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Last Updated on December 11, 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.

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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.

 A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

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“We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence

A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

“When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

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When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]

“All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

Silence relieves stress and tension.

It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

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A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

“This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.

The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

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But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]

Summation

Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via unsplash.com

Reference

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