Sharp minds are always at the top of their game.
How Does Good Nutrition Boost Your Mental Performance?
The old expression "You are what you eat" sums up food's effects on the body. Feeding it trash makes you constantly feeling sick and energy-drained. Giving it the proper nutrients peps you up and gets you ready for any challenge.
Food Provides Energy to Your Brain Cells
The Energy Content of Food
Nutrients Build Up the Neurons
The best brain diet combines all these nutrients as each has a unique role in maintaining health and peak performance.
Diet Dictates Mental Function
Brain foods improve focus and mental performance because they are rich in high-quality nutrients that boost the above substances.
Good Food Protects the Brain from Disease
Electrolyte and Fluid Balance Are Crucial to Mental Alertness and Focus
A brain-healthy diet lets you compete at the highest levels in any field.
As you can see, nutrition has multiple vital roles in the brain, so careful food selection is key to optimum mental performance. Sadly, many active people are so accustomed to the standard American diet, which contributes little to proper neuronal function and upkeep. If you're on this diet and feeling constantly stressed, depressed, and distracted, you might consider switching to a regimen that will nourish the brain back to health.
“When it comes to overall brain health, just adding certain supplements will sharpen your brain”
Bindya Gandhi, M.D
What Is the Best Diet for Sharpening Mental Focus?
There is a growing body of evidence supporting the beneficial effects of the MIND diet on mental performance.
A diet containing all these food groups will help you enhance your mental focus, stay within a healthy weight range and avoid nutritional deficiencies.
Make sure you give your brain the best food
Help your brain get what it needs to flourish, every day.
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What Foods Can Make the Brain Sluggish?
For cardiovascular and mental health, nutrition experts advise limiting the intake of the following dietary components:
Added (simple) sugars:
A diet high in added sugars, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol and sodium can seriously impair mental and physical performance. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke all lead to neurologic decline at an early age.
Saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol:
The MIND diet includes moderate red wine intake, but this is more for the beverage's antioxidant properties and not its alcohol content. People who prefer to have red wine in their regimen can have one glass a day. There is no recommendation that those who are not taking alcohol should start doing it. They can get the brain booster trans-resveratrol from other foods and supplements.
Except for alcohol, these substances are the principal components of the standard American diet. That is why there has been a steep rise in neurological and mental health issues in the last few decades. However, limiting their intake has been shown to enhance mental focus, delay cognitive decline and maintain psychological well-being.
How Should You Make A Brain Food Diet Plan?
A proven nutritional strategy for improving brain health is the MIND diet plan.
Dark green vegetables—at least 6 servings a week
Meanwhile, it also has the following restrictions:
Red meat—no more than 4 servings a week
Butter and margarine—no more than 1 tablespoon daily
Cheese—no more than 1 serving a week
Pastries and sweets—no more than 5 servings a week
Fast food—no more than 1 serving a week
For a 2,000-calorie daily diet, a sample 3-day meal plan can look like this:
These meals require short preparation time. However, if you are too busy to cook but want to ensure that your neurons stay healthy, there's always doctor-formulated Brain Assist.
What Else Can Boost Mental Performance Besides the Best Brain Diet?
You may be tired of hearing it from the health buffs, and yet they're right. Studies show that consistent brain training and physical activity can also perk up the brain. When combined with a brain-healthy diet, they can improve mental performance and help stave off cognitive decline.
The best brain diet provides energy, enhances neuronal resilience and growth, promotes proper function, fights disease and ensures electrolyte balance. The standard American diet lacks most of these qualities, so it does not contribute much to brain health.
Help your brain get what it needs to flourish, every day.
Omega-3 fatty acids are substances that have structural and functional significance in the body. They are essential nutrients—human cells cannot make omega-3s on their own and must obtain them from the diet.
First Things First — What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids belong to a class of compounds called "polyunsaturated fatty acids" or PUFAs. These substances have multiple unsaturated bonds, or "double bonds,” that let them remain fluid at normal temperatures—a property that is crucial to cellular function.
Omega-3 fatty acids are named after the omega-3 unsaturated bond. Three omega-3 oils are important to humans: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
Omega-3 Fatty Acids That Are Important to Human Growth
Flaxseed oil, chia seeds and walnuts are abundant sources of ALA. On the other hand, DHA and EPA are best obtained from fatty fish. Lactating mothers on omega-3-rich diets have higher amounts of these nutrients in their milk, which is good for exclusively breastfed infants.
How is this information relevant to your child’s health?
“We need these(Alpha GPC and DHA omegas) in our children. We need these during pregnancy. We need these before pregnancy. Moms who are breast-feeding need to be taking these nutrients. Babies need to be taking these nutrients.”
Dr. Ari Calhoun
What Are the Roles of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in a Child's Body?
Omega-3 fatty acids have crucial functions in a child's body. The most important ones are explained below.
The Brain Cells Interacting at Lightning Speed at the Synapse
In the brain, neuronal communication is a fast process. Children's reflexes, memory retrieval, multiplication skills, emotional regulation and other mental tasks depend on the signaling between different brain cells. Omega-3 fatty acids, mostly DHA, keep the brain cell membranes fluid to ensure that message transmission occurs within a split-second.
Post-injury pain, swelling, warmth and redness
Allergic rashes and cough
Fever during an infection
Omega-3 derivatives have actions different from those of their omega-6 counterparts. The former combat inflammation while the latter promote the process. Both groups of molecules are needed for normal function. However, a higher intake of omega-6 fatty acids, typical of the standard American diet, can make kids susceptible to frequent bouts of inflammation.
Keeping Bad Cholesterol in Check
Cholesterol plaques are collections of excess cholesterol—another type of fat molecule—and debris that build up in the blood vessels over time. Plaque formation begins as early as childhood, and it can speed up or slow down, depending on one's diet and genetic factors.
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What Are the Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Kids?
Healthy kids grow up to become intellectually, emotionally and physically resilient adults. Omega-3 fatty acids support children's health, letting them become bold conquerors of life's challenges. Clinical and epidemiological studies prove the beneficial actions of these essential nutrients.
Enhanced Cardiovascular Function
Omega-3 fatty acid levels inversely correlate with obesity and insulin resistance among school-age children.
Modulation of Inflammatory Responses
In a group of school-age children, higher omega-3 fatty acid intake was associated with fewer asthmatic attacks and a lesser need for bronchodilator therapy. Increased omega-6 fatty acid intake was associated with opposing trends.
Chronic inflammation wears people out, and its cancer risk is real no matter what age. Omega-3 fatty acids modulate kids’ inflammatory responses, keeping them on track to meet their goals.
What Dosage of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Is Recommended for Children?
The following table shows the adequate daily intakes of omega-3 oils in the pediatric population, as recommended by the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
A brain-healthy diet lets you compete at the highest levels in any field.
*As total omega-3 fats
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Dr. Amber Krogsrud
What Are the Side Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Some of the known side effects of Omega-3 fatty acids are:
Bad odor of the sweat and breath
Digestive problems, because fat intake can irritate the gut
There has also been some concern about omega-3 fatty acids interfering with normal clotting.
Blood clotting is a process that depends on the balance between clotting promoters and suppressors. Blood will clot if the promoters predominate, but it will stay fluid if the suppressors prevail. Blood that is too thick or clots easily can clog the vessels and deprive the cells of oxygen. On the other hand, blood thinning can also rupture blood vessels.
Omega-3 fatty acids are needed to keep this balance. When taken in the recommended amounts, the risk of bleeding is insignificant. Studies among adult cardiac patients taking omega-3 oil supplements are inconclusive at best. Remember that some of them are even taking blood thinners for their condition. In children, one research showed that fish oil supplementation is safe even for high-risk post-surgical patients.
The FDA recommends that the total daily omega-3 fatty acid intake should not exceed 3.0 g, and as much as 2.0 g can come from supplements. However, according to the European Food Safety Authority, the consumption of 5.0 g of combined omega-3 oils daily has not been associated with adverse effects in healthy children or adults.
How Can You Get Your Kids to Take Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Now that you know more about the benefits and safety of omega-3s, your next concern may be about how to give them to picky eaters.
Fortified milk, which you can serve as is or mixed in soup or cereals.
However, we all know that the struggle is harder with some kids. You may try giving them fish oil, but it is known for its funny smell and taste and tendency to cause allergies. Chewable gel capsules are another option, but some kids don't think they're fun.
Last but not the least, you may try doctor-formulated Cover Three Kids Brain Boost. It has that yummy orange taste that kids love. Besides being loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, it is packed with other brain boosters to improve your child's mental and physical performance.
—boosts alertness, memory and focus. It also helps power up muscle movement.
—sharpens memory and focus while keeping the mood up and protecting from inflammation.
—a powerful free radical neutralizer, protecting the brain and body from stress.
—aids brain cell development, body growth and immune function.
—powers up the immune system while enhancing mental focus.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that help build cell membranes, boost mental performance, fight inflammation and ensure cardiovascular health. They are obtained mostly from the diet, and rich sources include fatty fish, nuts, seeds and fortified milk. They are generally safe for children when given at the right amounts.
However, picky eaters and chronically sick kids are at risk of developing omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. Cover Three Kids Brain Boost is a yummy supplement that can ensure that your child is getting enough omega-3s to support their full development. It also has other mental focus boosters that can help them build mental momentum and secure a brighter tomorrow.
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In 2016, the Nobel Prize recognized Yoshinori Ohsumi for his pioneering work in autophagy, a cellular process triggered by starvation. The benefits of fasting on overall health are widely documented, but Dr. Ohsumi's win made the subject even more popular. Since then, more people have sought to uncover the exact mechanisms by which dietary restriction enhanced bodily functions and slowed down aging.
BDNF is known to promote neuroplasticity, boost mental performance and delay age-associated cognitive decline. Scientists found that intermittent fasting could unleash this molecule in the brain.
How does fasting ramp up BDNF? Can it truly sharpen your mind?
In this article, we talk about how fasting contributes to brain health and how you can practice it to increase your mental focus.
So first, let's discuss the molecule that makes all these things happen.
What Is BDNF?
“BDNF” is short for “brain-derived neurotrophic growth factor.”
As the name implies, growth factors are chemicals that regulate cell growth and multiplication. They also block mechanisms that lead to cell death. BDNF is found in many parts of the body but is most highly concentrated in the brain, where it is known to exert these effects:
Stimulate the growth of new neurons
BDNF stimulates synaptogenesis and makes synapses more efficient at transmitting signals. It likewise induces the growth of nerve branches called “dendrites,” which also help speed up cell signaling.
Conversely, BDNF deficiency is associated with various cognitive and psychological conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's dementia, insomnia, schizophrenia and depression. Optimal levels of this growth factor promote brain health.
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How Does BDNF Link Fasting with Brain Health?
In the first couple of hours after eating, your brain's primary fuel is the simple carbohydrate glucose. Once insulin clears up the excess glucose in your blood, the body starts to use up fat for energy. With continued fasting, your fat cells will release increasing amounts of fatty acids, which the liver will convert to ketones. Ketones will reach peak levels around 12 hours after your last meal.
We've all learned to adapt to stress. Fasting is a form of stress that stimulates BDNF secretion. This growth factor mediates the changes that let the brain adjust to the stress. However, the fasting period’s duration is critical to the timing of its induction.
“Fasting is a form of stress that stimulates BDNF secretion”
Mouse studies reveal that BDNF levels surge after 12 hours of starvation when ketones start to become the brain's primary fuel. These events correlate with adaptive neuronal changes:
BDNF levels plummet in the hypothalamus but shoot up in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.
In the hypothalamus, where BDNF is low, autophagy begins. Autophagy is a cellular housekeeping mechanism that starts after long periods of fasting. Normally, it degrades and recycles different cellular structures, including microbial proteins captured when fighting an infection. It conserves resources and disrupts mechanisms that promote growth.
Autophagy eats up hypothalamic synapses during fasting. The hypothalamus is in charge of bodily functions like feeding and energy production. Synaptic autophagy in this part of the brain sends signals to the body to eat and make more ketones.
The BDNF rise in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex inhibits autophagy. Remember that the hippocampus is the seat of memory and learning. Meanwhile, the prefrontal cortex is in charge of problem-solving, judgment and motivation. By inhibiting autophagy in these areas, the animal learns to cope with the stress and develops new behaviors that will let it respond better in the future.
The Prefrontal Lobe, Hypothalamus and Hippocampus
Autophagy literally means "eating the self." Cells undergo the process to survive long periods of stress, but too much of it is also harmful. BDNF suppression balances autophagy's effects in the brain, making it resilient and primed to learn from the experience.
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What Fasting Schedules Are Best for Inducing BDNF Secretion?
There are a lot of fasting regimens being touted by different sources. However, if we go by the science, optimum fasting BDNF secretion in humans is expected to occur after 12 hours of starvation or strict caloric limitation. The ones that meet this requirement are briefly described below.
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What Other Factors Can Stimulate the Brain to Make More BDNF?
Aside from fasting, there are other ways to increase BDNF levels in the brain. They can be classified according to the mechanisms they involve.
You can get all these mental focus enhancers from a well-balanced, brain-healthy diet. Active individuals who might have suboptimal regimens and forget one or two of these components may benefit from a complete brain supplement like Brain Assist.
Even if There Were Other Ways to Draw Out BDNF, Why Should You Try Intermittent Fasting?
“The increase in clarity of mind I’ve been feeling from intermittent fasting is outstanding. And hard for me to achieve otherwise. I now do it on most of the days when I work at a computer”
As previously mentioned, intermittent fasting benefits the entire body, not just the brain. Its impact on overall health and mental performance has been demonstrated in various clinical settings.
Sugar fluctuations in the brain trigger some forms of epilepsy. Patients with such conditions have low BDNF levels in the central nervous system. Ketogenic diets enhance BDNF secretion and reduce seizure occurrences, which is why they are recommended interventions for some epilepsy syndromes.
Autism is strongly linked to BDNF deficiency, and many children with this condition are overweight. Exercise and intermittent fasting help improve their cognitive and behavioral symptoms.
Indulgent lifestyles increase the risk of developing anxiety, depression, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease—all connected to BDNF deficiency. Healthy weight ranges and fasting are associated with alleviation of symptoms in diagnosed patients.
In several clinical studies, intermittent fasting was found to be a safe and effective intervention for type 2 diabetes mellitus, with patients experiencing body weight and fasting blood glucose reduction. No acute mental changes associated with sugar fluctuations were reported in these studies.
Evidence is growing regarding the benefits and safety of intermittent fasting as a treatment for various disorders. It is one brain-boosting measure that is certainly worth a try.
Aside from the schedule, you also have to consider if intermittent fasting is safe for you. While dietary restriction benefits a lot of people, drastic caloric reduction may cause others to faint, feel dizzy or experience other side effects. If you have a medical condition, make sure to get clearance from your doctor or be under medical supervision before starting any fasting regimens.
Do Brain Supplements and Fasting Go Together?
“Brain supplements and intermittent fasting go together very well.”
Remember how excessive autophagy can be unhealthy for the brain and that BDNF can regulate it? The ability of brain supplements to induce BDNF secretion makes them powerful autophagy modulators. Taking brain supplements like Brain Assist helps you maximize the BDNF-enhancing power of intermittent fasting. Together, they make sure that you stay razor-sharp for a very long time.
Intermittent fasting impacts overall health and mental function. Its beneficial effects on the brain are mediated by BDNF, a promoter of neuronal resilience and growth. The fasting period’s duration is crucial to this molecule's secretion, as it is stimulated by glucose depletion and significant ketone formation. Once released, it suppresses autophagy, letting the brain keep stress-adaptive changes in critical regions.
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