What is cognition?
Cognition is defined as ‘’the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses’’. While a lot of attention and research has focused on methods to increase attention, concentration and improve learning in general not much has been done to ensure that the information learnt is adequately stored and easily retrievable when needed.
Cognitive processes involved in gaining knowledge and comprehension include thinking, knowing, remembering, judging, and problem-solving. These are higher-level functions of the brain and encompass language, imagination, perception, and planning.
- Attention: Attention is a cognitive process that allows people to focus on a specific stimulus in the environment.
- Language: Language and language development are cognitive processes that involve the ability to understand and express thoughts through spoken and written words. It allows us to communicate with others and plays an important role in thought.
- Learning: Learning requires cognitive processes involved in taking in new things, synthesizing information, and integrating it with prior knowledge.
- Memory:Memory is an important cognitive process that allows people to encode, store, and retrieve information. It is a critical component in the learning process and allows people to retain knowledge about the world and their personal histories.
- Perception: Perception is a cognitive process that allows people to take in information through their senses (sensation) and then utilize this information to respond and interact with the world.
- Thought:Thought is an essential part of every cognitive process. It allows people to engage in decision-making, problem-solving, and higher reasoning.
How can I help improve my family’s cognition?
Cognitive processes are influenced by a range of factors including genetics and experiences. While one cannot change their genetics, there are things one may do to protect and maximize their cognitive abilities:
- Stay healthy
Lifestyle factors such as eating healthy and getting regular exercise can have an effect on your cognitive functioning.
- Think critically.
Question your assumptions and ask questions about your thoughts, beliefs, and conclusions.
- Stay curious and keep learning.
One great way to flex your cognitive abilities is to keep challenging yourself to learn more about the world.
- Skip multitasking.
While it might seem like doing several things at once would help you get done faster, research has shown it actually decreases both productivity and work quality.
- Use supplements: A few natural compounds, vitamins and minerals have been shown to improve symptoms associated with ADHD, fatigue, concentration difficulties, impaired immunity, poor cognitive function, stress, and anxiety while causing few side-effects. Of these, some of the most effective are Rhodiola rosea (Roseroot), inositol, magnesium, vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin D3. The aforementioned ingredients are supported by science are known to have positive effects on a range of factors associated with mental function.
- Rhodiola rosea has been used for thousands of years in northern European countries to improve mood and combat stress. Recent research has uncovered its ability, in addition to these uses, to enhance mental function, memory and attention span, in part through increasing neurotransmitters such as dopamine in the brain. This is reflected in its wide use and recognition as an assistive therapy in Russia, Scandinavia, the UK, and Sweden.
- Inositol is a naturally occurring B vitamin which is present in the body and a number of food sources, especially fruit, beans, and nuts. The molecule plays a role in a number of pathways in the brain, especially during the biosynthesis of norepinephrine. Low levels of inositol have been associated with some psychological conditions characterised by low mood, motivation and anxiety, and supplementation of inositol has been shown to alleviate these symptoms.
- Magnesium is a biologically essential trace element which plays an essential role in the regulatory activity of over 300 enzymes involved in nerve conduction and the production of neurotransmitters. Magnesium helps to calm the nervous system down due to the mineral’s ability to block brain N-NMDA receptors (methyl D-aspartate), thereby inhibiting excitatory neurotransmission and mental overload. Inadequate magnesium levels have been linked to insomnia, anxiety, increased pain perception, and several neuropsychiatric problems. Conversely, studies on magnesium supplementation have shown significant improvement overall emotional well-being, sleep patterns, anxiety levels and mood.
- Zinc is one of the most abundant trace minerals in the brain and supports several physiological, biochemical, and neurological functions. The bioavailability of zinc can influence central nervous system (CNS) function through a variety of mechanisms, and diets deficient in zinc have been known to result in behavioural disturbances and diminished brain function. (A meta-analysis of 17 studies with 1643 depressed and 804 control participants demonstrated that peripheral serum zinc concentrations were approximately -1.85 μmol/L lower in depressed participants). While the exact role of zinc in the pathophysiology of depression remains unclear, the inverse relationship between zinc levels and depression has been established in several studies that evaluated zinc bioavailability in depressed patients.
- Vitamin D receptors are abundant throughout the central nervous system (CNS), especially in the hippocampus, a region of the brain that plays an essential role in the consolidation of information and the regulation of both short- and long-term memory. Research has also shown that vitamin D modulates several enzyme systems in the brain and the cerebrospinal fluid involved in neurotransmitter synthesis and nerve growth. Moreover, recent studies have shown Vitamin D to possess a neuroprotective effect as well as reduce neuro-inflammation, thereby improving cognitive function.
- Vitamin C, one of the best-established neurological functions of vitamin C is in the regulation of neurotransmitter biosynthesis such as dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. Individuals who have vitamin C deficiency often report feeling both depressed and fatigued. Conversely, studies of hospitalised patients who often have lower than normal vitamin C levels have found a significant improvement in mood after receiving vitamin C supplementation. But vitamin C supplements might help improve mood even for people who aren’t known to have low vitamin C levels, as demonstrated by several studies. One study of high school students indicated that vitamin C supplementation lowered anxiety levels, while other studies have shown overall mood-elevating effects, including the reduction of anger.
NeuroVance Focus™, a unique blend of the above scientifically endorsed plant-based ingredients, has been developed by The Medical Nutritional Institute to improve neurological and immunological functioning safely and effectively. NeuroVance Focus™ is a unique blend of plant derived (phytochemical) ingredients with vitamins and minerals target multiple biological pathways recognised to reduce stress improve concentration, cognition, and focus and promote calmness in both children and adults. As an assistive therapy, NeuroVance Focus™ can therefore help to improve cognition, concentration, brain function, and focus as well as assist you and your child in reaching your full potential.
What is immunity?
Immunity by definition is the capability of multicellular organisms to resist harmful microorganisms. It involves both specific and nonspecific components, the nonspecific components act as barriers or eliminators of a wide range of pathogens irrespective of their antigenic make-up. Other components of the immune system adapt themselves to each new disease encountered and can generate pathogen-specific immunity. Immunity can be summed up as a complex biological system equipped with the capacity to recognize and tolerate whatever belongs to the self, and to recognize and reject what is foreign.
We have three types of immunity: innate, adaptive, and passive:
- Innate immunity: Everyone is born with innate (or natural) immunity, a type of general protection. For example, the skin acts as a barrier to block germs from entering the body. And the immune system recognizes when certain invaders are foreign and have the potential to be dangerous/harmful.
- Adaptive immunity: Adaptive (or active) immunity develops throughout our lives. We develop adaptive immunity when we’re exposed to diseases or when we’re immunized against them with vaccines.
- Passive immunity: Passive immunity is “borrowed” from another source and it lasts for a short time. For example, antibodies in a mother’s breast milk give a baby temporary immunity to diseases the mother has been exposed to.
How can I help enhance my family’s immunity?
There are several dietary and lifestyle modifications that may help enhance your body’s natural defences and help you fight harmful pathogens and/or disease-causing organisms:
- Get enough sleep: Sleep and immunity are closely tied in fact; inadequate or poor-quality sleep is linked to a higher susceptibility to sickness. In a study in 164 healthy adults, those who slept fewer than 6 hours each night were more likely to catch a cold than those who slept 6 hours or more each night. Getting adequate rest may strengthen your natural immunity. Also, you may sleep more when sick to allow your immune system to better fight the illness. Adults should aim to get 7 or more hours of sleep each night, while teens need 8–10 hours and younger children and infants up to 14 hours. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try limiting screen time for an hour before bed, as the blue light emitted from your phone, TV, and computer may disrupt your circadian rhythm, or your body’s natural wake-sleep cycle. Other sleep hygiene tips include sleeping in a completely dark room or using a sleep mask, going to bed at the same time every night, and exercising regularly.
- Eat more whole plant foods: Whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that may give you an upper hand against harmful pathogens. The antioxidants in these foods help decrease inflammation by combatting unstable compounds called free radicals, which can cause inflammation when they build up in your body in high levels. Chronic inflammation is linked to numerous health conditions, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and certain cancers. Meanwhile, the fibre in plant foods feeds your gut microbiome, or the community of healthy bacteria in your gut. A robust gut microbiome can improve your immunity and help keep harmful pathogens from entering your body via your digestive tract. Furthermore, fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients like vitamin C, which may reduce the duration of the common cold.
- Eat more healthy fats: Healthy fats, like those found in olive oil and salmon, may boost your body’s immune response to pathogens by decreasing inflammation. Although low-level inflammation is a normal response to stress or injury, chronic inflammation can suppress your immune system. Olive oil, which is highly anti-inflammatory, is linked to a decreased risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Plus, its anti-inflammatory properties may help your body fight off harmful disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those in salmon and chia seeds, fight inflammation as well.
- Limit/avoid added sugars: Emerging research suggests that added sugars and refined carbs may contribute disproportionately to overweight and obesity. Obesity may likewise increase your risk of getting sick. According to an observational study in around 1,000 people, people with obesity who were administered the flu vaccine were twice more likely to still get the flu than individuals without obesity who received the vaccine. Curbing your sugar intake can decrease inflammation and aid weight loss, thus reducing your risk of chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Given that obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease can all weaken your immune system, limiting added sugars is an important part of an immune-boosting diet. You should strive to limit your sugar intake to less than 5% of your daily calories. This equals about 2 tablespoons (25 grams) of sugar for someone on a 2,000-calorie diet.
- Regular moderate exercise: Although prolonged intense exercise can suppress your immune system, moderate exercise can give it a boost. Studies indicate that even a single session of moderate exercise can boost the effectiveness of vaccines in people with compromised immune systems. What’s more, regular, moderate exercise may reduce inflammation and help your immune cells regenerate regularly. Examples of moderate exercise include brisk walking, steady bicycling, and jogging, swimming, and light hiking. Most people should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week
- Use supplements: Not all supplements provide you with the necessary vitamin and mineral levels required to have a significant positive effect on your immune response, however, some studies indicate that the following supplements may strengthen your body’s general immune response:
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient for humans, with pleiotropic functions related to its ability to donate electrons. It is a potent antioxidant and a cofactor for a family of biosynthetic and gene regulatory enzymes. Vitamin C contributes to immune defence by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. It supports epithelial barrier function against pathogens and promotes the oxidant scavenging activity of the skin, thereby potentially protecting against environmental oxidative stress. Vitamin C has also been shown to accumulate in phagocytic cells, such as neutrophils, and can enhance chemotaxis, phagocytosis, generation of reactive oxygen species, and ultimately microbial killing. It is also needed for apoptosis and clearance of the spent neutrophils from sites of infection by macrophages, thereby decreasing necrosis and potential tissue damage. According to a review in over 11,000 people taking 650-2 000 mg of vitamin C per day, it reduced the duration of colds by 8% in adults and 14% in children.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency may increase your chances of getting sick, so supplementing may counteract this effect. Vitamin D has the capability of acting in an autocrine manner in a local immunologic milieu. It can modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses. Deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection. As immune cells in autoimmune diseases are responsive to the ameliorative effects of vitamin D, the beneficial effects of supplementing vitamin D deficient individuals with autoimmune disease may extend beyond the effects on bone and calcium homeostasis.
- Zinc: In a review in 575 people with the common cold, supplementing with 12-75mg of zinc per day reduced the duration of the common cold by 33%. Zinc affects multiple aspects of the immune system. It is crucial a crucial component for normal development and function of cells mediating innate immunity, neutrophils, and natural killer cells. Macrophages also are affected by zinc deficiency. Phagocytosis, intracellular killing, and cytokine production all are affected by zinc deficiency. Zinc deficiency adversely affects the growth and function of T and B cells. The ability of zinc to function as an antioxidant and stabilize membranes suggests that it also plays a role in the prevention of free radical-induced injury during inflammatory processes.
NeuroVance Focus, a unique blend of the above scientifically endorsed plant-based ingredients, has been developed by The Medical Nutritional Institute to enhance immunity effectively and safely. The individual ingredients (vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc) target multiple biological pathways known to enhance the bodies’ resistance to infection in both children and adults.