How to optimize children’s brain development

Nutrition experts say docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is critical for brain growth in children because its consumption helps neurological and visual development, reports Associate Editor ADEKUNLE YUSUF

A casual conversation about best dietary practices later snowballed into a heated session. While waiting for their turn to get their babies immunized at the Federal Medical Center in Ebutte Meta, Lagos, six nursing mothers started comparing notes on their nutritional choices during and after their pregnancy months. This grew into a hot argument. But by the time the dust had settled, it was apparent that only one of them could earn a pass mark in the subject.

Unlike her counterparts who admitted during the lengthy discussions that their dietary choices are often largely determined by impulse or whatever is available, Margaret Udem, a fairly educated mother of three, knows the importance of getting enough omega-3 fats, including docosahexaenoic acid or DHA, in her diet. According to her, no day passes without including a healthy dose of this fatty acid in her diet – a habit of sorts. “I have known this fact since my childhood days that fatty acid is good for pregnant or lactating mothers,” she said.

However, that is where Udem’s knowledge about appropriate nutritional requirements ends. In a twist of irony, she too did not know that DHA is especially critical for brain growth in infants. A woman of refreshing candour, she admitted that “it has never occurred to me that children too need DHA and nobody has told me it is also useful for children.”

Yet, nutrition experts say omega-3 fatty acid is a significant contributor to the brain development that takes place during the first two years of life – and beyond. As parents marvel at how rapidly children grow and develop during the first months of life, it is usually a feeling of fulfillment seeing infants increasingly respond to sights and sounds, and become ever more curious about the world around them and ever more determined to explore it.

According to medical experts, behind those milestones and captivating moments of a child’s developmental progress, a vast neurological project is underway. The reason is that children’s brain grows more quickly during their first year than at any other time in their lives. That is why it is important to know that Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, help to fuel that growth in children, experts explained. Dr. Oluwatosin Adu, chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), explained that DHA is a component of the brain cells.

“The more the DHA that is there, the better it is for the communication between the brain cells and transmission of information. The more of the DHA that is present in the brain, the better for brain development. It helps in memory. It helps in coordination and all of those. The area of the brain where you have it is the area of the brain that is responsible for memory, attention. That is DHA is good for children and pregnant women because a lot of it is accumulated when the brain is developing,” Adu, who is also a senior lecturer in biochemistry department, Lagos State University (LASU), said.

Giving children the DHA they need to grow optimally

Docosahexaenoic acid is one of three main omega-3 fatty acids, with ALA and EPA being the other two big ones. DHA and other omega-3s play essential roles in the body throughout a person’s lifespan. They’re a rich source of energy, and they also help maintain the healthy functioning of our heart, lungs, and immune system. Omega-3 fatty acids help to control inflammation, stabilise mood, and may reduce anxiety and depression.

According to health experts, the beneficial work of omega-3s takes place at the cellular level. DHA and other omega-3s are absorbed by our cells, where they help cells maintain their optimal structure and also to communicate effectively with one another. Among omega-3 fatty acids, DHA is said to be particularly critical for healthy brain development and function; besides giving structure to brain cells and facilitating their communication. That is not all. DHA has other vital roles to play such as helping the human brain create and maintain what’s known as plasticity or the ability of the brain to modify its structure and the ways it functions. Human brains’ plasticity supports a person’s ability to learn, to change behaviours, to process emotions and emotional experiences, and to recover from brain injury or damage.

Also, DHA continues to fuel the growth of new brain cells as a person ages and develops beyond the first two years of life. It is equally critical to cellular development in the eyes and helps to maintain healthy vision. Although DHA has a unique significance for infants, this fatty acid is an essential nutrient throughout a person’s life. That’s because, during the earliest months and years of life, DHA helps to fuel an incredible pace of growth and development of the brain of children.

How children’s brain grows

DHA’s role in infant health and development actually begins before birth. Significant amounts of DHA collect in the brain during the second half of pregnancy (especially during the third trimester), when the fetal brain undergoes a breathtaking pace of growth. The infant’s brain continues a rapid pace of growth and development during the first 12 months of life. During that first year, the infant’s brain grows to nearly three-quarters the size of the adult brain. Whereas, at birth, the infant’s brain is roughly one-quarter to one-third the size of an adult brain.

What’s happening during this time of intense growth and development? The infant’s brain is building itself out structurally and foundationally, laying the groundwork for a lifetime of neural activity that includes all our thinking and reasoning, our social, emotional, and behavioral regulation, our learning and decision making. Research shows the amount of brain growth that takes place during their first year is one significant factor influencing a child’s intelligence later in life.

How DHA benefits children’s brain development

Because DHA is a structural […]


Give life a boost

Give life a boost

If science classes taught us anything, it’s that our moods and feelings are influenced by the hormones in our body. Some hormones are known to help keep us on a happy and pleasurable high.

In fact, these hormones aren’t a mystery to us and some of it may already sound familiar to you. The four hormones responsible for keeping us feeling positive and good are dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins.

So, how do these four happy hormones work and affect us?

Serotonin is both a hormone and a neurotransmitter, which helps regulate our mood, sleep, appetite, digestion, memory and learning ability. When serotonin levels are low or absent, we start to have a creeping feeling of loneliness and, at times, depression. This hormone flows when we feel significant or important.

Dopamine , also known as the feel-good hormone, is also a neurotransmitter that affects our brain’s reward system. As such, dopamine is linked to pleasurable sensations and a high level of the hormone helps motivate us to achieve our goals, desires and needs. When dopamine levels are low, we exhibit behaviours such as procrastination, showing low enthusiasm and being riddled with self-doubt.

Oxytocin , known famously as the love or cuddle hormone, is released when there’s physical affection like kissing, cuddling and sex. It’s an essential hormone in childbirth and breastfeeding too. The release of oxytocin helps to promote intimacy, trust, empathy and bonding in relationships.

Endorphins are actually our body’s natural pain reliever. Our body releases endorphins as a way to alleviate feelings of discomfort, perceptions of pain, anxiety and depression. Surprisingly, endorphin levels increase when we perform reward-producing tasks such as eating, exercise and laughing!

Now that we know what each hormone does, the question still remains. How do we go about maintaining our levels of happy hormones? As it turns out, our body can produce these hormone naturally by doing these activities:

1. Head outside and soak up some sun

Homebodies will sigh at this suggestion but all we really need is just a few minutes of sunshine to help produce serotonin and endorphins. Just bask in the sunlight for 10 to 15 minutes before retreating into your dark, comfortable room. Of course, you can venture out to the neighbourhood park for a while, or grab a bite to eat since you’re already out of the house.

2. Exercise

To hit the most birds with one stone, it’s best to head to the gym and work out. When we exercise regularly, the body produces endorphins, serotonin and dopamine! The legend of the ‘runner’s high’ rings true.

3. Laugh out loud Laughter is indeed the best medicine, but please be kind and not make other people the butt of your jokes. Watch a comedy show or share jokes with friends instead. Laughing can help boost dopamine and endorphin levels while also relieving feelings of anxiety and stress. When we bond with someone over something hilarious, the body produces oxytocin too!

4. Have yummy and nutritious meals

Eating a particularly delicious, or a favourite meal definitely lifts spirits up thanks to the release of dopamine and endorphins. Bonding with people we love with food? The oxytocin levels are just going to shoot up. Certain foods also help in boosting our happy hormones, such as spicy food and food containing probiotics such as yoghurt and kimchi.

5. Listen to music Have you realised that we often turn to music when we’re feeling down? Our body definitely knows what is needed to boost our spirits. Listening to tunes that we love increases our dopamine and serotonin production. We get a dose of endorphins too when we make music, dance or sing.

6. Play and cuddle with pets

We already know hugging releases oxytocin, and the same works when we hug our pets. Even better, the pets we hug and stroke also get their own boost of oxytocin levels, too. Happy owners lead to happy pets!

7. Get enough sleep

All of us know that getting enough sleep definitely improves our mood the next day. Too many late nights often lead to an imbalance of dopamine levels, which explains why we feel listless or uninspired when we wake up.

8. Break goals into tiny parts

Since dopamine affects the reward system in our brain, it’s helpful to break big tasks or goals into smaller parts. This way, we can experience tiny hits of dopamine from accomplishing each task, instead of waiting for the grand finish line. To ensure a constant flow of dopamine, create something to look forward to, such as setting new goals or rewarding yourself for finishing a task.

9. Reflect on past achievements

There are reasons why gratitude practices are popular. Reflecting on our past achievements and other happy memories help us relive the good experience. This leads to an increase of serotonin levels in the body, making us feel valued and that we have much to value in life.

10. Enjoy a massage The quickest way to boost the production of all four happy hormones in the body is to visit a spa and get a massage. Based on a 2004 research, both serotonin and dopamine levels increase after a massage which also leads to a rise in oxytocin and endorphins.


Not just for the gut: Probiotics can destroy cancer cells and prevent their spread

Not just for the gut: Probiotics can destroy cancer cells and prevent their spread

( Natural News ) The probiotic effects of metabolites produced by certain microbes have attracted scientific interest in recent years. Called bioactive postbiotic metabolites (PM), these compounds are said to promote gut health, relieve gastrointestinal disorders and enhance innate immunity.

Some studies have reported the anti-cancer effects of different components of bacteria like Lactobacillus gasseri and L. crispatus . In particular, scientists have noted how culture supernatants and bacterial cell extracts exhibit cytotoxicity and induce apoptosis in different types of cancer. Due to these interesting findings, researchers from Malaysia decided to test the effects of PMs from six different strains of L. plantarum on various cancer and normal cells.

In their study, which appeared in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine , the researchers demonstrated the ability of PMs to kill malignant cancer cells without harming normal cells. They believe that these compounds have great potential as functional supplements and as adjuncts to cancer treatments. The anti-cancer activities of postbiotic metabolites

PMs are considered the “ master health-regulating compounds ” as they play regulatory roles inside the body. These compounds affect every organ system, including the brain and immune system. PMs are produced by probiotic bacteria while they break down dietary fiber from foods, and these products range from soluble or secreted factors and bacteriocins (bacterial proteins) to metabolites and cell-free supernatants.

According to studies, PMs are just as effective as live probiotics and may even be safer than them. Due to their benefits, scientists have proposed the use of PMs in the treatment and prevention of gut-related diseases, such as inflammatory bowel diseases . In the case of L. plantarum , a probiotic found widely in fermented food products, the bacteriocin-containing PMs produced by six different strains have shown growth- and health-promoting effects in rats, poultry and pigs. Hence, the researchers decided to test their effects on cancer cells.

For their study, the researchers used normal human primary cells and breast, colorectal, cervical, liver and leukemia cancer cell lines. They also used different assays to determine the toxicity of L. plantarum PMs in vitro.

The researchers reported that UL4 PM had the lowest maximum inhibitory concentration (IC50) value against breast cancer cells. Meanwhile, a PM designated as RG14 had the lowest IC50 against colorectal cancer cells. Two PMs, RG11 and RI11, had the lowest IC50 values against leukemia cells. None of the tested PMs caused hemolysis (rupture) of human, dog, rabbit and chicken red blood cells, or exhibited cytotoxicity toward normal human and animal cells.

Due to the pronounced cytotoxicity shown by UL4 PM, the researchers tested it on MCF-7 ( breast cancer ) cells. They found that UL4 PM exerted anti-proliferative effects on MCF-7 cells after 72 hours of incubation at a concentration of 30 percent (v/v). Meanwhile, RG14 PM did the same on HT-29 (colorectal cancer) cells. Further analysis revealed that the cytotoxicity of the two PMs was mediated through apoptosis.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that the PMs produced by six strains of L. plantarum are selectively cytotoxic to malignant cancer cells in a strain-specific and cancer cell type-specific manner. These PMs can thus be used as functional supplements and as adjuncts to cancer treatments. (Related: 2 Servings of yogurt per week reduces risk of pre-cancerous bowel growths in men .) The role of postbiotic metabolites in the human gut

The gut microbiota — the community of microorganisms that live in the human gastrointestinal tract — is important for the fermentation of insoluble fiber from food. This process, in turn, helps beneficial microbes flourish in the gut. Beneficial gut microorganisms, also called probiotics, are responsible for producing short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which serve as the primary source of energy for the cells that line the colon.

SCFAs, along with other PMs like anti-microbial peptides and some vitamins (B-vitamins and vitamin K), have a wide range of health-regulating functions in the body. These include regulating digestion, nutrient absorption, detoxification, immune function and gut-brain communication, among others. PMs also directly affect the composition and functioning of the human gut microbiota, as well as inhibit the growth and activity of potential pathogens .

PMs are useful natural products that can promote good health. To increase the production of these beneficial compounds by good gut bacteria, add fiber-rich foods and fermented foods to your daily diet or take probiotic supplements.

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Want to give your brain *and* immune system a boost? Sip on pomegranate juice

Want to give your brain *and* immune system a boost? Sip on pomegranate juice

If you think of the produce section as a treasure trove of healthy jewels, ruby-colored pomegranates are prized gems, but they’re often overlooked for bigger, more popular prizes. It’s easy to see why: they are a bit confusing. Even healthy eaters struggle with knowing how to cut a pomegranate or what the heck to do with it. If you’re unfamiliar with the fruit, pomegranates are red fruits traditionally grown in the Mediterranean region (the land of so many healthy foods). Inside, it’s full of seeds called arils, which are the main edible part of the fruit. Pomegranates are super sweet, with a slightly tart taste.

In addition to being eaten whole, enjoying the fruit in its juiced form is one of the most popular ways to consume it. You’ll often find pomegranate juice right in the refrigerated section of the produce area at the store. You can also make it yourself using fresh pomegranates by seeding the pomegranates and then blending the seeds and pulp using a blender until the consistency is smooth.

Besides being a sweet sip, there are also many benefits to pomegranate juice. Here, registered dietitian and Verywell general manager Rachel Berman, RD, explains the benefits as well as any side effects to be aware of. Plus, ideas for creative ways to sip on it at home. 9 pomegranate juice benefits that make it a delicious and healthy drink:

1. pomegranate juice is high in antioxidants.

Berman says that one of the differences between consuming pomegranate juice versus the fruit in its whole form as that you’re losing out on some of the nutrients, including fiber and vitamin A. But pomegranate’s high antioxidant content isn’t lost at all when you enjoy it as a beverage. “Pomegranate juice is a rich source of punicalagins , which are powerful antioxidants,” she says. Punicalagins have been linked to helping reduce the risk of certain types of cancer , according to scientific studies. 2. It may improve brain health

One scientific study of adults with mild memory complaints found that participants who consumed pomegranate juice did better on memory tests than those who didn’t. The reason for this is likely due to the fact that the antioxidants help with blood flow to the brain, which is good for cognitive function. Another study on rats found that consuming pomegranate juice was linked to reducing inflammatory markers in the brain, suggesting another link between the juice and brain health. 3. it helps reduce inflammation

Another pomegranate juice benefit thanks to its high antioxidant content is that it can help reduce inflammation, fighting free radicals in the body that can cause damage to your body’s cells. This is connected to everything from rejuvenating skin to warding off chronic diseases, including cognitive impairment. 4. It offers some Immune-Boosting Vitamin C

Berman says that while store-bought pomegranate juice tends to have lost some of the fruit’s vitamin C content (eight ounces typically has 0.25 milligrams of vitamin C , while a cup of the fruit itself has 18 milligrams of vitamin C ), if you make your own, much of it can be retained through the pulp. This means that sipping fresh pomegranate juice can potentially help boost your immune system , in conjunction with other healthy habits, of course. For extra immunity benefits, add a bit of ginger and turmeric .

Looking for other healthy, immune-boosting foods? Check out the video below: 5. pomegranate juice is good for your skin

The combined powers of the punicalagins and vitamin C make pomegranate juice a pretty fantastic beauty beverage. Vitamin C helps with collagen production , which helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles from the inside out. And because punicalagins help fight free radicals, it helps rejuvenate the skin. 6. it helps promote good sleep

While you’ll reap the benefits of pomegranate juice any time of the day, its magnesium content ( 17 milligrams a serving ) makes it a particularly good pre-bedtime drink as magnesium is linked to promoting good sleep . 7. it helps with muscle recovery from workouts

The high magnesium content in pomegranate juice also makes is a great post-workout recovery drink. Scientific studies have linked magnesium consumption with helping muscles better repair from the wear and tear of strenuous workouts. 8. Pomegranate juice Has potassium

One serving of pomegranate juice has 214 milligrams of potassium , part of the 3,500 milligrams you want to aim to get a day. Potassium is an important nutrient for heart health, connected to lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke. It also helps keep sodium levels balanced. 9. consuming pomegranate juice regularly Is Good for heart health

Is there anything this stuff can’t do? Pomegranate juice is linked to lower cholesterol and blood pressure if consumed regularly. This is likely because of those all-so powerful antioxidants, which can potentially reduce the amount of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol in the body. Are there any side effects of consuming pomegranate juice?

Because pomegranate juice is so sweet, many healthy eaters may wonder if the sugar content impacts the health benefits. (It has about 31 grams per eight ounces, depending on the brand.) Berman’s verdict: Don’t obsess over it. “Sugar in fruit is totally natural and nothing to be concerned about in moderation,” she says. But it’s a high dose in one serving, so just be aware of what other sources of sugar you’re consuming that day.

While the sugar content is nothing to worry too much about, there are other factors to keep in mind when consuming pomegranate juice. Like with any food, some people could be allergic . Signs of this typically include itching, swelling, a running nose, and trouble breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms after drinking pom juice, it’s best to steer clear.

If you plan to make pomegranate juice a regular part of your wellness routine but are taking any other medications or supplements, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor first —just to be safe. Fun ways to get the pomegranate […]


Nootropics Market size is expected to reach $5.31 billion by 2026, rising at a market growth of 13.2%. CAGR during the forecast period 2026

Nootropics Market size is expected to reach $5.31 billion by 2026, rising at a market growth of 13.2%. CAGR during the forecast period 2026

Nootropics Market To Reach USD 5.32 Billion By 2026 The Global Nootropics Market was valued at USD 1.96 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach USD 5.32 billion by the year 2026, at a CAGR of 13.2%. Nootropics are compounds that enhance the cognitive performance of an individual. These substance, also known as smart drugs, are a class of ingredients which can boost the memory, enhance creativity levels, decision making capabilities and improve brain performance.

Nootropics medication are of two types, prescription and nonprescription. Prescription medication gives stimulant effects, counteracting the symptoms of medical conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer’s disease, or narcolepsy while nonprescription medications are used to boost mental performance due to their cholinergic mechanisms.

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The market for these substances is anticipated to get augmented by factors such as the increasing demand for brain boosters owing to the competitive work environment across various domains, rising demand from the sports industry for brain and improved decision making, and the growing awareness regarding mental illnesses. However, the side effects associated with regular consumption of these pills, lack of awareness among consumers regarding these products, addiction to the drug and hesitation among people to visit psychiatrists or neurologists in emerging countries would impede the growth of this market.

In market segmentation by manufacturers, the report covers the following companies:-Accelerated Intelligence Inc., AlternaScript; HVMN, Onnit Labs, Inc., Peak Nootropics, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Purelife bioscience Co., Ltd., United Pharmacies, SupNootropic bio co., Ltd., and Powder City

With the increasing number of nootropic consumers, more recently, the drug modafinil (brand name: Provigil) has become the brain-booster of choice. Modafinil is intended to improve wakefulness in people with narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, or work condition change according to the FDA. But when people take it without these factors, it has been related to changes in alertness, strength, decision-making and concentration. Other leading pharmaceutical companies in this domain are focused on bringing new products in the market with multiple functions. For instance, Neurohacker Collective, the human optimization company, launched the first liquid nootropic, Qualia Nootropic Energy Shot, claimed to improve brain energy levels.

North America holds the highest market share in this industry with the highest number of nootropics consumers in the region. A large percentage of adult population in this region consumes multi-vitamin tablets for improving functional abilities. Moreover, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has classified the nonprescription product as Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS).

For the purpose of this report, Reports and Data has segmented the Nootropics market on the basis of drugs type, application, distribution channel and region:

Drug Type Outlook (Revenue in Million USD; 2019-2026)
Prescription Nootropics
OTC Nootropics

Application Outlook (Revenue in Million USD; 2019-2026)
Memory Enhancement
Mood & Depression
Attention & Focus
Longevity & Anti-aging
Sleep & Recovery

Distribution Channel Outlook (Revenue in Million USD; 2019-2026)

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Regional Outlook (Revenue in Million USD; 2019-2026)
North America
Asia Pacific
Middle East & Africa
Latin America

Further key findings from the report suggest:

The application type segment is dominated by the memory enhancement type nootropics owing to the challenging work environment demanding potential employees. It is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 13.7 % during the forecast period.

HVMN, a U.S. based manufacturer and seller of ketone associated products launched HVMN Ketone at the beginning of 2018, which is claimed to enhance both physical and cognitive performance.

In recent years, consumer have shifted to organic nootropics as well such as coffee, matcha tea, green tea, kucha tea, spinach, beets, peanuts, eggs, liver, brahmi, arctic root, turmeric, ginseng, pine bark, and fish oil.

According to the American Exercise Council (ACE), around 50% of the consumers in the U.S. prefer to buy natural ingredient products. The growth in vegan population is expected to drive demand for natural products in developed regions such as Europe and North America.
Manufacturers for Nootropics are focused on natural ingredients to satisfy the growing demand. For instance, Gaia Herbs launched a new product in April 2019 called Bacopa a vegan supplement made using natural ingredient. It contains lemon balm, saffron and spearmint.North America remains the key revenue generating geographical segment in this market. The geographical segment accounted for USD 740.1 million in 2018. Availability presence of key market players in the region, rising focus on precision medicine, and rising awareness about nootropics applications, are among the key factors driving the market growth for Nootropics in this regionAccess Full Report Description, TOC, Figure, Chart, etc. @ are 10 Chapters that describe the development of the global Nootropics MarketThe report is spread across 10 Chapters that encompass the analysis of the global Nootropics Market Chapter 1 covers the introduction of the Wearable Materials Market, product scope, market overview, market opportunities, market challenges, and market drivers;Chapter 2 talks about the top vendors, with an in-depth analysis of their sales, revenue and pricing strategies for the duration 2016 and 2017;Chapter 3 displays the competitive nature of the market by discussing the competition among top vendors in the sector. It dissects the market using sales, revenue and market share data for 2016 and 2017;Chapter 4, shows the global market by regions and the proportionate size of each market region based on sales, revenue, and market share of Nootropics Market, for the period 2012-2017;Continue…Contact Us:John Watson Head of Business Development Direct Line: +1-212-710-1370 E-mail: Reports and Data | Web: News: Connect with us: Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter 40 Wall St. 28th floor New York City, NY 10005 United StatesAbout Us:Reports and Data is a market research and consulting company that provides syndicated research reports, customized research reports, and consulting services. Our solutions purely focus on your purpose to locate, target and analyze consumer behavior shifts across demographics, across industries and help client’s make a smarter business decision. We offer market intelligence studies ensuring relevant and fact-based research across a multiple industries including Healthcare, Technology, Chemicals, Power and Energy. We consistently update our research offerings to ensure our clients are aware about the latest trends […]


Does music help us work better? It depends

Does music help us work better? It depends

The debate over whether we should be allowed to rock out at our desks has been raging for decades. Now science is providing some answers – and they’re not what you think .

The weapon was initiated at precisely 10:30 in the morning. It was 23 June 1940 and World War Two was in full swing. The Germans had already invaded vast swathes of continental Europe; in the preceding weeks, 10,000 British troops had been captured in Normandy .

Now the BBC had been asked to get involved. Their powerful intervention was completely invisible, yet capable of infiltrating the minds of thousands of people all at once, all over the country. Over the next few years, it arguably helped to win the war.

This was the “ Music While You Work ” programme – a brainchild of the UK government, which thought that broadcasting live, upbeat music in factories twice a day might help to step up the pace of work and get the military the munitions they so badly needed.

It was a hit. In a report on the show’s success, BBC executives cited the numerous letters and reports they had received from managers nationwide. One described its impact as “incalculable”, while another estimated that, for an hour or so after a session of music, output at their factory increased by 12.5-15%.

Fast-forward eight decades and working to music is extraordinarily common; one 2019 survey of 2,000 Britons found that around half regularly listen to music while they work – with two out of five believing that it helps them to get more done. And as headphones have become standard work accessoriesand productivity playlists have racked up millions of views on YouTube , some companies have started to broadcast music over entire workplaces.

Michael Vettraino, who founded the London-based music consultancy MAV music, says the company has helped to introduce background music to several offices. While their main focus is on providing bespoke playlists for restaurants, casinos and hotels, recently they have branched out into supplying offices, many of which are introducing music for the first time.

“Our clients have told us that it’s increased their productivity when they’ve had the right music playing in the office, in terms of staff motivation,” says Alex Hill, who works as MAV’s head of music and operations. They are always careful to factor in the demographics of their audience – their age, etc. – and fit the music to how they’re likely to be feeling at different times of day.

“When you’re concentrating you’ll want calmer, more relaxing music and at the end of the day when you’re feeling tired, you’ll want something more upbeat. We know that a graphic design agency in Shoreditch is going to want very different music to a high street bank Gloucester. But if you get it right, it should hopefully help people to work harder.”

But can this really be true – or is it wishful thinking? It’s a perennial debate and one that’s almost as divisive as whether reclining your seats on an airplane is OK or what colour that notorious dress is .

The ‘Mozart effect’

Some of us feel that blasting out tunes in the workplace is an inalienable right; the teenager inside us swears they can’t concentrate without the dulcet tones of Kanye West or Taylor Swift ringing in their ears. One despairing worker took to social sharing site Reddit to vent about a colleague who gets into the zone each morning by playing mariachi band music .

Others take cocooning their brains from distraction extremely seriously, booking conference rooms for parties of one, constructing passive-aggressive emails about noise in the office and donning headphones while secretly listening to nothing. The billionaire Bill Gates reportedly gave up music and television at any time of day for five years in his 20s to help him focus.

Our clients have told us that it’s increased their productivity when they’ve had the right music playing in the office, in terms of staff motivation – Alex Hill

“ Historically, music and work have always been intertwined,” says Karen Landay, a former professional violinist and graduate student at the University of Alabama who has authored a review on the subject . “Think about romantic visions of peasants singing as they harvest, or sea chanteys sung by sailors as they work on their ships. And since most people enjoy listening to music of some kind in at least some contexts, it’s perfectly natural to feel that music must have some sort of positive impact on our work.”

There are two possible ways that music might be beneficial in the workplace: by making us smarter, or by making us feel good, and therefore helping us to plod on with otherwise boring tasks.

The best-known example of the first is the “Mozart effect” – broadly the idea that listening to a piano sonata devised by a genius can make you one too. The phrase was popularised after a 1993 paper claimed that people perform better on certain spatial tasks , such as folding paper, after listening to Mozart for 10 minutes.

The concept has spawned a whole industry of products, such as headphones that mothers can use to play Mozart to their unborn children. It sounds farfetched, but more recent studies have hinted that there might genuinely be something unusually beneficial about his music.

For example, research conducted in 2015 compared the impact of Mozart’s “K. 448”, a composition for two pianos, with Beethoven’s equally celebrated “Für Elise”, a solo piano piece. It turns out that while Mozart’s sonata increased “alpha band” brain waves – which have been linked to memory, cognition and problem solving – Beethoven, oddly, had no such power.

There’s also the discovery that mice who were subjected to 10-hour recitals of Mozart’s K. 448 for 10 weeks were significantly better at navigating a complex maze than ones which had to listen to Beethoven’s Für Elise instead.

So, with some famous composers’ work having clearer cognitive benefits than others – what are we to believe? There is another explanation, in which […]


Doing a puzzle, painting and playing with pets are top activities to keep your brain healthy at home

Doing a puzzle, painting and playing with pets are top activities to keep your brain healthy at home

A new study has revealed the most popular everyday activities for maintaining brain health and longevity without leaving your home.

While we’re at home during coronavirus self-isolation , these are the things we should be doing to keep our brains healthy and active, including drinking lots of water, painting, and knitting.

Audley Villages looked at the most popular scientifically supported activities you can do at home to maintain brain health, based on global monthly search volume and psychologist research.

With over 11,500,000 global monthly searches, drinking water has been revealed as the most popular activity to improve your brain health, followed by painting , sleeping and being in silence.

Playing with pets increases levels of oxytocin, improving empathy, trust, and memory of social cues, while knitting can boost the reward centres of the brain. According to Dr Rachel M Allan, Chartered Counselling Psychologist, mindfulness practice can help to reduce stress and depression and improve mood.

The brain is our body’s most complex organ, responsible for our thoughts, feelings, actions and memory. While it’s natural for our brain to lose cognitive function over time, it’s important that we do our best to maintain its health and longevity.

Following its research, Audley Villages has ranked the top 30 activities anyone can do to improve their brain health at home based on popularity and psychological research. From solving a puzzle to listening to music, the study highlights the top daily activities that help keep your mind sharp without leaving your home.

See the top 10 most popular activities to improve brain health at home below: Audley Villages Drinking Water is the Most Popular Activity for Improving Psychological Health at Home

Drinking water is not only essential for keeping your body functioning, it’s also great for improving concentration and mental cognition. Guzzling water will help to balance your mood and emotions as well as maintaining memory function.

Getting in your recommended daily intake of H20 is also beneficial for increasing blood flow and oxygen to your brain. It can help to prevent and relieve headaches and reduce overall stress. Painting is the Best Creative Activity for Boosting Brain Function Indoors

Whether you’re skilled with a paintbrush or not, painting is the most popular activity for boosting your memory recollection skills – working to sharpen the mind through conceptual visualisation. With 7,080,000 global searches, people who often use creative mediums like painting and drawing have a decreased chance of developing memory loss illnesses in old age.

If you lack a passion for painting, language is a fitting alternative. Reading poetry increases activity in the part of the brain associated with autobiographical memory. Learning a foreign language is also one of the top uncommon activities for boosting brain health, with only 2,100 monthly searches. It can increase the areas of the brain associated with memory, such as the hippocampus and cerebral cortex. Mint Images Music is One of the Simplest Ways to Boost Brain Health

Music is one of the easiest ways of boosting brain health at home with the majority of people listening to music for 32.1 hours a week. When people listen to or play music, the entire brain lights up with increased neural activity. Those who play music regularly can increase development in their corpus callous, the connection between the left and right sides of the brain – meaning a musician’s brain may have more agility for problem solving. Listening to music can also improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory, as well as reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain.

“Playing a musical instrument utilises fine motor skills, requires following patterns, drawing from memory and engaging with multi-sensory feedback” reveals Dr Rachel M Allan, Chartered Counselling Psychologist, “It draws on many different high-level brain functions at the same time, which strengthens connections between different regions of the brain.”

Other ways you can benefit your brain indoors include drinking tea with 685,000 searches and even doing a crossword, with over 495,000 searches each month. Keep Moving to Keep Memory Loss Away

Daily walking and moving around has been found to strengthen the brain’s memory circuits, boost your mood , and ensure your brain has a strong blood supply, to help it function better now and in future. Ruth Cooper-Dickson, Positive Psychology Practitioner states that “any form of exercise and being active is beneficial for the hippocampus – which is the part of the brain that acts like a brake on the stress response.” Getty Images Paul Morgan, Managing Director Operations at Audley Villages, said:””Exercise doesn’t have to be a strenuous gym session or a 5km run! Our brain is our most powerful organ and changes throughout our lifetime, adapting to experiences and continually developing. As we age we undergo natural cognitive decline so engaging in activities that stimulate the formation of new cells and exercise our brains daily is fundamental in maintaining brain health at every age.”

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The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it’s possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the World Health Organisation . If you’re in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention . 15 of the best knitting kits for beginners

As well as being adorably cute, knits for babies have another big advantage: they’re small, so you can see results sooner.

What’s in the kit: All you need to make a pair of baby booties: knitting needles, yarn, buttons, sewing needle.

Best for: Packaged in a ribbon-trimmed case, Buttonbag’s Baby Booties Kit, makes a pretty gift for mums – or grandmas – to-be. Or present the new arrival with knitted-by-you booties and mitts.

What’s in the kit? All […]


How wine and six other lifestyle factors can effect your memory loss

How wine and six other lifestyle factors can effect your memory loss

We all want to keep our brains as sharp as possible – in fact, according to research by Alzheimer’s Research UK, 42% of UK adults admit that cognitive and memory loss is one of their biggest fears.

But as much as we try to resist memory loss and the gradual slowly of our minds, it goes hand-in-hand with growing old. Biologists believe that our bodies begin to degenerate from the third decade of life and so does our brain. There’s evidence to show that our ability to form and use short and long term memories usually peaks in our mid-20s. It then gradually declines until our 60s, after which there’s a more rapid decline.

However, functions such as our vocabulary, numerical skills and general knowledge seem to be resistant to decline. So while a change may to some extent be inevitable, it’s also possible that our memory performance could be influenced by a number of everyday elements.

Here, Natalie Lamb, nutritional therapist at Bio-Kult reveals the lifestyle factors that may be affecting your memory – and what you can do about it. Lifestyle factors that may effect memory loss

1. Stress

“Our memories are not created equal. Some experiences are well remembered, while others are remembered poorly, if at all. Research indicates that emotionally significant experiences activate hormonal and brain systems that regulate memories. These effects are aided by adrenal stress hormones that fire up of certain areas of the brain. However, during times of heightened stress , our adrenal hormones have been shown to impair memory retrieval and working memory.

“Stress is unfortunately now a big part of our busy modern lifestyles. Various techniques to alter your perception of a stressor may help your body to cope with a possible perceived stressful situation. Try to be realistic with your time management by giving yourself more time than you need to complete a task, don’t take on too much or be afraid to say ‘no’.” 2. Poor sleep

“Studies have shown that sleep benefits memory retention. A good quality, uninterrupted night’s sleep is one where we move through different stages of sleep patterns. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep introduce a sleep routine, to slow down the mind and body in tune with our natural daily circadian rhythm. Dim lights and avoid using tech with unnaturally bright white light such as a TV, laptop or phone at least one hour before bed. Instead, read a book, start a meditation practice, take a bath or drink a cup of valerian or camomile tea.” 3. Low protein intake

“Research demonstrates the importance of a good quality protein source with each meal to enhance memory. Proteins are considered the building blocks of the body and are high in animal products such as meats, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs and dairy. Proteins from animal sources are considered highly bioavailable and easy for the body to utilise. Proteins can also be found in plant foods such as grains, legumes, nuts and seeds and are best combined to provide a wider range of amino acids.

“The daily Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) in the UK is set at 0.75g of protein per kilogram bodyweight per day in adults. This is approximately 45g/day for adult women. For example one medium egg or 50 pistachio nuts provides around 6g of protein, an 85g serving of beef or fish about 20g, and 1 cup (198g) of boiled lentils about 18g.”

Want to up your protein intake? We’ve put together a list of high protein snack ideas . 4. Excess sugar and refined carbohydrate intake

“Glucose is the main fuel used in the brain. But over time, excess intake of refined sugar and carbohydrates could cause metabolic alterations such as insulin resistance and high blood glucose, both of which are also hallmarks of type-2 diabetes mellitus and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. The hippocampus is the brain region important for learning and memory, and is one of the areas affected by high glucose intake.

“Consume grains in their wholegrain form and eat them alongside a protein or fat source, such as scrambled eggs on sourdough spelt bread. Limit intake of sweets, chocolate, high sugar breakfast cereals and packaged foods.” 5. Excessive alcohol consumption

“According to studies, frequent heavy consumption of alcohol alters brain function and decreases cognitive performance including memory, while regular light and moderate consumption may have a protective impact. There are reported benefits of polyphenol resveratrol – found in red wine on cognitive function such as memory. However, these benefits could also be gained by eating flavonoid rich vegetables and fruits such as grapes and berries.” 6. Lack of cognitively stimulating activity

“‘Use it or lose it’. as the old saying goes! Cognitively stimulating activity such as a daily Sudoku puzzle, crossword or reading a book, has the potential to improve memory function. However, research suggests that memory is further improved by group activity versus that undertaken alone. Why not join a local bridge group, or a book club where you can recall and discuss the plot of a great book club book , or enjoy a game of scrabble with a friend or family member?” 7. Imbalanced gut bacteria

Recent studies have found that there is a link between our gut bacteria and our brains. This has lead some experts to believe that a healthy gut can help keep a mind healthy too.

“Emerging evidence suggests that the trillions of microbes that live in our gut may play an important role in influencing brain health and cognitive function. Data now indicates that our gut bacteria communicates with us directly through the microbiota-gut-brain axis. Latest Stories

“Beneficial bacteria produces brain chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters that are important for attention, memory and movemen and promote healthy of brain cells. Recent studies have demonstrated an association between changes in the gut microbiota, cognitive function including learning and memory, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

“Try Bio-Kult Mind , which contains live bacteria, bioavailable flavonoids, grape and wild blueberry extracts, and […]


Can Listening to Music Improve Your Workout

Can Listening to Music Improve Your Workout

There are plenty of reasons people choose to start working out. While some do it simply because they like it, others might be doing it because of some health issues or to improve their general health. However, no matter the reason people choose to exercise, the fact is that all of us sometimes need a bit of extra help and motivation.

That’s why so many people choose to listen to music while working out. The fact is that listening to music can – in fact – improve your workout. Here’s how.

Various styles of music have different effects on people. While you may enjoy the edgier tones usually associated with grunge or punk, our mom – for instance – may think you’re crazy. But the fact is that familiar tunes have a positive effect on our mental state. When you hear the songs you recognize – and particularly those you enjoy, your brain will boost your dopamine levels. The happier you are, the more motivated you’ll be to work out. That’s why you should allow your favorite tunes to motivate you and get you going. If your preferred workout is running, for instance, you can find a lot of excellent running watches that have the option to play music. Either through MP3, offline or some of the music streaming platforms, these will allow you to vibe with your favorite tunes while breaking some sweat.

Some studies suggest that people who enjoy the same type of music are generally more compatible. And since music is such a medium that really has the power to bring people together, it can seriously affect the way we approach our exercising efforts. Aside from boosted motivation, music can also make us feel a bit competitive. So, for example, if you and your friends or gym buddies are working out together while listening to some of your favorite tunes, you may notice that you begin to push yourself to do a bit more. By gradually increasing the pace of your exercise, you’ll slowly start to reap greater benefits and get more out of your workout.

On a similar note, music has also proven to be boosting people’s physical performance. Those who create a workout playlist and truly get lost in the tunes report that they have a far easier time working out. It’s simple, really – when you’re listening to music, your brain tends to get distracted, and you start paying more attention to the beat and the lyrics. And since your body has excellent muscle memory, this doesn’t prevent you from performing proper exercises. It just makes the entire experience feel significantly easier and interesting.

Finally, every person that’s working out has their own pace that naturally feels good. So, when you find the music whose beat matches your natural workout pace, you’ll feel much more in tune with your body when exercising. For instance, if you have chosen cycling as your preferred form of exercise, listening to music that has between 125 and 140 beats per minute (bpm) will help you reach and maintain your ideal tempo more easily. For treadmill exercises, the most sustainable bpm is somewhere between 123 and 131.

So, the next time you feel a drop in your workout motivation, get your wireless ear pods in and allow your favorite beats to get you moving. If working out is a necessity for you – and not passion – combining it with something you thoroughly enjoy – like listening to music, will make the entire experience far more pleasant and enjoyable. Not only that but it will help you keep pushing forward even when you don’t really feel like it, which will only benefit you in the long run.

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The best way to prep yourself for the corona virus is to boost your immune system. Now that we are all self-quarantined, we don’t know if we have the virus or not. Just because we don’t show any symptoms, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be prepared for it. I’ve curated some items that I personally use to keep my immune system in tip top shape (this list is just my personal opinion but these are items I use personally). A study showed that black garlic has higher amounts of antioxidants and biological activity than regular garlic . Antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and prevent the development of cancer and diabetes, among other health problems. Diets that include black garlic have been linked to balance blood sugar levels. It also prevents cancer and helps with brain health. Reishi mushroom has been used to help enhance the immune system, reduce stress, improve sleep, and lessen fatigue. People also take reishi mushroom for health conditions such as: High blood pressure. High cholesterol. Put this in a smoothie and you’re good to go!

Kimchi is a red, fermented cabbage dish (occasionally, with radish) made with a mix of salt, vinegar, garlic, chile peppers and other spices. Because kimchi is fermented, like yogurt, it contains “healthy bacteria” called lactobacilli that aids in the digestion process of your body. Another amazing by-product of its fermentation process are the probiotics can also fight off various infections in your body.

People claim that SARS didn’t hit Korea because everyone was eating Kim Chi.

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POWERFUL ANTIOXIDANTS: Elderberries are very high in antioxidants and can fight free-radicals and reduce oxidative-stress. These antioxidants can help your body remain balanced and working the way it should. Traditionally used for thousands of years to support a healthy immune system, Elderberry plays a key role in a number of critical functions within the body. NURTURE YOUR MIND, BODY & SPIRIT – By combining 3 of the most researched mycological species on the planet, Genius Mushrooms deliver an organic wellness formula unlike any other: Enhance mental clarity, immune function, natural energy and more

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MEMORY, FOCUS & COGNITIVE PERFORMANCE – Lions Mane provides a safe alternative to highly questionable nootropics and smart drug hitting the market nowadays: This species is a proven brain booster, great for work & studying Activated charcoal works by trapping toxins and chemicals in the gut, preventing their absorption.

The charcoal’s porous texture has a negative electrical charge, which causes it to attract positively charged molecules, such as toxins and gases. This helps it trap toxins and chemicals in the gut.

Because activated charcoal is not absorbed by your body, it can carry the toxins bound to its surface out of your body in feces. By getting rid of the toxins in your body, your body can focus on fighting the virus! Used medicinally, Black Cumin Seed Carrier Oil eliminates harmful topical bacteria, stimulates a strong immune response, facilitates skin’s healing process, and eases muscular aches and joint pain. When diffused, Black Cumin Seed Carrier Oil enhances and supports the health of the respiratory and digestive systems. In traditional Chinese and Native American medicine, dandelion root has long been used to treat stomach and liver conditions. Herbalists today believe that it can aid in the treatment of many ailments, including acne, eczema, high cholesterol, heartburn, gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, and even cancer. Some of the claims are better supported by research than others. Go out in the sun for at least 10 minutes a day. Not only is it free, it will boost your immune system and you will get healthy microbes that will help ward off the virus.

There you have it. Please share with your loved ones and stay safe!