Environmental-benefits-of-Aronia

Top 5 environmental benefits of Aronia Melanocarpa (Nero Eggert variety)

Top 5 environmental benefits of Aronia Melanocarpa (Nero Eggert variety)

July 12th, 2022

Sustainability is a hot topic as issues such as food security, pollution, and climate change have become major concerns. Nowadays, more and more consumers have a better understanding and pay attention to the sustainability aspect of products they buy and consume. In this article, we’ll explain 5 key environmental benefits of Aronia melanocarpa.

Environmental-benefits-of-Aronia

Over the last years, there has been an increased awareness around sustainability, as issues such as food security, pollution, and climate change have become major concerns. As more and more consumers have a better understanding and care more about sustainability, they also tend to pay attention to which products they buy and consume.

Aronia berries are small dark fruits that are becoming increasingly popular amongst health-conscious consumers as they have excellent content in micronutrients and strong antioxidant properties.

Research around these berries suggests that they provide important health benefits to immune health, cardiovascular function, brain health, and anti-diabetic function.

Read more about the health benefits of Aronia berries

Apart from providing numerous health benefits, Aronia berries are also interesting from an environmental perspective, thanks to some unique characteristics of this plant.

This is particularly true for the variety called Nero Eggert, selected by BioActor to produce the active ingredient for brain health, namely Brainberry®.

Let’s find out why Aronia is considered a super berry not only for the health of consumers but also for the planet.

1. Aronia keeps the bees healthy and happy.

Many scientists have asserted that bees are not only one of the most important pollinators for food crops, but also for the existence of humanity. For that reason, it is critical to find ways that will ensure bees’ happiness.

Aronia melanocarpa is a plant with an incredibly extended flowering time, meaning that bees are provided with enough sugars and protein from the nectar and pollen. That lasts around two weeks more compared to other fruits, and in most cases, this is enough for their healthy growth and reproduction.

 

2. It’s naturally organic.

When thinking about sustainability, often the best route to take is the organic route, which involves far fewer pesticides added to the soil. This not only keeps the food natural, but also protects the soil from becoming overloaded with unnatural substances, which is essential for the long-term viability of any patch of farmland.

In Aronia melanocarpa plants, pests occur only rarely and in small quantities. In fact, Aronia is considered a strong and very resistant plant, and growers don’t need to use chemicals to control the growth when cultivating it.

 

3. Lower water consumption.

Another sustainable indicator in plantations is the usage of water that is required for growth. Much effort has been made to reduce the water footprint in agriculture, where 80% accounts for crop production. Thanks to its strong rooting system, Aronia plants can grow with very little water, even in poor soils.

Additionally, mature shrubs are resistant to weather anomalies. For example, it is resistant to frost, drought, as well as excess rainfall. This makes possible the cultivation of Aronia plants where it is difficult to grow other plants.

For example, the Aronia berries used to produce Brainberry® are cultivated on the icy plains of the Baltic region of Europe, where in winter is extremely cold.

 

4. Less land and higher yield.

As mentioned above, BioActor selected a unique variety of Aronia named Nero Eggert. What sets this variety apart from the rest is the ability of the plant to grow its branches in width rather than in height.

The main advantages of this characteristic are a higher yield, which means obtaining more fruits (and consuming less land), and more flowers to keep the bees happy!

Furthermore, the branches of these plants are more resistant and harder to break off, further reducing the possibility of contacting pests and diseases.

 

5. Reduced food loss.

It is estimated that global food production must increase by 60% by 2050 to meet the demands of the growing world population. Yet, more than one-third of the food produced today is lost or wasted.

While food waste means food that is wasted at the retail or consumer level, food loss refers to the decrease in edible food mass at the production, post-harvest, and processing stages of the food chain.

Aronia berries are durable fruits. This is important because it facilitates the storage and transport to processing facilities with minimal to no loss.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, the environmental benefits of Aronia combined with its health effects on consumers make it a super berry. BioActor focuses on developing innovative plant-based ingredients that target healthy living and aging.

Feel free to contact BioActor via info@bioactor.com and visit www.brainberry.eu and www.bioactor.com to learn more about Brainberry®.


Basketball player

New Open Label Study: Brainberry® shows cognitive and performance benefits in professional basketball players.

New open-label study: Brainberry® shows cognitive and performance benefits in professional basketball players.

Maastricht, The Netherlands, July 1st, 2022

Press release
BioActor recruited 35 professional Greek male and female basketball players to assess their cognitive and basketball-specific skills after an acute and one-week intake of Brainberry®. Notably, cognitive performance linked to focus, reaction time and hand-eye coordination improved acutely and following a one-week intake. Also, basketball-specific skills like shooting, rebounding and dribbling improved significantly, underlining the ability of Brainberry® to benefit sports performance.

Basketball player

Open-label study in professional basketball players

According to the F.I.B.A. (Fédération Internationale de Basketball), more than 450 million people play basketball worldwide, and about 70.000 of them are professionals. In the US, basketball is one of the most followed sports, and according to Statista, the National Basketball Association (NBA) generates about $6 to $8 billion in revenue per season.

Especially at the top level, nutritional strategies to improve cognition are key to succeeding in this sport. A professional basketball player needs to combine cognitive and physical skills and react to different situations during the game. Moreover, since players need to communicate with each other and their coach while performing, the cognitive load involved in this sport is massive.

Brainberry® is a nootropic ingredient developed by BioActor to help consumers improve their brain fitness in a natural and safe way. More specifically, Brainberry® is an Aronia berry extract from the Baltics, standardized for high levels of cyanidin-3-O-galactoside.

BioActor already conducted 2 double-blind placebo-controlled clinical studies which demonstrated cognitive benefits in middle-aged healthy individuals and in young healthy individuals.

Moreover, in a previous open-label study, Brainberry® improved cognitive performance of amateur gamers. The study revealed that gamers can benefit from the consumption of Brainberry® and improve their gaming skills such as eye-hand coordination and focus.

In follow up to these studies, BioActor now completed another open-label study on 35 professional basketball players in Greece, who consumed 65 mg of Brainberry® for seven days. Basketball is characterized by highly intermittent actions with changes in movement type every 1-2 seconds. Particularly at the highest level, the combination of gross and fine motor skills along with cognitive functions and psychomotor control is key to success. Female and male professional basketball players were selected from teams that participate in the first Greek basketball league.

The objective of the study was to investigate the effect of a daily intake of a capsule containing 65mg of Brainberry® on overall cognitive and basketball-specific skills.

The study results

During the three time points, Baseline (Time 0), Acute (Time 1) and 7 days (Time 2), the participants had to fill out a questionnaire with specific questions aiming at assessing cognitive skills, basketball-specific skills, mood, and sleep quality. At Time 0, the participants did not consume Brainberry®, in order to generate a baseline measurement for their self-reported skills during a basketball session.

The results show that the basketball players who participated in the study experienced a significant improvement (P < 0.05) from day one, in terms of cognitive: focus, reaction time and eye-hand coordination; and basketball-specific skills: shooting, rebounding, and dribbling. At the same time, no significant differences were found in their speed and quality of sleep was not affected.

Results-of-Brainberry-in-basketball-players

*Sig (P < 0.05) baseline vs acute; **Sig (P < 0.05) baseline vs after 7 days and ***Sig (P < 0.05) acute vs 7 days

 

With this additional study, which highlights the ability to enhance cognitive and basketball-specific skills, Brainberry® taps into the sports nutrition segment, where already some sports nutrition brands have adopted the ingredient and formulated products targeting brain fitness for athletes.

Vasiliki Louka, a professional basketball player that belongs to the women’s national Greek team stated:

“Brainberry® surprised me in a good way. This month was really tiring and stressful, especially for the athletes competing for the national team. I felt more focused during my training and considering that Brainberry® contains only natural ingredients, it makes it an interesting choice.”

Furthermore, the participants reported that one of the advantages of Brainberry®, compared to the most common caffeine-based supplements that they have been using, is that Brainberry® did not affect their quality of sleep and, at the same time, helped them decrease their stress level.

 

About BioActor

BioActor, based at the Maastricht Health Campus, Netherlands, is a life science company that has developed a range of proprietary bioactive ingredients for the nutrition & consumer health industries. The company focuses on the development of plant-based health ingredients for active living and healthy ageing. The goal is to provide the nutrition & consumer health industries with clinically tested innovations that confer a real health benefit to the consumer.

Feel free to contact BioActor via info@bioactor.com for more information on the possibilities Brainberry® has to offer.
Further information can be found on: www.brainberry.eu and www.bioactor.com


What-are-the-best-substitutes-for-caffeine?

What are the best substitutes for caffeine?

What are the best substitutes for caffeine?

April 21st, 2022

A wide variety of caffeine-containing products are available, ranging from coffee and tea to dietary supplements, sodas and energy drinks. However, consuming too much caffeine often leads to side effects such as stress, anxiety, and even sleeping problems. If you are looking for alternative products to boost energy levels and increase focus, Brainberry®, maca root, ginseng, Rhodiola, and Lion’s Mane are natural ingredients that can help you get through the day without side effects.

What-are-the-best-substitutes-for-caffeine?

Why should you substitute caffeine with another ingredient?

Most people drink coffee regularly. It is consumed because people like the taste or because of the social aspects to drinking coffee, but the most important reason people consume coffee is that it makes them feel more awake, alert, and energetic.

Of course, coffee is a source of caffeine, which is the ingredient that gives coffee its effects. There are other drinks that contain caffeine, and some people even take dietary supplements containing caffeine to boost their energy levels during the day or for their workout. [1].

Besides positive effects, consumption of caffeine may also have some downsides. These include giving people feelings of stress and anxiety. Besides increasing these feelings, caffeine consumption could also lead to insomnia [2].

Caffeine is unique in its function, but these adverse effects are a reason for people to reduce the intake of caffeine and look for alternative ingredients. Here are some suggestions of natural substitutes that make you feel awake and help you focus, without leaving you feeling stressed.

The best substitutes for caffeine

1. Maca root

Maca is a plant that grows in Peru (also called Peruvian ginseng). It’s a plant that belongs to the brassica (mustard) family. It is traditionally used for nutritional and medicinal purposes. The plant is made into a powder that is often added to smoothies, juices, and shakes.

It has been used for centuries as a fertility enhancer in humans and animals, but now more benefits of consuming maca are being discovered. The benefits of maca root vary, and evidence shows it may help increase energy levels and improve mood.

Additionally, other findings show that maca can help against feelings of anxiety and stress. This makes Maca a good alternative to caffeine, which can have the opposite effect.

 

2. Ginseng

Like maca, ginseng is a herb made from the root of its plant. It has been one of the most important products for health care in Asia. There, it has been used to make traditional medicine for centuries.

There are different types of ginseng, which vary in the way they are grown and processed. White ginseng is dried naturally, while red ginseng is steamed before it is dried, which increases its efficacy. The most important compounds in ginseng are ginsenosides and gintonin [3].

Ginseng is one of the most popular caffeine substitutes. Various research demonstrated that this plant is able to improve brain functions, boost mood and memory, help against fatigue, and increase energy levels.

 

3. Brainberry® (Aronia berry extract)

Aronia berries are becoming increasingly popular among consumers because of their many demonstrated health benefits. Aronia plants are native to North America but are also commonly found in the Baltic region of Europe.

Brainberry® is an Aronia berry extract researched and developed by BioActor. It was demonstrated that the daily consumption of Brainberry® is able to boost mental energy and focus without side effects. An ideal alternative if you want to get rid of caffeine!

The main constituent of Brainberry is an anthocyanin called Cyanidin 3-O-galactoside, a powerful antioxidant that can improve brain health and support brain function.

 

4. Rhodiola

Rhodiola is a plant that can be found in Europe and Asia. Like ginseng and maca its root is consumed for health benefits. Rosavin and salidroside are believed to be its most profitable compounds.

Rhodiola has been used for many years and has been mostly recommended to treat headaches, hernias and has also been used as an astringent. Nowadays, rhodiola is often consumed by people during stressful times.

If you’re looking for a natural alternative to caffeine that reduces fatigue, rhodiola is a good option because it has been shown to improve symptoms in participants that suffered from chronic fatigue. The stress-lowering and energizing effects of rhodiola make it a great natural replacement for coffee.

 

5. Lion’s Mane

Lion’s Mane is a mushroom that can grow long hair-like strings that resemble a lion’s mane. It is often found in North America, Europe, and Asia. It consists for roughly 20% out of protein.

Lion’s Mane is increasingly studied. It has properties that are believed to be neuroprotective. That is because two novel nerve growth factors have been discovered in this mushroom [4].

Lion’s Mane has thus been said to have positive effects on the brain. It can improve memory and helps to lower feelings of stress and anxiety. This makes it an ingredient that can help consumers cut down on their caffeine consumption.

The bottom line

We all love a good cup of coffee in the morning. However, there are several reasons to reduce caffeine intake and look for a substitute. The aforementioned ingredients are good natural alternatives to caffeine as they can boost energy levels and brain functions, without having any anxiety or stress inducing effects.


BDNF: A key molecule for cognition and eye health

BDNF: A key molecule for cognition and eye health

April 1st, 2022

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein highly expressed in the central nervous system, especially in the brain. BDNF promotes the growth of dendrites and dendritic spines, contributing to synaptic strength and plasticity in the hippocampus, thus important for learning and long-term memory. Research shows that increased levels of BDNF in serum are correlated with improved cognitive functions while decrease in BDNF is associated with neurodegenerative and mental illnesses. Moreover, new scientific evidence suggests that BDNF is also an important factor in eye health.

What is BDNF and why is it so important?

BDNF belongs to the neurotrophin family of growth factors and plays an important role in brain development, mainly growth and maturation of neurons and synapses.

Highest levels of BDNF can be found in hippocampus, amygdala, cerebellum and cerebral cortex in both rodents and humans [1]. As well as in the brain, BDNF has been detected in other tissues such as the eye, lung, liver and skeletal muscle.

Today we know that BDNF is also crucial for the adult brain, where it regulates synaptic changes and efficacy.

BDNF is believed to be involved in the cellular mechanisms underlying memory formation and consolidation, learning and other complex behaviors by promoting long term potentiation in hippocampus [2].

BDNF in disease and the ageing brain

BDNF also seems to play a significant role in brain damage repair. Studies have shown that following traumatic brain injury, the mRNA expression level of BDNF is temporarily significantly upregulated in the injured cortex and in the hippocampus. These findings suggest that BDNF acts as an endogenous neuroprotective mechanism attenuating cell damage [3].

In addition, emerging scientific data suggest that BDNF could be involved in the pathophysiology of brain-associated diseases. Impaired BDNF signaling has been observed in several diseases, such as Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar and anxiety disorders.

Finally, part of the natural process of ageing is reduction of hippocampal volume and decrease in BDNF expression, which is associated with age-related cognitive decline [4].

What is the role of BDNF in eye health?

BDNF is produced by neurons and glial cells in the retina. Similarly to the brain, research indicates that BDNF could be involved in retinal development by modifying neuronal cell number or synapse formation [5].

Nowadays, our eyes are constantly being overworked as a consequence of increased usage of visual display terminal (VDT) devices, such as smartphones, computers or tablets. This can negatively affect blink frequency, which can induce dry eye and associated symptoms including pain, burning and visual disturbances.

Interestingly, BDNF knockdown mice showed decreased basal tear secretion, pointing at the role of BDNF in tear secretion and to the pathology of dry eye disease [6].

Moreover, recent studies show that BDNF plays a vital role in other eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or diabetic retinopathy (DR). In AMD patients, serum BDNF levels are decreased and the same trend is observed in DR patients.

These findings suggest that optimal BDNF levels may be necessary to exert protective effects on the eye and that decreased levels of BDNF signal eye disease [7, 8].

How can you increase BDNF naturally?

Control your stress levels
Acute stress down-regulates hippocampal BDNF mRNA expression and interestingly, antidepressants up-regulate BDNF expression [9]. Practicing yoga or other stress management techniques therefore seem to be an efficient way how to boost your BDNF [10].

Exercise
Some studies have shown that exercise enhances the expression of BDNF. The reasoning is not fully understood but one possible explanation is that exercise leads to the release of the ketone body β-hydroxybutyrate, which in turn induces the activity of BDNF promoters [11].

Practice occasional fasting
Not every stress is bad for your brain: it appears that mild metabolic stress associated with dietary restriction leads to significantly enhanced expression of various neurotrophic factors, BDNF included. A study showed that following 48-hour fasting, BDNF was significantly upregulated in human skeletal muscle [12].

Eat anthocyanin rich foods
Apart from the above mentioned, dietary interventions have been also gaining on attention as a potential strategy to elevate BDNF levels. There is extensive scientific evidence that foods high in anthocyanins, such as edible berries, are good for your brain health [13]. A recent study showed that 6-week supplementation of pure anthocyanins increased BDNF expression and improved spatial and psychomotor performances in aged rats [14].

Aronia melanocarpa anthocyanins and BDNF

Aronia melanocarpa is a berry native to North America, which is higher in anthocyanins than any other berries. Aronia-specific anthocyanin, cyanidin-3-O-galactoside (Cy3Gal), crosses the blood brain barrier and interacts with BDNF sinaling pathway, thereby contributing to a better neuronal signalling.

In a double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study, we recently demonstrated that short-term supplementation of Brainberry®, aronia melanocarpa extract with a standardized content of Cy3Gal, significantly increased BDNF levels in healthy young adults.

The bottom line

Given all the scientific evidence, BDNF plays a huge role in brain fitness, brain disease and eye health.

Manipulating BDNF levels through dietary factors might be a promising strategy to not only treat various neurological and psychiatric disorders, but also to naturally boost memory and learning.

To level-up BDNF is desirable for everyone: not only for the ageing population but also for young professionals seeking ways to enhance their cognition.


Cyanidin-3-O-galactoside-A-Natural-Compound-for-Brain-Health

Cyanidin-3-O-Galactoside: A Natural Compound for Brain Health

Cyanidin-3-O-Galactoside:
A Natural Compound for Brain Health

February 23rd, 2022

Cyanidin 3-O-Galactoside is a powerful anthocyanidin naturally present in some foods and found in particularly high concentrations in Aronia melanocarpa berries (chokeberries). Research has demonstrated that this active compound is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and play a beneficial role in brain health and cognition. Cyanidin 3-O-Galactoside is believed to stimulate neurogenesis, improve neuron plasticity and reduce neuronal damage.

Cyanidin-3-O-galactoside-A-Natural-Compound-for-Brain-Health

What is Cyanidin 3-O-Galactoside?

Cyanidin 3-O-galactoside (Cy3Gal), also known as ‘Idaein’, belongs to the class of organic compounds called anthocyanins and, more specifically, to the anthocyanidin-3-O-glycosides.

Cy3Gal is a water-soluble molecule found in high concentrations in some fruits –red-skinned apples and berries in particular– and it is responsible for their characteristic pigmentation.

Aronia melanocarpa berries, also known as chokeberries, contain the highest Cy3Gal content of all fruits, and are the most practical and efficient natural source to use for mechanical, water-based extraction of Cy3Gal in a high concentration.

Several health benefits of Cy3Gal in humans have been researched due to its excellent antioxidant capacity as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties [1].

However, brain health benefits and improved cognition are perhaps the most interesting when it comes to the health benefits provided by this active compound.

Cyanidin 3-O-Galactoside and brain health benefits

One of the most interesting properties associated with Cy3gal is the potential effect on brain health and cognition.

Cy3Gal is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and enter a wide range of brain regions, including the cortex, cerebellum and hippocampus.

In the hippocampus, Cy3Gal lowers the activity of acetylcholine esterase, triggering an increase in acetylcholine, which results in improved neuronal signalling.

At the same time, Cy3Gal increases the activity of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), resulting in increased neuron plasticity. [2]

Moreover, according to a recently published study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry administration of Cy3Gal for 8 weeks in ageing mice relieved neuronal damage in the hippocampus and cortex [3].

The researchers determined that protein kinase B (AKT) may be the target by Cy3Gal, which played a beneficial role in controlling the brain’s energy metabolism, suggesting that early intervention with Cy3Gal could promote neuroprotection.

All in all, scientific evidence shows that Cy3Gal may produce neuroprotective activity and improve cognitive function [1, 4, 5].

Cyanidin 3-O-Galactoside: Brainberry®’s hero compound

Cy3Gal is one of the main focuses of BioActor, which together with Maastricht University (“UM”) established a Public-Private Partnership (“PPP”) to study the effects of Brainberry® on brain fitness and cognition.

Brainberry® is an Aronia melanocarpa extract standardized for high levels of Cy3Gal, developed by BioActor.

Brainberry® was investigated in the first-ever study to link Aronia berry extract to improved cognitive performance.

A 12-week double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study that included 101 subjects linked Aronia berry extract (Brainberry®) to a significant increase in psychomotor speed, eye-hand coordination and focus [6].


The-link-between-gut-and-brain-health

The Link between Gut and Brain Health

The Link between Gut and Brain Health

February 21st, 2022

The bidirectional communication system between your gut and brain is called the gut-brain axis. These two organs are connected through the vagus nerve, neurotransmitters, production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) by gut microbiota and the immune system. This gut-brain link works in both directions. Gut bacteria affect brain health and, therefore, altering your gut bacteria through compounds such as probiotics and prebiotics may improve your brain health.

The-link-between-gut-and-brain-health

The Gut-Brain Connection

Did you ever “go with the gut” to make a decision? Have you ever felt “butterflies in your stomach” when nervous? This is because the brain and the gastrointestinal system are closely connected.

The bidirectional communication system between your gut and brain is called the gut-brain axis. These two organs are connected both physically through the vagus nerve and biochemically through hormones and neurotransmitters.

Gut microbiota has an important impact on the gut-brain axis, interacting not only locally with intestinal cells and enteric nervous system (ENS), but also directly with the central nervous system (CNS).

The Vagus Nerve

Your gut contains 500 million neurons, connected to your brain through the nervous system [1].

One of the biggest nerves connecting your gut and brain is the vagus nerve, which sends signals both ways. Gut microbiota communication with the brain, therefore, involves the vagus nerve [2].

Conditions such as Chron’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) involve brain-gut dysfunctions where the vagus nerve is an important component.

People suffering from these conditions actually have a reduced vagal tone, which indicates a decreased function of the vagus nerve [3].

Neurotransmitters

Your gut and brain are also connected through neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters produced in the brain have an impact on our feelings and emotions.

Many of these neurotransmitters are produced by our gut cells and microbiota as well.

Around 90% of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of happiness, is produced by enterochromaffin cells, a group of gut mucosal cells [4].

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that helps control feelings of fear and anxiety, is also produced by many species of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in the gut microbiota [5].

Production of SCFAs by gut microbiota

Gut microbiota produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as butyrate, propionate and acetate.

SCFAs can affect brain function in different ways. They are able to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, mucosal serotonin release and influence the memory and learning process in the brain [6].

Immune system

Your gut and brain are also linked through the immune system. The microbiota provides essential signals for the development and function of the immune system.

The microbiota, its metabolites and components are not only necessary for immune homeostasis, but they also influence your susceptibility to many immune-mediated diseases and disorders [7].

If the gut barrier becomes leaky, bacteria and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) –an inflammatory toxin produced by some bacteria– can enter the blood, causing inflammation.

Inflammation and high LPS content in the blood are associated with brain disorders, such as depression and dementia [8].

The Role of Probiotics and Prebiotics in the Link between Gut and Brain

The gut-brain connection works in both directions. Gut bacteria affect brain health and, therefore, altering your gut bacteria may improve or worsen your brain health.

Probiotics are beneficial live bacteria. Psychobiotics are a class of probiotics that are able to produce and deliver neuroactive substances such as GABA and serotonin, which act on the brain-gut axis [9].

Studies have found that some psychobiotics have antidepressant or anxiolytic activity. These effects may be mediated via the vagus nerve, spinal cord, or neuroendocrine systems [10].

Prebiotics are compounds derived from non-digestible carbohydrates, mostly fibre. Prebiotics may also affect brain health by lowering cortisol levels, the stress hormone [11].

Beneficial Foods for the Gut-Brain Axis

Some foods can be beneficial for the gut-brain axis. These include the following:

• Probiotic foods. Probiotics can be found in fermented foods and drinks, such as yoghurt, kefir, tempeh or kombucha.

Prebiotic foods. Prebiotics can be found in high fibre foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole-grain products.

• Omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fatty acids can improve microbiota diversity [12]. These fats can be found in fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring and sardines.

• Polyphenol-rich foods. Polyphenols are found in foods such as cocoa, citrus, green tea, olive leaf and coffee. These compounds, digested by gut bacteria, increase healthy bacteria strains and may improve cognition [13].

• Tryptophan-rich foods. The amino acid tryptophan is the precursor of serotonin. Tryptophan is found in milk, cheese, oats, turkey and chicken, among others.


A promising ingredient for gaming supplements

Brainberry® – A promising ingredient for gaming supplements

Brainberry® – A promising ingredient for gaming supplements

January 11th, 2022

Brainberry® is an Aronia melanocarpa extract that provides an innovative and natural way to boost gaming performance in a safe and effective way. If you plan to get rid of typical sugar- and stimulant-loaded supplements and energy drinks, Brainberry® may be the healthier alternative you are looking for. Thanks to its high content in functional anthocyanins, it promises to enhance gamers’ experience by providing sustained crash-free energy, as well as clinically proven brain benefits.

A promising ingredient for gaming supplements

Why are supplements relevant for gaming?

Gaming has grown exponentially over the last few years, not only in amateur gamers but also in professional ones– eSports.

If you are a gamer yourself, you may have already noticed that gaming requires an incredible number of mental skills. Indeed, gaming is continuous and with very few breaks. Therefore, you need to manage a high cognitive workload, especially if your session will last for an extended period of time.

Visual-spatial skills are essential. These skills allow you to analyse, recognize and rapidly respond to changes on the screen. In addition, as gaming sessions can last for hours, enhanced attention and focus are crucial too. You need to have the skills to stay focused and alert, without getting sleepy and distracted.

Lastly, when gaming, it is important that you manage emotions, such as anger, anxiety and stress, as these can negatively impact your performance.

Even though nutrition has been often overlooked by most gamers, the supplement industry for this segment is growing exponentially, showing that more and more attention is being paid to this important aspect.

Over the last year, in fact, several brands have launched gaming formulas on the market and supplement use is continuously increasing amongst gamers looking to up their gaming performance. There is a wide range of products tailored to gamers, ranging from powders to capsules, functional drinks and even gummies.

Whether you are a competitive gamer or not, taking care of your body and mind through proper nutrition, supplements, and rest can yield the best results.

What is the main problem with most gaming supplements and energy drinks?

Supplements have the potential to enhance your cognitive performance when gaming. As mentioned, together with the increased number of gamers, gaming supplement and energy drink interest and consumption has significantly grown in the last years.

However, as you may have experienced, many of these products contain high amounts of caffeine and sugars. High intakes of these two compounds are generally associated with negative health effects.

After a high caffeine intake, you may experience tachycardia, jitters, headaches or disrupted sleep [1, 2, 3]. In fact, excessive caffeine consumption can have a negative impact on your brain performance.  On top of this, a high caffeine consumption during the teenage years is associated with an increased risk of suffering from anxiety disorders in adulthood [4].

On the other hand, a high sugar intake may lead you to unhealthy weight gain and dental caries, both undesired health effects. Moreover, high sugar spikes in the blood are often followed by an energy crash, which is not ideal when you need to be focused.

If you plan to get rid of typical sugar- and stimulant-loaded supplements and energy drinks, Brainberry® may be the healthier alternative you are looking for.

What is Brainberry®?

Brainberry® is an Aronia melanocarpa extract, standardized for high levels of the anthocyanin cyanidin-3-O-galactoside. This ingredient is clinically validated to improve focus and psychomotor control.

The consumption of anthocyanins has been associated with an improvement in cognition skills, such as memory, attention and psychomotor speed [5, 6, 7].

The active cyanidins present in Aronia berry extract in the form of cyaniding-3-O-galactoside are able to cross the blood-brain barrier and contribute to brain perfusion.

In the hippocampus, cyanidin-3-O-galactoside lowers the activity of acetylcholine esterase, triggering an increase in acetylcholine, which results in improved neuronal signalling. This leads to faster and more accurate reactions due to improved visual processing speed and psychomotor control.

Brainberry® is water-soluble, easy to formulate and has a pleasant taste. Its possible applications include liquid forms (e.g. ready-to-drink formulas), chewable tablets, gummies, effervescent tablets, stick packs and capsules.

What makes Brainberry® an ideal ingredient for gaming supplements?

Brainberry® is the ideal ingredient for gaming supplements for several reasons:

• 100% natural. Extracted from high-quality Aronia berries from the Baltics, it is a completely natural ingredient.

• Clinically proven. It has been validated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

• Increased visual processing speed. Its hero compound, cyanidin-3-O-galactoside, significantly improves psychomotor control, resulting in better eye-hand coordination.

• Tested in gamers. It has been successfully tested in a consumer study with active gamers.

• Low dosage and stimulant-free. The recommended daily dose is 65 mg. It does not contain stimulants, which are usually accompanied by undesired side effects. This makes it a healthier option compared to other solutions high stimulants.

• High bioavailability. The bioavailability of the active compound present in Brainberry®, cyanidin-3-O-galactoside, has been evaluated and it has demonstrated a rapid absorption.

• Easy to formulate. Thanks to its excellent solubility and pleasant taste, it is possible to include it in a wide range of forms (e.g. drinks, gummies, capsules…).

What type of research has been conducted with Brainberry®?

Double-blind placebo-controlled trial

Brainberry® has been investigated in the first-ever study to link Aronia berry extract to improved cognitive performance. A 12-week double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study that included 101 subjects linked Aronia berry extract (Brainberry®) to a significant increase in psychomotor speed, eye-hand coordination, and focus.

After only 6 weeks of supplementation with 65 mg of Brainberry® daily, a significant improvement in psychomotor speed was observed, with even a further increase for the rest of the trial (12 weeks).

Brainberry psychomotor speed result

After 12 weeks, concentration was increased by 43% in the group supplemented with 65 mg of Brainberry®. [8]

Brainberry focus result

Consumer study with active gamers

More recently, a consumer study was conducted in active gamers using Brainberry®. Twenty-one healthy young recreational active gamers consumed 65 mg of Brainberry® daily for 7 days.

After just one dose of Brainberry®, participants successfully reported a significant improvement in the most relevant measures for gaming performance, such as eye-hand coordination, focus, reaction time and energy.

As gamers need fast-acting noticeable effects, the significant improvements in eye-hand coordination, focus, energy and reaction after a single dose, confirmed the effectiveness of Brainberry®.

What’s perhaps even more important, is that these improvements were sustained after one week of supplementation.

Brainberry gamer study results

As mentioned before, mood is also key during a gaming session. In fact, not being able to deal with difficult emotions (i.e. anger, stress, anxiety) that are likely to arise while competing, negatively impact performance. Interestingly, the participants in the study reported an improvement in mood parameters after one week of supplementation with Brainberry®.

It is important to point out that supplementation with Brainberry® after the seven days, did not have any negative effects on fatigue, sleep quality and anxiety levels. It is well-known that these types of complaints are frequently reported by subjects (often gamers) who consume large quantities of sugar- and stimulant-loaded energy drinks.

The bottom line

Brainberry® is an Aronia melanocarpa extract that provides an innovative and healthy solution to boost gaming performance in a natural and safe way. Thanks to its high content in functional anthocyanins, it promises to enhance gamers’ experience by providing sustained, crash-free energy and clinically proven brain benefits.

Brainberry® is the perfect alternative to supplements and energy drinks that are high in sugar and caffeine. It allows limiting these compounds in your diet while offering sustained crash-free energy, as well as clinically proven brain benefits.


Brain Fitness webinar

WEBINAR - Brain Fitness

WEBINAR – Brain Fitness

Join us for a deep-dive webinar into Brain Fitness dedicated to the professionals operating in the nutraceutical industry. Together with our expert speakers, we will explore different facets of this “hot topic”, connecting the trends, clinical research and innovation.

Connecting trends, clinical research and innovation for nutraceuticals.

The human brain is our command centre and enables thoughts, memory, movement and emotions by a complex function. Maintaining a fit brain during one’s life is the uppermost goal in pursuing health and wellbeing.

Consumers are increasingly looking to improve Brain Fitness and focus. Nootropic ingredients have been on the rise due to more people looking to enhance their brain performance. Moreover, working remotely with many distractions further accelerated the popularity of such ingredients, which have become a must-have for many individuals.

Therefore, it is essential for professionals in the sector to understand what Brain Fitness really is, the consumers’ segmentation and key insights about this trend, and how the clinical research is performed to evaluate the potential of new nutraceuticals solutions.

Watch the webinar and find out more!

REGISTER AND WATCH ON DEMAND

Meet the Speakers:

Meet the speakers

What are you going to learn during this webinar?

The Brain Fitness trends & consumer insights

Who are these consumers and what are they looking for? Presentation by Marit Veenstra – Trends and consumers insights specialist, who will provide insights into the consumer trends driving the brain health product positioning of the nutraceutical and functional foods market.
Duration: 10 minutes

Clinical Research

How do you research Brain Fitness? Presentation by Sanne Ahles – Clinical researcher, who will dive into the science, explaining the relevant endpoints, tools and biomarkers, currently used in clinical research.
Duration: 10 minutes

Innovation

Brainberry®: Aronia melanocarpa extract to help consumers reach their Brain Fitness goals. Presentation by Cosimo Cisternino – Marketing & Account manager at BioActor, who will introduce the health ingredient Brainberry® – A natural, clinically validated Aronia berry extract targeting cognition.
Duration: 10 minutes

Q&A session

Duration: 10 minutes

REGISTER AND WATCH ON DEMAND

Berries anthocyanins

The effects of berry anthocyanins on cognition - New publication

The effects of berry anthocyanins on cognitive performance – New publication from BioActor in collaboration with Maastricht University

Maastricht, The Netherlands, July 8th, 2021

Press release
The systematic review recently published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences was conducted by BioActor in collaboration with Maastricht University and reviewed the effects of berry anthocyanins on cognitive performance.

Berries anthocyanins

Systematic review on berry anthocyanins and cognition

The International Journal of Molecular Sciences has recently published a systematic review about the Berry Anthocyanins’ effect on Cognitive Performance. The research was conducted by S. Ahles, clinical researcher at BioActor, in collaboration with the Maastricht University’s Department of Nutrition and Movement Sciences, School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism (NUTRIM).

This systematic review of randomized Placebo-Controlled Studies in Humans provides further evidence into the beneficial effects of berry anthocyanins on cognitive performance such as attention and psychomotor speed, executive function, and memory. Moreover, effects on vascular function and cardiometabolic risk markers were investigated.

Anthocyanins are a specific type of flavonoids abundantly found in various berries such as blueberry, black raspberry, and Aronia berry, to which these molecules confer the specific colours. These compounds offer a promising approach to improve cognitive performance and/or lower the risk of cognitive decline.

Ahles commented: “We are proud to report the achieved results providing evidence for the beneficial effects of berry anthocyanin on cognitive function. The observed health effects might be due to the anthocyanin-induced improvements in vascular function and blood pressure. Moreover, we found that the composition of the intervention product may play an important role as the bioactivity of anthocyanins is known to be dependent on their chemical structure. Future studies should focus on exploring a potential causal link between the beneficial effects on cognitive performance and improvement in vascular function and cardiometabolic risk markers.”

BioActor’s interest in berry anthocyanins has resulted in the development of the first-ever Aronia Berry extract targeting cognitive performance. The ingredient, branded under the name “Brainberry®”, was already tested in a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial in healthy individuals and an observational study conducted with e-sports gamers, while a second RCT study, assessing its acute effect on cognition, is ongoing.

About BioActor

BioActor, based in Maastricht, Netherlands, is a product development company that has developed a range of proprietary bioactive ingredients for the nutrition & healthcare industry. The company focuses on the development of innovative activities that address active living and healthy aging. The goal is to provide the nutrition & healthcare industry with science-based innovations that confer a real health benefit to the consumer.

Feel free to contact us via info@bioactor.com for more information on the possibilities Brainberry® has to offer.
Further information can be found on: www.brainberry.eu


6 ingredients for brain health

6 Best Ingredients For Brain Health

6 Best Ingredients For Brain Health

September 1st, 2021

If you are looking to include in your diet compounds to nourish your brain, you came to the right place; In this article, we explore six interesting ingredients that may improve your brain health

6 ingredients for brain health

What is a healthy brain?

The brain. This massive network of firing neurons is the center of each decision we make on a daily basis and in life. It consumes up to 20% of our total oxygen each day, while only accounting for 2% of our total body weight – underlining its importance [1]. Alongside oxygen, it also requires plenty of nutrients to keep processes running at all times, both when awake or sleeping.

A well-known nutritious diet that packs a variety of nutrients is the Mediterranean diet – often described as a diet that supports a well-functioning brain. This is due to the wide variation of key nutrient-providing foods such as seafood, fruits and vegetables, olives and olive oil, nuts, beans and wine.

Supplementing your diet for optimal brain health

As healthy as a diet can be, every diet can still be supplemented with supplements, and more specifically dedicated ingredients. Although the Italians consume the Mediterranean diet, they also consume a lot of supplements: the Italian supplements market remains by far and large the biggest in Europe. Yet, also for individuals living in other parts of the world, with different food options, supplements can be a useful asset to optimize their diet.

In this article we take a deep dive into 6 of the best ingredients that you should be looking for on the label of supplements, that can aid you in sustaining a healthy brain:

1. Berry Anthocyanins
Anthocyanins are a group of compounds that belong to the flavonoid family. They are renowned for giving fruits and vegetables their vibrant dark blue/purple colours. Blueberries, raspberries and acai berries contain high amounts of anthocyanins but are all dwarfed by Aronia berries (also known as chokeberries), which contain by far and large the highest amounts of anthocyanins.

Anthocyanins exhibit their biological effects mainly through their strong antioxidant activity. By increasing perfusion to the brain and also improving neurotransmitter levels, anthocyanins aid in improving cognitive functions, notably executive & working memory, psychomotor speed, and attention [2,3].

Read more about the health benefits of Aronia berries

 

2. Phosphatidylserine
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a phospholipid that forms the inner side of the cell membrane – a fatty layer that makes up the layer of human cells. As a supplement, PS or intermediates like citicoline are widely available and found in multiple products on the market.

Orally consumed PS is absorbed efficiently by the human intestinal system and crosses the blood-brain barrier. PS is the main phospholipid in the brain and is involved in the protection of nerve cells and aids in relaying information from one neuronal cell to the other. These key functions of PS lead to roles for this compound in a multitude of cognitive functions, amongst others: long-term memory, concentration, problem solving and locomotor functions [4].

 

3. Choline
Choline is an essential nutrient that acts as a precursor to phospholipids (Phosphatidylcholine), acetylcholine (neurotransmitter) and betaine (involved in amino acid metabolism). Choline levels may be low in lactating and pregnant women, older and younger individuals [5], so adequate choline intake for these populations is advised.

Dietary choline intake correlates with cognitive function and choline-containing compounds have been linked with a reduction in vascular dementia [6]. Of course, choline levels need to remain optimal to have sufficient building blocks for acetylcholine, the chief neurotransmitter for relaying information from one neuron to the other.

 

4. Resveratrol
Resveratrol is a polyphenol predominantly found in grapes, and as a result, in wine. It has been linked to the promotion of health by exerting neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and beneficial cardiovascular effects.

When we look at the cognitive benefits that resveratrol brings for a healthy brain, it improves blood flow in the frontal cortex; providing this decision-making area with more nutrients and oxygen. Resveratrol protects the brain from reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are formed as a by-product of the high energy and oxygen consumption of neurons. It scavenges the free radicals, protecting against damage to neurons and associated tissues [7].

 

5. Docosahexaenoic Acid
Abbreviated as DHA, this compound is a long-chain highly unsaturated omega-3 fatty acid. DHA is found predominantly in fish, krill and algae, but also widely available in supplement formats as fish oil, krill oil or algae oil. All of these sources also often contain the complementary eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

DHA affects key neurological processes like neurotransmitter release, gene expression, signal transduction and differentiation of neurons. Especially the frontal lobes, which are responsible for executive functions like attention, planning and problem solving, are sensitive to DHA levels. Keeping DHA levels in check is key to cognitive performance, with researchers indicating that dietary DHA intake is required to maintain sufficient brain DHA levels [8].

 

6. Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba extracts (GBE) come from the dried leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree. Chinese, Japanese and Korean cultures have used extracts from this tree in their traditional medicines. GBEs have been linked to improving cognitive function and decelerating cognitive decline. This is due to their strong antioxidative activities, ability to improve neurotransmitter levels and neuroprotection potential.

GBEs have been used to treat dementia, with significant efficacy being demonstrated at high daily doses of >240mg. Yet, also for healthy people, GBEs might be a useful ingredient for enhancing blood flow to the brain combined with an anti-oxidant effect [9].