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Researchers Find An Unexpected Benefit of Caffeine: Honesty

Researchers Find An Unexpected Benefit of Caffeine: Honesty

Approximately 33% of — or about 83 million — Americans receive less than the recommended amount of sleep. Lack of adequate sleep has been linked to a host of adverse effects on our physical and mental health, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, depression, and other ailments. It also wreaks havoc on our cognitive abilities and work performance by impairing memory and learning, judgment, and critical thinking. And of course, insufficient sleep is associated with a higher rate of accidents, injuries, and medical and occupational errors. However, it is less widely known that sleep deprivation may promote deception and even delinquency through its effects on self-control and regulation.

While some studies have shown that sleep deprivation is associated with unethical behavior as well as delinquency, one study demonstrates that providing a jolt of caffeine may help ward this off.

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The Experiment

How is this demonstrated, you ask? In their study, researchers compared 100 college students kept awake all night in a lab with 100 well-rested students. At the start of the experiment, all 200 students were given two pieces of mint gum. Half in each group received normal gum and the remaining half received gum with 200 mg of caffeine, or approximately the same amount contained in a 12-ounce cup of coffee.

Participants then engaged in a game where they were told that they would be splitting money with someone in the study. As part of the experiment, they could either send an honest or deceptive message to the participant with whom they thought they were sharing the money. The deceptive message would benefit them, whereas the honest one would not. An additional condition was that half of the total participants were encouraged to send the deceptive message as part of a test of social influence. The other half were not prompted to send either type of message.

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Results

They results are striking. The 100 sleep-deprived students were far more likely to send a deceptive message than their 100 well-rested counterparts. And among the sleep-deprived students, those who received the caffeine were less likely than their non-caffeinated counterparts to send the deceptive message.

These results highlight that sleep deprivation can lead to “ethical lapses,” but it also points to the idea that caffeine may help blunt this adverse effect.

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Another Study

A subsequent study suggested something similar, which is that caffeine may protect against increased risk-taking propensity in those who are sleep deprived. In this study, 25 adults completed two different risk-taking scales at regular intervals during 75 hours of continuous sleep deprivation. Yes, you read that right — these subjects had approximately three days of no sleep. Roughly half were given caffeine during the sleepless nights of the study; the control group received a placebo. Results showed that while the placebo group showed significant increases in risk-taking propensity and behavior over those three nights, the caffeinated group did not. So caffeine may help to compensate for the effects of even severe sleep deprivation.

Making Use of Caffeine

While caffeine is not a substitute for sleep, and can be detrimental in large doses, it may be able to offset the negative effects of sleep deprivation by giving you the extra energy needed to resist harmful social influences and strengthen willpower and self-control. So next time you feel sleepy, consider grabbing a cup of coffee or other caffeinated drink. It might just keep you from telling that little white lie or doing something you may later regret.

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Last Updated on May 5, 2020

10 Brain Vitamins for Enhanced Brain Power

10 Brain Vitamins for Enhanced Brain Power

Your brain is the house your mind lives in. The brain is the most high-powered organ we have and requires the right amount and type of fuel to work properly. When we don’t give our brain the right fuel, it slows us down, dampers our focus, makes us more unhappy and unmotivated.

If you want to maximize your brain power so as to increase your focus, think more clearly and live a happier and longer life, then pay attention because this article will give you the top nutrients you need to maximize your brain power and what foods to include in your diet in order to get them.

Here are what your brain needs and where to get them:

1. Omega-3’s

Your brain is made up of 60% fat so if you want a healthy and optimally performing brain, you need to ensure you’re giving your brain the right building blocks and fat is one of the most important. Fat has been vilified over the years as being the big villain of health, but in reality, high-quality fat is not only good for you, it’s essential for your brain power and health.

Some of the most important fat to give your brain are Omega-3’s. Omega-3’s such as DHA are the essential nutrients that form the outer layer our brain cells. In fact, not getting enough omega-3’s in your diet can affect normal brain development and cognition. It has also been shown to be implicated in premature brain aging and cognitive decline.[1]

Getting healthy sources of omega-3’s from your diet is critical for optimal brain power.

Foods Rich in Omega-3’s: Walnuts, chia seeds, sardines, salmon, flaxseed, eggs, fish oil

2. Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral that is critical for brain activity and has been known to calm the brain and nervous system to the point it has been called “Nature’s Natural Valium.” Magnesium is essential for hundreds of metabolic processes within the body and brain yet it is still the second most common nutritional deficiency in the world.

Magnesium helps the brain by:

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  • Providing antI-inflammatory benefits
  • Lowering stress hormones
  • Increasing neuroplasticity
  • Relaxing the nervous system
  • Helping to lift depression
  • Reducing anxiety

Foods Rich in Magnesium: Almonds, spinach, cashews, avocado, black beans

3. Vitamin B1: Thiamine

Many B vitamins are known to be beneficial for brain health and well-being but for this article, let’s focus on some of the critical B vitamins.

B1, also known as thiamine, is needed for a large number of metabolic processes in the body including the processes that manage your energy. Your brain uses tremendous amounts of energy throughout the day. Having low levels of thiamine can rob your brain of the vital energy that it needs.

Thiamine can boost your mood, energy, and alertness by providing the energy your brain cells need to work effectively and keep their strength up.

Low levels of thiamine have been associated with:

  • Nerve damage
  • Nerve inflammation
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of short-term memory
  • Confusion
  • Irritability

Having enough vitamin B1 (thiamine) is essential for optimal brain performance and health by providing your brain the energy is needs to get through the day.

Foods Rich in Vitamin B1: Seaweed, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, lentils, black beans

4. Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is critical for helping to improve your mood to make you feel happier but is also important to combat mental fatigue. B6 is a critical component of building the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine.

Serotonin is known as your happy neurotransmitter and is vitally important for improving your mood. Norepinephrine helps your brain stay focused and alert.

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Symptoms of B6 deficiency include:

  • Irritability
  • Loss of focus and concentration
  • Fatigue
  • Memory trouble
  • Muscle pains

Foods Rich in Vitamin B6: Grassfed beef, pistachios, tuna, turkey breast, avocado

5. Vitamin B9

Vitamin B9 is known as folate. Folate is especially important for normal brain development. Folate is an important component in creating many neurotransmitters that the brain uses to communicate and regulate our immune system. Folate is also a natural antioxidant and studies have shown that it can help preserve brain function and memory.[2]

Low levels of folate can be detrimental to the brain. Low levels of folate have shown to lead to increased degeneration in the cerebral cortex as well as cognitive impairment and decline.[3]

Symptoms of low levels of folate include:

  • Lowered immune function
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Increased irritability or anxiety
  • Brain fog

Food Rich in Vitamin B9: Spinach, beef liver, broccoli, asparagus, romaine lettuce.

6. Vitamin B12

B12 is essential for many aspects of our health and wellbeing including building strong bones, hair, skin, nails, immune system and heart health. B12 is also extremely important for your brain and mental wellbeing.[4]

B12 is necessary for many aspects of mental performance including being able to memorize and stay focused. It also plays an important role in producing serotonin and dopamine. Dopamine is your motivation and reward neurotransmitter.

Having low levels of B12 can have some serious consequences including:[5]

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  • Brain fog
  • Memory loss
  • Depression[6]
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations and Schizophrenia (severe cases)

B12 is commonly found in many animal products and meats, so vegetarians and vegans should pay special attention to their B12 to make sure they are getting enough of it in their diet from plant sources or supplementation.

Food Rich in Vitamin B12: Beef liver, sardines, wild salmon, eggs, nutritional yeast

7. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a very powerful and important antioxidant for your brain. Your brain consumes a lot of energy and oxygen in order to do its job. Antioxidants like Vitamin C protect the brain from the wear and tear of doing its job.

Vitamin C is also needed to produce important neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters are important regulators of your mood, so without Vitamin C to produce these important neurotransmitters, your mood may suffer.[7]

Food Rich in Vitamin C: BroccolI, citrus fruits, bell peppers, watermelon, spinach

8. Vitamin D

The “sunshine” vitamin is arguably one of the most important vitamins that many people miss out on. Vitamin D is usually associated with bone health and heart health but it’s been shown in research that Vitamin D may play a critical role in your brain performance. Several studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D can impair cognitive function and performance.[8]

Fewer people are getting outside in the natural sunlight leading to more cases of vitamin D deficiency than ever before. The best part about Vitamin D is that you can get it for free or extremely cheap. Just a few minutes a day of natural sunlight can make a big difference in your Vitamin D levels.

Food Rich in Vitamin D: Natural sunlight or find a Vitamin D supplement.

9. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are critical to help our bodies fight off oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a metabolic process that occurs in the body that wears and tears on our cells. Antioxidants fight against this wear and tear to keep our cells youthful and optimally functioning.

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Vitamin E is an often overlooked vitamin for brain health. It prevents oxidative stress from damaging an important component of our brain cells, DHA. DHA forms the outer membrane of our brain cells and Vitamin E works to prevents oxidative stress from damaging our brain cells to keep our brain young, energetic and high-performing.[9]

Symptoms of Vitamin E deficiency include:

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle weakness
  • Balance issues

Food Rich in Vitamin E: Almonds, kale, Swiss chard, parsley, olives

10. Zinc

Zinc is essential for neuron growth and performance. The highest concentration of zinc is located in your brain, particularly in your hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in regulating your limbic system, the region that regulates emotions. Neurons require zinc in order to communicate effectively to one another.[10]

Low levels of zinc are associated with:

  • Attention and focus problems
  • Lowered immune system
  • Acne or rashes
  • Diarrhea

Food Rich in Zinc: Pumpkin seeds, grass-fed beef, cashews, mushrooms, spinach

Keep Your Brain Sharp With Brain Foods

Your brain works hard and it takes plenty of nutrients and fuel to keep it working well. Getting the amount and type of vitamins, minerals and nutrients can make the difference in feeling energized or feeling sluggish throughout the day.

How would you fuel a Ferrari? You wouldn’t put the cheap gas in a Ferrari. It’s a high-performance machine, so you need to put in high-octane fuel to ensure optimal performance.

Eat a wide variety of foods that include a vast array of the top brain nutrients to ensure your brain is getting plenty of the resources it needs to work efficiently. If you want more brain power, make sure you give it brain power foods.

More Tips for Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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