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Last Updated on May 5, 2020

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 Tips for Enhancing 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.

Why Weight Lifting for Weight Loss Leads to Super Fast Results 12 Stretching Exercises to Increase Your Flexibility 4 Simple Hacks to Lose Fat Fast (And Sustainably) 10 Natural Brain Boosters for Enhancing Memory, Energy and Focus 14 Simple Hacks to Increase Energy No Matter Your Age

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (and Highly Effective) Ways

How to Improve Memory: 7 Natural (and Highly Effective) Ways

Memory plays an integral role in our lives, both in the short and long term. If you’re wondering how to improve memory, I’m here to tell you that there are natural and effective ways to do so.

Despite what you might think, improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it.

Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve memory efficiently and reduce the risk of memory loss.

1. Meditate

We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts, and figures into our conscious minds.

Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder, then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. Research suggests that the more information and distractions you receive, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory[1].

Fortunately, meditation can help.

Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which, in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

While any amount of meditation will do something to help your memory, one study pointed out that “8 but not 4 weeks of brief, daily meditation decreased negative mood state and enhanced attention, working memory, and recognition memory as well as decreased state anxiety scores”[2].

Therefore, if you’re looking for the most benefits, try sticking with a meditation practice for at least 8 weeks.

However, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

2. Get Plenty of Sleep

If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then it’s likely that you’re not able to remember well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities, including your memory.

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If you want to learn how to improve memory, how much sleep should you be getting?

Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation[3], you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things[4].

If you want to improve memory, get plenty of sleep.

    Maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!), but if you care about improving your long and short term memory, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

    Try these three things to naturally improve your sleep cycle:

    • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
    • Don’t eat too late
    • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

    Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

    However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory.

    3. Challenge Your Brain

    When was the last time you challenged your brain?

    I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or under-sleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and memory games.

    To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

    Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-solving ability, and memory.

    There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

    • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
    • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
    • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

    If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

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    Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it; try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

    4. Take More Breaks

    When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctly remember working all the hours under the sun—and many under the moon, too!

    At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat, and tears.

    However, if you want to know how to improve memory, taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative, and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

    Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

    One 2011 study from the University of Illinois concluded that “the brain is built to detect and respond to change…and prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance”[5].

    This is based on something called the “vigilance decrement.” This can be applied to many things. For example, we often don’t notice the feeling of clothing touch our bodies because our brain becomes accustomed to the sensation. However, if you change clothes, you’ll likely notice the difference in texture and temperature for a few minutes.

    When you take a break from memorizing information, it refocuses your attention and energy, leading to increased focus overall.

    It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart, and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

    Basically, make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

    5. Learn a New Skill

    I love this quote, as it’s 100% true but frequently overlooked:

    “Learning never exhausts the mind.” -Leonardo da Vinci

    From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

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    Let me give you an example of this:

    Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day, many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

    Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

    The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you rather than letting you work in your own way.

    Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction into learning a new skill (computer coding).

    It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career, and the ongoing learning made the call center job much more bearable.

    Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus, and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking out new information. When learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly becomes a habit, too.

    If you want to know how to learn something new every day, check out this article.

    6. Start Working out

    If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

    Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory[6].

    Regular physical activities increase blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. A well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

    Even if you don’t have much time, research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines[7].

    Interested in getting started?

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    Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

    • Join a gym
    • Join a sports team
    • Buy a bike
    • Take up hiking
    • Dance to your favorite music

    7. Eat Healthier Foods

    I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

    This applies to your brain, too.

    The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health, as well.

    Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery, and dark chocolate. But any fruits, vegetables, or foods high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory. Here’re some ideas: 15 Brain Foods That Will Super Boost Your Brain Power

    Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain, leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

    If you want to improve your mental health, eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

    • Turmeric – Helps new brain cells grown
    • Broccoli – Protects the brain against damage
    • Nuts – Improves memory
    • Green tea – Enhances brain performance, memory and focus[8]
    • Fish oilFish oil supplements can increase your brain power

    Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

    Also, remember that your brain is about 75% water, so dehydration can have a huge effect on the way your brain functions. Stay hydrated if you really want to improve memory!

    Final Thoughts

    I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be helpful for you.

    You don’t need to implement them all, but you can try out the ones that appeal to you.

    But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory and avoiding cognitive decline, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested.

    More on How to Improve Memory

    Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

    Reference

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