Viewing entries in
brain workings

What You Need To Know About Nootropics

What You Need To Know About Nootropics

Are you suffering from brain fog... memory loss, or you just don't have enough gas in the tank to to take you through an entire day without five espressos?  Then READ on...

Back in our cave man days we only had a few impulses that our brains had to worry about. Sleep, hunt, gather, care for your young and try not to get eaten by any saber tooth tigers. Now we have complex languages (yeah I’m even counting text speak and emojis in there), demanding jobs, rich family lives, incredible technological advancements and serious TV addictions to contend with. Since our lives are demanding so much from us at all times it’s not surprising that our brains are struggling to keep up.

These days my only real connection to those cave man days is when my husband grunts at me when he’s concentrating on his phone screen, but rather than wanting to revert to a time of less brain function it’s time to help our brains reach their full potential.

Did you know that humans only tend to use 10% of our brains? And when you think about it, a lot of the functions that our brains perform aren’t active functions, they’re the automatic ones that we need to live such as breathing or moving around. As technology progresses we’re using fewer and fewer opportunities to challenge our brain purely because we definitely have an app for that.

Why use a map when my GPS will tell me how to get there - as well as the routes that have the most traffic and my estimated arrival time? Why take the time to read up on a subject to find out an answer to a random question that pops into my head (Which artist was famous for his polyphasic sleep patterns again?) when I can just Google it to get the answer in 3 seconds? (I was thinking of Leonardo da Vinci, by the way).

Hell, when was the last time you did a simple math question without using the calculator on your phone? It’s not surprising that most adults no longer know their multiplication tables or bother to memorize phone numbers. Our phones have basically replaced our brains.

There are lots of ways we can help our brain to work better, even just being sure to constantly challenge it and occasionally take a break from mindlessly staring at our screens to read or try something new is incredibly beneficial, but another way is to boost our brain power with Nootropics.

AN INTRODUCTION TO NOOTROPICS

Your memory, motivation, alertness and creativity can all be affected by poor brain function. The cause of your sluggish brain could stem from a number of things including stress or a lack of sleep, but if you’re topping it up with brain-loving nutrients from the get go then you’re starting your day off on the right foot.

get the guide

Let me take a moment to introduce you to my new little friend, Nootropics!  Nootropics are natural drugs (I use that word lightly here, think nicotine) or supplements that have a beneficial effect on brain function in healthy people and can even help to reduce age-related declines in brain function. They can be taken in a drug form or in some cases (such as caffeine) they can be incorporated into your diet to help with memory, focus and creativity.

Your brain isn’t the fixed form we see it as - it can change, grow and improve. Nootropics that are beneficial for brain function are derived from naturally occurring compounds such as Phosphatidylserine, a type of fat compound found in the brain that can help to improve thinking skills and memory. Supplementing your diet with these drugs assist your body’s ability to regenerate and function at its highest levels - especially when you have dietary gaps because of food intolerances or a vegetarian diet.

When you think about it, our bodies are not only fueled by the foods we eat but made up of them and if we’re not giving it enough of the good stuff it needs then it’s going to start depleting its own resources.

NOOTROPIC STACKS

Generally, unless you’re specifically getting a multivitamin, when we take the regular old supplements that you pick up from the pharmacy or supermarket you’re getting one type of compound that has been synthesised in a lab. Think those chewable Vitamin C tablets or iron supplements - that is all you’re getting when you pop one of those little tablets.

A lot of Nootropics work like this as well, where you can pick one type of ingredient or benefit and select a single Nootropic that has been designed to specifically target that field, and by taking it regularly you’ll definitely start to see some improvements - but only in regards to that one function.

However, to really get the most out of Nootropics it’s better to find a Nootropic stack that will get you covered from every angle and support all the gaps in your brain chemistry. If you make yourself a big bowl of spinach leaves for dinner, say it’s a salad and then call it a night, nobody can claim that you’re not being healthy. Spinach is full of beneficial vitamins and nutrients that have a positive impact on your body, but they work in tandem with the other foods we eat to nutritionally support all of our body’s functions.

Nootropic stacks work in the same way. By combining - or “stacking” - together multiple nootropics you’re able to support the various needs and functions of your brain. You can buy nootropic stacks in a single dose or stack them yourself. You should always start by trying single doses so you can assess the benefits and affects individually first.

Before we jump into my favorite 5 nootropics to help improve brain function, it should be noted that not all nootropics on the market - especially those made from previously unknown, exotic compounds - may not be thoroughly tested. In addition, everybody’s brain and body reacts differently, and there’s no definitive way to tell how your body will react to any compound, so you should always proceed with caution and consult your doctor if you feel you’re having a bad reaction.

 

5 NOOTROPICS THAT CAN IMPROVE YOUR BRAIN FUNCTION

  1. Qualia
    This is the main nootropic stack I’m currently using so I definitely wanted to start here. Qualia is a combined stack of 10 nootropics that helps your mental focus, creativity, alertness and even your ability to feel empathy. When I take Qualia I feel more present and aware, with better brain function and an increased ability to problem solve. Basically, I’m my best version of me.

  2. Piracetam
    This is one of the most common nootropics and is a member of the “racetam” family of nootropics that are designed to help cognitive function. It has been shown to have an effect on the release of neurotransmitters and the activation of acetylcholine which helps the brain take up oxygen with improved blood flow, as well as promoting transference from one brain hemisphere to the other.

  3. Modafinil
    This is an incredibly popular nootropic with a wide variety of devoted users. It helps to increase brain function in a number of ways, but two of its main uses is to increase your resistance to fatigue and improve your mood. It has been used to increase brain function in sleep deprived doctors, so is definitely one to keep in mind if you regularly find yourself running with less than the optimum amount of sleep. While it is not a stimulant (ie. it won’t keep you awake) it does help your brain to function at a higher level when you’re sleep deprived which in turn will stop you from being a slave to fatigue.

     

  4. Bacopa Monnieri
    Bacopa Monnieri is a creeping marsh plant native to India and is used as a nootropic to help improve cognitive function. This nootropic works in two ways: it helps to improve your mood and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, while also helping to improve your memory and overall cognitive function. This does seem to take a bit longer to work than others so it is recommended that you try it for a month before giving up on it.

     

  5. Unfair Advantage
    When it comes to accurately named products you can’t beat Unfair Advantage because its ability to help power up your body by providing your brain with energy without the jittery caffeine high of coffee. It works on a cellular level, supplying your mitochondria with the raw materials it needs to repair cells and function at its highest capacity.

get the guide

Want More To Read?

Sleep and Diet

Sleep and Diet

Is your food and diet keeping you awake at night?  I bet it is... and so does the science! 

I Need More Brain Power

I Need More Brain Power

Is it just me or do you find that on those days when you’re incredibly busy and just need to buckle down to get everything done you just... have absolutely nothing! You stare at your computer screen and suddenly forget all your words. Then the brain fog descends and even the easiest of tasks becomes a monumental undertaking that can take you hours to complete. Don’t ask me to sign my name when I’m in one of these moods - I’ll get it wrong!

Today when I sat down to write this I was ready to go with my notes by my side and then out of nowhere I was up to my eyeballs in the dreaded brain fog. At least an hour passed and I was still faced with a blank screen and a blinking cursor. How’s that for irony? Writing an article about brain power and mine was out of juice.

When you’re in one of these brain funks it can seem like that’s it for the day. You might as well crawl back into bed because your brain has called it quits.

Luckily for those of us who experience more fog than a Scooby Doo cartoon (that’s what we are watching these days in the house, after Adrian discovered it!) it's not the end of the road. There are lots of ways we can increase our brain power to become more focused, efficient and productive - and best of all they’re all little tweaks to your existing lifestyle that will be easier to maintain going forward.

But before we start thinking about how we can increase our brain power we first need to understand a bit more about how our brain works.

get the guide

BRAIN CHEMISTRY FOR BEGINNERS

Look if I were to go into full details about exactly how your brain works we’d be here for days and this wouldn’t be an article, it would be a book. So I’ll try and summarize it the best I can.

To begin with, your brain is made up of billions of cells called neurons that all work together to keep you alive. Different types of neurons help to perform different functions with the help of neurotransmitters, also known as the chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and epinephrine.

Through a complicated network of cells throughout the body and the electrochemical nature of neurons, your brain is able to control all of your body’s functions. So your brain is kind of like the steering wheel in your car and the neurotransmitters are the brake and accelerator that transmit the messages needed to get you moving.

Since you need these neurotransmitters to perform every function in your life, if you’re depriving yourself of them then your brain is not going to be able to function to the best of its ability. This can have a run on effect with the rest of your life.

For example, Dopamine is released in the brain when you feel pleasure (such as getting a hug from your kid, eating chocolate or while having sex, yeah!) to reward you for behaviors your brain chemicals see as good. Dopamine plays a critical role when it comes to your mood, your nervous system and your ability to sleep (among other important functions).

So if you’re stressed out and find yourself isolated from your family and eating poorly then you will experience stress, anxiety, poor moods and difficulty sleeping. This will in turn affect your brain’s ability to function and learn the next day.

Every part of our body is linked and plays a pivotal role in helping us perform to the best of our abilities. If we stop looking after ourselves in one tiny way then it can have a run on effect with the rest of our body until we’re stuck in a funk and unsure how the hell we’re going to get out.

WHAT IS NEUROPLASTICITY?

The good news is that our brains are not fixed. While it might seem harder to learn new skills, such as foreign languages or hobbies, after we’ve left school the fact is that we never really stop learning.

Neuroplasticity is your brain’s ability to reorganize neural pathways to help us to grow, learn and increase your brainpower. It doesn’t happen overnight and it takes a concentrated effort on your part to reshape your nervous system, but our brains are flexible and our intelligence has the propensity to grow if we want it to.

You can utilise neuroplasticity to help increase your brainpower by implementing new routines that become habits and by making an effort to train your brain to think in new way, whether that means you’re taking a different route home every day or reading news articles that challenge your language and personally held beliefs.

If you’re serious about increasing your brain power and making the most of every day then these easy tips will help you to develop better habits and put your body and brain in its best position to improve.

get the guide

7 WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR BRAINPOWER

  1. Diet
    If you’re not great at taking supplements regularly then getting a broad range of nutrition from your diet is incredibly important. Apart from a diverse color palette of vegetables (you want to be eating the whole rainbow regularly!) you need to make sure you’re getting lots of iron from your leafy greens, antioxidants from fruit such as berries (or dark chocolate if you want something a little naughty), and omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish such as salmon or tuna. And when in doubt, give supplements another shot.
     

  2. Drink water
    How much water do you drink in a day? Do you get a gallon in easily or do hours pass without any liquid passing your lips (and in this respect we’re not counting coffee!)? When you’re running around or have a day filled with meetings you can forget to drink water, but did you know that when you start to feel thirsty you’re already dehydrated. From that point you’re playing a game of catch up. Drinking lots of water is vital because dehydration can lead to feelings of exhaustion and make it difficult for our brain to function properly. If you struggle to get multiple glasses in during the day try turning regular minor annoyances - such as pages loading slowly on your computer - as a sign to take a sip. It’s like a drinking game that rehydrates you.
     

  3. Sleep
    The eight hours of the night we spend resting are incredibly important because that’s when our body works hard at regenerating from the damage we inflicted on it during the day. It’s not surprising that when we’re not getting a good night’s sleep we tend to experience more foggy days. Aside from the physical side of it, sleep can help improve creativity by removing blinders and helping your brain to reset. It also helps cement your memories and “practice” certain skills or situations to help reduce anxiety.
     

  4. Meditation
    While meditation is most closely associated with stress reduction, it can also help to improve your cognitive functions. When you’re feeling less stressed your brain is better able to function at a higher level and you’ll find your memory and strategic thinking improves. Meditation not only helps you to work through your emotional issues, it can also help you to create new processes of thinking and ways of approaching conflicts as they arise that reduce feelings of stress in the future.
     

  5. Exercise
    Aside from all the general health benefits - not to mention the ability to still fit into your favorite clothes - regular exercise can help boost brain function. Even ten minutes of moderate exercise can help boost your mood and improve memory. During exercise your brain releases proteins known as neurotrophic factors that can trigger other chemicals that can promote neural health. The increased flow of blood to your brain can also help to boost your brain’s ability to function.
     

  6. Try Nootropics
    While taking supplements to fill in dietary gaps is always a great idea to ensure your body is functioning at its peak, it might be a good idea to consider Nootropics as well. Nootropics are drugs (in the same way that caffeine is a drug) that have been derived from naturally occurring ingredients and formulated in a way to help your brain and body function better. They can be taken on their own as a single function supplement or they can be stacked together to improve your brain’s function in multiple ways simultaneously.
     

  7. Challenge yourself
    The most important way to help boost your brain function is to constantly challenge it. When we fall into the same routines and stop actively thinking our brain stops growing - that’s when we find ourselves falling into that zombie state often associated with too much iPhone time. Our brain isn’t able to learn unless we give it something new to try. Whether you constantly read, learn a foreign language, do the daily crossword puzzle or even play board games, as long as you’re challenging your brain you’re helping to improve its function. You can’t expect to run a mile by sitting on the couch so make sure you’re giving your brain a workout as well!


MORE TO READ