Your nervous system
Your brain is like a ‘master control panel’, controlling all your conscious and unconscious bodily functions through your central and peripheral nervous systems. The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord, while the peripheral nervous system consists of the nerves that lead out of the spinal cord and into the rest of the body. Neurons or nerve cells carry signals or nerve cell impulses rapidly around the body to control these activities.
Energy for your brain
The brain is one of the most ‘energy hungry’ organs in your body and is energised by glucose and oxygen, delivered by blood cells through your circulatory system. Unlike muscles, your brain cannot store glucose as glycogen, so it needs a constant supply of glucose to work effectively. Brain cells also need an uninterrupted flow of oxygen to allow the brain to function properly.
The ageing brain
The weight of your brain decreases with age due to the loss of neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Nerve cell impulses begin to slow, leading to decreased cellular communication and circulation may be compromised, decreasing the amount of glucose and oxygen delivered to the brain.
4 herbs and nutrients to help maintain memory during ageing:
1. Ginkgo biloba
Ginkgo helps maintain blood flow to the brain, so assists in the maintenance of cognitive function, memory, focus and concentration. Ginkgo helps maintain cognitive function and memory during ageing, and provides antioxidant and free radical scavenging activity.
Brahmi is a brain and nervine tonic of Ayurvedic medicine, traditionally used to improve memory, concentration and learning. Brahmi, in the form of BacoMind™, has been clinically trialled* to support cognitive function and memory during ageing. Brahmi contains an active ingredient known as bacoside A, which assists in the release of nitric oxide, allowing the relaxation of blood vessels to enable smooth blood flow throughout the body. This offers a positive effect on learning and memory recall. Brahmi also improves stress adaptation, so is beneficial during periods of stress.
*Barbhaiya HC et al. J Pharmacol. Toxicol. 2008
3. Alpha Lipoic acid
Alpha Lipoic acid (ALA) is a potent water and fat soluble antioxidant and free radical scavenger that’s able to cross the blood-brain barrier. ALA helps maintain nerve health, assists glucose metabolism and is involved in the uptake of glucose into cells.
Lecithin, or phosphatidylserine, is the major phospholipid in the brain and is important for cellular communication, which helps improve the transfer of signals between brain cells.