Magnesium L-threonate is the magnesium salt of a naturally occurring vitamin C metabolite L-threonic acid. Magnesium, a divalent cation, is important for neuronal activity as it is a co-factor for enzymes present
in the neurons or glial cells.1,2
Magnesium and Cognitive Health
Two observational studies found that individuals with a diet rich in magnesium have a lower risk of cognitive decline:
Mechanism of Action
Magnesium regulates the opening of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) in the brain. This receptor plays a critical role in cognitive function and is the target of various neurological treatments.5
Structurally, NMDAR is made up of two glycine-binding NR1 sub-units, and two of four glutamate-binding NR2 sub-units: NR2A, NR2B, NR2C, and NR2D (Figure 1).
Out of the four NR2 subunits, NR2B is of prime importance because
it confers greater synaptic plasticity which helps to create and retain
memories. However, the number of NR2B sub-units have been shown
to decrease with age in animals.6 Overexpression of the NR2B sub-unit
enhanced memory in transgenic rats and mice compared to wild-type
littermates.7 NR2B is also thought to influence memory formation by
increasing the long-term potentiation (LTP) through the activation of
calcium/calmodulin dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) (Figure 2).8
Long-term potentiation is long lasting increase in synaptic efficacy,
which is critical for learning and memory.9
Magnesium L-Threonate Enhances Spatial Memory in Animals
Magnesium L-threonate up regulated the expression of NR2B subunit in cultured hippocampal neurons.10 Compared to control, rats treated with magnesium L-threonate had:
This increase in NR2B sub-unit expression and magnitude of LTP by magnesium L-threonate translates into enhanced hippocampus dependent memory. In this study, spatial working memory, memory regarding one’s environment, and spatial orientation, were assessed at day 0 and day 24 by T maze. At day 0, rats in both groups made 30% fewer correct choices, but at day 24 aged rats treated with magnesium L-threonate made about 15% more correct choices than untreated rats (p<0.05). Interestingly, the improvement in spatial memory of aged rats declined within 12 days of stopping the treatment but improved when the treatment was re-initiated.
Magnesium L-Threonate Improves Memory in Older Adults
The effect of magnesium L-threonate on memory was studied in a randomized double-blind placebo controlled study with 50 men and women between 50-70 years of age with self-reported complaints of memory and concentration.
Subjects were treated with 1.5-2 g/day of magnesium L-threonate, along with 200 IU of vitamin D and 30 mg of vitamin C for 12 weeks. Working memory and capacity to store and process information, measured by digit span test, improved by 13.1% at week 6 compared to placebo (p=0.023). However, this effect on working memory approached significance at week 12, which was the end of the study (p=0.064).12
Pre-clinical studies demonstrate that magnesium L-threonate may increase synaptic plasticity through increasing the expression of one of the NMDA receptor sub-units. In vivo and clinical study results show that magnesium L-threonate positively influences cognitive measures of memory. More clinical studies are underway to further evaluate effects of magnesium L-threonate on memory and other dimensions of cognition.
by Bianca Garilli, ND
Magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in the human body following calcium, sodium, and potassium. Intracellularly, magnesium is the 2nd most abundant cation behind only potassium.1 The number of essential roles magnesium plays in the body is extraordinary, with over 300 enzymes requiring magnesium as a co-factor for proper functioning.1
This essential element is involved in numerous critical physiological processes such as energy production (ATP metabolism, oxidative phosphorylation, and glycolysis), protein synthesis, muscle contraction, nerve function, blood glucose control, hormone receptor binding, blood pressure regulation, trans membrane ion flux, gating of calcium channels, cardiac excitability, and synthesis of nucleic acids (RNA and DNA).1
Unfortunately, magnesium is one of the most prevalent nutrient gaps in the US. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee noted a substandard intake of magnesium as compared to the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR), which is the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) used to assess population sufficiency vs. insufficiency for nutrients.2-3 A 2016 publication in Advanced Nutrition concluded, “Approximately 50% of Americans consume less than the EAR for magnesium, and some age groups consume substantially less”.4 This is especially concerning when one considers the critical implications of long-term, frequently unrecognized magnesium deficiencies.
Deficiencies in magnesium can present with overt clinical manifestations such as nausea, vomiting, lethargy, weakness, personality changes, tetany and tremor, seizures, arrhythmia, and muscle fasciculations.5 In other cases, sub clinical deficiencies may be more difficult to recognize yet have equally serious effects if left untreated. Health concerns and disease processes resulting from an underlying, subclinical magnesium deficiency may contribute to low bone mineral density and cardio-metabolic implications such as metabolic syndrome, hypertension, arrhythmia, arterial calcification, atherosclerosis, heart failure, and increased risk for thrombosis.6
A sub clinical magnesium deficiency can also disrupt sleep and cause muscle cramping, two common symptoms often glossed over but which can be signs of a bigger problem if left untreated. The impact of magnesium on these two clinical manifestations will be explored further:
Magnesium and sleep
A double-blind randomized clinical trial composed of 43 elderly participants between 60-75 years of age with diagnosed insomnia was conducted.7 The experimental group was given 500 mg/day of elemental magnesium for 8 weeks (250 mg elemental magnesium from 414 mg of Mg oxide, twice daily), while the control group received a placebo for the same length of time.7 A statistically significant increase was seen in sleep time, sleep efficiency, and concentration of serum renin and melatonin, as well as a significant decrease in insomnia severity index (ISI) score, sleep onset latency, and serum cortisol level.7
For many individuals, sleep is disrupted by restless leg syndrome (RLS) or periodic limb movements (PLMS).8 A study supplementing 12.4mmol of oral magnesium in the evenings for 4-6 weeks found that the overall sleep efficiency improved from 75 to 85%.9 The Mg-supplemented group also experienced a significant reduction in PLMS associated with arousal (7 PLMS/hr vs. 17 PLMS/hr at baseline).9
Magnesium and muscle cramps
Muscle cramping is a common occurrence among women during pregnancy, in athletes, and in the elderly, for which magnesium is often recommended.10 There are only a few studies, however, that have reviewed the efficacy of magnesium for muscle cramping.10 In a Cochrane review, 7 trials (5 parallel, 2 cross-over design) were included, with 3 of these trials studying pregnancy-associated leg cramps in 202 females and 4 trials looking at idiopathic leg cramps in 322 participants.10 Results from the studies noted no significant improvement of muscle cramping in older adults, while results in pregnancy were mixed leading the authors to recommend further studies in this population.10 The authors of a review article in Scientifica note that the mixed findings may be explained by the potential that, “deficiencies of other elemental nutrients including calcium and potassium have also been implicated in muscle cramps and spasms. It may be that magnesium is potentially helpful in situations of magnesium deficiency but is not of use if the problem is related to deficiency of another nutrient.”1
Magnesium: Daily needs and sources
Magnesium is an essential macro-mineral required by the human body. The prevalence of deficiency from serum measurements ranges from 12.5-20% of the population.11 Due to the necessity of this cation for over 300 reactions in the human body and the high risk of deficiency, magnesium levels should be routinely monitored either through blood testing and/or a diet diary review. If found to be low, magnesium stores can be replaced through increasing daily intake of the mineral through nutrition as well as routine supplementation.
Foods groups high in magnesium content include green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.12 Specific foods with high magnesium levels include spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, turnip greens, pumpkin seeds, summer squash, soybeans, sesame seeds, quinoa, black beans, cashews, sunflower seeds, brown rice and pinto beans.12
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for magnesium varies by age, sex, and whether pregnant or lactating:13
*RDA not able to be determined; Adequate Intake (AI) reported
Supplementation with high-quality magnesium is another, targeted way to reach optimal levels and fill dietary gaps. Supplementation dosing and form can be personalized and taken orally via capsules, tablets, liquid, and even powder. Some of the different forms available in the market include Mg oxide, gluconate, chloride, citrate, sulfate, glycinate, and L-threonate.
Bianca Garilli, ND
Dr. Garilli is a former US Marine turned Naturopathic Doctor (ND). She works in private practice in Northern California as well as running a consulting company working with leaders in the natural and functional medicine world such as the Institute for Functional Medicine and Metagenics. She is passionate about optimizing health and wellness in individuals, families, companies and communities- one lifestyle change at a time. Dr. Garilli has been on staff at the University of California Irvine, Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine and is faculty at Hawthorn University. She is the creator of the Veterans for Health Initiative and is the current President of the Children’s Heart Foundation, CA Chapter.
A crucial goal of meditation is to quiet the mind.
But what if you spend hours each day sitting at your desk, and you can’t imagine taking even more time just to sit still? What if, after a long commute, seated meditation simply doesn’t appeal to you?
Fortunately, you aren’t limited to seated meditation. Walking meditation is an increasingly popular alternative.
How does walking meditation work?
Also known as mindful walking, walking meditation involves moving slowly and steadily in your environment. It’s a simple form of meditation that incorporates physical activity and entails directing and responding to the movements of your body.
In this way of meditating, the very act of moving is essential. Rather than walking to a specific destination or to achieve a particular goal, practitioners strive to focus on the present. Most choose a specific lane composed of 10 to 20 paces in one direction, and then 10 to 20 paces back—over and over until the session is complete.1
By adding just 10 minutes of walking meditation to your daily routine, you can enjoy a greater sense of calm, improved psychological balance, and better overall health.2
Paired with the benefits of walking—which include a reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes, as well as enhanced cardiovascular health—this form of meditation is a multifaceted approach to strengthen your well being 3
How can I get started with walking meditation?
Allowing the mind time to rest will help it function more smoothly. To get started with walking meditation, wear comfortable clothes and shoes and begin your practice with an open mind. In addition, consider the five following tips:
Walking meditation is designed to restore a sense of calm. When it’s time to end your session, pause and stand still before calling it a day. Take a few deep breaths, and then dive back into your routine.
Submitted by the Metagenics Marketing Team
Today the average person consumes five times the visual content of people living 50 years ago.1
Scientists say we are deep into the Information Age.2 And while researchers have only just begun to explore the effects of screens on the brain and body, current findings are shocking.
A Nielsen report, for instance, claims that adults in the United States log 11 hours of daily digital media consumption.3 This includes time spent scrolling through smartphones, tablets, computers, and other devices. The same Nielsen report states that young adults aged 18-34 spend 43% of their time on digital platforms. Data shows that even children as young as 8, or less, spend an average of two hours a day in front of screens—an amount that has tripled in four years.4
Regardless of the specifics, we need to be mindful of all the hours we spend staring at screens, particularly in younger users. As reports indicate, tech leaders such as Bill Gates, Mark Cuban, and Steve Jobs limited their own kids’ screen time,5 we, too, must examine the implications of digital overstimulation in children and youth. This begs an integral question: As society becomes increasingly dependent on electronic devices, will this affect or change our brains? If so, how?
The effects of screens on younger brains
Babies, children, adolescents, and even young adults are especially susceptible to the neurological implications of their electronic devices.6
Take the interim findings from a $300 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) study that is still ongoing.6 These findings were featured in a recent 60 Minutes report, which detailed researchers following 11,000 children across the country to determine how screens and screen time impacts brain development and influences the mental health of young people.7
During the study, 4,500 participants were instructed to lie down in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine while a screen displayed images from their Instagram accounts. The machine would scan their brains for certain responses, including a spike in dopamine—the chemical linked to motivation, pleasure, and reward.6
Here are some of the study’s neurological findings: 6
Dr. Dimitri Christakis—lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines for screen time—explains that infants are even more susceptible to the implications of screen addiction than adolescents.7Very young children experience the same dopamine rush as their older counterparts, but they aren’t yet equipped to transfer what they learn virtually, to the real world.7
He explains that 18- to 24-month-olds are at a critical period in their brain development, and they struggle applying two-dimensional tasks (i.e., building digital blocks on a tablet) to three-dimensional situations (i.e., building with actual wooden blocks).7 This means they face all the risks of screen addiction without the benefits.
Accordingly, Dr. Christakis recommends that with the exception of video chatting, parents avoid exposing infants under 2 years old to any form of digital media.7
But regardless of age, one thing is certain: Too much screen time can impair young people’s brain development.8 The frontal lobe in particular undergoes extensive changes from puberty through our mid-20s, and it plays a significant role in the following:8
The effects of screens on adult brainsWhile adults in their mid-20s and older enjoy the benefit of fully developed brains, spending hours scrolling through one’s smartphone can still cause damage.
Logging hours upon hours of screen time each day may result in:8
Looking to prevent the drawbacks of screen addiction? Instead of reaching for your device, make a point of exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and unplugging on a regular basis.
What are the neurological changes linked to too much screen time?
Our dependence on electronic devices shapes numerous parts of our lives, including our physical well being, social health, and capacity for learning.9
Specifically, too much screen time can cause changes to the landscape of the brain. These changes include:8
To lower your risk of facing these neurological changes, there’s a simple solution: Limit your screen time each day. There’s no need to get rid of your devices entirely—they can be beneficial, and researchers are still exploring the specific effects they have on our brain health—but that makes it all the more important to take charge of the way you spend your time. Simply be aware of how many hours you and your loved ones spend on your devices each day.
Submitted by Metagenics Marketing Team
By Bronwyn Storoschuk, ND
As human life expectancy continues to increase, there is also an increased risk for cognitive impairment over the course of a longer life.1 Brain health and cognitive performance have received a lot of recent attention by researchers in order to understand, and develop, strategies that will reduce the risk for cognitive decline.2 Furthermore, greater importance is being placed on “healthspan” versus “lifespan,” and there is an increased demand to find ways to optimize overall health, including brain health and cognitive performance.
In the past few years, more scientific interest on the influence of nutrition on brain health and function has emerged, especially as dietary fats have regained popularity among consumers.2 It has been well-documented that a ketogenic diet can have profound benefits on the brain and cognitive function; however, there is also evidence that suggests consuming a high-fat diet increases the risk of cognitive decline and may impair brain performance.2,3 To clear some of the confusion, it is important to differentiate between the different types of fats and the potential mechanisms that may explain impairment in cognitive function.
As far back as 1990, animal studies showed that diets high in saturated fats caused significant impairments in learning and memory.4 The results from subsequent human studies showed similar findings. Research showed that high-fat diets, containing mostly omega-6 fatty acids and saturated fats, were associated with worse performance on cognitive tasks.5 In addition, diets that contained mostly saturated fats and transfats have been associated with an increased risk of brain disorders.6 It has also been determined that high-fat diets with elevated amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol may impair intellectual function, along with increased risk for other health concerns.7 As most Americans follow a “Standard American Diet,” which contains high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids, saturated fats, and transfats and low omega-3 fatty acids, it is not surprising that rates of cognitive decline are increasing in the US.2,8
In the United States, the major sources of saturated fats come from:9
Although insulin is usually discussed in relation to carbohydrate intake, consumption of both saturated and trans fats have been studied to impair insulin sensitivity.12 In addition, data have shown diets high in saturated fats are associated with increased total body weight and abdominal obesity, which also contribute to insulin resistance.13 Overall, it has been found that cognitive performance declines as whole body insulin resistance increases.10
It is important to consider that the Standard American Diet is also comprised of large amounts of refined sugars and refined grains.2 Increased consumption of refined carbohydrates also leads to insulin resistance, the greatest effects of which are seen when high sugar intake is combined with excessive caloric intake—often found in conjunction with a high-fat diet.14 So although specific fats can induce insulin resistance, this combination is more detrimental and very common in the US population.2
It has been observed that a high-fat diet, primarily composed of increased intakes of saturated fats and omega-6 fats, raises the levels of free radicals in tissues and the brain.11,15 Free radicals, or reactive oxygen species (ROS), contribute to oxidative stress and lead to cellular damage.16 Chronically high levels of oxidative stress are known to lead to cognitive decline.16 Research has shown that high-fat diet-induced oxidative stress also leads to reduced levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which plays an important role in the survival, and growth, of brain cells and may explain some of the impairment in cognitive performance.2,17 Interestingly, data from preclinical studies indicate vitamin E, a potent antioxidant, is associated with better cognitive performance.18,19 While these findings still need to be confirmed in human studies, this information suggests that oxidative stress is involved in cognitive impairment and may be an outcome of a high-fat diet.2
Moreover, high-fat diets, specifically the fats included in the Standard American Diet, commonly lack essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which may further limit the body’s ability to effectively combat the increased levels of oxidative stress resulting from this high-fat diet.20
Studies show high-fat diets composed primarily of saturated fats and omega-6 fatty acids have been associated with significantly increased levels of inflammation both systemically and in the brain.2 The brain is very sensitive to levels of inflammation, as inflammatory mediators can easily cross the blood-brain barrier.2 In one animal study, a diet comprised of 60% saturated fat showed significantly increased levels of inflammatory mediators, reduced levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factors, and highly reactive cells in the brain. As inflammatory mediators increased, significant impairment in cognitive performance was observed.21
Fats & cognition
It is clear that all fats are not created equally. For instance, a diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids has been found to support cognitive processes.11 Accordingly, diets high in omega-3 fatty acids are associated with enhanced memory and learning and may play a role in supporting healthy cognition.24-25 The most important omega-3 fatty acids for brain health are EPA and DHA.26 However, it can be challenging to get the appropriate intake of EPA and DHA by diet alone, especially when looking to enhance cognitive performance.26 Also, it is important to note that a low intake of total fat, less than 20% of caloric intake, has been studied to impair cognitive performance due to an inadequate intake of fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids, all of which are necessary to support cognition and general health.10
Regardless of what diet is followed, when fat is consumed, it is very important to choose the right fats. Brain function is impacted by insulin resistance and is sensitive to oxidative stress and inflammation, all of which are increased on a high-fat diet.2 However, this does not mean that all types of fats are bad, as it is well-documented that omega-3 fatty acids support cognition, and fat, in general, is required for optimal brain health.24
This content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare professional for advice on medical issues.
Bronwyn Storoschuk, ND
Bronwyn Storoschuk, ND is a board-certified naturopathic doctor trained at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. Prior to attaining her ND, Dr. Storoschuk completed her Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Kinesiology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. She currently works in private practice in Toronto, Ontario. One of her practices is located within an integrative fertility clinic, where she provides naturopathic care to individuals undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART). Dr. Storoschuk integrates evidence-based medicine with the understanding of the body’s natural physiology and innate healing wisdom. She is passionate about empowering women to take control of their hormonal health and has a clinical focus in hormone balance, reproductive health, and fertility.
Dr. Storoschuk is a paid consultant and guest writer for Metagenics.
by Ashley Jordan Ferira, PhD, RDN
Vitamin D is essential- it helps absorb calcium, supports nervous and muscle tissue, and the immune system. Compared to normal-weight counterparts, vitamin D deficiency is more prevalent in those with obesity. In the US over one-third of adults meet obesity criteria.1
A study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism2 examined cellular mechanisms of vitamin D trafficking in metabolically dysfunctional adipose tissue as compared to normal adipocytes in conjunction with a vitamin D supplementation intervention in a randomized, controlled trial.
Ninety-seven male subjects completed the vitamin D intervention study. Fifty-four normal-weight and 67 obese males were initially randomized to receive either 50 mcg/week of 25-hydroxyvitamin-D3 [25(OH)D3] (2,000 IU/week equivalent) or 150 mcg/week of vitamin D3 (6,000 IU/week equivalent) for one year. Vitamin D sufficiency was defined as a 25(OH)D blood level > 20 ng/ml. This serum concentration is aligned with the National Academy of Medicine’s cutoff for vitamin D sufficiency.3
Vitamin D uptake, conversion and release were investigated in control (non-insulin-resistant) and insulin-resistant 3T3-L1 adipocytes, as well as in subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) samples from lean and obese participants. The release of vitamin D and its metabolites were induced with the addition of adrenaline. Expression of the vitamin D receptor and vitamin D conversion enzymes, 25-hyroxylase and 1α-hydroxylase, was also examined.
The research team elucidated key differences in cellular vitamin D trafficking effects and supplementation effects:
Why is this Clinically Relevant?
Link to Abstract
Racing Past Crohn’s: How Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Helped Lawson Aschenbach (Part 1) | Metagenics | Blog
Mental clarity, fitness, and good health are vital in racing, so a debilitating illness can threaten a professional race car driver’s career as well as his health. We sat down with seven-time professional sports car racing champion Lawson Aschenbach to learn how he used personalized lifestyle medicine to help manage his Crohn’s disease and return to the winner’s podium.
Let’s start with your professional background. How did you get into racing?I got into racing when I was 8 years old. My dad introduced my older brother and me to go-karting. It was a hobby at the time but quickly became my passion.
What is your schedule like? How much are you home? How often do you travel?I’m on the road between 150 and 200 days a year. That could be for race weekends, testing, or PR events. It’s difficult to stick to a schedule when you’re always traveling, so preparation has become an essential aspect of my life. I have containers for all the supplements I’m taking, and everything is premeasured before I leave for every trip.
When I’m racing, I’m either at the track or the hotel. I might be practicing, qualifying, or racing on those days, but I stick to a strict schedule. I go to bed at the same time every night; I wake up at the same time every morning. I make sure my health, focus levels, and body are in line to perform at a maximum level.
When I’m home, it’s a straightforward routine. I wake up, get breakfast, and go work out. There are a variety of exercises I use to keep myself in shape during and after the racing season. My afternoons involve office work and family. I try to spend as much time as I can with my wife and daughter. I’m enjoying fatherhood. It was an incredible experience bringing a baby into the world, and my daughter just turned 2 in December.
You were diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. How long were you having symptoms before you were diagnosed? How did your diagnosis come about?I initially started having digestive problems in middle school when I was 12 or 13 years old. After lunch, I would get embarrassing gas issues. It came out of nowhere and continued until I found the trigger, milk. Two cartons of milk were the daily lunch beverage at the time, and when I replaced it with something else, the issues stopped. It seemed strange to me that I could drink milk with no problems until that day.
Fast-forward to 2012 when I was experiencing continued gas, horrible bathroom experiences, dizziness, lethargy, a B12 deficiency, and insomnia. I wasn’t recovering from workouts either. It got to the point where this was starting to affect my career.
At one point I demanded a colonoscopy. I don’t know many people that would request one of those! But I had to get to the bottom of this, and sure enough, I immediately got a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease.
How old were you when you were finally diagnosed?Twenty-eight. My disease progressed quickly until the diagnosis. And to make matters worse, that was a rough time in my life because the racing world had taken a considerable hit during the economic crash. Stress became a part of my issues, and I believe it advanced all my symptoms at a much faster rate.
In some ways, I’m glad it happened because it forced me to figure out my health issues. Not only was it affecting my career, but also my life.
How did your illness affect your racing? How did it affect your life outside of racing?The most critical attribute in a driver is focus, and fitness is a big player in that ability. When you start getting tired, you start losing attention, and at 170 miles an hour, that can lead to disastrous results. Not to mention the fact that we’re in close quarters. We’re battling, trying to go for fast laps, and continuously searching for a split-second opportunity to pass someone.
When inflamed, I noticed my energy levels were declining. My workouts weren’t very promising, and the recovery times were slow. The combination of lack of sleep, lethargy, and consistent gastrointestinal issues created a lack of focus when I was in the car. When I was asked to do a two- or three-hour stint during an endurance race, I was having a hard time finishing it.
When things start happening, people take notice. It was a scary time. I knew I couldn’t continue this way for another season or else my career could end.
What was your experience with traditional medicine in treating Crohn’s disease?Immediately after my diagnosis in early 2012, I was prescribed an anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drug. My doctor mentioned that we needed to get to the bottom of this, or I was on the path to resection surgery to remove part of my colon. Talk about scared straight!
He said I was going to take a pharmaceutical for the rest of my life while throwing out some stat that 90% of all Crohn’s patients never get to complete remission. It was a frustrating thought, but anyone that knows me understands that I never back down from a challenge!
How long was it before you were introduced to medical foods and personalized lifestyle medicine as a management option for Crohn’s?I did a significant amount of research after my diagnosis to try to figure out another way without taking pharmaceuticals. I was willing to do whatever it took. My symptoms were getting worse each day.
I reached out to a friend who learned of alternative methods to manage his battle with colitis. A nutritionist helped him manage his symptoms using diet and supplementation. He went from yearly hospital visits to living a more happy, healthy life.
I set up an appointment with the nutritionist, and that was my introduction to the world of lifestyle health plans and Functional Medicine. This was the turning point in my journey.
What was your experience with UltraInflamX Plus 360® Medical Food?Within 24 hours of using the product, it was life-changing. Almost all of my gastrointestinal issues subsided, and I immediately felt like a different person.
I had a new lease on life, and my mood changed accordingly. I felt that I could tackle any race in the world, and I had the health to back me up! I can say, without a doubt, that UltraInflamX Plus 360 changed my life!
How have your life and your racing changed since you switched to a personalized lifestyle medicine approach to managing Crohn’s?First and foremost, I have more energy. I’m recovering faster from workouts and races. I’m sleeping better, my focus level is at an all-time high, and, most importantly, my driving ability has been raised to a new level. Driving three-hour stints is no problem anymore, and I’ve been very fortunate to win four championships since being introduced to lifestyle medicine.
As a driver, we’re dealing with extreme temperatures-inside the car, it can be 130, 140 degrees. We don’t have a lot of driver comfort options, and our arms, legs, and head are constantly moving. It’s vital that you can zero in on what you’re doing, because you may only get one shot to pass someone during an entire race.
Nowadays, if there’s an opportunity, I’m going to take it. I’ve been fortunate to win a lot of races because of that desire and dedication. I feel I’m driving better than ever, and it’s showing in the results.
Lawson Aschenbach is a seven-time professional sports car racing champion. He started racing karts at the age of 8 and went on to win state, national, North American, and four Grand National Championships. In 2005, he finished on the podium in his first sports car race and then burst out onto the scene in 2006, winning the SPEED World Challenge GT Championship in his rookie year. Aschenbach has over 35 professional race wins and currently competes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Pirelli World Challenge Series.
Your Brain on DHA
What is DHA?
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid—the most abundant of all the fatty acids most commonly found in the brain and eyes. But like many essential nutrients, DHA’s importance is often overlooked, and many Americans fall short of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) outlined by the US Department of Health.1,2 With all the cognitive, and other, benefits DHA has to offer, ensuring you get enough through your daily dietary intake is truly a no-brainer.
What are the benefits?
Not only does DHA account for over 50 percent of omega-3 fatty acids in the brain, it also turns on your brain’s growth hormone, known as the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This helps support the survival and function of existing neurons and also encourages new neurons and synapses to grow.3,4 Unfortunately, BDNF circulation slows down with age and can be stunted by stress and other lifestyle factors.5 That’s why upping your DHA is so important.
Although DHA is essential at every age, it’s especially crucial during three particular stages of life:
DHA can be helpful for baby’s development as well as mom’s recovery. A study showed that mothers who supplemented with omega-3s during pregnancy saw their children score higher on intelligence tests due to enhanced cognitive performance.6
For some mothers, pregnancy also takes a temporary toll on cognitive functioning and memory. Colloquially, it’s called “baby brain,” and it’s likely due to hormonal changes and the stressors placed on a woman’s body to meet the increased needs of her unborn baby. According to research, pregnancy can sometimes shrink brain tissue and cause long-term changes to brain structure.7,8 Recovery from pregnancy-induced brain changes can take years, but increased dietary intake of DHA has been studied to help support the regrowth of cells along the way, as well as promote healthy brain development in the baby.9
Babies and young children are growing every day, so it’s hard to understate the importance of DHA on brain development during this tender season of life.9 In fact, higher levels of DHA are associated with improved learning skills, while DHA deficiency in children has been linked to cognitive and learning disorders.10 That’s why making sure babies and toddlers get their fair share (500-700 mg daily)2 is a vital part of early brain development.
The benefits of DHA are enormously promising for older adults looking to keep their brains sharp and healthy. In a study of over 1,500 men and women over the age of 65, those with the lowest levels of DHA had significantly lower brain volumes than those with higher DHA levels and scored lower on tests measuring both memory and abstract thinking skills.11 On the flip side, studies show higher levels of DHA in the body (1,600 mg RDA for those age 51 and older)2 have also been associated with a decreased risk for brain-related chronic illness.11,12
DHA & gray matter
Our brains consist partly of something called “gray matter” (neural tissue that makes up a large amount of the central nervous system). Recent studies have supported a link between intelligence and the amount of gray matter in particular parts of the brain, which shrinks steadily in the years following adolescence. Though we naturally lose some brain volume over time, a higher intake of DHA is positively associated with gray matter volume and better cognitive function, even as we age.12
Where can I get it?
You can get some of your DHA in foods like fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines) as well as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts. But for vegans and vegetarians, as well as those with nut allergies, obtaining DHA through diet alone can be a challenge. It’s also important to be mindful of how often you eat certain kinds of fish due to high mercury content.
Supplementing with fish oils, a mainstay in many supplement regimens, can help fill in the gaps and give you the support you need for positive brain and cognitive development.1 There are many things to look out for when choosing a fish oil supplement, so keep these tips in mind while you shop.
This content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare professional for advice on medical issues.
There’s been plenty of buzz in recent years around the word “detox,” but your body is not the only thing that can be exposed to toxins. Your whole way of life might be exposing you to emotional toxicity, too.
We take the trash out from our homes on a regular basis. This allows us to discard what’s no longer useful and keep our living spaces clean and pleasant. If we neglect this responsibility, the consequences are hard to ignore: overflowing waste baskets, unpleasant odors, and possibly the invasion of pests!
Unfortunately, emotional garbage is not so easy to detect. Bad habits, negative thoughts, toxic people, and unhealthy situations can overwhelm your personal space and accumulate clutter in your mind. Over time, both internal and external stressors cause your mental waste bin to become full. If you aren’t careful to filter out what you don’t need, that waste bin can overflow—and lead to a very unhealthy life!
There are plenty of ways to minimize toxicity in your life. Consider these nine steps to start reducing stressors today.
1. Change your self-talk
What are you thinking about right now? What did you think about when you first woke up? Believe it or not, your answers say a lot about you and your health.1 Your thought patterns are an integral part of your overall well being. Over time, repeated thought patterns influence behavior and beliefs.1 When your thoughts are mostly negative, it can feel like you’re stuck on a “not-so-merry”-go-round.
Remind yourself, too, that you can’t always trust your own thoughts to be impartial. Sometimes you have to hit the pause button, take some deep breaths, and talk yourself off the ledge. And that’s okay. To break free from a negative thought spiral, try a relaxing, rejuvenating activity (e.g., read a book, practice yoga, tend to your garden, or listen to a favorite record) to lift your spirits and get your mind focused on something new.
2. Reevaluate your habits
We all have bad habits. Some habits are relatively benign, like biting your nails or smacking your lips when you chew. But others, like hitting the snooze button, comparing yourself to other people, and picking fights with friends or partners, can actually be toxic to your well being.
The first step toward improvement is self-awareness. To start, make a list of your habits and mark an X next to the not-so-good ones. As you build your self-discipline, remember to be patient with yourself. Studies say it can take about two months (not 21 days) to make or break a habit!2
3. Walk away from bad relationships
Good friendships matter. In fact, research conducted over a ten-year period found that individuals with a stronger network of friends were 22% more likely to outlive their lonelier counterparts.3 But where good friendships can support your health, bad ones can do just the opposite.
Pay attention to how you feel after hanging with certain people. If you’re always left feeling distressed in one way or another, it may be best to start distancing yourself from them. Don’t feel obligated to keep up friendships (or romantic partners) that cost you your mental and emotional sense of peace.
4. Disconnect from social media
Social media is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it helps us stay connected with friends and family. On the other hand, it’s a hotbed of competition, comparison, and drama. Taking a break from social media can clear mental clutter and help you focus on the here and now.
Evaluate your feelings after using Facebook, Instagram, or any other social network, then ask yourself why you feel this way. It’s a good idea to delete or un-follow highly negative people or those who stir up bad feelings whenever you visit their pages or see their posts. Doing this can spare you those negative emotions and allow you to focus your energy on more positive things.
If nothing else, social media can be a real time killer. The time you save on scrolling could mean more time spent on hobbies or with loves ones.
5. Downsize your wardrobe
Clothes are a necessity and a fun way to express personal style. Unfortunately, they are also an easy thing to hoard. Physical clutter can lead to mental clutter. If sartorial clutter has taken over your bedroom, you may be in need of a closet purge.
The clothes you wear can affect your mood and your confidence, so it’s important that you feel good in them. Are any of your duds, well…a dud? Find out by doing a quick survey of every item in your wardrobe. Ask yourself: Would I feel good wearing this tomorrow or to an upcoming event? If the answer is no, it may be time to let it go. If you choose to donate, you can feel good knowing that your preloved apparel might work equally well for someone new.
6. Reorganize your work space
While the importance of keeping a clean home seems like a no-brainer, your work area can be an easy thing to neglect—until you find it’s covered in “organized” piles of paper and old business cards. According to science, a clean, organized work space can boost productivity. In fact, a Harvard study found that students who worked in a tidier environment remained focused for 7 ½ minutes longer than messier students, who were more likely to experience frustration and weariness.4
Giving your desk or work space a weekly once-over means you are less likely to be invaded by dust bunnies and more likely to check items off your to-do list.
7. Turn off the TV
It’s easier than ever to get hooked on television. The average American adult watches five hours of TV per day (wow!), and about 50 percent of Americans use some kind of streaming service—a number that’s been steadily rising.5
As statistics show, what we spend much of our free time doing is more passive than active, and that mindset may spill over into other areas of life. Although entertainment is not all bad, moderation may be the best approach to screen time. Increased television watching is associated with lower physical and mental vitality and may be linked to chronic health conditions.6,7
If this feels relevant for you, consider cutting your quality time with the tube by a small amount each day. Replace that time with a physical activity or creative hobby, which—according to research—can promote overall well being 8.
8. Reassess your diet
The benefits of a balanced diet go beyond your physical body. It can also make you feel good mentally. Eating foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can protect your brain from oxidative stress, support brain function, and help stabilize your mood.9 There’s also plenty of evidence showing that when your body is low in certain essential nutrients, such as vitamin D and omega-3's, it can negatively impact mental health.10,11 If you’re stuck in a funk, your diet may be playing a role.
To help combat those blues and support your health, start by incorporating wholesome snacks into your day, like nuts, fruit, or string cheese, and eat plenty of nutrient-dense greens whenever possible. Stock your fridge or pantry with things you enjoy that won’t make you feel guilty. And to set yourself up for success, rid your kitchen of sugary, greasy snack foods so you won’t be tempted to indulge.
9. Keep a journal
Had a bad day? Feeling low but you don’t know why? Write about it! Reading what you wrote a few days later may give insights on things that can be reduced or eliminated to avoid future bad or unhappy days.
Writing is one of the best ways to release bad feelings. Writing down your thoughts can feel just as good as venting to a friend. And because your thoughts are recorded in one place, it’s much easier to pick up on patterns in your thoughts and behavior—helping you prioritize problems, identify triggers, and work through anxious feelings.12 Anyone can do it!
When life gets too complicated, well being silently suffers. And though we all have different thresholds for toxic overload, most of us could benefit from taking some steps to detox our lives as well.
By Robert Silverman, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, MS, CCN, CNS, CSCS, CIISN, CKTP, CES, HKC, FAKTR
In a perfect world, we would garner all the vitamins and nutritional minerals we need from the foods we eat. We’d also be able to maintain robust, resilient immune systems to fight against all toxins and disease. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in. The nutrients we need to maintain our day-to-day health, like magnesium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids, are also critical for maintaining our health over the long term.1 Yet Americans on average get about 11 percent of their daily calories from low-nutrient fast food.2 Even when we skip fast food and junk food, we aren’t always as careful about our diet as we should be. Stress and poor lifestyle behaviors, including smoking and alcohol use, reduce our ability to absorb nutrients.
Taking a daily multivitamin can help when your food isn’t as nutritious as it should be, but is that enough—even if you lead a generally healthy lifestyle? Aside from specific dietary needs that should be addressed with your functional health practitioner, here are five instances when I recommend leveraging the power of supplements.
To aid healthy sleep patterns
Among the many reasons to get a good night’s sleep is the link between sleep deprivation and negative health consequences. For example, people with high blood sugar often don’t sleep well. There’s evidence that not sleeping well can increase your risk of developing more serious complications. When choosing supplements for quality, restorative sleep, look to ingredients that help ease tension, support deep sleep, and promote physical regeneration during sleep. L-theanine enables the body to produce other calming amino acids, such as dopamine, GABA, and tryptophan and helps support concentration, focus, deep muscle relaxation, and improved quality sleep. Ashwagandha, another sleep-supporting supplement, contains active constituents called glyco-withanolides, which mimic certain corticosteroids, supporting healthy cortisol levels and the circadian rhythm.
The best-known ingredient, melatonin, supports sleep onset, quality of sleep, increased REM time, deep sleep, and dreaming—all factors that lead to better quality sleep and produce greater mental, physical, and emotional rejuvenation. Melatonin can decrease the amount of time required to fall asleep, increase the number of sleeping hours, and support daytime alertness. I recommend taking just 5 mg of melatonin, as taking too much can impair the body’s natural production of it and may cause us to become dependent on the artificial form.
Magnesium, a calming nutrient, can also help induce a deeper sleep, especially when taken together with calcium. Research from the Biochemistry and Neurophysiology Unit at the University of Geneva, Department of Psychiatry indicates that higher levels of magnesium helped provide better, more consistent sleep.3 Other natural supplements containing lavender oil work to encourage a restful night’s sleep by modulating the metabolism of melatonin and promoting relaxation.4
To support your brain health
Getting consistent, sufficient sleep lays a solid foundation for your brain’s health, but how you feed your brain plays a critical role in its wellbeing over time. By combining a brain-healthy diet with nutritional supplements, you’ll provide your brain with the fuel it needs for optimum levels of functioning. Here are four supplements I’d recommend to support brain health:
To feed your gut
We all know the old adage: “go with your gut.” But it turns out listening to your gut is much more than following your natural instinct. To support your gut’s health, start first with prebiotics—ingredients that induce the growth of beneficial microorganisms in your gut. You’ll also want to consume foods packed with probiotics. The combination of prebiotics and probiotics can help keep your microbiome in a healthy balance, with a good diversity of intestinal bacteria in your gut. When you have plenty of good bacteria, the harmful ones get crowded out. Your digestion also improves, because your ability to absorb macronutrients and micronutrients is better when your beneficial bacteria are diverse and balanced.
To properly rehydrate after exercise
After exercising, proper fueling requires more than just replenishing calories and fluids; it also involves consistent and adequate electrolyte support. Electrolytes are substances that are utilized by the body to create electrically charged fluids. Many bodily functions depend on electrolytes, especially in muscle and nervous system tissue. Major electrolytes found in the body include sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphate, and bicarbonate. The right rehydration supplements are scientifically designed to help support fluid balance; supply sodium and potassium to help replenish the electrolytes lost during exercise; deliver key electrolytes to help replace those lost through sweating during exercise, activity, or hot weather conditions; and support hydration during exercise.5
Whether you practice health-forward habits—like consuming gut-healthy prebiotics and probiotics and exercising regularly—or your diet consists of mostly empty calories and low levels of nutrients, incorporating supplements can help. In our fast-paced, modern world, supplements provide the support our bodies need to keep up—and sustain our health for the long run.
This content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare professional for advice on medical issues.