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You don’t need pharmaceutical nootropics - 21 superfood-reasons why

July 20, 2017

Nootropics or “smart drugs” have been the talk of the town recently. These supplements have been linked to boosting productivity and mental performance. However, very little is known about their long term effects. Many biohackers like Tim Ferris decided that the short term gain through "smart drugs" is not worth the long term side effects. 

There are other, equally powerful ways to hack cognitive performance with superfoods. The compounds of these superfoods can stimulate your brain cells to release (e.g.) mood-altering dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. If used systematically they can reset or cleanse your system and prime it for peak performance.

Whether you are competing for a triathlon or looking for the cutting edge in mental clarity Superfoods are nature’s gift for optimal performance. 

In order to really manipulate your system's performance it needs to be cleansed of harmful toxins we expose ourselves to on a regular basis. You can find more about this in our recent blog post "How to boost mental focus, productivity and energy with detox". Another, often overlooked tool in hacking your system is sleep.

Professor of Circadian Neuroscience and the Head of the Department of Ophthalmology Dr. Russell Foster explains the link between sleep and emotional well-being in this eye-opening  Ted talk.

We often downplay the importance of sleep with little regard for obtaining our recommended 7-8 hrs of shut eye. Sleep patterns can be affected with stimulants like pharmaceutical nootropics, energy drinks, coffee and electronic devices all of which interfere with our circadian rhythm which is our natural sleep/wake cycle.

Another interesting aspect of sleep is that your brain cleans itself of toxins during sleep. During sleep, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain increases, washing away harmful waste proteins.

The most commonly know "smart drug" is probably Adderall, a stimulate that affects chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactive and impulse control. One of the potential side-effects is the negative impact on REM sleep. However, with sleep being an important factor in overall health it is important to establish a circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle) and stick to it.

Superfoods such as Turmeric can have a positive impact on brain performance, especially when formulated or combined with other superfoods, without impacting your sleep patterns.

Effects include memory, brain cell development and neurogenesis, but also positive effects on balance of mood and sleep. In addition it may even have a positive effect on Alzheimer’s according to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

Why Nootropics are a tangled web.

Nootropics, classified as dietary supplements, do not have to meet FDA standards; manufacturers and distributors are not required to obtain FDA approval before advertising and selling their products, nor do they require a prescription from a doctor.

This excellent article by Kristen Spina goes into detail on how excessive manipulation of neurotransmitter systems can lead to a variety of unpleasant issues, including serotonin syndrome, depression, and anxiety.

As Kristen states it "Smart drugs won't turn you into the next Elon Musk, because after all, your brain is still your brain". However, there is a way to enhance brain performance with the help of formulated superfood supplements

 

Below is a list of superfoods you can add to your diet to boost brain performance the safe way. 

Let’s start:

    1. Himalayan Sea Salt - A great way to replenish vital minerals ourbodies our depleted of when we sweat is through Himalayan Sea Salt. Himalayan Sea Salt contains trace minerals not found in table salt. You can find agreat Himalayan Sea Salt cocktail recipe here. Instead of using table salt, it is highly recommended to substitute with Himalayan Sea Salt when cooking meals.
    2. MCT Oil– Medium Chain Triglycerides help boost energy while improving cognitive function. MCT Oil converts fats into energy through a process called ATP-Adenosine Triphosphate. MCT Oil is a great additive to drinks, salads, and foods such as oatmeal.
    3. Lo Han Guo– Native to China this fruit known as “the immortals fruit”is used as a sweetener which has better fuel than sugar, it is widely used throughout Asia in teas and baking. Benefits range from a digestive support to respiratory wellness. This sweetener may also benefits those with diabetes as Lo Han Guo inhibits effects on blood sugar levels.
    4. Matcha Green Tea – This Asian ancient tea is packed with more antioxidants than regular tea. L-Theanine reduces anxiety and stress while improving mental focus. Matcha packs a serious punch with Epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG.Studies have shown that this phytochemical slows irregular cell growth and can potentially prevent serious diseases.
    5. Ginger– From a minor cough to severearthritis, ginger is a great natural Superfood to add to your arsenal. Studies show that ginger promotes healthy mental clarity. Ginger also aids in clearing congestion, so brew a cup. 
    6. Turmeric tea– This potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory has an extensive list of benefits which gives it the nod on the superfood list. Turmeric’s key ingredient Curcumin, boosts the immune system, and is a great source of A and B vitamins. Tip: to increase the bioavailability add black pepper to your turmeric. 

Other, less exotic and underrated foods you can add in addition:

    1. Apples- They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away and there may be some truth to this. Whether you’re eating or drinking apples studies from The University of Massachusetts showed improved memory associated with consuming apples by increasing the brains neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine release chemicals to the nerve cells which communicate with other nerve cells which is great for overall health.
    2. Walnuts - Loaded with DHA omega 3 fatty acids that helps protect the brain. DHA plays an important role in brain development from an early age and all throughout life. Studies have shown a close relation to balanced mood and improved cognition. No need to overdo it,just a handful for the day is all you need.
    3. Spinach – Rich in b vitamins folate, and L-tyrosine an amino acid which has amazing benefits to your mental health. L-tyrosine reduces stress by increasing levels of our natural feel good brain chemical dopamine. Spinach also prevents oxidative damage to the brain which occurs when our body is low on antioxidants and free radicals attack.
    4. Tomatoes – Lycopene a powerhouse in the antioxidant department. Great for the protection of the brain by fighting off free radicals. Tomatoes are great for the heart and improve vision. Lycopene is also great prostate health in men.
    5. Honey ­– Bet you didn’t think something so sweet could be so good. Honey prevents cognitive decline and can improve memory. When I was young my mother would give me warm milk and honey before bed to calm me down. Later I would later come to find out that honey increases serotonin levels which benefit mood and anxiety.
    6. Pomegranate – This powerful antioxidant helps protect against heart disease. Studies show improved working memory with daily task.
    7. Coconut Water- Loaded with electrolytes to quench your thirst. A great source of minerals, vitamins, and fiber. Studies show that coconut water replenished hydration better than water and performed similar to sports drinks.
    8. Almond milk– A great alternative to anyone who’s lactose intolerant. Packed with vitamins and minerals. Almond milk contains no animal byproducts as is free of antibiotics and hormones. Another benefits is almond milk is that it is rich in calcium.
    9. Avocado– Rich in oleic acid a good fat avocados contain50g of potassium per serving. This fruit is also good for your heart containing copper which lacks in most western diets.
    10. Beet juice– Convert into nitric oxide in the body which promoted increased blood flow throughout the body. Increase blood flow contributed to better cognitive thinking, improves stamina, and boost your immune system.
    11. Garlic – Also known as the sticking rose from the onion family.The key element in garlic is allicin which contains antioxidant that may prevent dementia. According to http://www.allicinfacts.com/about-allicin/what-is-allicin/ in order to get the benefits of allicin your will need to consume the clove shortly after being freshly crushed.
    12. Dark Chocolate –This powerful antioxidant lowers blood pressure. Having an important presentation and feeling foggy? Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that increase blood flow to the brain for improved cognition.
    13. Oatmeal – This fiber rich breakfast staple improves digestion and regularity. The American Heart Association states oatmeal can reduce cholesterol and is a great source of iron, magnesium, and selenium. You should avoid prepackaged oatmeal as they may contain high levels of sugar and sodium.
    14. Berries – Fruit intake plays is an important role in well-being. Polyphenols give fruits their dark color and protect against ultraviolet radiation. Polyphenols promote brain health and support healthy blood sugar levels.

Conclusion

There are ways of accomplishing your goals with superfoods vs. pharmaceutical nootropics and there are many reasons why you should enhance your performance this way. 

Results accomplished via superfoods will last longer and are healthier for your entire system. You can find more on this topic in our last post "How to boost mental focus, productivity and energy with detox".

We've also put together a free Guide on the subject: How to enhance brain performance with superfoods. Feel free to download & discuss on our social channels. 

 




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