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CBD Oil for ADHD: Evidence, Benefits and How to Use it

These days, it seems like you can’t throw a rock without knocking over a bottle or two of CBD oil. This naturally occurring chemical derived from the marijuana plant is everywhere right now, from wellness supplements to skincare products, and even pet supplies.  

So, what exactly is CBD?

CBD stands for cannabidiol, an active ingredient found in the Cannabis sativa plant. When we hear the word “cannabis,” we automatically think of marijuana — aka weed, pot, ganja, etc. But that’s not always the case. 

There are over 100 active chemical compounds in the cannabis plant. The most abundant are CBD and THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is what gives marijuana its mind-altering effects and the characteristic “high” or euphoric sensation that also decreases pain, promotes appetite and reduces nausea. CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive. In other words, consuming CBD in any form (topically, orally, smoked, etc.) won’t get you high or impair your motor skills in any way. 

There’s been a lot of research on the topic of cannabis — particularly CBD oil — lately. The soundest scientific evidence is for its effects treating two severe and rare forms of childhood epilepsy that don’t respond well to anti-seizure medications. In fact, back in 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first-ever cannabis-derived medication for treating individuals with these complex and devastating disorders. 

And there’s also evidence, both empirical and anecdotal, that CBD oil may help treat or at least improve many health concerns, like:

  • Arthritis or joint pain
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep issues
  • Migraine
  • Nausea
  • Chronic pain
  • Drug addiction or withdrawal
  • Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
  • IBS and IBD

CBD oil for ADHD: What the science says

To date, there hasn’t been a ton of research done on the subject of CBD and ADHD. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, is typically treated with a combination of prescription medications and behavior therapy. The goal is to manage disruptive behaviors and learn ways to channel energy to avoid instances of impulsivity and inattention.

Is CBD oil a treatment for adult ADHD?

Although there’s no evidence that CBD oil or cannabis use can treat ADHD, advocates of CBD hemp oil for mental health believe cannabidiol may indirectly help relieve some symptoms of ADHD. 

According to a 2020 review of studies in the Journal of Cannabis Research, CBD oil may improve many of the symptoms associated with neurological disorders. More specifically, the researchers reported that CBD showed promising results as a therapy for generalized anxiety, social anxiety, hyperactivity, and insomnia — all of which are common effects of ADHD. 

A 2013 study of more than 2,000 participants also found that adults with ADHD that used cannabis products reported less hyperactivity and impulsivity. Nevertheless, several randomized-control clinical trials have concluded with inconclusive or non-relevant results. 

Is CBD for ADHD safe? Are there side effects?

Just because CBD products are legal (when they contain less than 0.3% THC) and easily accessible, it doesn’t mean they’re always safe. For starters, it’s important to remember that there haven’t been any studies showing the safety or effectiveness of cannabis products for ADHD. 

The quality, potency, and pureness of the CBD oil you purchase will also play a huge role in how your body responds to it. Only buy products that have a third-party certificate analysis, or COA, that confirms that whatever’s written on the label are the true ingredients and concentration of the product. 

Side effects of CBD oil tend to be mild and short-lived, but until more research is conducted, we won’t know the potential long-term effects of using it to treat ADHD. That being said, top-quality CBD oil seems to be well-tolerated at doses up to 1,500 mg in both children and adults. 

Common side effects of CBD oil include:

  • Interactions with other medications
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Changes in appetite
  • Upset stomach
  • Mood changes
  • Headaches

How to use CBD oil for ADHD 

If you want to try CBD oil as an alternative treatment for ADHD, it’s important to remember that:

  • There isn’t any scientific evidence that CBD or other cannabis derivatives directly improve ADHD.
  • CBD oil is not a substitute for your regular ADHD treatment, whether it is medications, therapy, or both.
  • Quality matters; just because a CBD product says it’s “natural” or “organic” doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Always buy from reputable sources and talk to your doctor before taking a new supplement. 

The easiest and most popular way of consuming CBD is as an oil extract. You may also find CBD-infused products like gummies, lollipops, and beverages online or in some pharmacies and health stores. 

 

 

ADHD and Sleep Problems

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a medical condition that affects around 8.4 percent of US children and 2.5 of adults. People with ADHD often have differences in their brain structures and neurological activities that negatively impact their attention span and impulse control.

Sleep deprivation and ADHD

Like many other neurological conditions, the exact causes of ADHD are not entirely clear. Experts know that several factors, including genetic predispositions, issues in the central nervous system, and environmental triggers like exposure to certain toxins, play a role in the development of ADHD. In school-aged kids, ADHD is often first identified in the classroom because children with ADHD often have trouble staying focused on tasks and get distracted easily.

Most children and teens only have trouble falling asleep from time to time, and chronic sleep disorders are rare in kids. Among children with ADHD, however, sleep problems are extremely prevalent. In fact, it is estimated that up to 70 percent of kids with ADHD experience sleep disturbances like having trouble falling and staying asleep, among others. Sleep issues are so common among children with ADHD, that older versions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) listed “sleep problems” as a part of the diagnostic criteria for this condition.

Sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality can significantly worsen ADHD symptoms. One recent literature review of sleep problems among school-aged children noted that children with ADHD who reported high levels of daytime sleepiness were more likely to be rated as having poor academic competence. But poor sleep also has negative consequences on children without ADHD.

Because children react differently to sleepiness than adults, it’s not uncommon to see kids who experience chronic sleep deprivation be misdiagnosed with ADHD. While adults usually become fatigued and drowsy, kids can turn unfocused, hyperactive, moody, and impulsive when they don’t get enough sleep.

A study published by the Journal of Sleep Research looking at the sleep habits of 2,463 first to ninth graders, showed that disorders like dyssomnia (difficulty falling asleep), parasomnias (night terrors, sleep-waking, bedwetting, etc.), and sleep-related breathing problems were all associated with ADHD-like symptoms even in children without the condition. A recent study also found that poor sleep quality can mimic ADHD behaviors in children without ADHD.

Treating ADHD-related sleep problems can sometimes turn into a bit of a catch-22 situation. ADHD symptoms like restlessness and hyperactivity can delay sleep onset latency and increase the chances of waking up in the middle of the night. However, the most common treatment used to manage symptoms – stimulant medications – are known to cause side effects like insomnia. For that reason, many parents choose to avoid prescription medications or complement them with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), social skills training, and nutritional supplements.

Fortunately, research has shown that some alternative therapies can be effective at reducing ADHD and poor sleep symptoms. These are five evidence-based supplements that have been shown to help manage ADHD and sleeplessness:

Iron: iron deficiency has been noted to increase the risk of psychiatric disorders, including ADHD. Iron-deficient children and adults who suffer from ADHD may benefit from supplementing with iron to help control their symptoms.

Magnesium: children with ADHD have been observed to have lower levels of magnesium, which is an essential mineral for brain health. In a study evaluating 50 children diagnosed with ADHD, researchers found that those who received a magnesium supplement for six months showed a significant decrease in hyperactive behaviors. Other studies have shown that magnesium can improve insomnia and reduce sleep onset latency.

Melatonin: while melatonin has not been shown to have any effects on ADHD, this naturally-occurring hormone is a popular ingredient in sleeping aids because it can shorten the time needed to fall asleep and can help regulate the body’s internal clock.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: another brain-friendly supplement, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help reduce inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity in children with ADHD. Researchers have also observed that children with ADHD appear to have lower omega-3 levels than their peers.

Zinc: decreased zinc levels in children have been linked to trouble concentrating, reduced learning abilities, and ADHD. Research suggests that used in combination with amphetamines, zinc may help reduce the dosage needed to treat kids with ADHD.

Quality sleep is key to both physical and mental health. Without enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly. It is an essential function that allows the body and mind to recharge, and be refreshed and alert each day. Improving sleep quality has the potential to reduce ADHD problems and to have a positive impact on the everyday life of those struggling with this disorder as well as their families. Teens and adults with sleep issues may consider a natural sleep supplement with a combination of ingredients proven in clinical studies to support deep restorative sleep.

 

 

Ashwagandha for Weight Loss: What the Science Says

To be completely honest, most of us have gained a pound or 10 over the past year and a half.  Matter of fact, more than half of Americans have gained weight according to the latest report by the American Psychological Association. 

Experts believe that social isolation and sedentarism were mostly to blame, but the constant and unyielding stress we’ve all been experiencing during the pandemic is also a major contributing factor. 

If you are looking to lower stress and maybe help your body drop a few pounds naturally, you’ve come to the right place. This article looks at the traditional and modern uses of Ashwagandha and its potential effects on weight loss and stress relief. 

Ashwagandha Benefits

What is Ashwagandha?

There are hundreds of medicinal plants in Ayurveda. Yet, Ashwagandha is one of just a handful of herbs that successfully crossed over to modern medicine thanks to its countless benefits for health and well-being. 

Ashwagandha, an evergreen shrub of the Solanaceae family, is one of the central herbs of Ayurvedic medicine. It has been used for over 4,000 years to treat all kinds of ailments, from stress and sleep problems to inflammation and sexual dysfunction. 

Western medicine classifies it as an “adaptogen,” which are natural substances that help the body adapt to stress. Studies show that extracts from the roots and berries of the Ashwagandha plant may boost memory and cognition, support normal thyroid functioning, and may even promote weight loss. 

Stress and weight gain — is there a connection?

Nothing throws off your inner balance — i.e., your metabolism, circadian rhythm, hormones, etc. — like chronic stress. Each morning when you wake up, your adrenal glands release normal levels of cortisol, sometimes called the “stress hormone,” into your bloodstream. It also gets released when you perform strenuous activities, like high-intensity exercise which is critical to the control and regulation of energy metabolism and thus exercise performance capacity.

But your body also secretes higher levels of cortisol when you are under stress in order to activate your “fight or flight” response. This temporarily halts your regular functions and slows down your metabolism. If you are under continuous stress, this reaction becomes chronic and puts your body in a constant state of alert.  Unfortunately, many people consider stress as just a part of normal everyday life and don’t recognize it for what it is, a threat to one’s health and longevity. 

Weight gain is one of the most common side effects of chronic stress. Under normal circumstances, when your adrenal glands secrete cortisol, the hormones trigger an influx of glucose to deliver a quick shot of energy to your large muscles (in case you need to fight or flight). 

But when this process becomes chronic, your cells need more and more energy, which manifests in the form of cravings for sweet, fatty, and carb-rich foods. In fact, studies have shown that there is a direct association between increased levels of cortisol and higher calorie intake. All that unused energy (the calories you ate from that milkshake craving) is eventually stored as body fat.

Do you eat more when you’re stressed?

How can Ashwagandha help with weight loss?

Although Ashwagandha is not directly associated with weight loss, experts believe that this mighty herb may support shedding unwanted body fat through the following mechanisms:

Adaptogenic effects: chronic stress wreaks havoc in each of your bodily functions, including metabolism. Ashwagandha is labeled as an adaptogen because it helps fight the physiological effects of tension in the body, including weight gain. This was demonstrated in a 2016 study of individuals under chronic stress, where participants who took 300 mg of Ashwagandha daily reported improvements in body weight, BMI, cortisol levels, and happiness scores

Antioxidant activity: when your immune system is weak or compromised, your metabolism slows down, and your body loses its ability to burn fat effectively. Ashwagandha is loaded with antioxidants that support and strengthen the immune system, promote better fat burning, and support digestion to help you lose weight in a faster and more sustained way. 

Energy boost: if your problem is that you just can’t find the energy and motivation to work out, Ashwagandha might help with that, too. In a study in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integral Medicine, 40 elite cyclists reported increased endurance and aerobic performance after taking 500 mg Ashwagandha daily. Adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha seem to naturally boost energy levels by stimulating the central nervous system and decreasing high cortisol levels, which can cause chronic fatigue, sleep issues, and obesity. 

Takeaway

Alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise, taking an Ashwagandha supplement could enhance your weight loss efforts and help lower stress — something we all desperately need these days! But also keep in mind that not all Ashwagandha supplements are created equal. 

For maximum safety and potency, opt for full-spectrum Ashwagandha supplements extracted from the roots alone and not the leaves or the stems. Like Akeso’s Calm & Clever supplement, our expertly curated formula that contains 600 mg of KSM-66 Ashwagandha — the most clinically studied Ashwagandha on the market — and a carefully curated blend of adaptogens, vitamins, and herbs that counter the effects of tension and stress on the body and support healthy cognitive function.

 

 

ADHD Parenting Tips for Symptom & Behavior Management

Raising kids is never easy. Whether you have one child or four, no one really goes into parenting knowing how to handle everything life throws at them. And this is especially true when you have a child with ADHD. 

For many parents, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), makes it almost impossible to employ traditional parenting methods. Depending on the type and severity of your child’s ADHD, it can be hard — and sometimes incredibly frustrating — to find useful ways to help them cope with their symptoms, encourage good behavior, and manage frequent outbursts.

But don’t be discouraged. The first step in parenting a child with ADHD is to accept that you, as a parent, are not perfect. And neither is your beautiful, loving, energetic little one. When you shift your expectations (keyword shift, not lower!) of how your child should or shouldn’t behave and match them to their developmental stage, you’ll be showing up for them in the ways they really need you to. Also, you’ll be setting them up for success as they discover their unique abilities, instead of trying and failing to achieve some social standard that they may never fulfill.

In other words, it’s important to stop expecting your child to “behave their age.” Remember that the ADHD brain is wired a bit differently, which makes it harder (but not impossible) for kids to develop skills like self-control, time management, and attention. Children with ADHD tend to have developmental delays of up to 2 or 3 years, so when you set your expectations to where they are today, they’ll have a better chance of actually achieving them, which in turn will make them feel happy, successful, and confident. 

Fortunately, fostering positive behaviors and managing symptoms of ADHD is not as hard as you may think. All it takes are a few small modifications to your parenting strategies, including how you communicate and connect with your little one. 

Here are some tips that can help:

Parenting a child with ADHD

Just like realizing that your child — like all kids — is not perfect, it’s also important to understand that you can’t do it all. Yes, your little one needs your undivided support and encouragement, but they also need help from a professional that knows and understands how to treat ADHD. 

Don’t be afraid to seek assistance, both for your child or for any member of the family that may need it — including yourself. Or better yet, form a support network with your child’s pediatrician, therapist, school psychologist or guidance counselor, and teacher. 

Encourage good behavior with positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a concept in behavioral psychology that has been shown to help teach and promote positive behaviors in kids with ADHD. The goal is to help your child easily identify “good” behaviors and discourage destructive ones. 

ADD child parenting

Positively reinforcing good behavior

Managing behavior with positive reinforcement is really simple. You just need to identify the behaviors that should be changed and create a reward system for reinforcing good behavior. Positive reinforcement can be as simple as verbal praises, such as “good job” or “nicely done,” or can take the form of an opportunity to do something they wish, like more minutes watching TV or playing on their tablet. It can also be something more concrete, like a toy or a sticker. 

Consistency is key for behavioral management techniques to work, so once you start reinforcing your child’s behavior, you have to stick with it. Rewarding for a behavior one day and doing the opposite the next can be pretty detrimental for kids with ADHD. 

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that odd or quirky behaviors like rocking, fidgeting, or doing hand movements that aren’t harmful to your child or anyone else should be accepted as part of who they are. Punishing or discouraging “odd” behaviors just because they’re unusual is ultimately damaging to their self-esteem. 

On that note… don’t punish your child for behaviors they can’t control

It’s easy to get distracted by disruptive or “negative” behaviors associated with ADHD. Your child may have a hard time following instructions, or it can feel like he’s flat out ignoring everything you say, which can be understandingly aggravating. But in many cases, kids with ADHD fail to pay attention or comply not out of defiance, but because they may become distracted with another task, or maybe you didn’t have their attention, to begin with. 

Inattention is one of the most common symptoms of ADHD, which means that it’s not something they can control. And when you continuously punish or scold a kid for behavior they can’t control, both their self-esteem and their relationship with you suffer. Instead, try to remind them of what you want them to do and practice positive reinforcement when they do so. 

Disciplining or punishing should only be appropriate in instances of evident aggression or defiance, and even then, experts recommend resisting the urge to yell or spank, which rarely gets the message across and may even encourage negative behaviors. 

Encourage healthy sleep

Sleep problems and ADHD often go hand in hand. Studies show that kids with ADHD tend to sleep fewer hours, have trouble staying asleep at night, and have a higher risk of developing a sleep disorder. And poor sleep also seems to worsen symptoms of ADHD. 

In fact, a study in the Journal of Sleep Research looking at the sleep habits of more than 2,000 school-aged children, showed that disorders like dyssomnia (difficulty falling asleep), parasomnias (night terrors, sleep-waking, bedwetting, etc.), and sleep-related breathing problems were all associated with ADHD-like symptoms (hyperactivity, inattention, restlessness) even in children without the condition. 

parenting for adhd

Encourage good sleep habits

Here are some easy tips you can try to help your child sleep better:

  • Cut out all sugar and caffeine at least 3 hours before bedtime
  • Avoid screen time (phone, tablet, computer) for an hour before bed
  • Steer clear of stimulating activities like running or jumping at night
  • Make sure your child gets plenty of exercise throughout the day
  • Keep the bedroom dark, cool, and quiet
  • Encourage going to bed and waking up at the same time every day
  • Develop a nighttime routine that your child enjoys, like reading their favorite book, singing bedtime songs, or taking a warm bath before bed

Don’t rule out medication

Medication can make a huge improvement in ADHD symptoms, especially in disruptive behaviors. But finding the right medication can be a lengthy, uphill journey. 

While most ADHD medications are safe and effective for children, some can cause undesirable side effects and worsen sleep problems. It’s also worth noting that medications don’t cure ADHD; the symptoms always come back when the medication wears off. That’s why these treatments should always be used in combination with other ADHD-friendly strategies, like:

  • Behavior medicine
  • Spending time outside
  • Dietary changes
  • Supplementation

But consider natural supplements as well 

Some vitamins, minerals, and herbs can enhance ADHD medications to help improve symptoms of inattention, mood, and support mental health:

  • Iron: iron deficiency has been observed to increase the risk of psychiatric disorders, including ADHD. Iron-deficient children and adults who suffer from ADHD may benefit from supplementing with iron to help control their symptoms.
  • Magnesium: kids with ADHD tend to have lower levels of magnesium, which is an essential mineral for brain health. In a study evaluating 50 children diagnosed with ADHD, researchers found that those who received a magnesium supplement for six months showed a significant decrease in hyperactive behaviors. Other studies have shown that magnesium can improve insomnia and reduce sleep onset latency.
  • Melatonin: while melatonin has not been shown to have any effects on ADHD, this naturally-occurring hormone is a popular ingredient in sleeping aids because it can shorten the time needed to fall asleep and can help regulate the body’s internal clock.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help reduce inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity in children with ADHD. Researchers have also observed that children with ADHD appear to have lower omega-3 levels than their peers.
  • Zinc: decreased zinc levels in children have been linked to trouble concentrating, reduced learning abilities, and ADHD. Research suggests that used in combination with amphetamines, zinc may help reduce the dosage needed to treat kids with ADHD.  

 

 

Top 10 Essential Oils for ADHD

If you are on a quest for finding ways to manage attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) naturally, you may want to consider adding essential oils to your treatment toolkit.

Nowadays, it seems like there’s an essential oil for anything, from improving migraine headaches to repelling insects and promoting restful sleep. These aromatic plant extracts are also thought to support mental health and wellness by stimulating areas in your brain that influence your mood, memory formation, and more. 

Evidence suggests that aromatherapy with certain essential oils could help improve numerous conditions, like stress, anxiety, ADHD, and sleeplessness.

Essential oils and ADHD

There aren’t a ton of scientific studies explaining why or how essential oils help with ADHD, but we know that many of these oils have either calming or brain-boosting properties, both of which you want to reap if you or your child has ADHD. 

These are 10 essential oils that could help improve symptoms of ADHD:

Rosemary

rosemary

Rosemary

What is it: An evergreen shrub from the Lamiaceae family. It has stood the test of time as both a culinary and medicinal herb beloved worldwide for its fresh aroma and healing properties. 

How it helps: Did you know that ancient Greeks and Romans used rosemary to strengthen their memory? Believe it or not, they were actually onto something! Research shows that rosemary essential oils may boost concentration, improve memory, and increase focused alertness. 

Cedarwood

What is it: A concentrated liquid distilled from the leaves, bark, needles, and fruits of the cedar tree, of which there are several species. 

How it helps: Cedarwood oil may help improve ADHD symptoms by supporting the oxygenation of brain cells, which may enhance cognition and provide a calming effect.  

Peppermint

herbs

Peppermint

What is it: A cross between watermint and spearmint. Its leaves contain potent essential oils, including menthol, which is responsible for its refreshing properties. 

How it helps: Peppermint essential oil is believed to help calm some of the restlessness and hyperactivity associated with ADHD. Never ingest peppermint oil or apply it directly to the skin. Instead, dilute it in carrier oils like olive or coconut oil to avoid irritation. 

Chamomile

What is it: There are two types of chamomile essential oil: German and Roman. German chamomile oil is higher in chamazulene, the active ingredient that gives chamomile its medicinal properties. Roman chamomile has become popular for its sweet, soothing scent. 

How it helps: Who hasn’t had a nice warm mug of chamomile tea to calm nerves and promote sleep? As an essential oil, chamomile also has the ability to calm a fidgety brain, reduce anxiety, and promote relaxation. 

Frankincense

What is it: An extract sourced from the sap of the Boswellia tree. Frankincense has a characteristic woody, lemony aroma reminiscent of campfire smoke and citrus oils. It has been used for thousands of years in religious ceremonies as a symbol of holiness and sanctity. 

How it helps: May promote feelings of relaxation, suppress negative emotions, and help people with ADHD focus. 

Lavender

Lavender

Lavender

What is it: The Holy Grail of essential oils, lavender oil is beloved for its potent yet delicate floral aroma and its calming qualities. 

How it helps: There is solid research backing the healing properties of lavender essential oil. Studies show that the scent of lavender can relax the nervous system and may help you be calmer in stressful situations. People with ADHD may benefit from using lavender oil before bed to promote better sleep. 

Ylang Ylang

What is it: Ylang Ylang is a tropical flower harvested from the Cananga tree native to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and parts of Australia. It has a romantic fruity, flowery smell that has made it a popular addition to weddings and other celebrations in several cultures. 

How it helps: Aromatherapy with Ylang Ylang could improve mood, reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and improve the symptoms of depression. 

Sweet Orange

What is it: A potent oil sourced from the rinds of the sweet orange. 

How it helps: Like other citrus oils, sweet orange oil may boost concentration in children and adults with ADHD and may improve symptoms of anxiety and chronic stress. 

Vetiver

What is it: A concentrated oil extracted from the vetiver plant. 

How it helps: While vetiver oil is one of the lesser-known essential oils, animal studies show that vetiver may have stress-relieving properties. It may also boost focus and attention in people with ADHD.

How to use essential oils when you have ADHD 

You should never ingest essential oils because they could be toxic and cause poisoning even in small amounts. However, top-quality essential oils are perfectly safe when inhaled or applied topically (to the skin). You just have to make sure to blend them with a carrier oil, like coconut oil or even sunflower or olive oil, to avoid skin irritation. 

Other ways of using essential oils for ADHD include:

  • Applying it with a roller bottle
  • Adding a few drops to a diffuser
  • Blending a few drops with water and using it as a spray
  • Mixing it with a carrier oil to make your own massage oil

 

 

10 Brain Healthy Foods (+2 Drinks) for Energy & Productivity

When it comes to keeping your brain healthy and sharp, the foods that you eat matter.

Here are 10 delicious brain food snacks (and two drinks) to feed the most important organ in your body

1. Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

Smoked salmon deviled eggs

Why it works: Whether it is for lunch, dinner, or a snack, these smoked salmon deviled eggs are a delicious option for when you need a quick brain boost. Salmon is packed with omega-3, a powerful fatty acid known for its brain-friendly properties. Studies show that a higher omega-3 intake can protect the brain against age-related cognitive decline, boost your mood, and support memory.

How to make it: Fill a large saucepan with water and add 8 large eggs. Bring to a vigorous boil and cover. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain off the water and transfer eggs to a bowl filled with iced water; this will stop the cooking process and make the eggs easier to peel.

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise and use a teaspoon to carefully remove the yolks. Transfer the yolks to a clean bowl and mash well with a fork. Stir in ⅓ cup greek yogurt, 4 ounces smoked salmon chopped in bite-sized pieces, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, dried garlic, salt, pepper, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Spoon a portion of the mixture into each egg-white half and sprinkle with paprika and chives.

2. Trail Mix

If you don’t have a nut allergy, adding them to your diet may provide you with some incredible health benefits. Although they’re high in calories, nuts are packed with healthy fats that are favorable for your noggin’ and could also protect you against certain chronic conditions, like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

nuts

Trail Mix

How to make it: Mix together 1 ½ cups raw nuts (walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pecans, cashews), 1 cup raw seeds (pumpkin, sunflower), ⅔ cups unsweetened coconut flakes, ¾ cup unsweetened dried fruit (golden raisins, cranberries), ½ chopped dark chocolate.

Fun add-ins:
Air-popped popcorn
Pretzels

Spices:
Salt
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
Nutritional yeast
Turmeric

3. Yogurt-Covered Blueberries

Cover blueberries in yogurt

Among all the foods that are good for your brain, blueberries take the gold. Research suggests that consuming blueberries could help slow down brain aging by up to 2.5 years and support areas of your brain essential for memory and intelligence. The plain Greek yogurt in this recipe will help you feel fuller and more energized for longer, so it’s a great snack to keep in hand when that 4:00 pm energy crash hits.

How to make it: Wash and pat dry blueberries and line a baking sheet with wax paper. Using a toothpick, dip each blueberry into yogurt and twirl to make sure it’s completely covered. Remove the dipped blueberry with your (clean) fingers or a fork and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat on all blueberries. Freeze until yogurt has set and feels dry to the touch, about 1-2 hours.

4. Turmeric Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are packed with potent antioxidants that protect your brain and body from free radical damage. They are also rich in zinc, an essential mineral that is critical for memory and thinking. The curcumin in turmeric has been shown to boost cognition and attention, and it’s been used for years as a complementary treatment for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative conditions.

How to make it: Scrape out and remove seeds from pumpkin. Wash them in a colander under running water, making sure you remove all strands and pumpkin bits. Pat seeds dry and spread in a baking sheet lined with oven paper. Toss them with 1 tablespoon olive oil (can substitute for coconut or avocado oil), 1 teaspoon turmeric, ½ teaspoon paprika, salt, and pepper. Roast 10 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant.

5. Overnight Oats

Start the day right with an energizing combination of brain-healthy fats and proteins (Greek yogurt), complex carbohydrates (oatmeal), and essential vitamins and minerals (fruit toppings). As the name suggests, this no-cook breakfast works best when you let it steep in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. If you are in a hurry, you can let sit for just a couple of hours or cook on a stovetop or microwave.

brain food

Overnight oats

How to make it: Mix 1 part rolled oats, ½ part plain Greek yogurt, ½ plant-based milk, and honey in a bowl.

Add in your favorite add-ins:

Nut butter
Cocoa powder
Pumpkin puree
Baked apple
Sugar-free jam/jelly

Pour mixture into mason jars and chill overnight in the fridge.

In the morning before you eat, mix in toppings for added flavor and texture:

Chia seeds
Chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts)
Granola
Chia seeds
Fresh fruits
Banana slices
Chopped berries
Kiwi

6. Avocado Toast

Avocado is incredibly nutritious. It is loaded with heart and brain-healthy monounsaturated fats, and it is high in fiber, so it helps you feel full and energized for longer. Add an egg on top, and you are looking at a nutritional powerhouse that can help you get through any kind of morning.

Brain Food – Avocado Toast

How to make it: Slice one large avocado in half and scoop out into a bowl while you toast 2 slices of whole-grain bread. Smash it with a fork until you reach the desired consistency (feel free to play around with the consistency here; some people like their avocado toast completely mashed and others like it nice and lumpy — it’s up to you!). Add 1 teaspoon olive oil, the juice of half a lime, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread mashed avocado generously into each toast and enjoy.

Optional (and yummy) toppings:

Smoked salmon
Capers
Chives
Thinly sliced shallots
A poached, boiled egg, or fried egg
Sesame seeds
Radishes

7. Crispy Kale Chips

Kale chips

Evidence shows that lutein, a powerful nutrient found in kale (and avocados and eggs), could help reverse some of the signs of cognitive aging.

How to make it: Wash a large bunch of kale, remove middle stem, and rip into bite-sized pieces. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper (to taste) and bake in a preheated oven at 325F for 20 minutes or cook in an airfryer.

8. Tuna Burgers

tuna health food

Tuna burgers

Tuna is also rich in brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids and it’s a good source of protein, vitamin B12, and selenium. To pick the best canned tuna at the supermarket, opt for water-packed tuna over oil-packed and, whenever possible, choose brands that follow responsible fishing practices (look for FAD-free and MSC-certified seals in the cans).

How to make it: Toss 3 cans tuna, 1 small finely chopped red onion, ¼ cup chopped parsley, and 1 tablespoon dried garlic together in a bowl. Fold in 1 large egg, 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt, and (optional) hot sauce to taste. Add ½ cup panko breadcrumbs and use your hands to mix evenly. Shape into patties and cook until browned in a skillet lightly coated with olive oil, 3-4 minutes on each side. Serve warm.

9. 5 Minute Hummus

The protein in chickpeas makes hummus a perfect on-the-go snack that’s both filling and nutritious. Despite their size, chickpeas pack a powerful nutritional punch and are loaded with complex carbohydrates that fuel your brain and keep you focused and alert.

hummus

5 minute hummus

How to make it: To a food processor or blender, add: one 15 oz. can cooked chickpeas, ½ cup tahini, the juice and zest of 1 lemon, 2 garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon ice water, paprika, salt, pepper, and cumin to taste. Blend 3-5 minutes or until creamy, stopping to scrape the sides as needed. Drizzle more olive oil and paprika before serving.

10. Chia Seed Pudding

Eating chia is perhaps the easiest and most effective way to get decent amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. They are also packed with proteins, antioxidants, and essential vitamins and minerals.

Chia seed pudding

How to make it: Whisk together ¼ cup chia seeds, 1 cup plant-based milk (almond, soy, oatmeal, rice, cashew), 2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and a pinch of sea salt. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight and add favorite toppings.

11. Matcha Green Tea Lemonade

Matcha green tea lemonade

Studies show that people that drink tea may have healthier brains than non-tea drinkers. If you don’t have a matcha bamboo whisk to make this refreshing drink, try using a regular whisk or a fork. You can also use regular green tea instead of matcha powder by substituting the 2 cups of water with 2 cups of unsweetened green tea.

How to make it: Prepare matcha tea: using a bamboo matcha whisk, combine 2 tablespoons hot water and 2 tablespoons sifted matcha powder in a small bowl until a thick paste forms. Add 2 cups cold water, the juice of 1 large lemon, and 1 tablespoon honey to a large pitcher and stir until thoroughly combined. Stir in matcha. Pour over ice and garnish with fresh mint leaves (optional).

12. Golden Milk

Sometimes known as turmeric latte, golden milk is a traditional turmeric-based Indian beverage said to aid with digestion, promote sleep, boost mental clarity, and reduce inflammation. It is a healthy, nutritious addition to any diet and a delicious way to reap all the benefits of this mighty spice.

healthy drink

Golden milk

How to make it: In a small saucepan, combine: 1 ½ cups coconut milk or other non-dairy milk, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon (or 1 cinnamon stick), ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and serve hot.

Optional: froth with a handheld frother for a creamier, foamy finish. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon to taste.

 

 

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder – Reset Your Circadian Rhythm

Sleeping is an important biological process that affects your overall health and mental health too. Without a properly functioning circadian rhythm, our bodies are prone to exhaustion, mental disorders, obesity, and other physical illness. The disruption in your sleep-wake cycle is called circadian rhythm sleep disorder. There are many causes and solutions as well.

What is circadian rhythm?

The body maintains a biological rhythm called circadian rhythm or circadian cycle which is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. It can actually refer to any process that originates within an organism and responds to the environment.  The circadian rhythm is controlled by both the internal genetic components of the biological clock (clock genes) and external factors including those from nutrition and the environment.  It is affected by light and dark such as being awake in the day and sleeping at night which is why it is responsible for the regulation of our sleepiness and alertness.

How circadian rhythm works?

When your eyes receive light, the optic nerve transmits signals to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN)- a tiny region in your brain located in the hypothalamus- that finally inhibits the sympathetic nervous system thus melatonin- a hormone responsible for making you sleep- does not get released into your blood circulation from the pineal gland. However, if you are in a dark area, the SCN sends signals to your pineal gland to release melatonin for you to sleep.

What is a good circadian rhythm?

You can achieve a good circadian rhythm by sleeping and waking up at a stable time consistently and having 7 or 8 hours of sleep every night.

Circadian Rhythm Chart

What are the health benefits of a good circadian rhythm?

A good sleep-wake cycle will benefit your overall health including, reenergizing your body and mind, maintaining good memory, nervous system, and metabolic processes as well. Consistent quantity and quality of sleep are crucial for physical and mental health and longevity.

Benefits of Proper Sleep:

  • Improves your immune function and protects against cell damage
  • Supports proper brain function and improves focus, memory, concentration, learning, and productivity
  • Lowers your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, dementia, and obesity
  • Increases “healthspan” (living longer in a healthier state as opposed to living longer in a debilitated, degenerative state
  • Affects glucose metabolism and reduces type 2 diabetes risk
  • Lowers risk for obesity.

What is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder?

Circadian rhythm sleep disorder is a problem within your circadian rhythm that makes you suffer sleep insomnia or makes you struggle to fall asleep.

How do you know if you have a circadian rhythm disorder?

Sleepy woman yawning

People with circadian rhythm sleep disorder experience the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep (frequently waking during the night)
  • Early awakenings
  • Waking to feel tired or exhausted
  • Headaches, stomach problems, poor coordination, and reduction in cognitive skills.

What causes circadian rhythm sleep disorder?

Anything that causes sleep disruption can result in deterioration in your internal body clock leading to a circadian rhythm sleep disorder. Some of these causes are

  • Changing work shifts
  • Jet lag
  • Some medications
  • Certain health conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, dementia, and head injury
  • Frequent change in your sleep pattern and routine
  • Menopause related sleep issues

What are the kinds of circadian rhythm sleep disorders?

There are different types of insomnia and there are 6 types of circadian rhythm disorders:

  1. Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder
    People who are night lovers know this type well. You are more productive, alert, and energetic at night, sleep and wake up late, and if you are forced to wake up early, you feel lazy and sleepy during the day. This type is common between adolescents and young adults.
  2. Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder
    Here you sleep and wake up very early. For example; sleep around 7 pm and get up around 3 am. This makes you feel sleepy and less focused in the late afternoon or early evening. This type may be common between middle age and older adults.
  3. Jet Lag
    Jet lag is experienced by changing time zones. This especially disrupts your normal sleep-wake cycle if the difference between the time zones of your home and destination is 2 hours or more.
  4. Shift Work Disorder
    When there is frequent change in your work shifts by working all day for some days then all the night for other days. This causes problems in your internal body clock leading to insomnia.
  5. Irregular sleep-wake rhythm
    Here you sleep and wake up in undefined periods like taking several naps during the day. This type is common between people with medical conditions or children with intellectual disabilities.
  6. Non-24-hour sleep-wake syndrome
    Here your internal body clock doesn’t synchronize to a 24-hour day in which your sleeping time delays every day by minutes to hours but you have the same length of sleep and awake period. This type is common among blind people.

What are the risk factors of circadian rhythm sleep disorder?
There are different internal and external factors that may put you at high risk of acquiring insomnia symptoms

Internal factors:

  • Age: the sleep-wake cycle may differ according to age. Usually, teens sleep late, putting them at risk for delayed sleep-wake phase disorder while older people usually sleep early putting them at risk for advanced sleep-wake phase disorder.
  • Sex: men are at high risk of advanced sleep-wake phase disorder. However, women suffer circadian sleep disorder due to many reasons including; hormonal changes in menopause and pregnancy, sleep discomfort during pregnancy, and after birth to take care of the baby.
  •  Genetics: genetic preference may play a role in your sleep-wake cycle in addition to some mutations that may happen in your genes which are related to a circadian rhythm or brain development.
  • Some diseases including; genetic diseases (Smith-Magenis syndrome, Angelman syndrome, and Huntington’s), mental diseases (bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia), neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease), eyesight diseases (blindness and macular degeneration), brain damage conditions (strokes, and brain tumors).

Night Shift Doctor

External factors:

  • Job or occupation: doctors, nurses, or anyone who works in different shifts are at risk of shift work disorder. Pilots and flight attendants are at risk of jet lag.
  • Lifestyle habits: some habits you do every day can contribute to this disorder such as alcohol, caffeine, illegal drugs, exposure to artificial screen light before sleeping from mobile phones or TV screen, and lack of exposure to daylight.

How do circadian rhythms affect body function and health?

Researchers have concluded that circadian rhythm can affect your hormonal release, digestion, mood, eating habits, and body temperature. Circadian rhythm sleep disorder could have the following negative consequences on your health:

  • Increase symptoms of depression and mood disorders: A study published in Translational Psychiatry stated that circadian sleep disorders and chronic insomnia can affect people with major depressive disorder (MDD), bipolar disorder (BD), anxiety, and schizophrenia by worsening their symptoms.
  • Increase your risk of sarcopenia that is a disorder that affects your skeletal muscle mass and strength according to a study in Korea.
  • Increase risk of disease: A systematic review published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences discussed the health risks of internal clock disruption and found that it could lead to cancer, cardiovascular diseases, fatigue, indigestion, metabolic diseases, poor cognition skills, impaired physical performance, gastrointestinal disturbances, peptic ulcer, and diabetes.

How do you fix a circadian rhythm sleep disorder?

There are many ways to fix your sleep-wake cycle from changing life habits to consuming specific sleep supplements. Solutions to sleeping problems vary depending on the severity of your case. The following are some ways to support falling asleep faster, staying asleep longer, or resetting your circadian rhythm.

1. Chronotherapy:  Changing your bedtime gradually by going to bed 2 or 3 hours earlier or later until reaching a regular sleep-wake schedule.

2. Bright light therapy:  It is recommended that you be under the supervision of a sleep specialist during this therapy. Here you will be exposed to a high-intensity light (2,000 to 9,500 lux) for one or two hours depending on your case. The goal is to sync your circadian clock with the earth’s cycle of light and dark by advancing or delaying your sleep. Be sure to avoid exposure to any screen light -mobile phone or TV- before bedtime.

3. Lifestyle changes: Slight changes could make a difference such as maintaining regular sleep and wake times even on weekends, avoiding naps, decreasing alcohol and caffeine consumption especially before bedtime.

4. Quit smoking: Smoking is one of the major causes of many deaths around the world, also scientists discovered that nicotine can disrupt your circadian rhythm making you an “evening person” according to a study in Nicotine & Tobacco Research. There are three reasons for this:  First, tobacco can deteriorate the expression of clock genes in the lung and brain causing restlessness night sleep according to this study.  Second, studies also show that smoking can increase your risk of obstructive sleep apnea disorder by 2.5 times more than non-smokers in which you wake up in the night as you can’t breathe leading to sleep disruption because smoking irritates the tissue of your nose and throat causing swelling that obstructs the airflow.  Lastly, nicotine is considered a stimulant similar to caffeine which makes the average person loses 1.2 minutes of sleep for every cigarette according to this study.

5. Exercising: Exercises have tremendous health benefits including prevention of obesity and heart diseases in addition to promoting your sleep quality. It has the ability to improve your sleep and regulate your circadian rhythm as it stimulates the production and secretion of melatonin hormone according to this study.

6. Meditation: Meditation can increase melatonin levels by enhancing its production in the pineal gland and slowing its metabolism as well. Researchers found that people who meditate have a higher melatonin concentration than those who don’t meditate.

7. Medications: Doctors often prescribe medications to help with sleep or to help with sleepiness during the day.   These include benzodiazepines, nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics, orexin receptor antagonists, and Provigil.

8. Dietary supplements:  There are several natural supplements (vitamins, minerals, and plant nutrients) that have been proven in double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies, to help reestablish healthy, natural sleep patterns. These include, vitamin B-6, magnesium, glycine, valerian root, ziziphus jujube, hops, and melatonin. A dietary supplement containing all of these ingredients at doses proven effective in clinical studies is available from Akeso Health Sciences.

How long does it take to fix your circadian rhythm?

There is no certain length of time to fix your sleep disruption as it depends on the cause of your insomnia and the severity of your case. However, some experts suggest that it may take from two weeks to two months. Improving circadian rhythm and establishing natural, healthy sleep cycles, will help you reach the crucial stage of DEEP SLEEP where much of your life-sustaining bodily processes and healing occur.

What is deep sleep and why do you need it?

Deep sleep is also referred to as “slow-wave sleep” (SWS) or delta sleep.

  • Your heartbeat and breathing become their slowest as your muscles relax
  • Your brain waves become the slowest they’ll be while you’re asleep
  • It’s difficult to awaken even with loud noises

Many people never reach or stay long in deep sleep and sadly miss out on all of the crucial benefits. Deep sleep is where most healing, rejuvenating, and cellular repair occurs.  Reaching deep sleep determines whether you will feel refreshed and alert the next day or groggy and unfocused. Benefits include:

  • energy restoration
  • cell regeneration
  • blood supply to muscles increases
  • promotes growth and repair of tissues and bones strengthens the immune system

Learn more about reaching deep sleep naturally for better health and longevity.

Which foods and drinks are most likely to disrupt sleep?

What you eat or drink has an effect on your sleep quality as mentioned in a study in mediators of inflammation journal, scientists in this research also recommended decreasing the consumption of the following foods.

  1. High glycemic index foods: these foods could make you sleepy after its consumption due to two theories; the first theory is that high glycemic index foods increase insulin secretion that in turn increases tryptophan concentration in the brain which is the precursor for serotonin that induces sleep, the second theory is that the high insulin resulted from hyperglycemia could interrupt some hormones secretion such as adrenaline, cortisol, glucagon, and growth hormone. Also, it can stimulate inflammatory immune response and alter the intestinal microbiome leading to sleep disruption. So, you should avoid eating them, especially during the day.
  2. Saturated fatty acids foods: butter, ghee, cheese, fatty cuts of meat, bacon, sausage, and cakes are high in saturated fatty acids that could deteriorate your sleep quality.
  3. Foods that trigger reflux such as acidic foods, onions, tomatoes, garlic, citrus fruits, dark chocolate, and peppermint.

What are the foods that improve your sleep quality?

Foods are natural sources of vitamins and minerals, you can get the best sleep vitamins from your meals especially for those who don’t like pharmaceutical drugs or women who seek menopause sleep problems natural remedies.

  1. Melatonin-containing foods: these foods can directly affect your sleep quality so you can consume them in the night such as goji berries, eggs, milk, fish, and nuts.
  2. Tryptophan-rich foods: tryptophan is the precursor of serotonin that induces sleep. It is an essential amino acid that is found in these foods; milk, canned tuna, turkey, chicken, oats, and whole wheat bread.
  3. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: scientists in this study found that high omega-3 PUFA concentrations are associated with improved sleep quality. Fish and other seafood, nuts, seeds, and plant oils such as flaxseed oil and canola oil are good sources of omega-3 PUFA.
  4. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA): it is a neurotransmitter that makes you calm and relaxed, researchers in this study found patients with insomnia who received 300 mg/day of GABA for 4 weeks have increased sleep quality and decreased sleep latency. Foods that are rich in GABA are fermented foods such as kimchi, miso, and tempeh, tomatoes, potatoes, and berries.
  5. Vitamin D: it has been found that vitamin D deficiency could lead to sleep disorders such as poor sleep quality and short sleep duration according to this study. Oily fish, liver, egg yolk, and red meat are sources of vitamin D.
  6. Vitamin C: scientists in this study found that high blood vitamin C is associated with deep sleeping so it is considered one of the deep sleep vitamins. Also, fruit and vegetable intake could improve sleep quality. You can find vitamin C in citrus fruits, peppers, lemon, strawberries, guava, and broccoli.

In a nutshell, circadian rhythm sleep disorder is a problem that can affect your health and life negatively. If you suffer any of the previous symptoms, make some lifestyle changes and consider taking a nutritional sleep supplement containing ingredients at the proper dosages proven to be of benefit to people experiencing occasional sleeplessness and to help reestablish healthy natural sleep patterns. For more information, visit MySleepAllNight.com

FREE Sleep e-Book Download – Tips for achieving deep sleep as well as falling asleep faster, staying asleep longer and reestablishing healthy sleep patterns.

 

 

How to Sleep with ADHD: Tips for Creating an ADHD-Friendly Bedtime Routine

Sleep problems are a common modern ailment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that ⅓ of Americans are sleeping less than the recommended amount, and studies show that about half of kids experience a sleep disorder at some point. But when you have ADHD, getting the rest you need every night can be even more challenging.

The link between ADHD and sleep

If you’ve ever woken up with a pounding headache, killer heartburn, and a rotten mood to top it all off, you know that sleep deprivation messes with every aspect of your health. In people with ADHD, poor sleep can exacerbate symptoms of restlessness, mood swings, forgetfulness, and more.

An estimated 30 to 70% of individuals with ADHD experience some kind of sleeping difficulty. Trouble falling and staying asleep are the most typical, but insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome are also common issues associated with ADHD.

Experts aren’t exactly sure what causes the ADHD brain to be more susceptible to sleep disturbances. One theory is that many of the areas that regulate sleep overlap with the regions that control attention, making it more likely for people with inattention to experience sleeplessness as well. Experts also think that structural abnormalities within the brain may play a role.

Behavioral symptoms of ADHD seem to contribute to sleeping problems as well. Many people with ADHD find themselves too wound up from the day to fall asleep. And excessive fidgeting and racing thoughts, which are sometimes more prevalent, only add to the problem.

Sleep is important for overall health.

This suggests a bidirectional relationship between ADHD and sleeping problems, with ADHD symptoms making it more difficult to get enough sleep, and sleep deprivation worsening ADHD symptoms during the day.

How to Sleep with ADHD

It can be frustrating to not be able to fall asleep even when you are completely exhausted. Because you feel tired, your ADHD symptoms may worsen, pulling you into an unhealthy cycle that can be hard to break.

But, by improving your sleep hygiene — aka the habits that help you get a consistently better night’s sleep — you can start to get a hold of your nighttime routine and embark on a path towards a healthier slumber.

Before going to bed

sleep tips

Consider stretching before bedtimeIf it seems like your brain kicks into turbo-charged mode as soon as your head touches the pillow, you need to start winding down a few hours before your actual bedtime. Help prepare your body for sleep by practicing one or more of these strategies 2 to 3 hours before going to bed:

    • Eat a healthy, balanced dinner. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and sugar
    • Drink a warm cup of tea, but avoid infusions with caffeine, like green or black tea
    • Take a warm shower
    • Do some light stretching. Stretching before bed relaxes your muscles and keeps you from going to bed with sleep-disrupting cramps and aches
    • Use essential oils, like lavender or sage, which have been shown to promote restful sleep
    • Cut off electronics at least an hour before going to bed. The glow that your phone and tablet emits disrupt the natural secretion of melatonin and increases the amount of time it takes to fall asleep

    When it’s time to go to bed

    If you think that bedtimes are just for kids, think again. Having an established bedtime routine, which includes going to bed at roughly the same time every night, helps you fall asleep faster and function better during the day. Your bedtime routine must be unique to your and your nighttime preferences. Use these tips to build yours:

    • Put on soothing music. Many people find that relaxing music helps them sleep better. Create a bedtime playlist with relaxing songs or calming sounds, or consider investing in a white noise machine
    • Avoid bright lights. Let your body know it’s time to wind down by dimming the lights and shutting off electronic devices
    • Meditate. Meditation is a potent tool for calming an overactive ADHD brain. If you are new to meditation, try an app or a podcast
    • Create the optimum sleep environment by ensuring your room is at a pleasant temperature and there aren’t any noises that can disturb your sleep. Also, make a habit of drawing the curtains before going to sleep to eliminate all outside light 
    • Declutter your room. Have you heard the saying “clutter desk, cluttered mind? Well, the same goes for your bedroom. Even if you have every intention of going to sleep, when you are in a messy environment, your brain can’t “tune out” and relax. Studies show that people with cluttered bedrooms take longer to fall asleep than those with tidy rooms
    • Avoid daytime naps

    If you wake up in the middle of the night

    There are two things you need to avoid if you wake up in the middle of the night: watching the clock and reaching out for a sleeping pill. Watching the clock will only get you more anxious and wound up, delaying your efforts to doze off again. And sleeping pills, which may interfere with some ADHD medications, should only be used as a last resort, and only when prescribed by your doctor.

    Try these tips for going back to sleep:

    • Try breathing exercises
    • Listen to your bedtime playlist
    • Move to a different room
    • Adjust the temperature

    Consider sleeping aids

    When all else fails, a natural supplement may help you get some much-needed shut-eye. These science-backed vitamins and extracts have also been shown to improve symptoms of ADHD:

    Magnesium: people with ADHD seem to have lower levels of magnesium, which is an essential mineral for brain health. In a study of 50 children diagnosed with ADHD, researchers found that those who took a magnesium supplement for six months showed a significant decrease in hyperactive behaviors. Other studies have shown that magnesium can improve insomnia and reduce sleep onset latency, which is the time it takes you to fall asleep.

     Melatonin: a naturally occurring hormone closely associated with the circadian rhythm, melatonin can shorten the time needed to fall asleep and can help regulate the body’s internal clock.

    Omega-3 fatty acids: found in fish, nuts, and dietary supplements, omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the symptoms of ADHD that may make it difficult to fall asleep at night, like restlessness and impulsivity.

    Valerian: research shows that valerian extract can improve sleep quality and reduce the amount of time needed to fall asleep. It people with ADHD, valerian root has been shown to improve symptoms of hyperactivity and promote relaxation.

    Zinc: decreased zinc levels in children have been linked to trouble concentrating, reduced learning abilities, and ADHD. Research suggests that used in combination with amphetamines, zinc may help reduce the dosage needed to treat kids with ADHD.

 

 

Drinking Tea May Improve Brain Health

Legend has it that one day some 5,000 years ago, a leaf was blown into a pot of water being boiled for Ancient China’s first Emperor, Shen Nung, leading to the accidental discovery of tea. Of course, nobody knows if that story actually happened –the origins of tea have always been a hotly debated topic, shrouded in myths and legends. But what we know for certain is that this popular beverage offers a variety of evidence-backed health benefits, including protecting your brain against age-related cognitive decline.

Health Benefits of Tea

Although there is evidence showing that Ancient Chinese civilizations were already consuming tea thousands of years ago, Western Europe’s love affair with tea didn’t start until the 1600s. When tea first arrived in Britain, it was sold as a natural remedy for a multitude of ailments, including indigestion, scurvy, and grief. In 1650, tea was brought from British colonies to the United States, where it became an instant favorite of many settlers, who at one point consumed more tea than all of Britain combined.

benefits of tea

Tea plantation

Today, tea is the second most consumed beverage on the planet – right after water. It’s even more popular than coffee, beer, and soda – and it’s a lot healthier, too. Studies have shown that different types of tea may lower “bad” cholesterol, help with some types of cancer and heart disease, and improve gut health, among other benefits. And now, a recent neuroimaging study published in the medical journal Aging is giving tea lovers another reason to stock up on these mighty leaves: people who drink tea at least four times a week have healthier brains than non-tea drinkers.

The study, led by researchers from the University of Singapore, looked at the tea-drinking habits of 36 healthy old adults. Participants were asked to recall how many cups they drank in a day, what type, and other tea-related behaviors and divided them into two groups: tea drinkers and non-tea drinkers. Volunteers also had to undergo neuropsychological tests and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure brain function and structural changes.

Results suggested that participants who drank green, black, or oolong tea at least four times a week over a period of about 25 years showed better connectivity between the right and left hemispheres of the brain and better overall functional connectivity. Other studies have shown that well-organized and interconnected brain regions can process information more efficiently and seem to slow down cognitive decline.

But while tea’s seemingly never-ending list of health benefits may be more than enough of a reason to pour yourself another cuppa, remember that how you drink your tea matters. Even though your tea with sugar or honey won’t counteract its health effects, high added sugar intake has been linked with memory and attention issues, cognitive decline, and structural changes in several regions of the brain.

More about tea…

In the US, black tea consumption far outweighs the other two types of tea. In contrast, in Asia, green tea is the more common variety; in Southern China, oolong tea tops the charts.

Black, green and oolong tea are made from the same plant. The unique flavor profiles for each of these teas are due to differences in how the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant are processed. Herbal teas, however, are not made from the same plant. These teas are products of the roots, leaves, flowers and other components from a variety of plants. Chamomile and peppermint are two popular herbal teas. Chamomile is made from the plant’s flowers and peppermint from the leaves of a mint plant.

tea nutrients

Caffeine and Nutrients Found in Tea

Black, green and oolong tea all contain caffeine. Black tea has more caffeine than green tea. However, the caffeine content also relates to the brewing process. The longer the tea steeps, the greater the caffeine content. Caffeinated teas typically have less caffeine than coffee:

  • One 8-ounce cup of coffee contains about 95 milligrams of caffeine.
  • An equal amount of black tea has around 48 milligrams.
  • In a cup of green tea, there are only 29 milligrams.
  • Oolong provides about 38 milligrams of caffeine per cup
  • Decaffeinated black, green, oolong teas contain very small amounts of caffeine.
  • Many herbal teas are caffeine-free.

Too Much of a Good Thing: Health Risks of Tea

Though there are lots of good things about consuming tea, overdoing it can put your health at risk.

One risk is a caffeine overload. Large amounts of caffeine may lead to nervousness, restlessness and may disturb your sleep. Some people may also experience loose stools and other gastrointestinal issues. Nausea, abdominal pain, heartburn, dizziness and muscle pain are also possible side effects from consuming too much caffeine. It may also interact with certain medications and increase the effects of caffeine in the body. Total daily intake of caffeine from all sources should not exceed 400 milligrams.

Popular Herbal Teas for Health

Rooibos Tea is gaining popularity as a delicious and healthy beverage. Consumed in southern Africa for centuries, it is flavorful, a caffeine-free alternative to black or green tea, and it is praised for its potential health benefits, claiming that its antioxidants can protect against cancer, heart disease and stroke.

rooibos tea

Rooibos tea

Hibiscus Tea is made from the colorful flowers of the hibiscus plant. It has a pink-red color and refreshing, tart flavor. It can be enjoyed hot or iced. In addition to its bold color and unique flavor, hibiscus tea offers healthful properties.

For example, hibiscus tea has antiviral properties, and test-tube studies have shown its extract to be highly effective against strains of the bird flu. However, no evidence has shown that drinking hibiscus tea could help you fight off viruses like the flu.

Ginger Tea is a spicy and flavorful drink that packs a punch of healthy, disease-fighting antioxidants. It also helps fight inflammation and stimulates the immune system, but it’s most well known for being an effective remedy for nausea.

Studies consistently find that ginger is effective at relieving nausea, especially in early pregnancy, although it may also relieve nausea caused by cancer treatments and motion sickness. Evidence also suggests that ginger may help prevent stomach ulcers and relieve indigestion or constipation. Ginger may also help relieve dysmenorrhea, or period pain. A number of studies have found that ginger capsules reduced pain associated with menstruation. In fact, two studies found ginger to be as effective as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen at relieving period pain

Peppermint tea is one of the most commonly used herbal teas in the world . While it’s most popularly used to support digestive tract health, studies show it also has antioxidant, anticancer, antibacterial and antiviral properties. Evidence also shows that peppermint oil is effective at relaxing spasms in the intestines, esophagus and colon. Lastly, studies have repeatedly found that peppermint oil is effective at relieving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Echinacea tea is an extremely popular remedy that’s said to prevent and shorten the common cold. Evidence has shown that echinacea may help boost the immune system, which could help the body fight off viruses or infections. Many studies have found that echinacea can shorten the duration of the common cold, lessen the severity of its symptoms or even prevent it. However, results are conflicting, and most studies have not been well designed. This makes it difficult to tell if positive results are due to echinacea or random chance. Therefore, it’s not possible to say definitively that taking echinacea will help with the common cold. At the very least, this warm herbal drink may help soothe your sore throat or clear up your stuffy nose if you do feel a cold coming on.

A Nice Cup of Tea

Although more research is needed to pin down all of its benefits, tea can be part of a healthy eating pattern. It is best to brew it yourself so you can control the amount of added sweetener (sugar, honey, etc.)

The Best Way to Brew Tea

  • Fill your kettle with fresh water. Water that has been previously boiled loses oxygen and can weaken the flavor of your tea.
  • Heat your tea to the proper temperature. (Black: 195-205 degrees F.) Green 175, Herbal 208, Oolong 195)
  • Warm the teapot and/or your mug with the hot water.
  • Add your tea.
  • Pour the water and brew the tea. Steep black tea for 2-3 minutes. Green-45 sec to 1 min. Herbal or Rooibos 5-6 min. Oolong 3 min. Over-steeping can result in bitter tea.
  • Relax and enjoy!

 

 

8 Vitamins and Supplements for Stress

There’s no denying that stress has become a constant fixture of our modern life. Work, family life, relationships, money, and now the COVID-19 pandemic are just a few of the many stressors we have to deal with on a daily basis. 

By now, you probably already know that stress can take a significant toll on both physical and mental health. Left unchecked, stress can become chronic and lead to headaches, migraines, upset stomach, anxiety, fatigue, and more. Chronic stress can also increase your risk for heart disease, reduce immunity, and trigger sleep problems. 

The good news is that you also have a wide range of tools for managing stress at your disposal. Eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, talking to a mental health professional, and implementing stress-relieving techniques like yoga and meditation can make a world of difference. And certain vitamins and herbs can also help. 

Here are 6 vitamins and supplements for stress, reviewed by science.

Valerian Root

Valerian Root Benefits

What is it?: Valerian is a perennial plant that grows wild throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. The root of this plant has been used since ancient Greece to relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety as well as inducing sleep. 

Valerian root is packed with valerenic acid, a chemical compound known for improving symptoms of stress and promoting healthy sleep. In fact, valerian root is often called “nature’s Valium” because of its mild sedative and tranquilizing effects. 

What the science says: Evidence suggests that valerian root might interact with a chemical messenger in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Low GABA levels are associated with chronic stress, sleep problems, and anxiety. The valerianic acid in valerian root has been shown to inhibit GABA breakdown in the brain, supporting feelings of relaxation and calmness. 

How to take it: Valerian is available in several forms, including capsules, teas, tinctures, or liquid extracts. The dosage for sleeping difficulties ranges from 300 to 600 mg. However, you may want to take a lower dosage if you want to take valerian extract for stress and anxiety during the day as it can cause drowsiness. 

Green Tea

Green Tea for Stress

What is it?: Green tea is not only delicious, it also has a laundry list of proven health benefits. Native to China and India, green tea is made from the unoxidized leaves of the Camellia sinensis bush. It is high in l-theanine, a powerful amino acid shown to reduce stress and anxiety and support sleep. 

What the science says: Studies show that the l-theanine found in green tea can promote relaxation and reduce stress without causing drowsiness. And there’s also evidence that green tea can improve memory and boost concentration by lowering levels of the stress hormone corticosterone, which can interfere with learning and attention during periods of high stress. 

How to take it: Brew yourself a cup and drink it whenever you’re feeling stressed. You can also find green tea and l-theanine extract in pills, powders, and liquids.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha Benefits

What is it?: Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub native to India, Africa, and the Middle East. It is classified as an adaptogen, which are natural stress-relieving plants and compounds that help enhance your body’s ability to fight stress. 

What the science says: Research suggests that ashwagandha supplements can reduce stress, improve sleep, and boost memory and attention. In a 2019 study published in Medicine, participants with mild stress who took 240 mg of ashwagandha daily reported a significant decrease in stress, anxiety, and depression. 

How to take it: The easiest way to take ashwagandha is through a supplement like Akeso’s Calm & Clever daily formula. You can also find this herb in capsules, powders, and liquid extracts.

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa Monnieri Benefits

What is it?: Also called water hyssop or herb of grace, bacopa monnieri is a medicinal herb typically found in tropical, wet environments. Celebrated for its nootropic, adaptogenic, and antioxidant effects, the benefits for this herb are said to be many. Evidence suggests that bacopa may boost cognitive function, improve stress and anxiety, and may even reduce symptoms of ADHD. 

What the science says: Studies show that bacopa monnieri could influence the activity of certain enzymes involved in the stress response. Experts think bacopa works by modulating the levels of neurotransmitters like acetylcholine and dopamine in the brain and nervous system to induce a sense of calmness and tranquility. 

How to take it: Bacopa monnieri can be found in the form of capsules and powders. The recommended dosage varies depending on the product you purchase. In research studies, typical doses range from 300 to 450 mg daily. 

Sage

Sage Benefits

What is it?: Delicious to cook with and incredibly good for you, sage leaves are loaded with over 160 different polyphenols, which are plant-based compounds that act as antioxidants. As a complementary therapy, sage has been shown to fight fatigue, boost memory, and support cognitive function.

What the science says: In a 2017 review of studies, researchers reported that sage could improve alertness and cognitive skills in mice. Other studies have found that this herb can protect neurons against oxidative stress and damage, promote learning, and boost memory. 

How to take it: Sprinkle dried sage on your favorite fish or chicken dishes, brew a tasty tea with its leaves, or take it as a supplement. While there is no standardized dosage, doses of up to 1,000 milligrams daily are considered safe and well-tolerated. 

Vitamin B complex

Vitamin B Complex Health Benefits

What is it?: The vitamin B-complex is composed of eight B vitamins, including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid (B9), and cobalamin (B12). B vitamins are extremely important for your body’s overall function and health. They have a direct impact on your metabolism, brain function, and immunity. 

What the science says: Studies show that individuals with low levels of vitamin B12 may be more likely to suffer from stress, depression, and anxiety. And chronic stress can deplete levels of vitamin B6 in the body. On the other hand, people who consume higher levels of B vitamins seem to experience less work-related stress. 

How to take it: Unlike many other vitamins, your body doesn’t store B vitamins. That means that you must get it from food or supplements to maintain adequate levels. Most people fill their daily needs through a balanced diet filled with B vitamin-rich foods like leafy greens, legumes, whole grains, mushrooms, and lean protein. But if you are going through a particularly tough time, you may want to consider amping up your intake with a daily supplement to ensure your body has the levels it needs to deal with stress. 

While there are plenty of stress-relieving supplements on the market, not all supplements are created equal. To receive the benefits you expect, be sure to use high-quality vitamins at the proper doses proven effective in human clinical studies.  Follow the link to learn more about a quality 7 in 1 combination supplement for reducing stress and improving memory at the same time.

Huperzine A

What is it: Huperzine A is a chemical compound extracted from a Chinese medical herb called Huperzia serrata, sometimes known as Chinese club moss. 

What the science says: Studies show that huperzine A helps increase a brain chemical called acetylcholine, which supports different types of memory, including long-term and working memory. This herbal compound seems to have significant neuroprotective effects, especially among individuals with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Several studies, including this 2013 review of clinical trials, have found that huperzine A improves both the cognitive function and daily functioning of patients with AD. And a small clinical trial of 34 high school students found that those taking a huperzine A supplement performed better in memory and language tests, suggesting the herb’s memory-boosting effects could extend beyond individuals with AD. 

How to take it: Huperzine A supplements can be found in pill or tablet form. To date, there is no recommended huperzine A dosage. It has been studied at oral doses of 100 to 300 mcg daily for memory boosting and Alzheimer’s disease.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C fruits and vegetables

What is it: Vitamin C, the most renowned of all vitamins and supplements, owes its fame to its potent antioxidant activity and involvement in a long list of health benefits. It is an essential vitamin, which means that your body can’t produce it but needs it to survive. So you must consume it through vitamin C-rich foods like citruses, broccoli, kiwi, bell peppers, and tomatoes or dietary supplements to reap its health-boosting potentials. 

What the science says: A higher intake of vitamin C may protect you against age-related cognitive decline and impaired thinking. Low levels of vitamin C, sometimes known as ascorbic acid, are associated with a diminished ability to think and remember things. 

In contrast, research suggests that individuals with intact cognitive functions are more likely to have higher serum concentrations of vitamin C. Animal studies have also shown that vitamin C intake may reduce levels of cortisol — aka the “stress hormone,” and could minimize the signs of emotional stress. 

How to take it: Vitamin C supplements are sold in many forms, including effervescent tablets, powders, capsules, liquid concentrates, chewable gummies, and more. The best way to take vitamin C for stress is as a part of a multivitamin or combined supplement. These preparations are typically tailored to specific groups (men, women, etc.) and boost your intake of other important nutrients as well.

To fight stress and its long-term effects on your physical and mental health, exercising regularly, eating right, and getting enough sleep may not be enough to keep you feeling calm and balanced particularly when you’re faced with stressors every day. That’s when getting some extra help could come in handy. Consider a combination supplement containing ingredients proven in clinical studies effectively deliver the benefits you expect for not only reducing stress but improving memory and recall for that sharp, balanced, and calm feeling we all know and love, but don’t always maintain. To learn more, visit CalmandClever.com 

 

 

 

5 Benefits of Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa monnieri, also known as water hyssop, is a creeping perennial herb native to the warm wetlands of India and Australia. It has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine, where it’s  called “Brahmi,” after the god Brahma, who is the supreme intellectual of the universe. 

The benefits of bacopa monnieri are believed to be many. It is said that ancient Ayurvedic scholars used the herb to sharpen the intellect and memorize lengthy academic texts. Nowadays, bacopa is categorized as a nootropic, which are natural substances that can boost brain performance. 

Modern research has found that bacopa monnieri is rich in a class of potent compounds called bacosides, which seem to be responsible for its neuroprotective effects. Here are 5 research-backed bacopa monnieri benefits. 

Brain Function

Bacopa Monnieri benefits

Evidence shows bacopa monnieri can enhance brain function, improve attention, and boost memory. 

The bacosides in bacopa monnieri have been shown to slow down age-related cognitive decline by helping brain cells and tissue regenerate. In one mice study, bacopa monnieri supplementation increased neuron’s dendritic length and branching in the brain. It also increased their memory retention and spatial learning. 

Additionally, a 2014 review of nine studies with over 500 participants reported improvements in brain function, cognition, and learning speed after taking Bacopa monnieri. Memory was also significantly enhanced, as were learning speed and spatial awareness. 

Another study of 46 healthy adults published in Psychopharmacology also reported that bacopa monnieri boosted memory, learning rate, and visual information processing. 

Stress and Anxiety

We all feel stressed from time to time, but when it becomes chronic, it can have severe consequences on your health. Stress can increase your risk of developing a chronic disease, is a contributing factor for migraines and headaches, and contributes to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. 

Bacopa monnieri is considered an adaptogenic herb, which are natural compounds that may counteract the effects of stress in the body. In a double-control trial of 17 adults taking either a bacopa monnieri supplement or a placebo, the herb successfully reduced stress and enhanced mood during demanding tasks.

In another study of 54 older men taking 300 mg of bacopa every day, the herb significantly reduced depression and anxiety scores after 12 weeks. And another 12-week study also reported antidepressant and anxiolytic effects after supplementing with bacopa. 

ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that makes it hard to focus, sit still, and control your impulses. Research suggests that several natural compounds, including bacopa monnieri, could help reduce the symptoms of ADHD.

In a study of 120 children diagnosed with ADHD, taking a herbal compound of bacopa monnieri, centella asiatica, withania somnifera, and others improved cognition, attention, and impulse control. Another benefit was that the herbal blend was well-tolerated among children.

Another study of 31 children between the ages of 6 and 12 reported that taking 225 mg of bacopa monnieri for 6 months significantly improved ADHD symptoms, including impulsivity, inattention, and restlessness in 85% of children.

Inflammation

Bacopa monnieri is loaded with powerful antioxidants that can protect the body against free radicals and oxidative stress damage. Research shows that oxidative stress caused by free radicals can lead to chronic inflammation. And we know that chronic inflammation is associated with many conditions, including cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and more. 

In a 2017 laboratory study, researchers found that bacopa monnieri extract inhibits the release of pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines. And other studies have also shown that the herb could inhibit the secretion of other inflammatory enzymes that could be associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Blood Pressure

In animal studies, bacopa monnieri has been found to successfully lower high blood pressure and improve circulation. However, more research is necessary to determine if the effects extend to humans. To date, no large clinical trials have been conducted to study whether bacopa monnieri reduces blood pressure or protects against heart disease. 

How to Take Bacopa Monnieri

You can find bacopa monnieri in various forms, including capsules, extracts, oils, and herbal blends, like Akeso’s Calm & Clever. In human studies, the standard adult dosage for bacopa monnieri ranges from 300 to 450 mg daily. However, doses can vary depending on the preparation you purchase. 

In Ayurvedic medicine, bacopa powder is often mixed with ghee or clarified butter. You can also add it to hot water and take it as a tea one to two times daily.

 

 

5 Facts About the Gut You May Not Know

Your gastrointestinal tract – GI or “gut” for short – is a group of organs that start at the mouth and end at the rectum. Its main job is to break down, digest, and absorb food to turn it into the energy and nutrients you need to survive. But the gut is also home to the gut flora or microbiome, a complex world of up to 1,000 bacterial species and other microorganisms that benefit and influence many aspects of human health. Here are five facts you may not know about your gut:

Your gut microbiome is like a unique fingerprint

When researchers began studying bacterial colonies in the gut a few decades ago, a myth that microbial cells outnumber human cells in the body by a 10:1 ratio became quite popular. It probably came from the fact that there are so many bacteria in the GI tract; the human microbiome is estimated to harbor tens of trillions of microorganisms and weigh up to six pounds. But the population of bacteria in the gut is also unique to each individual, and the number of microbial colonies varies widely from person to person.

gut health

A 2015 study from Harvard’s School of Public Health revealed that any given gut microbiome contains enough unique bacterial features to identify and tell individuals apart. The authors of the study analyzed microbiome data from hundreds of participants and created individual “codes” that turned out to be unique among hundreds of individuals. Much like your DNA imprint, this code is one of a kind, and a significant part of it is inherited or transmitted from parent to child during childbirth and lactation.

Your gut has a brain of its own

You may have heard about the “gut-brain connection” or “gut-brain axis,” the impressive network that connects the gut and the brain and allows it to communicate back and forth. But, in contrast to other vital organs like the heart, the gut doesn’t need the brain’s input to do its job – it has a brain of its own.

The enteric nervous system (ENS), sometimes called the “second brain,” is made up of two thin layers of hundreds of millions of neurons that line the GI tract. It operates independently from other organs, and, unlike the brain in your head, the ENS can’t write an email or calculate a restaurant tip. Its main job is to control digestion and regulate gastric functions. However, emerging research shows that while the ENS can’t think for you, it does influence your mood and may even play a role in neurological disorders ranging from anxiety and depression to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

A serotonin factory

Serotonin is a chemical that functions both as a hormone and as a neurotransmitter. It plays a role in several essential functions, including sleep regulation and bone health. But it is perhaps most known for its effects on mood regulation and its connection to depression.

Serotonin is one of several brain chemicals that contribute to an overall sense of well-being. An imbalance in serotonin levels has been shown to impact mood negatively and may lead to depression. However, despite being a “brain chemical,” recent research reveals that up to 95 percent of the body’s serotonin is made in the gut. This means that serotonin’s functions extend beyond the brain and play an essential role in digestion and other gastrointestinal processes.

There may be a connection between gut health and ADHD

Given the strong bi-directional relationship between the brain and the gut, many experts believe that the gut microbiome may directly influence certain neurological and neurodevelopmental disorders.

A 2019 literature review found that kids with ADHD have a different gut microbiome composition, compared to healthy children. Their results suggested that bacteria from the genus Bifidobacterium seemed to be one of the strongest predictors for ADHD. On the other hand, another recent study published in Nature’s Scientific Reports found that children with ADHD who supplemented with micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) had a richer microbial diversity and significantly fewer Bifidobacterium in their GI tracts.

You can improve your gut microbiome through food

When talking about gut health, the old proverbial saying “you are what you eat” couldn’t be any truer. Proteins, fats, carbs, sugar, and processed foods all trigger changes in the gut microbiome that will eventually impact – positively or negatively – your overall health.

Consuming foods that contain live, beneficial microorganisms, like fermented foods, promotes the growth and development of healthy bacteria in the GI tract. These foods are often called “probiotics” and can help with a wide range of health problems, including digestion issues, allergies, and inflammation. Probiotic foods have also been shown to support heart health, boost the immune system, and may even help you lose weight.

Here are some of the healthiest probiotic foods to add to your diet:

  • Yogurt
  • Buttermilk
  • Pickles
  • Aged cheese
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Kimchi
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kombucha