Boost Brain Function and Blood Flow With This ‘Fruit’ Extract


Boost Your Memory With This Sweet and Refreshing Treat

Research confirms the power of a simple dietary change in improving memory problems in middle-aged and older adults.

In a study titled, “Pomegranate juice augments memory and FMRI activity in middle-aged and older adults with mild memory complaints,” thirty-two subjects with self-reported memory complaints were randomly assigned to drink 8 ounces of either pomegranate juice or a flavor-matched placebo drink for 4 weeks, receiving memory testing, functional MRI scans (fMRI), and blood draws for peripheral biomarkers before and after the intervention.

After 4 weeks, only the pomegranate group showed significant improvement in verbal memory scores and plasma antioxidant levels.  Furthermore, compared to placebo, the pomegranate group showed increased fMRI activity during verbal and memory tasks, indicating pomegranate juice consumption results in increased blood flow to critical task-related brain regions.

This is not the first study to identify a brain-beneficial effect to pomegranate juice, as a sizable body of animal research already exists demonstrating it has neuroprotective properties against aluminum-,[1] stroke-,[2] [3] and glucose deprivation-associated neurotoxicity,[4] and may also inhibit the formation of pathological plaques and the over-excitation of microglial cells associated with Alzheimer’s disease.[5] [6] [7]

Pomegranate, in fact, is capable of unclogging and tonifying the cardiovascular system, which is especially important when it comes to brain health, and so-called vascular dementia. In fact, in a previous article titled,  “How To Clean Your Arteries with One Simple Fruit,” I report on the ability of pomegranate juice to regress blockages within the carotid arteries of patients.  

There is also its well-known age-defying ability to prevent adverse changes associated with the exhaustion of ovarian function.  In a previous article, “Amazing Fact: Pomegranate Can Function as a Back-up Ovary,” we looked at animal research explaining how this legendary food, traditionally linked with regeneration and immortality, may provide an alternative to bioidenticial and synthetic hormone replacement therapies.

As the research community continues to explore the potential role of so-called ‘medicinal foods’ in improving quality of life and preventing and/or treating diseases that are largely refractory to conventional drug-based interventions, we can rest assured that pomegranate will continue to play a central role in the rediscovery of food as medicine.

While much of the research is preliminary, an increasingly robust body of human clinical research indicates that pomegranate has a wide range of potential health benefits, including:

  • Improve Pregnancy/Birth Outcomes: Pomegranate juice has been found to potentially protect the unborn fetus by reducing oxidative stress in the placenta.[8]
  • Improve Rheumatoid Arthritis: Pomegranate juice reduces disease activity and oxidative stress in rheumatoid patients.[9]
  • Improve Heart Disease: Pomegranate juice has been found to have anti-atherogenic properties by reducing oxidative stress, including LDL cholesterol oxidation.[10]
  • Fights Prostate Cancer: Pomegranate juice has been found to prolong prostate doubling, as well as inhibit the proliferation and increase programmed cell death in the prostates of men with prostate cancer.[11]
  • Contributes to Weight Loss: Pomegranate juice was found to contribute to a reduction in weight, without decreasing insulin sensitivity like other commonly used sources of ‘sugar.’[12]

For additional research on pomegranate’s wide range of health benefits, visit our pomegranate research page: Pomegranate Health Benefits, wherein you will find primary literature study abstracts on its value in over 100 potential health conditions.


References

[1] Ahmed E Abdel Moneim. Evaluating the potential role of pomegranate peel in aluminum-induced oxidative stress and histopathological alterations in brain of female rats. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2012 Dec ;150(1-3):328-36. Epub 2012 Sep 5. PMID: 22945624

[2] David J Loren, Navindra P Seeram, Risa N Schulman, David M Holtzman. Maternal dietary supplementation with pomegranate juice is neuroprotective in an animal model of neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury. Pediatr Res. 2005 Jun ;57(6):858-64. Epub 2005 Mar 17. PMID: 15774834

[3] Tim West, Madeliene Atzeva, David M Holtzman. Pomegranate polyphenols and resveratrol protect the neonatal brain against hypoxic-ischemic injury. Dev Neurosci. 2007 ;29(4-5):363-72. PMID: 17762204

[4] Fatemeh Forouzanfar, Amir Afkhami Goli, Elham Asadpour, Ahmad Ghorbani, Hamid Reza Sadeghnia. Protective Effect of Punica granatum L. against Serum/Glucose Deprivation-Induced PC12 Cells Injury. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013 ;2013:716730. Epub 2013 Jul 7. PMID: 23935674

[5] Richard E Hartman, Aartie Shah, Anne M Fagan, Katherine E Schwetye, Maia Parsadanian, Risa N Schulman, Mary Beth Finn, David M Holtzman. Pomegranate juice decreases amyloid load and improves behavior in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiol Dis. 2006 Dec ;24(3):506-15. Epub 2006 Sep 28. PMID: 17010630

[6] Soo Jung Choi, Ju-Hyun Lee, Ho Jin Heo, Hong Yon Cho, Hye Kyung Kim, Chang-Ju Kim, Myeong Ok Kim, Soo Hwan Suh, Dong-Hoon Shin. Punica granatum protects against oxidative stress in PC12 cells and oxidative stress-induced Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice. J Med Food. 2011 Jul-Aug;14(7-8):695-701. Epub 2011 Jun 1. PMID: 21631359

[7] Lalida Rojanathammanee, Kendra L Puig, Colin K Combs. Pomegranate polyphenols and extract inhibit nuclear factor of activated T-cell activity and microglial activation in vitro and in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer disease. J Nutr. 2013 May ;143(5):597-605. Epub 2013 Mar 6. PMID: 23468550

[8] Baosheng Chen, Methodius G Tuuli, Mark S Longtine, Joong Sik Shin, Russell Lawrence, Terrie Inder, D Michael Nelson. Pomegranate juice and punicalagin attenuate oxidative stress and apoptosis in human placenta and in human placental trophoblasts. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Feb 28. Epub 2012 Feb 28. PMID: 22374759

[9] Alexandra Balbir-Gurman, Bianca Fuhrman, Yolanda Braun-Moscovici, Doron Markovits, Michael Aviram. Consumption of pomegranate decreases serum oxidative stress and reduces disease activity in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis: a pilot study. Isr Med Assoc J. 2011 Aug ;13(8):474-9. PMID: 21910371

[10] M Aviram, L Dornfeld, M Rosenblat, N Volkova, M Kaplan, R Coleman, T Hayek, D Presser, B Fuhrman. Pomegranate juice consumption reduces oxidative stress, atherogenic modifications to LDL, and platelet aggregation: studies in humans and in atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 May ;71(5):1062-76. PMID: 10799367

[11] Allan J Pantuck, John T Leppert, Nazy Zomorodian, William Aronson, Jenny Hong, R James Barnard, Navindra Seeram, Harley Liker, Hejing Wang, Robert Elashoff, David Heber, Michael Aviram, Louis Ignarro, Arie Belldegrun. Phase II study of pomegranate juice for men with rising prostate-specific antigen following surgery or radiation for prostate cancer. Forsch Komplementmed. 2007 Feb;14(1):39-44. Epub 2007 Mar 6. PMID: 16818701

[12] Manuel González-Ortiz, Esperanza Martínez-Abundis, María C Espinel-Bermúdez, Karina G Pérez-Rubio. Effect of pomegranate juice on insulin secretion and sensitivity in patients with obesity. Ann Nutr Metab. 2011 ;58(3):220-3. Epub 2011 Jul 28. PMID: 21811060

Here’s what research shows about the mental health benefits of ginger


Image: Here’s what research shows about the mental health benefits of ginger

Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory that also offers other health benefits. In fact, the versatile plant can even help boost your mental health.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) comes from the rhizome or root of a flowering plant native to China, but the spice can grow in any area that is warm and humid. Aside from its use as a natural remedy for digestive disorders, ginger can also be used to address arthritis, memory loss and dementia, and muscle aches and pains.

Thanks to scientific research, experts are beginning to understand how ginger works. To date, research has identified over 100 compounds in ginger. More than 50 of these are antioxidants, which is crucial to brain health since the organ is vulnerable to free radical damage.

Ginger is often used as an anti-inflammatory, making it a popular natural remedy for arthritis. The plant’s anti-inflammatory property can also help people with brain disorders like ADHD, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, brain fog, and depression, which are often associated with chronic inflammation of the brain. Experts believe that ginger’s anti-inflammatory effects on the brain are due to two unique compounds called 6-shogaol and 10-gingerol.

Like the Indian spice turmeric, ginger also has a compound called curcumin. This compound is a natural antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiviral. Curcumin is a potent herbal brain supplement ingredient that can help address anxiety, brain aging, depression, and neurodegenerative diseases. (Related: What Happens To Your Body When You Start Eating Ginger Every Day.)

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Ginger for brain health

Your body is constantly under attack from oxidative stress. Oxygen in the body splits into single atoms with unpaired electrons, and electrons can often be found in pairs. These atoms, called free radicals, scavenge the body to find other electrons so they can become a pair. When these atoms are paired, they cause damage to cells, DNA, and proteins. Studies show that free radicals are linked to diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, cancer, and Parkinson’s, among others.

Your brain is prone to free radical damage since it requires a lot of oxygen. Free radicals are caused by common factors like:

  • Air pollution
  • Fried food
  • Grilled meat
  • Lack of sleep
  • Radiation from your mobile phone and computer
  • Stress

Antioxidants in ginger can also protect the brain from further damage and memory loss after a stroke.

Ginger increases the level of two of the most important brain chemicals: dopamine and serotonin. Depression is strongly associated with deficient levels of both chemicals.

Dopamine is called the “motivation molecule” because it helps you focus and be productive. Dopamine is also in charge of your pleasure-reward system. Meanwhile, serotonin is known as the “happiness molecule” because it helps sustain a positive mood.

The spice is traditionally used to treat memory loss and dementia and research has determined that ginger can help improve other cognitive functions besides memory. According to a study, healthy adults given dried ginger supplements showed improvements in attention, reaction time, and working memory.

People with diabetes also rely on ginger as a natural remedy because it can help control blood sugar, especially if you are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Ginger has antioxidants called gingerols that enhance insulin sensitivity and prevent certain neurological diabetic complications.

Ginger is an effective remedy that can minimize the pain of migraine headaches. The spice has similar effects to sumatriptan, a commonly prescribed migraine drug that narrows blood vessels to the brain. But unlike sumatriptan, which is associated with negative side effects, ginger can relieve migraines without any side effects.

Suggested ginger dosages

Ginger, which comes in many forms, can be used as a food and as a supplement. Ginger supplements are available as capsules, crystals, essential oils, extracts, loose powder, and tinctures.

A typical dose of ginger is one gram, and the best way to ingest this dose is by taking two ginger capsules. Most supplements contain at 500 milligrams (mg) per capsule.

Below are some ginger dosage equivalents:

  • One teaspoon of fresh, grated ginger root
  • Two droppers (or two milliliters [ml]) of liquid ginger extract
  • Two pieces of crystallized ginger (about a one-inch square and 1/4 inch thick for each piece)
  • Four cups of ginger tea (Make the tea by steeping two teaspoons of grated ginger in 32 ounces of water for five to 10 minutes.)

Possible ginger side effects and interactions

When consumed as a food, especially fresh, ginger is considered very safe with little to no side effects. However, when too much ginger is consumed in other forms, especially powdered ginger, it may cause side effects such as bloating, gas, heartburn, and nausea.

Ginger also functions as a blood thinner. Avoid taking it as a supplement if you take blood-thinning medication such as warfarin. If you take diabetes or high blood pressure medications, talk to a healthcare professional to determine adjustments to your medication if you want to take supplemental ginger.

Ginger is a versatile herbal remedy that can help relieve digestive upset, and it also offers various benefits for brain health and function. Add fresh ginger to your diet or take it as a supplement to enjoy its many benefits and improve both your physical and mental well-being.

Visit Healing.news to read more articles about ginger and other natural cures that can help improve your mental health.

Sources include:

BeBrainFit.com

LiveScience.com

The truth about amyloid plaque and its connection to Alzheimer’s disease


Image: The truth about amyloid plaque and its connection to Alzheimer’s disease

Scientists have been studying the link between amyloid plaques and Alzheimer’s disease for over 20 years, but a growing number of experts are questioning this prevailing hypothesis. Thomas J. Lewis, Ph.D. has been leading the call to change the way the medical community looks at, and treats, Alzheimer’s disease. And according to this Alzheimer’s expert, the notion that amyloid plaque is the sole cause of Alzheimer’s disease is nothing more than a myth, peddled by the profit-seeking pharma industry for their own financial gain.

Dr. Lewis is the CEO and founder of RealHealth Clinics, and has spent years researching and developing alternative treatments for the condition. Despite the fact that amyloid plaques and the “amyloid cascade” hypothesis have been the cornerstone of Alzheimer’s disease research for decades, Lewis believes that other forces are at play. Other experts have also begun to question the amyloid dogma — and for good reason.

Amyloid plaques and Alzheimer’s disease

As sources explain, the current accepted theory about Alzheimer’s goes like so: Beta amyloid, a protein fragment, accumulates in the brain and forms clumps of amyloid plaque. This plaque is believed to destroy synapses, cause nerve cell death and ultimately, impair brain function.

The theory sounds good on paper, but as Dr. Lewis explains, there are some glaring problems with this hypothesis.

And as sources report, more than 100 amyloid-targeting drugs have been tested in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease; all have failed. Researchers have even tried using these drugs in milder cases of dementia, still to no avail. Now, rather than admit their prevailing theory is wrong, Big Pharma is looking to employ totally healthy people as their guinea pigs. If amyloid plaques were the problem, the drugs should have offered at least some benefit. Further, giving healthy people drugs to prevent a disease they don’t have, ultimately, won’t even provide substantiating proof of concept, anyways — not that a lack of convincing evidence has ever stopped Big Pharma before.

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More, Dr. Lewis explained at a recent summit, there are many cases of Alzheimer’s disease in which no amyloid plaques are present. This alone is a bit of a red flag; after all, if the plaques are the only thing that causes Alzheimer’s, they should be present in all patients.

This finding, at the very least, suggests that there is more than one cause of Alzheimer’s.

Even more interesting is the finding that amyloid plaque is often present in the brains of individuals not affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

As Dr. Lewis notes further, research by Harvard University has shown that beta amyloid is actually part of the immune system response. This, he posits, could mean that amyloid plaques may actually play a protective role in the brain. Instead of causing Alzheimer’s, the accumulation of beta amyloid may be a sign that something else is going awry.

So, the drugs designed to target the “cause” of Alzheimer’s do nothing to actually help treat the disease, and studies have indicated that amyloid plaque, at the very least, is not the only factor that contributes to it, either. It is no wonder that experts like Dr. Lewis propose that perhaps another factor is at play.

Indeed, it would seem that like other conditions, Alzheimer’s disease can be triggered by an array of causes. Dr. Lewis notes, however, that inflammation is virtually always present. He posits that  environmental toxins, stress, poor nutrition, lack of sleep and bacterial and viral infections can all play a role in the onset of the disease.

Research has shown that prescription drugs and vaccines can also contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s. All things considered, it’s clear that the way mainstream medicine currently looks at Alzheimer’s disease is misguided. You can learn more at Dementia.news.

Sources for this article include:

NaturalHealth365.com

Alzheimers.net

Fluoride is a neurotoxin that damages your brain


Image: Fluoride is a neurotoxin that damages your brain

For many people, fluoride has become a fact of life. The addition of fluoride to public water supplies en masse has made avoiding exposure to this toxin very difficult. While proponents of fluoride say that this “mineral” is essential for dental health, the truth is that fluoride is not an essential nutrient. Human beings do not need to consume fluoride to be healthy — and in fact, you are much better off without it.

While it is true that fluoride can be found in the Earth’s crust, the fluoride used in dental products and tap water is not derived from the Earth. Instead, water fluoridation relies on chemicals known as “silicofluorides.” These are byproducts of the phosphate fertilizer industry — and municipalities nationwide allow these chemicals to be dumped into the water supply for the explicit purpose of human consumption.

Fluoride is not the benign substance overzealous globalists would like for you to believe; it is a dangerous, neurotoxic substance that has been decried as a “soft kill” tactic of the global elite. At the very least, it’s a documented threat to human health.

Fluoride is toxic to your brain

While the CDC claims that water fluoridation is “one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century,” science shows that simply isn’t true. The CDC’s own data have shown that water fluoridation is contributing to increased rates of dental fluorosis (DF). In mild cases, DF appears as nothing more than white spots on the teeth, but more advanced cases can be disfiguring with severe damage to the tooth enamel. Statistics from 2004 indicate that 41 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 15 have dental fluorosis — a 400 percent increase in just 60 years.

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As you might surmise, fluoride’s deleterious effects do not end with damage to tooth enamel.

As Be Brain Fit reports, a recently published study in The Lancet recommended that fluoride be re-classified as a developmental neurotoxin — similar to lead, mercury, or arsenic.

Scientists have repeatedly documented evidence that suggests fluoride consumption reduces IQ in children. A study conducted in Mexico City, by scientists from the University of TorontoUniversity of MichiganHarvardMcGill, and the national public health agency of Mexico, recently confirmed again that fluoride exposure negatively effects kids’ brains. 

“It found an average loss of 5 to 6 IQ points among children of mothers with urine fluoride levels of 1.5 mg/L compared to those with 0.5 mg/L. For an entire population, such a loss would be expected to halve the number of geniuses in society and double the number of mentally handicapped,” PR Newswire reports.

Fluoride isn’t just making people dumb

The neurotoxic compound isn’t just lowering people’s IQs — it’s doing far more than that. Recently published research has also linked fluoride exposure to an increased risk of ADHD. The researchers stated that there is a growing body of evidence which clearly demonstrates that fetuses are especially susceptible to the harmful effects of fluoride, and that their findings are right in line with that belief: Fluoride harms developing children.

Some evidence has also indicated that fluoride may be an indirect cause of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s believed that when aluminum and fluoride combine, fluoride helps transport aluminum across the blood-brain barrier. Be Brain Fit notes that aluminum fluoride in the brain has been linked to Alzheimer’s, as well.

Fluoride has been associated with a host of other issues, including nervous system degeneration and decreased pineal gland function. Beyond the fact that fluoride is clearly not good for you, water fluoridation is a questionable endeavor, if for no other reason than for the fact that the government has no business in mass medicating the people via the water supply.

Fiber Reduces Inflammation and Preserves Brain Function


Story at-a-glance

  • Fiber consumption on a regular basis is known to help you maintain your weight, improve your blood sugar profile, support your immune system and control gut problems, but now it’s shown to control brain inflammation
  • Eating plenty of the foods that supply you with dietary fiber is often at the heart of maintaining the best working order of many of your body’s most important bodily functions, including those of your gut and brain
  • Dietary fiber promotes beneficial bacteria in your gut, which, when digested, produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), along with the byproduct butyrate, which reduces inflammation in the brain’s microglia
  • Microglia are a major type of immune cell in your brain that can become chronically inflamed and, as a result, cause memory and cognitive function problems as you age
  • A high-fiber diet can help lower your risk of premature death from any cause, a serendipitous perk linked to a reduced risk of chronic disease

By Dr. Mercola

Dietary fiber has been noted as a remarkable nutrient because of the many functions it can perform in your body. Getting the ideal amounts of dietary fiber can help you maintain your weight, improve your blood sugar profile, support your immune system, control gut problems that can cause both hemorrhoids and chronic constipation and even positively impact your brain health.

But new research in the journal Frontiers in Immunology reveals another benefit: Consuming optimal amounts of fiber on a regular basis (pun intended) diminishes inflammation, which is at the heart of numerous bodily dysfunctions.

Researchers from the University of Illinois (U of I) showed dietary fiber may help delay what many people, both medical experts and the general public, believe to be inevitable: the decline not only of motor function but of cognitive health. NEWS.am reports:

“As mammals age, immune cells in the brain, known as microglia, become chronically inflamed. In this state, they produce chemicals known to impair cognitive and motor function. That’s one explanation for why memory fades and other brain functions decline during old age … But, according to a new study from the University of Illinois, there may be a remedy to delay the inevitable: dietary fiber.”1

Not only does dietary fiber promote beneficial bacteria in your gut but, when digested, the bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). One of these byproducts is butyrate, which Rodney Johnson, head of the department of animal sciences at U of I, explains reduces inflammation in the microglia.

The drug form, known as sodium butyrate, improved memory in mice in other studies, but until the featured study2 it wasn’t clear how.

MedicalNewsToday3 explains that microglia are a major type of immune cell in your brain that, as you age, can become hyperactive and chronically inflamed. This is likely one culpable factor in the decline of memory and cognitive function in older people. Significantly, microglia are said to account for about 15 percent of all the cells in your brain.

In old mice (aged 22 to 25 months versus young mice at 3 to 6 months), butyrate inhibits harmful chemicals from being produced by inflamed microglia. One chemical in particular — interleukin-1β — had been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Forbes called the discovery a “chemical cascade” for lowered brain inflammation.4

Researchers conducted the study to determine whether they could produce the same inhibitory effect by giving the mice fiber. In this way, they could make the most of the natural “gut” conversion of fiber into butyrate without people having to eat it, as sodium butyrate, Johnson says, has a “noxious odor.”

‘Diet Has a Major Influence On the Function of Gut Microbes’

While your diet has a major influence on both the composition and function of the microbes in your gut, scientists point out that when you eat a lot of fiber, it benefits the good bacteria, while diets containing high amounts of unhealthy fat and protein can take the composition and function of those bacteria in the wrong direction; it has a negative influence, says Jeff Woods, a professor in the department of kinesiology and community health at U of I and coauthor of the study.

While the scientists supposed that butyrate from fiber would affect brain health in the same way as the drug form (sodium butyrate), it hadn’t been clinically proven. Their hypothesis was tested by feeding both low- and high-fiber foods to young and old mice, then measuring the amount of butyrate and other SCFAs in their blood, also keeping track of inflammatory chemicals in their intestines. Johnson notes:

“The high-fiber diet elevated butyrate and other SCFAs in the blood both for young and old mice. But only the old mice showed intestinal inflammation on the low-fiber diet. It’s interesting that young adults didn’t have that inflammatory response on the same diet. It clearly highlights the vulnerability of being old.”5

Interestingly, the intestinal inflammation in the mice eating the high-fiber diet was dramatically reduced, and in fact was demonstrably on par with those of the younger mice, prompting Johnson to conclude, “Dietary fiber can really manipulate the inflammatory environment in the gut.”6

Even more significantly, evidence that dietary fiber also impacts brain inflammation was found when the researchers scrutinized about 50 unique genes in microglia and confirmed that the high-fiber diet reduced levels of brain inflammation in the older mice. Further, eating high amounts of fiber reduced the intestinal inflammation of aging mice so much that it looked no different from that of young mice.

Although the researchers didn’t look at how different amounts of fiber affect “cognition and behavior or the precise mechanisms in the gut-brain axis,” Johnson says, the answer to that will be sought through a nearly $2 million grant from the National Institute on Aging, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Johnson says he’s confident that the positive effects found in the brain profiles of mice will easily translate to humans and lists the negatives of humans not getting enough fiber in their everyday diets:

“What you eat matters. We know that older adults consume 40 percent less dietary fiber than is recommended. Not getting enough fiber could have negative consequences for things you don’t even think about, such as connections to brain health and inflammation in general.”7

How Dietary Fiber Consumption Impacts Your Gut

As referenced earlier, one of the easiest and most effective ways to optimize your gut microbiome — not to mention least expensive — is to eat foods that provide plenty of fiber, and include traditionally fermented foods, as well. But one important differentiation is the difference between the three types of fiber:

  • Soluble fiber can be easily dissolved in water and attains a gel-like consistency in your large intestine to essentially slow your digestion process and, in the process, slows the rate at which nutrients are utilized and makes you feel fuller longer.
  • Insoluble fiber, which stays intact as it moves throughout your colon rather than dissolving, absorbs fluid and byproducts to help “clean out” your colon by being disposed of as waste.
  • Digestive-resistant starch is a naturally occurring resistant starch that doesn’t break down as it moves through your digestive tract, so it adds bulk to waste, which moves it through faster, and also serves as a prebiotic.

One way fiber benefits you overall is through its ability to help prevent leaky gut, which Food Integrity Now8 asserts has impacted around 80 percent of the U.S. population. It causes numerous and sometimes seemingly unrelated problems, from brain fog to joint pain; hives to anxiety; irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to depression.

Leaky gut means things that shouldn’t are allowed to enter your bloodstream (like toxins) while blocking entrance of things that should (like nutrients).

Good and Bad Aspects of Fiber Sources

A high-fiber diet can help lower your risk of premature death from any cause, a serendipitous perk linked to a reduced risk of chronic disease.

Organic whole husk psyllium, chia seeds, sunflower sprouts, mushrooms and fermented veggies are excellent sources of high-quality fiber, but some of the most beneficial day-to-day sources are crucifers like broccoli and cauliflower, root vegetables and tubers such as sweet potatoes (including the peel), jicama and onions.

Pears, stewed prunes, dried figs or dates, raspberries, pumpkin, almonds, apples with the skin intact, bananas and oranges also contain fiber. However, figs, dates, prunes and bananas are examples of foods that should be eaten in moderation due to their high sugar content.

Another way to get the fiber you need is to take organic psyllium husk (the nonorganic option is usually heavily treated with pesticides) in capsule or powder form. That said, it’s important to understand that while a number of different foods supply dietary fiber, not all of them are constructive, especially due to the way many of them are processed in this modern age.

One clue to this truth is that fiber must be unprocessed. Kidney beans, black beans, lima beans, lentils and other legumes also contain lots of dietary fiber, but besides being loaded with carbs, they also contain lectins. Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins that attach to specific biological structures that allow them to do harm, as part of a plant’s self-defense mechanism.

They can also cause trouble in humans. Lectins can cause gut problems because they act as damaging “antinutrients” that change the balance of bacteria in your intestines.

In addition, grains are often tapped as a good source of fiber, but grains promote both insulin resistance (which has been identified as a main driver of chronic disease) and leptin resistance (not to be confused with lectins). Leptin is a hormone that helps your body recognize when you’re full. When this ability goes by the wayside, it’s no surprise that it’s associated with obesity and related problems.

Perhaps worse is the problem of glyphosate contamination, a carcinogen and active ingredient in Roundup herbicide that’s been linked to a staggering number of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) cases.9 NHL is described by Cancer Treatment Centers of America as “cancer that develops in the lymphatic system from cells called lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infections.”10

How Dietary Fiber Consumption Impacts Your Brain

Quite often, eating plenty of the foods that supply you with fiber is at the heart of maintaining the best working order of many of your body’s most important bodily functions. In fact, one study11 showed you can figure a 10 percent reduced risk for all-cause mortality for every 10 grams of fiber you add to your overall fiber intake.

Your brain health is included in the list of those bodily functions. There have been other studies showing what fiber consumption can do for better brain function.

One study12 in 2015 concluded that the quality of what children eat — specifically their dietary fiber intake — is the hinge that cognitive control and performance hinges on, especially because “[t]he human brain continues to undergo extensive changes in structure and functional connectivity throughout childhood and adolescence.”13

Another study from 2007 indicated that older women who ate at least a half-cup of blueberries or at least one cup of strawberries per week had slower rates of cognitive decline — in some cases by as much as 2.5 years.14 Besides the fiber, researchers believe such benefits as antioxidants and anthocyanidins, which can cross the blood-brain barrier, contribute to the results.

One interesting research project involved the hypothesis that a product of fiber fermentation may be its ability to directly affect the hypothalamus, an area of the brain involved in regulating appetite. In relation to how fiber helps fight obesity, scientists looked at the SCFA acetate, which is plentiful and also circulates throughout your bloodstream. Nature notes:

“The fiber was fermented as usual into acetate, which turned up not only in the gut, but also in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain known to be involved in regulating appetite. There, the researchers found, it was metabolized through the glutamine-glutamate cycle, which is involved in controlling the release of neurotransmitters associated with appetite control.”15

One of the most interesting aspects of all these studies is that your brain is connected to your gut, as well as your immune system. In fact, the interconnectedness between all your most vital function depends on what you eat, and fiber is one of the most crucial nutrients for so many reasons.

How much fiber should you be ingesting each day? I advise an ideal fiber intake of 25 to 50 grams per 1,000 calories consumed daily, with a focus on consuming plenty of fiber-rich foods. However, don’t forget to add water to help it do what it’s designed to do: boost your overall health and well-being.

How Marijuana Use Can Alter Brain Function and Induce Psychotic Behavior


Smoking marijuana is becoming increasingly legal and mainstream in the United States. More than 33 million adults identify as pot smokers, and teenagers in particular are feeling more comfortable with weed, thanks to its status as a safe drug.

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That cultural shift may need some rethinking. A new study suggests that there can be potential negative long-term effects of heavy marijuana use — especially if people begin smoking at a young age. Published last November in the journal Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience, the findings are part of a larger effort by scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to better understand the effects of chronic smoking, a murky issue.

According to the study, heavy marijuana use was linked to changes in the parts of the brain that are involved in reward processing and habit formation. Cameron Carter, Ph.D., the editor of Biological Psychiatry, explained in a statement released Monday that this suggests “heavy use of this popular drug may lead to depression and other even more severe forms of mental illness.”

Long term cannabis use appears to alter the parts of the brain linked to negative emotion.
Early onset cannabis use was associated with a higher risk for poor neuropsychiatric outcomes.

Scientists analyzed resting brain data from 441 people between the ages of 22 and 35, already collected through the Human Connectome Project, a collaboration between the University of Southern California and Harvard University to map the structural and functional neural connections of individuals. Thirty of these study participants were already established as meeting the DSM criteria for marijuana dependence. The research team also assessed the brain scans of 30 people between the same ages who did not smoke marijuana as a control group.

They discovered that the individuals who had starting using cannabis early in life exhibited the most significant changes in their brain’s subcortical volumes, as well as changes to the functional connectivity density in the brain’s ventral striatum, midbrain, brainstem, and lateral thalamus. The scientists explain that these changes, described as “hyperconnectivity,” end up disturbing resting brain functions assocaited with habit formation, reward processing, and the development of psychosis (defined as when one’s emotions and thoughts aren’t in touch with reality).

These individuals also reported the highest levels of negative emotions. The study’s authors think that makes sense, since these brain alternations are often associated with heightened feelings of negativity and alienation — which they reason is why people who are dependent on marijuana often report that they feel a sense of rejection from others.

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The study links an increased risk for psychosis to cannabis abuse.

This study adds to the growing number of studies that have found heavy smoking can be linked to psychosis, cognitive impairments, and depression — an effect driven by the low dopamine release seen in the brains of chronic users.

Scientists are still learning why these effects manifest, and they suspect THC, the most famous active chemical compound in cannabis, is to blame. Another chemical compound in cannabis, CBD, has been found to have the opposite effect: A study published in December found that CBD could be useful in treating psychotic disorders.

It’s clear these days marijuana use is not the death knell that health advocates early last century feared it was. On the other hand, new studies like this also emphasize that there’s still a ton we don’t know about how drugs affect the brain, especially in the long run.

Yoga Benefits Your Brain Function and Mental Health


Low-impact exercises such as yoga have a number of benefits. Not only can it provide the physical benefits of exercise, yoga may also help stave off cognitive decline, according to a recent study of older adults with early warning signs of waning memory.

Brain Function

Story at-a-glance

  • Yoga has been shown to combat cognitive decline. In one 12-week long study, volunteers who did yoga improved memory and mood to a greater degree than those who performed conventional brain training
  • Regular yoga practice has also been shown to have a positive effect on mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, ADHD and schizophrenia
  • Other health benefits from regular yoga practice include improved immune function, reduced risk for migraines and heart disease, improved sexual performance, better sleep and reduced stress

While I believe most benefit from high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for optimal health, there’s no doubt that yoga can also be beneficial. It has mental, emotional and even spiritual benefits that can be very helpful for those struggling with stress-related health problems.

Yoga can be viewed as a form of moving meditation that demands your full attention as you gently shift your body from one asana (yoga position) to another.

As you learn new ways of moving and responding to your body, your mind and emotions may shift and change as well. In a sense, you not only become more physically flexible, but your mental outlook and approach to life may gain some needed flexibility as well.

Yoga Helps Mitigate Cognitive Decline

Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that physical activity helps keep your mind sharp with age, and this goes for activities such as yoga as well. Overall, inactivity is enemy No. 1 if you seek to optimize your cognitive function. According to the New York Times:1

“There also is growing evidence that combining physical activity with meditation might intensify the benefits of both pursuits.

In an interesting study2 … people with depression who meditated before they went for a run showed greater improvements in their mood than people who did either of those activities alone.

But many people do not have the physical capacity or taste for running or other similarly vigorous activities. So for the new study … researchers … decided to test whether yoga, a relatively mild, meditative activity, could alter people’s brains and fortify their ability to think.3,4

They began by recruiting 29 middle-aged and older adults … who … were anxious about the state of their memories and who, during evaluations … were found to have mild cognitive impairment, a mental condition that can be a precursor to eventual dementia.

The volunteers also underwent a sophisticated type of brain scan that tracks how different parts of the brain communicate with one another.”

The participants were divided into two groups. One group enrolled in a brain-training program consisting of mental exercises for one hour per week. They were also asked to practice at home for 15 minutes a day.

The second group participated in a Kundalini yoga class for one hour per week. They were also taught Kirtan Kriya meditation, which involves the use of mantras and fluid hand movements. They were asked to practice this meditation at home for 15 minutes each day.

Yoga Outperforms Standard Brain Training

After 12 weeks, all subjects again underwent cognitive tests and brain scans. Overall, all participants had improved to some degree, but the yoga group not only fared slightly better on memory tests, they also reported improvements in their mood. As reported in the featured article:

“The brain scans in both groups displayed more communication now between parts of their brains involved in memory and language skills.

Those who had practiced yoga, however, also had developed more communication between parts of the brain that control attention, suggesting a greater ability now to focus and multitask.

In effect, yoga and meditation had equaled and then topped the benefits of 12 weeks of brain training. ‘We were a bit surprised by the magnitude’ of the brain effects, said Dr. Helen Lavretsky … who oversaw the study.”

Why Yoga Is so Beneficial for Your Brain

Over the years, a number of studies have honed in on the brain benefits of yoga. For example, studies have found that:

Twenty minutes of Hatha yoga improves your brain function (speed and accuracy of mental processing) to a greater degree than 20 minutes of aerobic exercise (jogging).5,6 Potential mechanisms include enhanced self-awareness and reduced stress.

Yoga helps improve mental health, including psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety, attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia.7,8,9,10

Some of the studies suggest yoga can have a similar effect to antidepressants and psychotherapy.

Yoga helps improve teenagers’ emotional resilience and ability to manage anger. As noted by yoga educator and writer Iona Smith:11

“During adolescence, the frontal lobes of the brain (the seat of language and reason) are still being formed, leaving teens to overly rely on their amygdala (the seat of emotions) …

The brain’s malleability during adolescence marks a crucial stage in both cognitive and emotional development.

Luckily, researchers are now able to paint a clearer picture of some of the factors that allow students to thrive throughout high school and into adulthood, such as self-awareness, managing distressing emotions, empathy, and navigating relationships smoothly.

When students hone these skills, they are not only happier and healthier emotionally, but are also better able to focus on academics.”

By improving stress-related imbalances in your nervous system, yoga can help relieve a range of symptoms found in common mental health disorders.

Researchers also believe yoga can be helpful for conditions like epilepsy,chronic pain, depression, anxiety and PTSD by increasing brain chemicals like gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA).12

Other Mind-Body Benefits of Yoga

Other studies have demonstrated that regular yoga practice can impart a number of different physical, mental and emotional benefits, including the ones listed below.13,14,15,16

One explanation for yoga’s wide-ranging effects is that it actually alters genetic expression — through its beneficial effects on your mind! In fact, the relaxation response triggered by meditative practices has been shown to affect at least 2,209 genes.17

Improved immune function18 Improved sleep19,20
Reduced risk for migraines21 Lowered risk of hypertension and heart disease22,23
Lowered cortisol (stress hormone) level by down regulating hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and calming sympathetic nervous system24 Improved sexual performance and satisfaction in both sexes25,26

How Yoga Aids Weight Loss and Promotes Good Health

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, yoga has also been shown to aid weight loss. In one study,27 overweight yoga participants lost an average of 5 pounds (lbs) whereas the non-yoga group gained 13 lbs. This held true even when accounting for differences in diet. Typically, HIIT is the most effective for weight loss, and the key to its effectiveness is the intensity. So how can the effectiveness of yoga — which is the converse of HIIT in terms of intensity — be explained?

According to Tiffany Field, Ph.D., director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, yoga’s benefits are related to the fact that it does the opposite of more strenuous exercise. Rather than boosting your heart rate and stimulating your nervous system, yoga puts you in a parasympathetic state that lowers both your blood pressure and heart rate, and this helps promote a positivecascade of health effects.

This makes sense if you consider the adverse biological effects of stress. By promoting systemic inflammation, chronic stress can be a factor in everything from weight gain to high blood pressure and heart disease. It’s also been shown to trigger the onset of dementia. What’s worse, stress-induced weight gain typically involves an increase in belly fat, which is the most dangerous fat for your body to accumulate as it increases your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Stress actually alters the way fat is deposited because of the specific hormones and other chemicals your body produces when you’re stressed. For example, recent research28 shows that chronic stress stimulates your body to produce betatrophin, a protein that blocks an enzyme that breaks down body fat. So by reducing stress you reduce inflammation, and along with it your risk for any number of health problems, including stubborn weight.

A 2011 review29 of published clinical studies on yoga also concluded that yoga movements stimulate skin pressure receptors that boost activity in your brain and vagus nerve, both of which influence the production and release of various hormones. As vagus nerve activity increases, the levels of stress hormones like cortisol decrease. It also triggers the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role not only in your mood, but also in appetite control and sleep patterns.

The Importance of a Comprehensive Fitness Program

Yoga and other simple restorative exercises tone and strengthen your body, increase circulation and oxygen flow, energize you for the day and help you unwind in the evening. However, studies support the use of yoga to strengthen brain function and improve common psychiatric disorders (along with many other health benefits, including pain relief and increased flexibility and strength).

I believe it’s important to incorporate a variety of exercises into your routine for optimal results. Ideally, you’ll want acomprehensive fitness program that includes HIIT and resistance training, along with flexibility- and core-building exercises like yoga. Daily non-exercise movement is also important, and simply walking more each day can go a long way toward warding off many common health problems.

NO SEDATIVE NECESSARY: SCIENTISTS DISCOVER NEW ‘SLEEP NODE’ IN THE BRAIN


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A sleep-promoting circuit located deep in the primitive brainstem has revealed how we fall into deep sleep. Discovered by researchers at Harvard School of Medicine and the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, this is only the second “sleep node” identified in the mammalian brain whose activity appears to be both necessary and sufficient to produce deep sleep.

Published online in August in Nature Neuroscience, the study demonstrates that fully half of all of the brain’s sleep-promoting activity originates from the parafacial zone (PZ) in the brainstem. The brainstem is a primordial part of the brain that regulates basic functions necessary for survival, such as breathing, blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature.

“The close association of a sleep center with other regions that are critical for life highlights the evolutionary importance of sleep in the brain,” says Caroline E. Bass, assistant professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and a co-author on the paper.

The researchers found that a specific type of neuron in the PZ that makes the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is responsible for deep sleep. They used a set of innovative tools to precisely control these neurons remotely, in essence giving them the ability to turn the neurons on and off at will.

“These new molecular approaches allow unprecedented control over brain function at the cellular level,” says Christelle Ancelet, postdoctoral fellow at Harvard School of Medicine. “Before these tools were developed, we often used ‘electrical stimulation’ to activate a region, but the problem is that doing so stimulates everything the electrode touches and even surrounding areas it didn’t. It was a sledgehammer approach, when what we needed was a scalpel.”

“To get the precision required for these experiments, we introduced a virus into the PZ that expressed a ‘designer’ receptor on GABA neurons only but didn’t otherwise alter brain function,” explains Patrick Fuller, assistant professor at Harvard and senior author on the paper. “When we turned on the GABA neurons in the PZ, the animals quickly fell into a deep sleep without the use of sedatives or sleep aids.”

How these neurons interact in the brain with other sleep and wake-promoting brain regions still need to be studied, the researchers say, but eventually these findings may translate into new medications for treating sleep disorders, including insomnia, and the development of better and safer anesthetics.

“We are at a truly transformative point in neuroscience,” says Bass, “where the use of designer genes gives us unprecedented ability to control the brain. We can now answer fundamental questions of brain function, which have traditionally been beyond our reach, including the ‘why’ of sleep, one of the more enduring mysteries in the neurosciences.”

The work was funded by the National Institutes of Health.