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Last Updated on August 1, 2019

10 Natural Brain Boosters for Enhancing Memory, Energy and Focus

10 Natural Brain Boosters for Enhancing Memory, Energy and Focus

I’m extremely pleased to be writing about this topic. It’s something I have been paying great attention to over the last 2 years. Brain function has not nearly been discussed enough in the past, however seems to be picking up speed over the last few years.

Here’s the deal, we humans, are given these wonderful pieces of technology known as the human biology/physiology and are not typically handed a manual to this technology out of birth, or were you?

Of course I mean this metaphorically! The lack of early education around certain topics is what I’m referring to. Especially because I personally wasn’t born in this wonderful age of the internet, which is also why I’m so passionate about utilizing the web for personal growth and development, which leads us into the following article!

Let me quickly preface this with saying that I strongly believe in consuming food to obtain nutrients, and not strictly relying on supplementation, however in some cases, supplements are the only means to acquiring a needed substance. Simply put, substances you may ingest (consume) that will enhance your cognitive function including attention, focus, memory (retention of information), recall (recollection of information), and in some cases, your ability to build new and/or repair damaged neural pathways.

Brain boosters are also often referred to as nootropics or smart drugs. Certain nootropics I cover in the proceeding article have also been proposed to treat certain mental disorders and illnesses.

Here’re 10 natural brain boosters I recommend:

1. Water

That’s right, water! I’m pretty sure I mention water at least in every other article written here on Lifehack. Why? Because up to 60% of the total human adult body is water.

According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, including the brain and heart which are composed of 73% water, and the lungs sitting at about 83% water. If your brain is about 3/4 water, and you are dehydrated, or not providing it with high quality water, do you think it will perform at high efficiency?

Chances are, a dehydrated human being is not reaching peak performance on the next physics or math exam, or anything for that matter!

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2. Krill Oil / Fish Oils

I’ve specified Krill Oil here, however, you are welcome to take any form of high quality fish oil supplement, another example being Alaskan Wild Salmon oil. I would, of course, suggest consuming fish instead of supplementation. However, you can benefit from both. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats responsible for most of the brain and mental health benefits of fish oil.

Fish oil primarily contains two types of omega-3 fatty acids — EPA and DHA. These fatty acids are critical for normal brain function and development throughout all stages of life. EPA and DHA play important roles in a developing baby’s brain.

In fact, several studies have correlated pregnant women’s fish intake or fish oil use with increased scores for their children on tests of intelligence and brain function in early childhood. These EPA/DHA fatty acids are also vital for the maintenance of normal brain function throughout life. They are abundant in the cell membranes of brain cells, preserving cell membrane health and facilitating communication between brain cells.

Consuming fish or fish oils may also improve brain function in people with memory problems, such as individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive impairments.

3. L-Glutamine

Glutamine is commonly classified as a “non-essential amino acid.” This may mislead people into believing that we don’t need it. However, simply put, “non-essential” means only that the body can synthesize this amino acid. It does not mean the substance is “unimportant” by any means.

In the brain, glutamine is a substrate for the production of both excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters (glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid, popularly known as GABA). Glutamine is also an important source of energy for the nervous system.

If the human brain is not receiving enough glucose, it compensates by increasing glutamine metabolism for energy, which lead to the popular perception of glutamine as “brain food” and its application as a mood and energy elevator. Often, Glutamine users claim to feel more energy, less fatigue and an overall better mood.

4. Lions Mane Mushroom

I’ve made an extensive YouTube Video about Lions Mane Mushroom, and follow up videos around similar mushroom compounds which help body and brain function.

Lion’s mane mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus) are white, round-shaped fungi that have long, shaggy spines – appearing much like a Lion’s Mane. They can be eaten or taken in the form of supplements. Research suggests that they may offer a range of health benefits, including reduced inflammation and improved cognitive and heart health.

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Lions mane is packed with Antioxidants that may fight both inflammation and oxidation in the body. Inflammation contributes to loads of medical conditions, including diabetes, heart and autoimmune diseases. In a 2012 study, the medicinal potential of 14 types of mushroom were evaluated, finding that lion’s mane had the fourth highest antioxidant activity, which researchers described as “moderate to high.”

It’s also possible that lion’s mane mushrooms can boost cognitive function, but the existing research is mainly on animals (mice), giving them better object recognition and recognition memory.

Though there is currently a lack of research around treatment, some researchers have concluded that the mushrooms may have the potential to treat or prevent diseases that cause a decline in cognitive health, such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.

An older study in Japan with adults aged between 50 and 80 years who had mild cognitive impairment found that daily consumption of this mushroom extract for 16 weeks led to higher scores on cognitive function scales compared with a placebo group. These scores declined once the participants stopped consuming the extract.

5. Turmeric & Curcumin

Yes I’m combining these two substances into #5, simply due to the fact that Turmeric is a plant, and Curcumin is a compound found within Turmeric. I have also noted a supplement at the tail-end of this article which contains both of these ingredients, and more!

Turmeric is widely regarded as one of the most powerful health and wellness supplements in existence. This is because Turmeric helps with more than just brain function, such as improving the total antioxidant capacity of the body. The latest studies on turmeric show that curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier and has the potential to help clear these plaques.

Curcumin Boosts Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which is a type of growth hormone that functions in your brain, linked to enhanced brain function such as improved memory, and a lower risk of brain diseases. Curcumin may also aid in preventing the development of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

6. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is one of the most effective remedies for anxiety and depression. I created a YouTube video recently discussing the overwhelming benefits of Ashwagandha.[1] Researchers report that it blocks the stress pathway in the brains of rats by regulating chemical signaling in the nervous system. Several controlled human studies have shown that it can effectively reduce symptoms in people with stress and anxiety disorders.

In a 60-day study in 64 people with chronic stress, those in the supplemental group reported a 69% average reduction in anxiety and insomnia, compared to 11% in the placebo group. In another six-week study, 88% of people who took ashwagandha reported a reduction in anxiety, compared to 50% of those who took a placebo.[2]

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7. L-Theanine

L-Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea that has proven effects on the reduction of anxiety. This powerful substance can induce calming, tranquilizing effects while simultaneously improving alertness.

L-Theanine, much like the brain-signaling chemical Glutamine, relieves anxiety. L-Theanine produces the opposite effect in the brain. While glutamate is the brain’s most important excitatory neurotransmitter,

L-theanine binds to the same brain cell receptors and blocks them to glutamate’s effects. This action produces inhibitory effects. That inhibition to brain overactivity has a calming, relaxing effect in which anxiety fades.[3]

8. Resveratrol

Resveratrol (3,5,4′-trihydroxy-trans-stilbene) belongs to polyphenols’ stilbenoids group. This natural polyphenol can be detected in 70+ plant species, especially in grapes’ skin and seeds, as well as discrete amounts in red wines and other human foods.[4]

Resveratrol has several neuroprotective roles in various neurodegenerative impairments, such as Alzheimer′s, Huntington′s and Parkinson′s diseases, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and alcohol-induced neurodegenerative disorders. It has been shown that resveratrol protective effects are not limited to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, but also improved mitochondrial functions and biogenesis.

A meta-analysis showed that resveratrol significantly decreased Profile of Mood States (POMS) including vigor and fatigue. However, it didn’t have any significant effect on memory or cognitive performance. So while Resveratrol may be a great solution for neurodegeneration, it likely will not yield direct cognitive performance benefits.

9. 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5HTP)

5-HTP functions in the brain and central nervous system by increasing the production of the chemical serotonin. Serotonin affects sleep, appetite, temperature, sexual behavior, and pain sensation.

Since 5-HTP increases the synthesis of serotonin, it is used for the treatment and prevention of several diseases including depression, insomnia, obesity, and many other conditions. It has been proposed that these conditions are heavily impacted by serotonin in the brain.[5]

10. Caffeine

This one is quite straight forward in that most are familiar with the substance and its effects. Caffeine has been proven to increase cognitive performance by way of improved memory and focus.

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I would like to stipulate that over consumption of caffeine can be quite detrimental on one’s overall health — by over stimulating the nervous system and adrenal gland, which can lead to increased levels of stress.

So when consuming caffeine, do so in moderation; never exceed 300mg (milligrams) in a single day, and realistically aim to stay below 200mg (about 2-3 cups of coffee).

Bonus Tips

Aside from taking individual supplements which I’ve noted above, there are some brands which have focused around creating products which incorporate much of these ingredients. I’ve highlighted many of these brands on my YouTube channel, where I showcase products that improve quality of life.

In my recent video on brain supplements, I showcase TransZen which is a supplement by EntheoZen. It contains several of the above ingredients including Turmeric, Curcumin, Ashwagandha, and 5HTP. In the video, I also explain how to use critical thinking when examining any supplement which claims to enhance cognitive function.

You can take a look at the video here:

Bottom Line

I hope that this article has given you some valuable information with regards to how to improve your brain function and overall wellness. If you do try any of these substances, I suggest doing so individually, and not all together, that way you can determine what is working best for you in particular.

I often find myself getting caught in the supplement trap of consuming many substances that improve overall cognition and wellness, however, not quite knowing which to associate to each cognitive benefit. When that happens, I usually take a break (cycle-off) from one or two substances to narrow down the beneficial properties of the remaining supplements being consumed.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article, and I truly hope you experience massive improvements in day to day life by trying some of these powerful brain boosters!

More About Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Liane via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Adam Evans

BioHacker, competitive athlete, researcher in many fields including health and fitness, science, philosophy, metaphysics, religion.

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Last Updated on October 22, 2019

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

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You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

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Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

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When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

4. Get up and Move

We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

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If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

The Bottom Line

It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

More Resources About Boosting Focus and Productivity

Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

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