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The importance of Brain Health

The importance of Brain Health

Teen’s are under a lot of pressure to do well at school because in many cases, their long term career success can stem from what they do, and don’t do now. At Bioteen, we understand that and that’s why we’ve made it our mission to help you sift through the science behind how healthy eating and the right kinds of high quality, outcome-driven nutraceutical supplements can improve brain health and function so that your teen can get the most out of the time they spend learning.

Learn how good nutrition can fine tune your teen’s focus

We know that helping your teens get all the nutrients they need is easier said than done, but at Bioteen we are as committed as you are to seeing your teen thrive. That’s why we’ve developed an entire range of delicious, ready to mix supplements to suit your unique teens needs, whatever they may be.

Shop all products here

Let’s talk about the brain

The brain is a very interesting organ, it starts to develop as early as 2 weeks after conception, reaches its biggest size at around 11-14 years and carries on developing and fine-tuning itself until young adulthood, about 20 years later(1)!

Although from a physical perspective, your teen is starting to look like an adult, their brains have not yet fully matured. As it matures, it loses grey matter as certain neurons and synapses are pruned away but at the same time, white matter increases and connections start being made between areas of the brain that are far from each other. These connections are important for the development of higher-level cognitive functions like planning, solving problems and making decisions and they also help with cognitive control (or the ability to control impulses in favour of well thought out, probably more appropriate actions)(2).

As the white matter develops, we want to focus on supporting these healthy connections (and thus support higher level cognitive functioning).

The theory of self-efficacy and academic performance

The theory of self-efficacy proposes that when you do something and you have a successful outcome (like do well on a test), that you will enjoy the process so much more and inevitably, feel more hopeful about the task and have more work satisfaction. These positive feelings often urge you to increase your commitment and persevere in that specific topic. All of this results in a positive feedback loop where you get better at the task and keep enjoying the process. On the other hand, the more you fail, the less you will enjoy the process and the more likely you are to give up. No one enjoys struggling, it’s just not fun. So when you don’t do well, you may actually find that the task gives you anxiety and as a result you may be afraid of doing it. This manifests as avoiding the task, continuously postponing it or if you do get started, you may give up too soon (because giving up may feel better than failing, again)

(4).

 

So the question is, how can we help teen’s do better at their school work to increase their self-efficacy and kick off the positive feedback loop that helps them to enjoy their work and subsequently do even better at it? One specific skill comes to mind, improved concentration.

Concentration and memory

Concentration means directing your mental power towards a particular activity, subject, or problem. It is the lynch pin of learning because it is closely associated with memory (which is the ability to remember information, experiences and people). Many people feel like they have a poor memory, when in actual fact, the reason why they can’t remember something is because they did not concentrate on it enough to be able to store it effectively. So the problem is not recall, but rather a lack of concentration.

The ability to concentrate can be affected by a number of factors, including your teen’s study environment and the structure of their study sessions as well as physiological factors like not sleeping enough, being dehydrated, having a poor diet and being physically inactive. Our job at Bioteen, is to focus on the physiological factors, and we do this by targeting what we like to call, the 5 Pillars of Wellness: nutrition, movement, rest, support and self.

 

Read more about The 5 Pillars of Wellness here

 

While it is completely normal to have periods of intense concentration and others where there is a lack of focus, when there is less focus than not productivity and thus school performance will suffer (which as we mentioned will have a knock on effect to self-efficacy). When your teen is able to concentrate and use their memory effectively, learning becomes more enjoyable and much less stressful.

Why should we try to manage stress levels?

Stress isn’t all bad, experiencing some stress is an important part of healthy development which helps your teen develop resilience. With your supportive input, this ‘positive stress’ can be growth promoting and help your teen cope with the obstacles that life throws at them, either physically or mentally.

But, because the teen brain is still developing, teens may respond to stress differently than adults and so it is important that we prevent stress from becoming toxic. Toxic stress (5) happens when your teen is chronically stressed without supportive relationships to calm them down. This can impair the development of neural connections, especially in the areas of the brain dedicated to these critical higher-order skills. In addition to that, a teen’s brain may never fully recover (6) from this type of stress, putting them at an increased risk for stress-related mental disorders like anxiety and depression (1).

As the brain is a highly integrated organ )(5), where more than one function works in coordination with one another, a teen’s emotional well-being will be the foundation for their emerging cognitive abilities (including their self-efficacy) which is one of the links between stress and your teen’s ability to do well in school.

This means that one of the factors to pay close attention to when you’re trying to support your teen’s cognitive function, is stress management, which can be done through proper nutrition, exercise and taking some time to rest and relax.

The bottom line

 

At the end of the day, you cannot force your teen to concentrate, unfortunately, that’s just not how it works. But what you can do is focus on creating a supportive environment that enhances your teen’s natural abilities to concentrate which will have a positive knock on effects with regard to their concentration, memory and ability to handle stress. We are here to help you with that by offering expert information and advice and by making sure that your teen has the right kind of nutritional support using effective doses of high quality nutraceuticals that have been scientifically proven to work.

References

  1. The Teen Brain: 7 Things to Know [Internet]. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). 2020 [cited 1 September 2022]. Available from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-teen-brain-7-things-to-know

 

  1. Konrad K, Firk C, Uhlhaas P. Brain Development During Adolescence. Deutsches Ärzteblatt international. 2013.110(25): 425–431.
  2. Center on the Developing Child (2007). The Science of Early Childhood Development (InBrief). Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu.
  3. Hayat A, Shateri K, Amini M, Shokrpour N. Relationships between academic self-efficacy, learning-related emotions, and metacognitive learning strategies with academic performance in medical students: a structural equation model. BMC Medical Education. 2020;20(1).
  4. Brain Architecture [Internet]. Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. 2022 [cited 1 September 2022]. Available from: https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/brain-architecture/
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