Athletes from all sports take supplements to boost everything from endurance to vitality, but for boxers, supplements that have the potential to guard the brain against the effect of repetitive concussive and subconcussive impact can be vital. A 2018 study published in the journal Sports Medicine found that, unlike medication, nutritional supplements such as creatine and Omega-3 essential fatty acids can boost brain health in multiple ways. If you are a boxer wishing to obtain this type of protection, a consultation with your doctor is always key to ensure you are taking the right supplements in the right amount. It may be particularly beneficial to discuss the following supplements with them, since a small group has been found to help stave off the effects of impacts to the head.
Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
This supplement, also sourced from foods such as fatty fish, walnuts, and extra-virgin olive oil, has been found in various studies to maintain the structure and function of the brain. Since it possesses anti-inflammatory effects, it is often used as a supplement to protect the brain and preserve memory. Omega-3s (EFAs) can also play an important role in preserving boxers’ brain health, In the Sports Medicine study mentioned above, scientists pointed to the loss of key Omega-3 fatty acids following injury. In lab studies, having low levels of these crucial acids is linked to greater cell death, slower recovery of motor function, cognitive deficits, and greater anxiety. By contrast, Omega-3 supplementation has been found to enhance resilience to traumatic brain injury, making it an important ally for boxers to have around.
Curcumin and Cognitive Functioning
In the same study, lab tests showed that mice supplemented with curcumin performed better at post-traumatic brain injury maze tests than control mice. Another study showed that the protective benefits of both Omega-3 fatty acids and curcumin could be enhanced by combining both. In the study, this combination of nutrients and nutraceuticals resulted in higher levels of DHA (a long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids). DHA is not only linked to better brain health, but also to improved heart health and vision, and a reduction in inflammation. Many people enjoy curcumin as a fragrant spice to add to their meal. This ingredient works wonders in curry, soup, and stew dishes.
Phosphatidylserine for Brain Cell Protection
It is vital for boxers to take a proactive stance when it comes to their brain health, since having brain injuries increases the risk of dementia and other long-term mental concerns. As stated in the book Nature's Brain Booster, having just one concussion injury can increase the risk of dementia fourfold. Moreover, in a review on repetitive brain trauma published in the journal Brain Pathology, one small study in which phosphatidylserine was combined with other supplements (including ginkgo to enhance blood flow and Omega-3 for memory and mood), there was better circulation in the brain.
Creatine Against Traumatic Injury
A study published in the Wiley Online Library showed that creatine — one of the most relied upon supplements by athletes of all types — provides significant neuroprotection after traumatic brain injury. Lab tests showed that this compound could reduce damage by around 36% in mice and 50% in rats. The mitochondrial (energy powerhouse) membrane of cells were increased and harmful oxygen species were reduced. The scientists concluded that the supplement may be useful against both acute and delayed brain issues following an injury.
Any boxer wishing to protect their brain against the effects of impacts and injury should see their doctor first to obtain whether or not they can obtain the nutrients they need through a healthy diet. Studies indicate that some nutrients and nutraceuticals can be of aid in preserving brain health and memory following head injuries. These include Omega-3 essential fatty acids, phosphatidylserine, curcumin, and creatine. Some studies suggest, in fact, that combining Omega-3s and curcumin could enhance the ‘power’ of both. Many of these nutrients and nutraceuticals can be sourced naturally from food. Salmon and other fatty fish, for instance, are optimal sources of Omega-3s, as are walnuts and extra-virgin olive oil. Testing should indicate the extent to which your doctor may deem you a good candidate for supplementation.
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