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Two Super Supplements To Combat Reactive Oxygen Species In The Brain

turmeric and resveratrol for brain health

After a quick search for ‘brain power’ or ‘brain health’ on Google or social media, you’ll likely come across many posts with so-called ‘brain superfoods’. Common food such as avocados, various nuts, chia seeds, and maybe even sardines will litter your search results

curcumin and resveratrol aid the brain's longevityWhile these are all great and should be a part of a balanced diet, I am always personally more interested in digging deeper to find less known foods and supplements that still yield powerful benefits for brain health that are also backed by science.

I stumbled upon a recent study by Davery and Agrawal that fit this description perfectly. It explained how beneficial curcumin (from turmeric root—Curcuma longa) and resveratrol (from grapes, wine, and nuts) are for brain health, function and longevity. It turns out that they are quite the molecular superheroes when it comes to fighting one of the brain’s biggest villains, reactive oxygen species.

Reactive Oxygen Species

Now, before I go into what they found, it would be useful (and necessary) to learn about reactive oxygen species (ROS), where they come from, and why they are harmful. In short, reactive oxygen species are unstable molecules that contain an oxygen.

ROS harm cells once past defensesInside of our bodies, ROS are always being made through metabolism and breathing, but luckily our natural antioxidants mainly take care of them [1]. However, if we have too much inflammation in the body such as that caused by eating an unhealthy diet, we may have an excess of ROS which can allow them to enter our cells.

Once past the cell’s natural defenses, they wreak havoc on the inside. The ROS then cause “oxidative stress” which can damage our DNA, fats, proteins, and can contribute to brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and multiple forms of cancer. While ROS do serve a few purposes inside the body, it is important that they are kept in check through diet and, as this study points out, supplements.

Protecting Our Brains From Reactive Oxygen Species

Curcumin and resveratrol are two old dogs when it comes to the supplement world. People and cultures have been consuming them for ages, although they mainly have just been a part of their diet. Recently, however, I have started to see them pop up more and more on the shelves of nutrition shops and health stores.

Despite this, most users don’t typically think of brain health when consuming the capsules. Though the anti-aging and anti-inflammation properties of the two are backed by science, new research shows that curcumin and resveratrol should also be considered brain supplements as well. Here’s why.

Curcumin and Resveratrol for the Brain

The researchers I mentioned above wanted to determine specifically how curcumin and resveratrol protected brain cells from ROS, the nasty enemy of health and the brain. What they did was fairly straightforward: expose brain cells to ROS and see if they could be rescued by the two supplements.

supplements for brain power and longevityMore specifically, the cells used by the researchers were called astrocytes, the most abundant cells in the central nervous system. They play an important role in how well the body and mind function while simultaneously holding some control of inflammation in the brain. While all cells are important, they chose arguably the MOST important to do their experiments on.

When placed under oxidative stress from excess ROS, astrocytes can die which is detrimental to brain health, but alternatively, removing oxidative stress can make them live longer and improve longevity. This is because astrocytes don’t have the same antioxidants that are seen in many other cells.

Now, on to their results! They found that both resveratrol and curcumin made the astrocytes live significantly longer than the control without them. Interestingly, curcumin was more effective short-term (4 hours after administration) and resveratrol was more effective after a longer time-period (24 hours after administration).

In addition to this, curcumin was able to reduce inflammation in the brain cells caused by oxidative damage, while resveratrol was not. Curcumin has also been shown to repair some of the damage done by inflammation and oxidative stress as well. These results are important because it shows that these two supplements can somewhat make up for the brain cell’s lack of defense against ROS by protecting them.

“Curcumin and Resveratrol both protected astrocytes from oxidative stress thus potentially using them for treating various neurodegenerative diseases.”

The Takeaway

Based on the results, the researchers concluded that it might be a good idea to supplement with both curcumin and resveratrol. While I agree with this, if you have a limited budget, go with just turmeric extract as it is cheaper, and research suggests it is more broadly applicable to other parts of the body.

As a side note, if you want these same benefits, you will likely need to invest in a supplement (like the ones listed below) instead of just incorporating turmeric into your diet as the root powder won’t have the specific compounds in a high enough concentration to be helpful. So, give one a try to keep your brain happy and healthy!

Turmeric (Curcumin) Supplements To Try:

Premium Extract: https://amzn.to/2Kmx0P6

Budget Extract: https://amzn.to/2KqGGYW

Liquid Extract: https://amzn.to/2KbZGOK

Resveratrol Supplements To Try:

Premium: https://amzn.to/2tHWn6L

Budget: https://amzn.to/2MrHTzK

References

[1] Devasagayam, TPA; Tilak JC; Boloor KK; Sane Ketaki S; Ghaskadbi Saroj S; Lele RD (October 2004). “Free Radicals and Antioxidants in Human Health: Current Status and Future Prospects”. Journal of Association of Physicians of India (JAPI) 52: 796.

[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006899318302476

 

supplements for brain power and longevity

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Listen Up! Your Hearing May Be At Risk

guy with headphones

I wake up, put on my wireless headphones and listen to a podcast on my way to the gym. During my workout, I listen to hip-hop or rap until it comes time to stretch and cool down when I then switch back to a podcast. Before I start working on my laptop, I switch to an instrumental playlist to drown out my surroundings, keep me focused and slightly entertained. When it’s time to cook or do chores around the house, maybe I’ll listen to an audiobook. Alright, time to get back to work and flip on the instrumentals. This process goes on all day for many days of the week. Despite it being so chiseled into my routine, there has always been a voice in the back of my head saying, “are you sure that listening to headphones 8+ hours a day isn’t bad for your hearing?” This voice was always silenced because I enjoyed the benefits of what I listened to all day.headphones

However, if I am truly concerned about the longevity of myself and others, it would be a disservice to not investigate the research that has been done so that we all can make a more informed decision about our headphone habits and listening in general.

What is hearing and how is it harmed by noise?

Our ears are amazing tools that we often take for granted. When a noise is made, a sound wave is emitted through a difference in air pressure. When this wave makes it to our ears, it is amplified by our eardrums and a couple tiny bones. This amplification then hits tiny hair cells (stereocilia) which vibrate and create a nerve impulse that is translated by our brains into the sounds we hear [2]. This is an astounding process that many (at least myself) don’t think of on a day to day basis.

ear diagramThese tiny hair cells are not indestructible and that is why people get hearing loss. When we are subjected loud noises for even a short period of time, these cells can become damaged and possibly die. The result this cell death is that our ability to hear degrades. For most of us, this is a prolonged process that happens with age, but it can be sped up if we are consistently in a noisy environment without hearing protection. Even more, we can speed up the process by subjecting ourselves to unnecessary loud noises.

It is fairly intuitive that going to a concert, club, or listening to loud music can damage our hearing. Despite this, studies show that most people feel their ears are invincible to loud noises and would rather not impose a high music limit on their personal listening habits [1]. This is understandable; when you’re young, hearing loss doesn’t really seem like an issue. That is, until later in life when you have to yell “WHAT?!” every time someone speaks to you.

“Although they appeared to be generally aware of the risks of exposure to loud music, they expressed low personal vulnerability to music-induced hearing loss”

Let’s talk about decibels

Most often, the decibel (dB) scale is what is used when we talk about how “loud” something is. Since everyone’s hearing is different, the goal of the scale is to reduce the consequent subjectivity of what is considered to be loud. On the scale, 0 is the quietest noise the general person with no hearing loss can notice and every increase of 10 doubles the intensity of the sound. So, 20 dB is twice as loud as 10dB, and so forth.

earsHow do decibels affect our hearing you may ask? Well, the CDC recommends that 85dB should not be listened to for more than eight hours. Also, the limit for 95dB is 47 minutes and 105dB is just 5 minutes. This may not mean much right away, so let’s put it in perspective. Most cell phones and mp3 players allow a max headphone volume between 91-121 dB [3]. This means that depending on your device, going over 80% might be harmful to your ears if you listen for a long period of time. Luckily for me, I almost never go above 50% on my Samsung S7, so according to this, I should be safe. Although, during my workout, I may push it above 75% so I will have to watch out for that. I recommend you do the same.

Aside from my recommendation, the rest of you are likely already somewhat similar in your listening habits. A study found that on average, people listen at about 72 dB which does not cause damage. However, if you’re one of those people that have music loud enough so that everyone you walk past knows exactly what song you are listening to, maybe it’s time to reconsider.

Beyond headphones

While on the topic of hearing loss, the same voice telling me that headphones are bad for my ears also chimes in whenever I attend concerts. The data on concerts is a bit more alarming. One study found that there are significant amounts of hearing loss among college students who regularly attend concerts [3]. You know that feeling after a concert when you can’t really hear for an hour or so afterward? Ya, me too, and that means those little hair cells in the back of your ear are struggling. This is because the average club music is about 95dB and concerts are about 105dB. From the CDC information, we know that 105dB is only safe for 5 minutes! Despite this, most concerts last anywhere from 1.5-3 hours. That can be a lot of damage depending on where you are standing.

concertI think all of us can be a bit more responsible when it comes to our hearing. And we better start right away, because hearing loss can really hinder older adults socially and economically. Researchers found that severity of hearing loss was statistically correlated with reduced quality of life as we age [7].

“Severity of hearing loss was significantly associated with decreased function in both the Mental Component Summary score and the Physical Component Summary score”

If you want to get a check up on your hearing, head over to your local Otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor). If that is too much of a hassle, there are a couple really good hearing apps that can be put to use if you have a smartphone. The app “uHear” for IOS was shown to be very accurate even in a clinical setting [6]. There hasn’t been any research done on apps for Android, but “Hearing Test” by e-audiologia.pl seemed to be an easy and straightforward option when I used it.

The takeaway

The research in this area is nowhere near complete, but for now, it is safe to continue listening through headphones. Besides, there are massive benefits that many get such as increased focus during work or studying, extra intensity during a workout, or simply acquiring knowledge through books or podcasts. With that being said, be careful with your ears. They are hugely important when it comes to our quality of life, and when they go out, there is no getting them back.

Have any thoughts or something you would like to add?

Feel free to comment below!

 

References
[1] Vogel, Ineke, et al. “MP3 Players and Hearing Loss: Adolescents’ Perceptions of Loud Music and Hearing Conservation.” The Journal of Pediatrics, vol. 152, no. 3, 2008, doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2007.07.009.
[2] “Sound and Hearing.” Apple, www.apple.com/sound/.
[3] Rawool, Vishakhaw, and Lyndaa Colligon-Wayne. “Auditory Lifestyles and Beliefs Related to Hearing Loss among College Students in the USA.” Noise and Health, vol. 10, no. 38, 2008, p. 1., doi:10.4103/1463-1741.39002.
[5] Fligor BJ. Personal listening devices and hearing loss: Seeking evidence of a long term problem through a successful short-term investigation. Noise Health 2009;11:129-31
[6] Szudek, Jacek, and Et al. “Can UHear Me Now? Validation of an IPod-Based Hearing Loss Screening Test.” Journal of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, vol. 41, no. S1, Apr. 2012, pp. S78–S84.
[7] Dalton, Dayna, et al. “The Impact of Hearing Loss on Quality of Life in Older Adults.” The Gerontologist , vol. 43, no. 5, 1 Oct. 2003, pp. 661–668., doi:https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/43.5.661.