2019 Brain Health Trends You Need to Know

We live in a world that increasingly threatens our brain health. Every day the average person is confronted with sleep deprivation, a poor diet, toxins...the list goes on. Thankfully there has been a spotlight put on brain health and how we can support our most important organ.

This is critical information because our brain and brain cells are irreplaceable. Unlike the rest of the body, where cells are continuously replaced, the majority of brain cells stay with us for our entire lives – which means they are in need of extra care and nourishment.

Here is our list of the top 2019 Brain Health Trends: 

1.  Nootropics

Most people haven’t heard of nootropics but you’d be shocked that a majority of us consume a nootropic substance everyday - caffeine. It is important to learn about this category of supplements as they are essentially brain vitamins that can help you live a healthier, happier life.

Nootropics are compounds like functional amino acids, nutrients, and minerals that help your mind and body perform at its best. Nootropics can boost your energy, increase focus and mental clarity, and help manage stress and improve your mood. There are also nootropics that have anti brain-aging benefits and help with sleep to improve cellular health and help you feel better throughout your day.

Most people’s diets do not provide enough nutrition for a healthy brain and body. Our diet has a major impact on our brain and our mental wellbeing, even protecting against dementia. Some type of supplementation is important in supporting and even boosting your brain. That’s where nootropics come in.

You can find many nootropic products on the market from drinks to daily vitamins to snack bars. It is important to pay close attention to the ingredient list before you put any product into your body. The best nootropics will contain only natural, clean ingredients.

For more information on the benefits of nootropics, check out the Higher Mind Benefits Page.

2.  CBD

You’ve probably heard the buzz about CBD from oils to chocolate to gummy bears.  That is because CBD is credited with helping treat an array of medical problems -- from anxiety, inflammation, sleeplessness and even epileptic seizures.

CBD stands for cannabidiol and it is extracted from the plant hemp, a cousin of cannabis, also known as marijuana.  It will not give the “high” of marijuana because it lacks the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

The reason why the hype is happening now is not because scientists just discovered CBD, but because it is now legal in states that have legalized medical marijuana - here is an updated list from WebMD if you want to learn more.

As mentioned earlier, CBD has many positive effects on the brain and we’ve highlighted them below.

Maintain & Regulate The Brain

CBD protects the brain by maintaining and regulating your brain health.  Think of it as a repairer. Studies have shown that CBD reduces and removes damaged cells and improves the efficiency of your brain.

As we age, our brain slows down because we create less neurons.  To keep us sharp and prevent the deterioration of our brain, we need to create new cells while keeping the cells we have healthy.

A 2008 study showed that low doses of CBD encouraged the creation of new nerve cells in animals, even in aging brains. CBD also benefits the brain by helping to prevent other nerve-related diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Reduce Anxiety

CBD has shown to reduce anxiety, help prevent the long-term adverse effects of stress, as well as enhancing the extinction and blocking the reconsolidation of persistent fear memories.

CBD clinical studies have increased and we hope there will be more documentation on the wonderful effects this plant has on our brain.

If you are interested in purchasing any CBD products please be careful.  This is an unregulated market, resulting in products that may not work or even could be harmful. Again, do your research before purchasing.

3.  Healthy Fats

We’ve been seeing a shift into natural, plant-based foods this last decade and now the spotlight is on healthy fats.  We have been told in the past that high fat diets are harmful, though it turns out that some fats (e.g. fat from avocados) are great for your health.

With new diets and health fads constantly hitting the market, we need to do our research before partaking in the any “get skinny quick” approach. Most people would buy “low fat” foods not knowing that most often they were highly processed and pumped with sugar to make up for the lack of taste.  It is just these types of foods that no doubt help to account for ever-increasing rates of obesity and diabetes in the U.S.

Brain Food

Your brain is your busiest organ, consuming as much as 25% of your body’s energy. What you feed it is critical to how well this machine runs. The two main forms of energy it needs are cholesterol and saturated fats.

Saturated fat is a fundamental building block for brain cells.

Cholesterol functions as a brain protective antioxidant. It is the raw material from which our bodies make vitamin D, a fundamental player in preserving brain function. About 25% of the body’s cholesterol is found in the brain.

In a recent report in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease., Mayo Clinic researchers showed that individuals with a large amount of carbohydrates in their diets had a remarkable 89% increased risk for developing dementia as contrasted to those whose diets contained the most fat. People who had the highest levels of fat in their diets were 44% less likely to develop dementia.  

Furthermore, in 2018 the FDA began requiring consumer warnings that cholesterol lowering medications are related to memory decline and other cognitive issues.

In that same study research showed that people can reduce the risk of dementia buy up to 36% if they eat a high fat diet. If you are concerned about eating fat, you will be stunned to hear that recently a paper was published in the Advances in Nutrition with findings that saturated fat consumption has absolutely no impact on cardiovascular disease.

High Fat Diets

Now that we’ve discussed that fat is brain food, you are probably wondering how to introduce it into your lifestyle.  Thankfully there has been a lot of research lately on this very topic.

There has been a lot of buzz on ketosis and ketogenic/keto diets.  Professional athletes, movie stars and yours truly have welcomed this lifestyle. But it is not for the faint of heart, as it takes discipline and perseverance.  

Ketosis is achieved when your body is burning fat instead of glucose, also known as sugar.  To reach ketosis you need to eat a much higher level of fat than the tradition diet and strictly limit sugar and carbohydrates as well as fast periodically throughout the day.  There are many benefits of ketosis like weight loss, increased brain function and memory.

A nootropic diet, or brain health diet, focuses on eating high amounts of healthy fats and micronutrients, low-starch vegetables.

Overall, stop eating processed, high carb foods and get what you really need on your plate: plants and healthy fats.  Making this change to your diet will help to protect your brain, improve cognitive function and improve your quality of life.

4.  Ayurveda Practice

While Ayurveda has already begun to create interest in the wellness scene, it will undoubtedly become an even bigger trend this year.  From celebrities to athletes, this lifestyle is anything but a fad in fact it is about 5,000 years old!

Ayurveda is a Hindu system of medicine and philosophy that considers the body, mind, and spirit to be equally important in the restoration of the innate harmony of the individual. It touches on sleep, exercise, hygiene and diet - and has gained substantial traction in recent years with those focused on alternative and holistic medicine. Further, the rising popularity of ketogenic diets has only continued to build traction for Ayurveda as an integral part of this approach involves consuming healthy fats and virtually no sugar.

The use of healthy fats is highly encouraged for brain health (covered as trend earlier in this post). This could be in the form of ghee, nuts and seeds, and avocados. Food extracted from a hard shell, like walnuts and coconut, are also considered beneficial.

In creating Higher Mind, we were mindful to incorporate Ayurvedic herbs that support mental health and overall well being.  Here are some Ayurvedic Herbs that benefit your brain:

  • Ashwaganda: Promotes a healthy response to everyday stress, over-work and fatigue
  • Gotu Kola: Increases memory and cognition, repairs and reverses damage to brain cells and boosts acetylcholine, a hormone associated with memory formation
  • Bacopa: Supports cognitive enhancement, memory, focus, attention, mood, emotional health, and stress

If you are interested in incorporating this practice into your lifestyle, we recommend learning from the guru himself, Deepak Chopra & The Chopra Center.

5.  Sleep

Sleep has puzzled scientists for a long time. We spend roughly 40% of our lives asleep and scientist have only recently found the answer to why sleep is so important.

Essentially, we sleep so that we can clean our brain. Sleep keeps the brain healthy by clearing out toxins that naturally build up throughout the day. If we didn’t sleep, our brain would not be able to repair and form new pathways that lets us learn and create new memories.  

Sleep is a health priority but many of us think it’s a luxury. We’ve all been there, we’ve been sleep deprived and possibly even bragged about it as a badge of honor because it can be a symbol of working hard. We need to shift away from sleep deprivation being a byproduct of success. Sleep deprivation is a cognitive disorder that can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, clumsiness and weight loss or weight gain.

The right amount of sleep varies from person to person as well as over the course of a lifetime.  We need the most amount of sleep when we are babies and need the least amount after the age of 65. Adults should try and sleep between 7 to 9 hours every night.

The Effective Power Nap

Ok, I will be honest with you - I have never bought into the power nap. I always thought if you got enough sleep (for me that is 10 hours), you don’t need a power nap. I am humbly letting everyone know that I was wrong. Power naps, if timed correctly, can be a powerful thing.

Sleep experts have found that naps throughout the day can improve many things: increase alertness, boost creativity, reduce stress, improve perception, stamina, motor skills and accuracy, enhance your sex life, aid in weight loss, reduce the risk of heart attack, brighten your mood and boost memory.

In a study published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers tested people’s performance four times a day. Their performances deteriorated with each test, but subjects who took a 30-minute nap between tests stopped the deterioration in performance, and those who took a 60-minute nap reversed it.

So how long should you nap? The National Sleep Foundation suggests a short nap of 20 to 30 minutes is best for “short-term alertness,” providing significant benefits for improved focus without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with sleep.

If you’re going to try and take a nap, the best thing to do is find a cool, dark place to lie down without any distractions.

How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep

If you are having trouble getting restful sleep, try some of these tips:

  • Set a bedtime for yourself and try and stick to it every night of the week.  Yes, even Friday and Saturday.
  • Steer clear of any stimulants like caffeine and alcohol at night.
  • Exercising every day is important and even aids sleep but no later than a few hours before your bedtime.
  • Create a routine to relax before you sleep like meditating, reading, and a hot bath.
  • If you feel like you can’t fall asleep, get up and do something that will relax you.  You should only get into bed when you are tired. Creating rituals are very helpful to give your body cues that it is time to sleep.
  • Your room needs to be peaceful and a place for sleep, not another entertainment zone.  Remove anything that stimulates you like your phone, computer and TV.

If these tips are not helping, we recommend talking with your doctor.

We are very excited about the advancements that are being made in the brain health space and that people are making their brain a priority.  We believe that healthier brains leads to happier lives, so please take advantage of some of these trends and incorporate them into your lifestyle.