Mushrooms and Matcha: A Powerful Duo

It has always been apparent that neurodegenerative diseases are extremely crippling but there was never much research on the prevention of these ailments. However, as more and more studies are being done, it has become increasingly evident that certain foods can slow down or prevent the progression of these diseases.

Nature has been a source of inspiration for its potent healing properties with minimal side effects. Yet, only recently have things like matcha and medicinal mushrooms have been extensively studied, and they are some of the two newest superfoods linked to brain health.

Let’s break down the healing properties of each. Matcha is extremely rich in chlorophyll, enhances mood, promotes a feeling of relaxation, lowers blood sugar, gently detoxifies, and has one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants when compared to other foods. Not only is it a neuroprotective superfood but it also has anti-microbial properties. It also contains amino acids and l-theanine that promotes the production of alpha waves in the brain. Alpha waves play a significant role in boosting creativity, alertness, intelligence, and memory.

Medicinal mushrooms have been known to modulate the immune system, improve cardiovascular health, purify blood, detoxify the body, increase energy, improve mental clarity, lessen the symptoms of depression, and support healthy cellular production. That is a very watered-down version of their benefits, but a study recently showed that mushrooms had the ability to cut down mild cognitive impairment in the elderly by fifty percent.  

Matcha can be consumed with water, milk, or nut-milk. There are many reputable brands for matcha such as Encha, Art of Tea, and Matchaful. As for the medicinal mushrooms, Host Defense carries all different varieties of supplements. Finally, Four Sigmatic also carries a matcha latte mix with medicinal mushrooms in it for more of a synergistic effect.  

Resources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6044372/

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/general/what-are-alpha-brain-waves/

https://www.nutrition53.com/blogs/blog/9363667-8-incredible-benefits-of-matcha-green-tea

https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2019/03/26/mushrooms-and-brain-health-new-research-finds-a-potential-link-worth-considering/#2acff8e1f1bc

Taking the Load off of the Digestive System with Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics

Many studies have proven countless times that gut-health can affect everything else in the body, including the brain. This is why it is vital to be proactive and recognize when the gut might not be functioning optimally. Symptoms such as allergies, autoimmune diseases, anxiety, depression, digestive problems, and diabetes can all be indicators of an unhealthy gut. This post will go over two ways to ease the load off of the digestive system.

Enzymes are required to break down the foods that are consumed every day in order to properly absorb nutrients. Enzymes such as amylase, lipase, and proteases/peptidases are responsible for breaking down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. However, sometimes the body is not able to produce enough of these naturally-occurring enzymes by itself and gastrointestinal symptoms start to arise. This can cause some unnecessary strain on the body, but the good news is that excess strain can be alleviated.

The first option would be to consume foods that contain natural enzymes such as pineapple, papaya, mango, bananas, avocados, honey, and ginger. The Happy Digestion Smoothie contains most of these foods and can be an easy way to implement these changes. Enzymes can also be taken over-the-counter and there are several brands like Enzymedica that carry these supplements. Enzymedica aims to help their clients experience better health as their cutting-edge enzyme formulas are recognized for aiding with healthy digestion and metabolism.

On the other hand, probiotics replenish the microbiome with healthy bacteria. These beneficial strains of bacteria can help ward off various infections, gastrointestinal symptoms, and several different skin disorders. Fermented foods like kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kombucha can provide these valuable strains.

As always, it is important to exercise caution before introducing anything new to the body. It is recommended to talk to a physician or to do research to ensure that there are no likely negative side effects.

Resources:

https://www.bepure.co.nz/blogs/news/signs-unhealthy-gut

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/natural-digestive-enzymes#section12

https://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/gut-reaction-a-limited-role-for-digestive-enzyme-supplements

Neuroscience: Plaque in the Brain

Plaque has been linked to many neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. This might be because it prevents the brain from functioning optimally and can lead to memory loss. The beta-amyloid toxin causes brain inflammation and can prevent neurons from interacting properly. There are some known causes but there are not too many cures yet. As always, prevention is key, and emphasis needs to be placed on preventative healthcare.

Foods like processed meats, cheese, white breads, pasta, and sugar can be extremely detrimental to the brain in the long run. Secondly, beer can be just as harmful since it tends to contain nitrites. Thirdly, microwavable popcorn contains a chemical known as diacetyl and diacetyl has been directly linked to increasing plaque in the brain.

With that being said, some refreshing and positive news has come to light recently. The body’s ability to heal itself is remarkable as it has been found that the brain may also be able to get rid of plaque during quality sleep. Laura Biel from Science News further explains this process with the following paragraph: “One way the brain might clear out waste, including amyloid-beta, is via circulation of cerebrospinal and interstitial fluids. Fluid flows through the spaces in the brain, bathing neurons and eventually carrying debris out of the brain toward the liver. Studies suggest that this “glymphatic” circulation increases during sleep”.

As with almost every health condition, diet plays a huge role. Foods like leafy greens, fatty fishes, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, nuts, berries, beans, and dark chocolate can help the brain fight off these neurotoxins.

It is vital to be health conscious and preemptive as consuming toxins on a daily basis can lead to detrimental inflammation. Impaired neurological function can diminish any individual’s quality of life but being proactive can slow down any harmful buildup of plaque.

Resources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/dementia-causes

https://www.alzheimers.net/foods-that-induce-memory-loss/

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/sleep-brain-alzheimers-plaques-protein

The Many Benefits of Matcha

Matcha is a form of green tea that is made from grinding up young and tender green tea leaves. This essentially means that the entire green tea leaf is ingested, and the body is able to reap its potential benefits.

Macha provides “clean energy,” which does not cause anxiousness or jitteriness the way caffeine usually does. Macha also contains an amino acid called L-Theanine that combined with caffeine to help the brain to focus even more while boosting the number of alpha waves.

Moving on, matcha can burn even more calories as the green tea catechins have been studied and found to increase the body’s thermogenic fat burning activity. Matcha has the ability to boost the metabolism and reduce body mass index, if taken on a daily basis. However, one of the most unique benefits is that it has the highest antioxidant rating among superfoods. The antioxidant content is exponentially higher than berries, spinach, and pomegranate.

Matcha has been found to support the brain during aging, and may even help to maintain normal functions, like memory and the ability to complete tasks. The components in matcha have also been shown to support the immune system detoxification.

There are several different ways to enjoy matcha. It is best to make sure that the matcha is organic and pure without any additives. Here are a few recipes:

Matcha Lemonade

Vegan Matcha Ice Cream

Honey Coconut Matcha Latte

Vanilla Coconut Matcha Latte

Matcha Green Tea Energy Bites

Matcha Latte Chia Seed Pudding

Coconut Milk Matcha Latte with Rose Petals

On another note, Jarrows Formula also has L-Theanine gummies that are suitable for children ages 8 and up. The gummies provide all the benefits of L-Theanine while omitting the caffeine content in matcha.

Resources:

http://time.com/5188377/matcha-tea-benefits/

https://tenzotea.co/pages/21-health-benefits-matcha-green-tea

The Importance of Vitamin D

Many individuals are already aware of the “sunshine vitamin” as vitamin D is one of the most common supplements. It often is assumed that going out in the sun is enough to get a daily dose of this vitamin, but this might not be enough. Not surprisingly, a study concluded that around half of the population in the world is affected by not having nearly enough vitamin D. However, around 1 billion individuals are confirmed to be deficient and experience the side effects that come along with a vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D has different functions in the body. It is crucial for strong bones, neuromuscular function, the immune system, controlling inflammation, cell growth, and fighting against viruses or bacteria. The body can start to have negative reactions once the amount of vitamin D in the body starts to diminish. Symptoms like muscle weakness, aching bones, excess fatigue, hair loss, poor sleep, and headaches can all be signs of a deficiency. It is best to go to a physician if a deficiency is suspected as they can verify it through bloodwork.

Once a deficiency is confirmed, the best way to increase levels of vitamin D3 is to take a supplement. Xymogen has some of the highest quality vitamin D3 but it is important to note that vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and should ideally be taken with healthy fats. The second option is to try to consume more foods like salmon, tuna, or other fatty fishes. Mushrooms, cheese, or eggs yolks also contain relatively small amounts of this crucial vitamin. Fortified foods can provide higher amounts of vitamin D as most foods do not contain it naturally. The third way would be to increase exposure to the sun, but it is important to be conscious of things like sunburn.

Resources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356951/

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15050-vitamin-d–vitamin-d-deficiency

Balancing and Replenishing Electrolytes in the Body

With the warm summer months approaching, it is important that the body gets all of the nourishment that it needs. Many of us have heard about the importance of electrolytes, so this post will quickly go over why electrolytes are needed, recipes to make electrolyte drinks at home, and natural food sources that can provide the many nutrients that contribute to a healthy body.

Electrolytes are needed for survival. They conduct electricity when they are combined with water, and inside of the body they intermingle to support healthy functions in nerve cells, tissue, and muscle. Insufficient electrolytes levels can lead to symptoms like muscle twitches, fatigue, and irregular heartbeats. You can avoid these problems by ingesting enough sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, and bicarbonate.

How do you get all of these nutrients? The good news is that electrolyte drinks can be made at home easily without all of the additives found in some products. These drinks can also help fight infections in the body, physical exertion, and dehydration. Here are some recipes that do not require many ingredients:

Food that naturally replenishes electrolytes include:

  • Coconut Water: This refreshing drink is packed with benefits. It has a high potassium content, antioxidant properties, and the ability to lower blood pressure.
  • Leafy Greens: Salads can most definitely give the body an electrolyte boost. Spinach, swiss chard, bok choy, and kale are high in electrolytes and minerals.
  • Lemons: Lemons are known for their ability to become alkaline in the body, balance pH levels, and give a dose of vitamin C. They can also replenish magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
  • Sea Salt: Sodium is lost through sweating but it can be easily replaced by ingesting a pinch of Celtic sea salt or Himalayan pink salt. Salt is extremely rich in calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Metagenics also has natural lemonade flavored powder that can be taken on the go. It leaves out anything artificial and is formulated to support fluid balance, replenish sodium and potassium levels in the body, and boost exercise performance.

Resources:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/153188.php

The Many Wonders and Uses of Turmeric and Curcumin

This golden spice has received a lot of hype and for good reason. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is a well-known antioxidant that supports many important systems of the body. These include helping to regulate the immune system and healthy inflammatory responses, the development of new cells, cardiovascular health, temporary relief from occasional pain, the regulation of blood sugar levels, and brain health during normal aging. An important side note is that a compound in black pepper has been found to exponentially increase the absorption rate and effects of turmeric. It is recommended to incorporate some black pepper with the consumption of turmeric.

Here a few different ways to try to integrate turmeric into the diet:

Overall, those are just a few ideas but there are many different ways to take turmeric while still reaping the numerous benefits.

Resources:

https://wellnessmama.com/5297/turmeric-uses/

https://www.pnas.org/content/115/32/8155#ref-2

https://www.thekitchn.com/7-ways-to-eat-drink-turmeric-198696

https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/home-remedies-are-there-health-benefits-of-turmeric/

The Mind and Body Approach to Nourishing the Brain

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the brain is the most vital organ in the body. The brain allows us to think, process emotions, connect with our five senses, and make memories. The brain is one of the most complex organs, but it plays a huge role in what classifies us as humans. That is why it is imperative to actively work towards nourishing this essential organ.

Starting with the mind approach, mindfulness can give the brain a much needed break. Things like doing a digital detox for a day can help us detach from the virtual world and be more present. It can help us to focus on what we have in life without feeling the need to compare social status, wealth, or experiences with others. Starting a mindfulness journal can help with organizing thoughts and expressing gratitude. Writing down a list of tasks can also help quiet the mind so that it becomes easier to tackle one thing at a time. Diffusing stress-relieving essential oils, meditating, taking a walk, going to the gym, solving puzzles, or reading books can help distract the mind while simultaneously providing it calming benefits.

As for the body approach, it is crucial to start with a balanced diet to ensure that the brain is getting all the nutrients it needs. Reducing added sugars and an excess carbohydrate intake can be the first step. The second step is to replenish the microbiome with prebiotic and probiotic rich foods. The third step is to incorporate healthy fats and antioxidants to help combat the negative effects that stress may have on the body. Foods like dark chocolate, nuts, oily fish, berries, and green tea can have extremely favorable results.  

In conclusion, it is vital to protect the brain against stress and aging. As with every disease, prevention is key and conscious steps should be taken towards supporting optimal brain health.

Resources:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324044.php

https://www.princetonbrainandspine.com/resources/learning-center/brain-anatomy/

Feeding the Gut with Fermented Foods

Many of us are aware of gut-nourishing foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and kombucha because they are supposed to be very good for our health. What exactly do all of these foods have in common? All of them are fermented.

Fermented foods are known for their ability to support digestion, the absorption of nutrients, cognitive function, a healthy tissue response, a healthy inflammation response, and help to balance the microbiome. Essentially, fermented foods give the body a much needed dose of beneficial bacteria and enzymes. These crucial microorganisms can function as adaptogens and ward off any harmful bacteria that may negatively affect the gut or immune system. Almost eighty percent of the immune system is located in the gut which means that an overloaded gut can promote a weakened defense system in the body. It has also been found that gut-related issues can cause an increased risk of many other diseases like neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, allergies, and digestive issues.

Fermented foods can be a little pricey but things like kombucha and kefir can be made at home with the help of a starter kit. The health benefits of fermentation can also be obtained through fermented supplements from New Chapter. They have fermented turmeric, maca, or aloe booster powders that can be added to smoothies, juices, or milk in order to disguise the taste but still receive the benefits of fermentation. An affordable option would also be to make some kind of fermented vegetables at home. A recipe for making fermented carrots with dill can be found at The Real Food Dieticians.

All in all, incorporating fermented foods is only one of the first steps that should be taken towards obtaining optimal gut-health. Checking for allergies, drinking water, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, eating healthier, and adding a prebiotic source are all equally as crucial.

Resources:

https://therealfoodrds.com/fermented-carrots-dill/

https://wellnessmama.com/2245/fermented-food-benefits/

https://www.verywellhealth.com/best-fermented-foods-1945004

https://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/10_2/current-articles/Discover-the-Digestive-Benefits-of-Fermented-Foods_1383-1.html

https://www.brightfocus.org/alzheimers/article/gut-bacteria-and-brains-how-microbiome-affects-alzheimers-disease

The Effects of Collagen on the GI Tract

Collagen has received a lot of hype lately. As many individuals become more conscious of gut-health, they realize that collagen might be a key ingredient to solving issues related to the microbiome. The good news is that scientific research suggests that the synthesis of collagen is crucial for supporting the health of the intestinal lining. This means that collagen and gut-health are correlated, and you may be able to aid symptoms negative with collagen supplements.

Collagen contains two essential amino acids, glycine and proline. These two amino acids have a profound impact on the central nervous system and may help to ease the negative effects of stress-induced digestive problems. Collagen may also help with heartburn, stomach, ulcers, and digestive problems since it helps to relegate the production and secretion of stomach acid.

Moving on, it may help to support the growth and development of cells in the lining of the intestinal tract. How does it aid in digestion? Collagen is hydrophilic in nature, which means it attracts water and acidic molecules. When taken as a powder or supplement, collagen surrounds itself with water and stomach acid as it makes its way through the GI tract. This helps it breakdown whatever food that might be sitting in the tract. As for repairing the stomach lining, it can help with this task by promoting the production of smooth muscle cells. Smooth muscle cells are produced in the gut in order to help repair the damage that may have been a byproduct of excess inflammation.

Collagen can be found in a capsule or as a powder. Nordic Naturals makes a “Strawberry Marine Collagen Powder” which can disguise the taste. Nordic Naturals is also third party tested which ensures that an independent organization has determined if the product is up to standards.

Resources: