Everything-you-need-to-know-about-brainberry-and-brain-health

Everything you need to know about Brainberry® and brain health

Everything you need to know about Brainberry® and brain health

November 23rd, 2022

We constantly use the brain to make decisions, to coordinate our movements, to focus and to memorize thousands of things. For this reason it is of utmost importance to make sure our brain is healthy. Every day we learn more about the brain and about how important it is to support our brain’s health. In this article, we will discuss what brain health is, why it is important, and how an ingredient like Brainberry® can help you support it.

Everything-you-need-to-know-about-brainberry-and-brain-health

What is brain health and why is it important?

The brain is a massive network of neurons, that accounts for 2% of our body weight. It is a very active organ that makes a ton of decisions on a daily basis, and despite its weight, it uses up to 20% of our total oxygen per day!

Other than oxygen, the brain needs a lot of nutrients to keep processes running, even when we are not awake. These nutrients are important to keep the brain healthy, meaning that it can function across cognitive, sensory, social, and motor domains. A healthy brain allows a person to live life to its fullest potential, which is why it’s important to keep your brain healthy.

How can you support brain health?

There are plenty of ways to keep your brain healthy. It has been shown that regular exercise is beneficial, but also that enough sleep is good to keep a healthy brain. Both staying socially involved and staying mentally active are also good for brain health and have been shown to ward off depression and stress.

Another way to support your brain health is by improving your gut health. The bidirectional communication system between your gut and brain is called the gut-brain axis and research has shown that gut bacteria and their metabolites affect brain health.

Moreover, your diet plays an enormous role in brain health. The Mediterranean diet is seen as supportive to a well-functioning brain because it includes a wide variation of nutrient-providing foods. Examples of these are seafood, fruits, vegetables, and olives.

Also supplementing with specific compounds can be a useful approach to support brain health. Berry anthocyanins are an example of specific compounds that can exhibit a beneficial effect on brain health and function.

More specifically, Aronia Melanocarpa berries, rich in anthocyanins, have been shown to provide health benefits on immune health, cardiovascular function, and brain health due to their antioxidant properties.

What are Aronia Melanocarpa berries?

Aronia berries are little dark fruits that belong to the Rosaceae Family. They are native to north America but are mostly grown in the Baltic region of Europe, where it was introduced in the first half of the 20th century.

As the locations where the plant is cultivated suggests, the Aronia plant is a low-demanding plant and thrives in harsher and colder regions.

Environmental-benefits-of-Aronia

What are the health benefits of Aronia berries?

Aronia berries have a lot of health benefits. They contain high levels of vitamin C, but the main reason they are healthy is due their high level of polyphenols, anthocyanins and proanthocyanins, which are all types of antioxidants. In fact, they contain one of the highest levels of antioxidants among all berries.

The main reason antioxidants are considered to be healthy, is because they can help to prevent free radicals from damaging the body’s cells. The health benefits of Aronia berries include strengthening the immune system, improving cardiovascular health, and improving brain health. For this function, they are considered a superfruit (1, 2).

Among the anthocyanins in Aronia berries is the phytocompound cyanidin-3-O-galactoside, which is a key molecule for brain health.

What is Cyanidin-3-O-Galactoside?

Cyanidin 3-O-Galactoside (Cy3Gal) is a powerful anthocyanin naturally present in some foods and found in high concentrations in Aronia melanocarpa berries.

Several health benefits of Cy3Gal, also known as Idaein, in humans have been researched due to its excellent antioxidant capacity as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties (3). However, the brain health benefits might be the most interesting aspect of Cy3Gal.

Cy3Gal is a water-soluble molecule, which can cross the blood-brain barrier. Consequently, it can exert a health benefit on several brain regions, including the cortex, cerebellum, and hippocampus.

What brain health benefits are associated with Cyanidin-3-O-galatoside?

Cy3Gal can cross the blood-brain barrier, which allows it to impact brain health in multiple regions of the brain. Firstly, in the hippocampus, Cy3Gal can lower the activity of acetylcholine esterase. As a result, acetylcholine is broken down at a slower rate, resulting in higher levels of this neurotransmitter. This leads to improved neuronal signaling.

In mice, Cy3Gal has been shown to relieve neuronal damage in the hippocampus and cortex and there is evidence that Cy3Gal may improve cognitive function (3, 4).

One of the most interesting effects of Cy3Gal is that it can increase the activity of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which has many beneficial effects.

What is brain-derived neurotrophic factor?

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein highly expressed in the central nervous system and especially in the brain. It promotes the growth of neurons, more specifically the dendrites and dendritic spines. This supports the hippocampus, a brain region good for learning and long-term memory. BDNF is also involved in repairing brain damage.

An ideal ingredient to target brain health is the Aronia Melanocarpa extract Brainberry®.

What is Brainberry®?

Brainberry® is an Aronia Melanocarpa extract that is standardized for high levels of Cy3Gal. It is designed to enhance cognitive performance and brain fitness and it has been clinically tested in multiple studies.

Brainberry® contains high levels of Cy3Gal, which makes it an interesting ingredient for brain health formulations to target benefits mentioned before. Even more so, because Brainberry® has been clinically tested in several studies that are further described in its White Paper.

It has been shown that Brainberry® has beneficial effects on cognitive performance, such as attention and psychomotor speed, executive function, and memory. Moreover, effects on vascular function and cardiometabolic risk markers were investigated.

Provided its health benefits, Brainberry® is an interesting ingredient for a wide variety of consumers, such as athletes, gamers and students.

How can Brainberry® support athletes?

Power, endurance and focus are important during sports. Increasing psychomotor speed and hand-eye coordination is an important goal for many athletes. For this reason, there is a diverse collection of products focused on increasing these parameters.

Pre-workout formulas are an example of this. These products are consumed by athletes from all disciplines briefly prior to their workout or training. The goal of consuming these types of formulas is to enhance acute exercise performance (5). Brainberry® can increase focus, psychomotor speed and mental flexibility, which is why it is a good ingredient for a pre-workout formula.

Additionally, Brainberry® has been demonstrated to significantly enhance cognitive performance in 35 professional basketball players. It also improved basketball-specific skills like shooting, rebounding, and dribbling.

How can Brainberry® help gamers?

Gaming requires many skills, such as visual-spatial skills that allow you to analyze, recognize, and rapidly respond to changes on the screen. Besides, gaming sessions can last for hours, which means enhanced attention and focus are crucial.

Brainberry®’s high levels of Cy3Gal, which improves focus and psychomotor control, make it a relevant ingredient for gaming supplements.

This is further supported by a consumer study done with Brainberry® in young, healthy e-gamers. In this study, Brainberry® significantly improved relevant measures for gaming performance, such as hand-eye coordination, focus, reaction time and energy.

How could students benefit from Brainberry®?

There is a lot of pressure on students to perform well during their studies while also being involved in a social environment. They study for entire days, especially during exam periods.

Coffee seems to be a common good for students in these periods, but did you know there are quite some substitutes for coffee that don’t have the downsides of causing stress, anxiety and sometimes sleeping problems?

Brainberry® could be an interesting solution for students that want to stay focused on their studies, but don’t want the well-known caffeine-rush later followed by a crash in energy levels.

That’s because Cy3Gal, the hero-component of Brainberry®, is a powerful antioxidant that supports brain function and focus, without the sometimes-troublesome side-effects of caffeine.

Other benefits of Brainberry®

Except for being clinically proven to enhance psychomotor speed, focus and attention, Brainberry® has other benefits as well. It is 100% natural as it is extracted from high-quality Aronia berries from the Baltics.

The dosage of Brainberry® is very low at 65 mg and it does not contain any stimulants that are usually associated with undesired side effects. This makes Brainberry® a healthier option compared to many stimulants.

The bioavailability of Cy3Gal is very high, which means it is rapidly absorbed by the body. Also, Brainberry® is easy to formulate thanks to its excellent solubility and pleasant taste.

Lastly, there are many environmental benefits of Aronia Melanocarpa. The Aronia plant helps keeping bees healthy and happy, consumes little water and it is naturally organic.

Learn more about Brainberry®

If you are curious to know more about Brainberry®, you can check out the product page of Brainberry® or its website.


Aronia-Extract-Brainberry®-gains-US-patent-for-cognitive-performance-support

Aronia Extract Brainberry® gains US patent for cognitive performance support

Aronia Extract Brainberry® gains US patent for cognitive performance support

Maastricht, The Netherlands, November 16th, 2022

Press release
BioActor’s Aronia Extract, Brainberry®, has been granted a US patent for supporting cognitive function. The patent protects the composition and dosage of the ingredient and serves as official recognition of its ability to boost brain fitness and performance, which was demonstrated in two clinical trials.

Aronia-Extract-Brainberry®-gains-US-patent-for-cognitive-performance-support

US Patent for Aronia Extract Brainberry®

BioActor’s Aronia Extract, Brainberry®, has been granted a US patent for supporting cognitive function and, specifically, for improving reaction time and attention.

The patent protects the composition and dosage of the ingredient and serves as official recognition of its ability to boost brain fitness and performance.

Brainberry® is an all-natural ingredient derived from Aronia Melanocarpa berries from the Baltics and standardized for 15% Cyanidin-3-O-galactoside content: a powerful bioactive able to cross the blood-brain barrier and exerts multiple brain fitness benefits.

The supporting research

The ingredient is supported by two randomized, double-blind clinical trials carried out by BioActor, one in mid-age and one in younger subjects.

The two studies demonstrated Brainberry®’s beneficial effect on cognitive functioning after low-dose long-term (6 weeks and 12 weeks) and short-term acute (7 days) consumption.

Researchers found that Brainberry® increases attention/concentration, reaction time, psychomotor function, and visual-motor coordination.

Moreover, it was demonstrated that a beneficial effect in maintaining optimal levels of BDNF, an essential protein for brain health that is involved in neuronal plasticity and neuroprotection mechanisms.

The clinical research so far conducted, revealed that both middle-aged individuals, young students and professionals can benefit from the daily consumption of a low dose of Brainberry®.

Two additional studies to further investigate the benefits and elucidate the mode of action of Brainberry® are ongoing, thanks to the Public Private Partnership established between BioActor and Maastricht University.

About BioActor

BioActor is a life science company based on the Maastricht Health Campus and dedicated to researching, developing and commercialising health ingredients addressing healthy ageing and active living. BioActor has a targeted portfolio of patented and branded health ingredients that are all based on food crops, clinically researched and produced in Europe.

For more info: www.bioactor.com or www.brainberry.eu


MEET US - SupplySide West 2022

Visit us at SupplySide West 2022

October 25th, 2022

We are happy to announce that BioActor will participate in SupplySide West 2022, the premier gathering of health & nutrition professionals bringing together buyers and suppliers from throughout the industry. Visit us at Booth #2450!

Meet us at Booth #2450

Our team can’t wait to meet you in Las Vegas on November 2nd and 3rd.

You are welcome to come over for a coffee at our booth #2450 to discuss new business opportunities and get an idea of how our science-based ingredient can help you achieve your product development goals.

We are excited to discuss our nootropic ingredient for focus, Brainberry® or our recent studies on our innovative gut health ingredient MicrobiomeX®.

Don’t miss it, we are looking forward to seeing you there!

Book a meeting!



    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® or click here to learn everything you need to know about Brainberry® and brain health.


    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


    BioActor-is-participating-in-Vitafoods-2022-meet-us-Booth-F140

    MEET US - Vitafoods Europe 2022

    Visit us at Vitafoods Europe 2022

    April 22nd, 2022

    We are happy to announce that BioActor will participate in Vitafoods 2022, the trade show that offers the opportunity to find out the latest trends in the field of dietary supplements, raw materials, and food and to network with other professionals from around the world. Visit us at Booth F140.

    BioActor-is-participating-in-Vitafoods-2022-meet-us-Booth-F140

    Meet us at Booth F140

    Our team can’t wait to meet you online from May 2nd to May 13th, and in Geneva from May 10th to 12th.

    You are welcome to come over for a coffee at our booth F140 to discuss new business opportunities and get an idea of how our science-based ingredient can help you achieve your product development goals.

    Amongst the most exciting news, our team will be happy to present the recently concluded randomized clinical trials on our gut health and brain fitness solutions, MicrobiomeX® and Brainberry®.

    Don’t miss it, we are looking forward to seeing you there!

    Book a meeting!



      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.

      If this sparked your interest, you can find out everything you need to know about Brainberry®, brain health and improving your focus here.

       

      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.

      Curious to know more about brain health and how Cy3Gal can increase BDNF? Find out more!

      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 and neuronal functions. [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 of 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’s research program, 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].

      Sounds interesting? Here’s everything you need to know about Brainberry® and brain health.


      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.

       

      Curious to know more about brain health?

      Did this article spark your interest in brain health and how you can improve it? Here you can find out everything you need to know about brain health and what ingredients are best to keep a healthy brain!