There’s a new wellness trend in town.
Self-care took on new meaning in 2020, when many people were stuck at home, some in solitude. Even after emerging from lockdown, many retained their new perspectives and understanding on issues such as work-life balance. In the case of wellness, the focus has shifted to mental health, giving way to a new term called “brain care”.
“Brain care encompasses all mental, physical, and social activities that support healthy brain development as you age,” said Dr. Bowen Jiang, MD, neurosurgeon and wellness advisor for Brand #8. , which launched with nootropic gummies in October 2021. No. 8, who counts Halle Berry among its supporters, recently promoted the product at an event at The Wing. “Like our muscles and other parts of the body, the brain can grow new cells and form new neural connections through repeated use and exercise, a term we call neuroplasticity.”
Nootropics, often referred to as “smart drugs,” are cognitive enhancers and a key part of the growing category of brain care. “They are a class of substances that can enhance brain performance,” said neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez, practice director of psychology at Comprehend the Mind. “They are also known as memory-enhancing substances or cognition enhancers.”
Drugs for ADHD and Alzheimer’s disease are two of the best-known prescription nootropics because their stimulatory effects can boost brain performance. Creatine and caffeine are examples of non-prescription substances that can have similar results. Although not used for brain diseases, they can positively affect memory, thinking and other brain functions, Hafeez said. As for other cognitive enhancers, like memory-boosting supplements, Hafeez said there isn’t enough data to know whether they’re effective or safe.
The Nue Co., Goop, and meal delivery and wellness company Sakara Life have all offered nootropics. This association with beauty and wellness brands has contributed to the rebranding of nootropics. What was once seen as a biohacker’s way to achieve productivity is now a wellness expert’s tool for achieving a meditative flow state.
Brain care is different and more in-depth than self-care, according to Dr. Jiang. He describes self-care as “a conscious act someone takes to improve their well-being that nurtures you and makes you feel connected and cared for.” Brain care, on the other hand, addresses events that alter brain health, both neurological and mental, and impact attention span, problem solving, and stress resistance.
The concept of No. 8, sold primarily on its DTC e-commerce site and at select Four Seasons hotels, stems from Chinese culture. The number eight symbolizes harmony, balance and luck, and the flavors of the gummies are influenced by Asian cuisine. The brand’s mission and messages in its digital communications emphasize that effective and lasting results require adherence to positive habits that complement the products. As the brand notes, brain healing isn’t just about psychostimulants.
According to a 2020 survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, one in five adults suffers from some form of mental illness each year, while one in 20 adults suffers from a serious mental illness each year. Mental wellness is one of two components of brain care, the other being brain health. Brain health is about brain performance and cognitive function in relation to age when brain disease isn’t an issue, Hafeez said. Essentially, brain care is about supporting brain health.
Brain care takes into account the very neglected physical organ itself. Dr. Jiang said taking care of our brains is something we should take care of daily, the same way we take care of our teeth.
“Activities like meditation, breathing exercises, journaling, setting a time limit for social media, and involvement in community groups can have a positive impact on our mental well-being. “, he said of common self-care practices. “Brain health and mental well-being are interconnected as they impact your mood and your ability to concentrate and retain information.”
Ingesting an over-the-counter sleeping pill, for example, may help your sleep disorder for the night, but it usually doesn’t impact your overall brain health or help your brain establish new patterns. Murray-Serter and Hafeez emphasize a holistic approach to maintaining a consistently healthy mindset.
“How we take care of our brain through good or bad habits will largely dictate how we feel,” Hafeez said. “Although no two brains are the same, there are certain practices that can help everyone.”
Daniel Murray-Serter, co-founder of herbal supplement brand Heights, agrees and says nutrition is “the most important aspect of brain care.” The Heights’ first and only product is its $55 smart supplement, which includes omega-3s, B vitamins, vitamin D, and blueberries. “We recognize that the brain is the CEO of our body,” he said.
Prior to its physical launch in January 2021, Heights sent out weekly “Sunday Supplement” newsletters based on scholarly papers that Murray-Serter condensed into high school reading level content. It is still in publication, with over 200 editions and over 150,000 subscribers. Murray-Serter does not have a medical degree. For the development of Heights, he consulted Dr. Tara Swart, a physician and neuroscientist trained at the University of Oxford. Swart is now scientific director of Heights, working alongside dietitian Sophie Medlin, as the brand’s head of research and nutritional insights.
The 2-year-old mark is sold DTC, and Murray-Serter is on that option at the moment. “It gives us control over getting the freshest supplements into the hands of our customers,” he said. Because “brain care is really for everyone,” Murray-Serter said, the brand doesn’t have a targeted consumer. But he said his consumer’s psychological makeup is made up of people who are high achievers and want to perform to their fullest capacity in their professional and extracurricular lives. Heights counts British entrepreneur Steven Bartlett and author and clinical psychologist Dr. Julie Smith among its loyal clients.
“What fascinates us is the intersection between nutrition and mental health, something that is very overlooked,” Murray-Serter said. “However, nutrition is part of brain care – and we also educate our community on the other aspects – most of which are free, such as hydration, breathing and daily movement.”
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