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Coffee or Tea- one, two or three?

Believe it or not, caffeine is the world’s most popular drug. In the UK we drink 120 million cups if tea per day and 90 million cups of coffee a day. And that is before everyone was locked down and working from home.

Caffeine can be mood boosting, improve alertness, aid concentration and can even be useful pre exercise to get us get that heart rate going. 

Caffeine induces an initial stage of the stress response that occurs in our bodies and is linked to release of adrenaline and cortisol hormones

When drunk at the right time of day and in the right amount that can be helpful and helps us be more productive or even just feel a bit brighter

However, as is often the case, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing – too much caffeine can increase the effects of our natural stress response leaving us feeling anxious, jittery and unable to switch off.

Caffeine is also addictive so one becomes two becomes three very easily.

While the coffee shops are closed we may naturally be drinking fewer super strong espresso  based drinks but it is worth remembering that tea and chocolate are also caffeine sources

How much caffeine is in your favourite brew ( or sweet treat) ?

A mug of tea – 55-140mg caffeine ( depending on how strong you like it!)

A cup of Instant coffee- 54mg (estimate)

A cup of ground/ filter coffee – 105 mg (estimate) 

Dark chocolate 50g – up to 50mg

Milk chocolate 50g- up to 25mg 

Around 300mg of caffeine per day is what experts suggest should be our limit and don’t forget that some of us are more sensitive to caffeine than others. One persons espresso is another’s weak tea. 

Some suggestions if you think your caffeine intake might be leaving you feeling less than great:

Mix it up-looking to alternate between caffeine and caffeine free drinks during the day

Make sure you are drinking enough water as caffeine is dehydrating and also bladder irritating 

Avoid caffeine after 1pm if you are struggling to sleep 

Dr Clara Russell

Why Having Enough Vitamin D is important

(and an extra bonus of keeping those levels up if you are trying to get fit )

Vitamin D is a vitamin of many talents. 

Vitamin D keeps us going in many ways. Along with calcium, Vitamin D helps us build and maintain healthy bones which becomes increasingly important as we get older. 

As well as keeping our bones well supported, it is also vital for a healthy immune system and a key component of brain health having been shown to help symptoms of low mood and anxiety.* 

Why does it have the ability to be so effective? This is because Vitamin D functions more like a hormone – that is a chemical messenger- and has the ability to impact lots of different types of cells. 

Exposure to sunlight is the way we make vitamin D and ensuring we get regular exposure to sunlight is the best way to keep our vitamin levels topped up. 

However, living in less than sunny Scotland, sometimes getting that burst of daily sunshine isn’t always that easy. Diet sources include oily fish, eggs, and some fortified products. 

But supplementing with a vitamin D3 supplement is recommended, especially during the winter months or when you can’t get outside as much as you’d like in the sun. 400mcg daily is the standard maintenance dose for adults. 

Vitamin D can also help our muscles and support strength of our muscles fibres. A review of studies looking at athletes showed strength improvement of up to 20% in healthy adults ages 18-45yrs **. 

So whether you are a runner or a keen (currently indoor) gym goer, or even just starting out on trying to get a bit fitter during this challenging time, there are many reasons to make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D 

Dr Clara Russell 

*Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2010 Jun; 31(6): 385–393.

**https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2017/02000/Effects_of_Vitamin_D_Supplementation_on_Muscle.36.aspx

Noggin Nugget- Food sources of B vitamins

Noggin Nugget- Food sources of B vitamins 

Noggin HQ are a big fan of B vitamins. As food sources are the best way to get the nutrients we need here is a reminder of where you can stock up on those Bs:

Vitamin B6- Lentils, Spinach, Potatoes

Vitamin B9 (folate)- chickpeas, garlic, red beans, spinach, kale and lettuce

Vitamin B12 – clams, organ meat, sardines, beef, tuna, trout, salmon, fortified milk 

Nuts and seeds such as almonds, pumpkin seeds are also good cupboard sources of these brilliant Bs.

Did you know? Older adults are more prone to vitamin B12 deficiency as well as those eating a vegetarian diet. Supplementing may be an especially important consideration in these groups

What really happens when we turn the light off at night?

How we sleep

A Study Adults Sleep Patterns across 12 countries confirmed that most of us do not get enough sleep*

On average 6.8 hours on a weeknight, 7.8 hours on a week end- both below the recommended 8 hours 

80% of adults want to improve the quality of their sleep

67% wake up at least once in the night

63% sleep longer at the weekends 

49% feel they get enough sleep 

ONLY 10% say they sleep extremely well

What are people doing to try to help with sleep

In popularity order the ways adults around the world they to get. a better night’s sleep are:

Reading (39%)

Watching TV , Soothing music, (37%)

Having a routine 30%

Reducing caffeine consumption (26%)

Meditation (23%), 

Looking at the air quality in the bedroom and bedding (21%-23%)

Sleeping in a different rooms to a partner (21%)

Wearing an eye mask (20%) 

3 ways I help my patients to improve sleep :

1) Wearing an eye mask is my number one top tip to improve sleep quality and duration for adults. Not only does it block the light ( obviously!) when used regularly it gives your mind a clear signal that you are switching off and ready for sleep. 

As the sun creeps in earlier now on these brighter April mornings, this can encourage us to wake earlier than we want to and with all that is going on at the moment, our minds can very quickly move to things to do or worries about the day ahead. 

Wearing a sleep mask can help you keep those peepers closed past sunrise and stay asleep longer. 

2)Reducing caffeine consumption during the day is key- whilst people are working at home, reaching for another coffee or spot of tea is a natural break for the day and change to socialise with others in the house. Make sure you have some caffeine free alternatives and start to reach for these after around 1pm if you are having problems sleeping

3) TV

Whilst watching TV can give us a mental switch off, it can stimulate the light receptors in our brain thus actually making it harder to sleep. So mix it up, watch TV earlier in the evening or try a few nights without it if sleep is something you re keen to improve. Reach for a book instead. 

Dr Clara Russell

*Raconteur ‘How the World Sleeps’

Noggin the Brain People

Noggin Nugget- Serotonin

Bite size brain facts to help us understand what we can do to help our amazing brains

Serotonin is a so called neuro transmitter- a chemical that helps brain cells communicate. 

Serotonin is involved in regulating mood, sleep anxiety and appetite.

Balanced serotonin levels help our mood, our digestion and help us sleep 

Over 90% of our serotonin is made in our gut ( another example of the brain gut connection)

One source of serotonin is creation from another chemical called tryptophan- ( trip-toe-fan) which we get from what we eat

One way of supporting our own natural serotonin levels are tryptophan rich foods:

Sources of tryptophan are: 

Salmon, Eggs, Spinach, Nuts and Seeds, Chicken and Turkey ( part of the reason everyone feels so sleepy after eating Christmas Lunch!)

Why Reading is a Great Brain Workout

We LOVE reading at Noggin HQ. With so much choice and (ahem) time on our hands at the moment there has never been a better time to get stuck in to reading. Whether you are a speed reader or can only manage a couple pf pages a day reading is a great brain healthy habit for all ages.

Reading can help us with feelings of stress and anxiety, it can be a mindful activity that takes you away from whatever is going on your head to what is on the page. It is so easy to pick up our phones or turn on the TV, but if we can look to pick up a book instead our brains will benefit.

What should you read for the best benefit for your brain? Whatever you are interested in!

Here are some other reasons why certain types of books can help your brain. 

Science

Well this is an obvious choice if you want to learn something new- but what is so exciting is that so many science writers and journalists are publishing books on topics that affect us every day as well as the bigger more theoretical questions 

Cookery Books

Who doesn’t love buying a new cook book and looking through it, only to place in on a shelf and revert back to our usual recipes? If you can choose something different to make, something beyond what you think would be normal for you, your brain will relish the challenge of planning, imagining, preparing and all the different stages in creating your Masterchef masterpiece. If it finishes up how you imagined that’s great- and delicious- but the good news is that whatever the end result, your brain will have a had a work out in the process 

Design

Flicking through books full of pictures can help our imagination and encourage us to see patterns and trends in other things we see. Ultimately you are teaching your brain to look at something differently, and we can always all learn something from that 

Poetry 

Poems are a real challenge for our brains. Many of us may not have looked at poetry since school days or maybe helping with homework but there has never been a better time to look up a poem, even just one a week. Rhythm, rhyme, the choice of words used and how they can be interpreted- it’s like a HIIT work out for your noggin. 

Biographies 

My personal favourite. With the explosion of memoir in the last few years, we now have a huge choice of stories from real life that can help us learn, reflect and ponder our own experiences. There can be glamour, grit and tragedy in everyones stories – whether you are a celebrity or not. 

Fiction

Imagination. Escapism. Remembering characters and plot lines. Laughter. Tears. Patterns of behaviours between characters. All of the above are enjoyable and brain benefiting aspects to a good old story book. 

Let us know some of your favourites!

Happy Reading

Dr Clara Russell 

BOGADOF….. (Buy One Get A Different One Free)

We are offering the opportunity to try both of our products for £12.99 including P+P. We’re calling it BOGADOF,  that means buy one get a different one free, for a limited time only.

(we used our Noggins to come up with that one)

This offer will automatically be available on products bought from our site while stocks last.

There are 60 tablets in each package, enough for 2 months supply for 1 person. OR 1 month if you’re sharing with another person OR  2 weeks if you’re a family of 4 ( all over the age of 18yrs)

Please note:  while stocks last and BBE May/June2020.

Say Thank You

Being Grateful for what we have helps support our mental health. And at the moment, we all need all the help we can get. The fear and uncertainty that surrounds our daily lives at present is challenging for everyone, and even more challenging if you already suffer with anxiety or conditions that affect your mental health

One small thing we can do every day is be grateful. Many studies have shown that expressing gratitude helps people stay healthy and reduces feelings of anxiety and low mood. 

Research has also shown that in those suffering with depression or anxiety, the act of writing down some things they were grateful for in a letter helped improve their mental health 

Researchers think that writing about what you appreciate and are thankful for moves your focus away from negative thoughts and feelings therefore you are less likely to think about bad things or negative experiences. This helps your brain tune into the positive stuff.

You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to, the benefits to mental health exist even if you keep it to yourself. 

The research also suggests that the positive effects of being grateful can improve the more you do it- being grateful for a few things every day over a number of days and weeks will be beneficial for your mental health in the longer term.

So try thinking about 3 things you are grateful for and write them down or share them with a friend or family member. Being grateful helps your brain focus on the good stuff and what is great is that no one is too young or good old to get started.

 Dr Clara Russell 

Why how you breathe can help your gut

You know that feeling you get when you are about to do something you are worried about? Maybe a difficult conversation with a friend or family member, maybe a presentation at work or let’s be honest- right now, turning on the news?

Your tummy gurgles, churns, maybe you feel butterflies or a bit sick?

This is a clear example of how our gut responds when we are feeling nervous about something in our minds.

And it cuts both ways. When you have eaten something that makes you feel bloated, or maybe eaten too much, that huge delicious piece of cake that looked so good in the window and now feels like a lump of lead in your tummy.

Upsetting our gut with what we eat can leave is feeling pretty rubbish too- maybe more tired, or even a bit grumpy. 

The science behind how these 2 parts of our body is evolving and more is being discovered all the time. 

2 key ways we think our brain and gut are in constant communication are

  1. Via our microbiome  which is the  name given huge numbers  of bacteria and bugs that live and our gut 
  2. Via our Vagus ( vay-gus)  nerve. This is a tricky one -essentially this nerve, as well as having important roles in bodily functions and our nervous system, communicates information about our organs including the gut to our brain. Our bodies are amazing!  

So what can we do? 

Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fibre and water is key to supporting the healthy balance of bacteria in our gut. Prebiotics is a term used for specific types of fibre that is non digestible which feeds the bacteria in our gut . This is a good thing!  

Sources of  prebiotic fibre include garlic and onions 

Deep breathing 

Breathing exercises which help relaxation and support our nervous system can slow our heart rate and also improve digestion. Focusing on our breathing can also help with anxious thoughts and reduce stress. It’s also a good one for before bed to help us fall asleep, especially when we have a lot on our minds… 

A simple example is the 4-7-8 technique  

Try it by 

  1. Exhaling though your mouth then taking a deep breath in through your nose for a count of 4
  2. Hold the breath for a count of 7
  3. Breathe out through your mouth, to a count of 8. This makes a whooshing sound so also a good one to try with kids!

Repeat the cycle 4 times. 

Dr Clara Russell 

Nutrient spotlight- Glutathione

Noggin vitamin and mineral supplements contain Glutathione

Why have we selected this ingredient? Well, Glutathione is known as a master anti oxidant and has many important functions within our bodies.

Glutathione ( gloo-ta-thy-own) is an important antioxidant that is primarily made by the body, but is also found in dietary sources.

Glutathione is an antioxidant produced in cells and it is comprised largely of three amino acids: glutamine, glycine, and cysteine.

Levels of this antioxidant can be depleted in the body, due to many factors, such as a poor diet, ageing and a sedentary lifestyle. Chronic stress can also deplete glutathione levels. 

Glutathione contains sulphur molecules, which may be why foods high in sulphur help to boost its natural production in the body. 

Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that is present in every cell in your body. Not only does it neutralise harmful free radicals and reactive oxygen compounds, it also recycles other important antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, maximising your body’s capacity for tissue protection.

You can maintain appropriate glutathione levels by increasing your physical activity, avoiding drinking too much alcohol, getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet.

And add these glutathione-boosting foods to your daily meals: garlic and onions, as well as asparagus, avocados, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, parsley and watercress.

Dr Clara Russell

Read more https://www.harpersbazaar.com/beauty/health/advice/a2269/health-benefits-of-glutathione/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-increase-glutathione#section4