The human brain is an amazing organ, capable of innumerable feats. But as anyone who has ever had a long day at the office or a night of cramming for an exam can attest, brains are also weirdly fickle things. Cognitive performance varies widely from person to person and from moment to moment. Even people with the same general intelligence score can exhibit wildly different levels of mental acuity depending on their current state of mind. And that’s why we like supplements so much: they give us that little edge we need when our brain needs it most. Supplements can have a powerful impact on our ability to focus products and learn under pressure, feel sharp and sociable regardless of our surroundings, or even just take the stress out of test-taking.
A short guide to your brain and how it works
Our brain is divided into two main parts: the cortex and the limbic system. The cortex is responsible for higher-order functions like language, logic, and creative thinking, while the limbic system handles more instinctive things like motivation, mood, and appetite. All of these functions, or neurotransmitters, are transmitted through the neurotransmitter serotonin, which acts as the “master regulator” of the brain.
When we’re feeling down or anxious, it’s usually because there’s not enough serotonin in our system. Conversely, when we’re feeling happy and confident, it’s because there’s too much serotonin, which has been dubbed the “happiness hormone.” Our brain’s ability to regulate serotonin is what keeps us from being happy or depressed all the time but it also means that most people are a little bit serotonin-imbalance.
Brain food: the fundamentals
Before we get into the specifics of brain-boosting nootropics and supplements, it’s important to review the basics of what your brain needs to do its best work. These are dietary guidelines you can use whether you’re supplementing or not: they’ll help you get the most out of your brain, regardless of which cognitive enhancement techniques you employ.
– Exercise – Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your brain. It stimulates blood flow and circulation to the brain, which can improve cognitive function. Exercise also helps you manage stress, which is incredibly important to mental health.
– Sleep – Sleep is essential for storing new memories and consolidating information you’ve learned throughout the day. You dream while you sleep, which allows your brain to process and file away memories from the day. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re sabotaging your brain’s ability to process memories.
– Nutrition – Brain health is 90% nutrition. That’s a pretty staggering number, but it comes down to a few key things: eat lots of leafy greens for vitamins and minerals; eat a little protein for amino acids; eat healthy fats for brain-friendly omega-3s, and don’t skimp on water.
Focus is one of the most important things you can achieve during any given day, but it’s also one of the hardest to maintain. If you find yourself getting scatterbrained or distracted by unrelated thoughts, you could try a few nootropic supplements to help keep your mind on track. Here are a few of our favorite focus boosters.
– Ashwagandha – Ashwagandha, also known as “Indian ginseng,” is one of the best herbs for boosting mental energy and focus. It’s been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to treat anxiety, insomnia, and even joint pain, and it’s also been studied for its ability to promote focus and mental clarity.
– Bacopa – Bacopa is a traditional Ayurvedic herb used for improving memory and reducing stress. Studies have found that bacopa can help prevent age-related cognitive decline and promote mental clarity by improving blood flow to the brain. It’s also a powerful anxiolytic, meaning that it can reduce anxiety and promote feelings of calmness.
– Caffeine – Caffeine is a classic focus booster that’s been used for centuries by warriors and academics alike. It’s best consumed in moderation, but it can be incredibly helpful for getting through a long day of work or study. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and increases the flow of blood to the brain, which temporarily increases cognitive function.
-Acetylcholine is another neurotransmitter responsible for memory and learning, meaning it’s essential for retaining the information you need to ace that big exam.
– Acetylcholine can be boosted by eating foods rich in choline like eggs, milk, and soybeans, as well as getting plenty of liver-friendly vitamin B.
– Another way to boost acetylcholine is by taking an acetylcholine supplement, which is especially beneficial for people with low choline levels.
– Acetylcholine can also be boosted by using a Huperzine A supplement. Huperzine A is a naturally occurring substance found in plants like moss and club moss, and it’s used in many nootropic supplements because it’s both safe and effective.
The human brain is an incredibly complex organ, but it’s also incredibly adaptable. Through diet, sleep, and exercise, we can make our brains even better and when we need a little extra help, supplements can take us even further. Whether you’re studying for a big exam or just trying to get the most out of your workday, these focus-boosting nootropics and B vitamin boosters can help you achieve more with less stress.