vitamins are required for proper nervous system function and are rapidly depleted during times of stress. The impact of stress upon the brain and nervous system is a loss of clear thinking, as well as difficulty making quick decisions and processing basic tasks. Study after study proves that chronically elevated levels of cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’, can work to negatively impact brain and nervous tissue and accelerate age-related brain decline. It even accelerates the shrinking of the prefrontal cortex region of the brain. According to the Magtein literature referenced earlier, “the prefrontal cortex area of the brain shrinks by 50% between the age of 25 and age 80.” This is significant when you consider that depending on your level of health and nutrition you may start experiencing the symptoms of brain-decline normally associated with old age – when you are as young as 25!
Another much-studied supplement is Sensoril™. According to manufacturer’s claims: “Sensoril® contains the highest, most potent levels of stress-fighting, cognition-enhancing Ashwagandha bioactive constituents, which are extracted using a patented, pure water-based process, without the use of any chemical solvents. Sensoril is backed by human clinical studies proving that it can balance cortisol effectively and therefore rebalance the endocrine system.” When cortisol is in balance, the damaging effects of stress on the brain are brought under control so that one can feel better, think more clearly, and learn new information more easily and retain more of the information learned.
In addition to a good nutrition and supplement regimen, there are many complementary therapies which you can benefit from. Consider looking into acupuncture, meditation, walking in the sun, and yoga as they all complement what has been suggested in this article. It is also important to detoxify the organs of elimination to rid the body of impurities that have impacts upon mental health.
 An Interview with Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Adrian Lopresti of Murdoch University, Australia.” Interview by Dolcas-Biotech. Print.
 Merina Benny, MD, and Benny Antony, MD. “Bioavailability of Biocurcumax™(BCM-095™),” Spice India Journal (September 2016).
 Verdure Sciences. (2016, September 2). Longvida Optimized Curcumin. Lecture presented in Naka Herbs & Vitamins, Toronto.
 AIDP Inc; https://magtein.com/magtein-science.html
Amanda Burke is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Life Extension Expert with over 18+ years of experience working with nutraceuticals, herbal medicine, homeopathy, energy medicine, nutrition and detoxification. She is a passionate consumer advocate and promoter of safe medicine. A trusted nutrition and supplementation expert, Amanda is a featured speaker at the annual Whole Life Expo and a regular contributor to Vitality Magazine. For more info contact: <a href="mailto:Amanda.email@example.com">Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org</a>