Cognition: Nutrients boost memory, mood, spatial awareness, and metabolism

GABA for memory, mood, and spatial awareness

In a world with an aging population, doctors wanted to find ways to prevent cognitive decline. In two separate, coordinated studies, each with 60 healthy adults over age 40, participants took a placebo or, in one study, 100 mg of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and in the second, 200 mg of GABA, per day. After 12 weeks, compared to placebo and to the start of the study, those taking 100 mg of GABA could better identify and analyze space, visual forms within it, and the relationship between the two. Delayed memory— the ability to recall after a period of time—also improved. In addition to these benefits, the 200 mg group saw improvements in non-verbal reasoning, which is the capacity to understand music and math, and to identify objects through touch. Quality of life also improved in both GABA groups, including better physical function, self-reported vitality, and feelings of mental well-being. In addition, those taking 200 mg of GABA had increased levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which enters the brain, activating brain function, and which doctors believe may be GABA’s mechanism of action.

Blueberry for cognition, metabolism

In a first-of-its-kind study, 35 men and women, slightly underweight to obese, but otherwise healthy, drank a beverage containing 25 grams of freeze dried whole wild blueberry powder, equal to one cup of fresh blueberries, or a placebo beverage, along with a breakfast meal. After this single dose at breakfast, doctors tested learning, memory, reaction time, and the ability to maintain attention while being challenged by stressful distractions. All of these functions improved compared to placebo up to eight hours later. In addition, two hours after the meal, those taking blueberry had lower glucose and insulin levels than placebo, which doctors said could help people looking to control blood sugar and metabolism after meals.

Reference: Japanese Pharmacology and Therapeutics; 2020, Vol. 48, No. 3, 461-74

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