Our brains are large, energy-hungry organs. They make everything we do – from breathing to swimming to working out mathematical theories – possible. Yet even though the brain is so incredibly vital to our lives, we don’t give it much thought. As it develops and changes from birth to our senior years, the brain benefits from a little care and attention. Blackcurrants can help offer that care in delicious and wonderful ways.
Our brains are developing steadily from age zero until we are about 11 or 12. During this time, our brains are literally expanding and taking shape, forming connections and growing cells. The things that happen now define how the brain will work and create the systems that effect how a child will think and feel for the rest of their life. Nutrition during these years is of particular importance.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a key element for brain development and maintenance and considered a crucial element for positive cognitive and visual development. They help build cell membranes and some research shows that their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities may also foster the growth of healthier brain cells less prone to deterioration. (Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities are also part of the spectrum of benefits of the anthocyanins found in abundance in blackcurrants.)
Developing brains can also benefit from another naturally occurring benefit of blackcurrants: cyclic Glycine Proline (cGP). It is an important factor in cell growth, and our bodies tend to produce the most during our pre-teen and teen years when our bodies are busy growing and changing.
Not surprisingly then, research shows that cGP, along with Omega-3s, also plays a particularly important role in helping the brain create and strengthen cells. In adults, cGP can help the brain function better longer, but in children it can provide support during periods of crucial development.
Mood Stabilization and Lifting
Other research also shows that omegas, like those found in blackcurrants, can also help with mild to severe depression, postpartum depression, and in some cases, schizophrenia. For developing brains, this can be a natural preventative measure and solution for potential challenges pre-teens face. In addition to omegas, the naturally occurring anthocyanins found in blackcurrants also may lift mood and alleviate symptoms of depression. A 2017 study in the United Kingdom found the positive effect on children may stem from the anthocyanins increasing blood flow to the brain. This may offer protection against neuronal stress, a condition that results in the creation of neurons that are less able to make healthy connections, while at the same time encouraging the positive stimulation of neural signaling. While more research is needed, the potential is exciting.
Blackcurrants are a natural source of prebiotics, the fibers that help feed a healthy digestive system. However, prebiotics can also have a positive effect on your mood. As the fibers feed and help maintain the healthy bacteria in your gut, they are broken down into short chain fatty acids (SCFA’s). These then keep the lining of your gut healthy, which translates to a greater ability to absorb the nutrients your body needs, fight off inflammation and infection, and improve your mood.
Gut Bacteria and Autism Spectrum Disorder
While it may seem like your stomach is far away from your brain, research further suggests that the two might have a closer relationship than previously suspected. A Spanish study found that an imbalance in gut bacteria in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may have an impact on the severity of the symptoms associated with the condition. While maintaining a healthy gut bacteria may not be the sole aid for those with ASD, it can prove a welcome addition to the toolbox families and practitioners have at their disposal.
The link between nutrition, a healthy body, and a healthy mind is irrefutable. Why not start from the very beginning to give your family the best chance to reach their potential in every aspect of their lives? Blackcurrants can help do exactly that.