As a university student, I came to realize the importance of being mentally focused and alert during my classes early on in my pharmacology degree. In order to actually be able to absorb all the knowledge being thrown my way, I needed to enhance my ability to concentrate and memorize significantly.
One of the best professors in my program advised me that the better I was able to memorize every piece of information related to the drugs and diseases I was studying, the better I would be as a pharmacist and in my job. This turned out to be very, very good advice. Today, when I work with specific drugs, I'm required to recall all aspects of it, including dosage, drug interactions, as well as specific precautions while administering it to patients.
While my professor didn't teach me how to memorize so much information (that took a lot of practice and time!) I tried to figure out how to boost my brain’s“endurance” to be able to focus longer and memorize more and more information as time went on. So, I began researching. What I discovered is that almost everyone has personal experiences trying to better their memory and focus through nutrition, sleep hacks, nootropics, and even by working at specific times of day when they feel their concentration is at its peak. Turns out that building your brain’s endurance for memorization requires a combination of practice, practice, practice, as well as key nutrients, which can naturally enhance the cognitive functions of the brain. In our article, I will mention all of them but more extensively discuss the one that most benefited myself - The body’s master antioxidant - Liposomal Glutathione.
Although the brain is a relatively small organ in the human body (it represents only 2% of body weight), it consumes a whopping 20% of the body’s total oxygen. In addition to the high content of readily oxidizable molecules like catecholamines, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and relatively lower antioxidant levels compared to other organs, these factors make the brain more vulnerable to oxidative stress.
Because of the close relationship between oxidative stress and the mechanisms involved in synaptic plasticity; the cellular model adopted for learning and memory, the need for a powerful antioxidant source to keep the brain healthy makes more sense. It’s also well established that glutathione depletion is associated with a decline in cognitive function.(1). More simply, oxidative stress causes damage to biomolecules during the long non-dividing life of neurons, which in turn affect memory. We’ll explain this point further as we go on.
Basically, any condition that increases oxidative stress will by default affect brain cognition and can contribute to dementia as we age. However, dementia can be prevented and sometimes even reversed with proper management and isn’t considered a normal part of the aging process even though it mainly affects older people (1).
The management of dementia can be a significantly improved with proper dietary intervention. There is actually a wealth of epidemiological evidence supporting a positive relationship between antioxidant-rich diets and ameliorating Alzheimer's disease, the condition that accounts for 60-75% of dementia cases. After all, consuming more antioxidant-rich foods is one of the easier lifestyle choices we can make to manage this condition.
Scientific evidence confirms that a low content of glutathione can impair short-term and long-term mechanisms of synaptic plasticity (2). Furthermore, the maintenance of normal glutathione levels are important for memory acquisition (3).
Glutathione is one of the main defense mechanisms that the brain utilizes to compensate for oxidative stress and it can effectively detoxify an overload of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and free radicals resulting from aerobic mechanisms established in the brain.
It is well known that an overload of ROS and free radicals can cause cellular damage by interacting with DNA and lipid molecules. In fact, oxidative stress can lead to the decrease of DNA-binding activities of activator protein-1 and CREB (cyclic AMP-response element-binding protein) which is associated with the reduction of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) gene expression, as well as oxidative stress, and can result in impairment of NMDA channel function that is related to the decrease in BDNF gene expression. BDNF is also closely related to learning and memory (4).
BDNF plays a pivotal role in learning and memory as it acts to facilitate synaptic transmission promotes neuronal excitability through synthesis and phosphorylation of synapsin I, which is a nerve terminal phospho-protein involved in neurotransmitter release. Additionally, BDNF maintains gene expression of CREB, which is a transcription factor involved in learning and memory. Simply, we can conclude that there is an interchangeable role between BDNF and CREB where the role of each one depends on the presence of the other.
From this point, studies confirm that treatment with a powerful antioxidant such as liposomal glutathione significantly prevents BDNF reduction, thus avoiding the accompanying cognitive decline that goes with it.
Even though glutathione occurs naturally in many dietary sources including organic fruits and vegetables, cooked meat and fish, Silymarin and whey protein, it isn’t necessarily effective at raising blood glutathione levels. The tripeptide chemical nature of glutathione means that it is hydrolyzed rapidly by intestinal and hepatic gamma-glutamyltransferase, which hampers it from reaching clinically effective levels in the blood and reaching the cells that need it most. However, taking a liposomal form of glutathione protects the delivered active substance from degradation before reaching the site of action.
Furthermore, liposomal encapsulation technology (LET) also ensures that glutathione can more easily cross the blood-brain barrier which means more glutathione reaches the brain resulting in higher antioxidant effects in the body.
From my personal experience with several glutathione supplements, I prefer Amandean’s Premium Reduced Liposomal Glutathione over other brands, which comes in a 4oz bottle and offers the best bioavailability on the market. Amandean’s product is made with optimally-sized liposomes for maximum absorbancy and is perfect for consumers looking for a product made with clean ingredients they can trust. Amandean’s glutathione is also non-GMO, soy-free, sugar-free, vegan, gluten-free, and is manufactured at a cGMP certified facility without the use of high heat or solvents.
Moreover, I really like the taste! Although Amandean recommends mixing a 1 Teaspoon (5 Milliliters) into water or juice to mask any bitter taste, I take a spoonful on its own every morning and quite enjoy it.
As with all aspects of maintaining good health, a balanced lifestyle is key. A proper diet with an emphasis on fresh foods as well as getting consistent, continuous deep sleeps play a significant role in helping us to maintain a sharp memory. A premium glutathione supplement can also help to enhance sleep quality, which further supports its role in positively affecting memory. In addition, maintaining mental flexibility by undertaking mentally challenging activities on a regular basis, such as learning a new language, can be very helpful.
J. Dominguez, L., & Barbagallo, M. (2016). Dietary Approaches and Supplements in the Prevention of Cognitive Decline and Alzheimer's Disease. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 22(6), 688-700. doi: 10.2174/1381612822666151204000733
Almaguer-Melian, W., Cruz-Aguado, R., & Bergado, J. (2000). Synaptic plasticity is impaired in rats with a low glutathione content. Synapse, 38(4), 369-374. doi: 10.1002/1098-2396(20001215)38:4<369::aid-syn1>3.0.co;2-q
Schulz, J., Lindenau, J., Seyfried, J., & Dichgans, J. (2000). Glutathione, oxidative stress and neurodegeneration. European Journal Of Biochemistry, 267(16), 4904-4911. doi: 10.1046/j.1432-1327.2000.01595.x
Wu, A., Ying, Z., & Gomez-Pinilla, F. (2004). The interplay between oxidative stress and brain-derived neurotrophic factor modulates the outcome of a saturated fat diet on synaptic plasticity and cognition. European Journal Of Neuroscience, 19(7), 1699-1707. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2004.03246.x