With mental health and wellbeing higher on the agenda than ever before, the world of nutrition is no longer just focussing on improving our physical health. The ‘always on’, 24/7 society that we now live in means that our cognitive health – and ways to enhance it – is becoming a priority.
There is an increasing amount of research looking into how diet can impact brain function, and ‘nootropics’ is the latest buzzword on the health scene, with improved cognitive function, memory, creativity and motivation all being targeted.
So, what exactly are nootropics? And how can you use them to boost your brainpower? Here, Harley Street Nutritionist, Kim Pearson, explains all – answering some of the questions most commonly asked.
What are nootropics?
Nootropics can be natural supplements or synthetic drugs that support brain health and function. Natural nootropics, which include herbs, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, have effects on the brain that support cognitive function.
While these nutrients occur naturally in day-to-day foods, it is now possible to enhance various brain functions by supplementing specific nootropics in higher doses.
Why take them?
The most common reason many people take nootropics is to boost a specific area of the brain, such as increased alertness, memory, mood, motivation or general cognitive function.
Each of these areas requires our mental state to be altered in a different way, so it’s important to understand which natural nootropic can support us and how.
As well as focusing on increasing your dietary intake of certain nutrients, it is also worth considering a supplement to provide therapeutic doses.
What are the most common natural nootropics?
If you struggle with mental alertness, vitamin B12 should be a key consideration. B12 is involved in energy production and supplements can aid in the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.
As B12 is a vitamin that is difficult to absorb in our gut, supplementing might be a good idea if you often feel tired, or have difficulty focussing. I’d recommend the Boost B12 Oral Spray from BetterYou – it’s a quick and easy way to boost your levels.
Curcumin is the compound behind the amazing health benefits of turmeric. It has been used in India for its anti-inflammatory properties for decades.
Alongside the numerous physical benefits of turmeric come many mental benefits too, with the enhancement of neurogenesis – the production of new nervous system cells. Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory which has been shown to help prevent brain inflammation.
Turmeric is known to be notoriously poorly absorbed through traditional digestive routes, so it needs to be taken in a form that is easily absorbed by the body – try a pill-free alternative such as the great-tasting Turmeric Oral Spray from BetterYou.
If you kick start your day with a strong cup of coffee, you’re already dabbling in nootropics. Caffeine enhances alertness and has been shown to boost memory and cognition.
Increasing sympathetic nerve activity, caffeine enhances dopamine signalling in the brain, contributing to the stimulant effect experienced when consuming it.
While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a good quality coffee in the morning, it’s worth making sure you’re getting all the energy you need from a healthy, balanced diet and not relying solely on caffeine.
This ancient medicinal herb is classified as an adaptogen because it can help your body to manage stress, as well as enhancing concentration and focus.
Studies have shown that ashwagandha supplementation can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol by an average of 30%.
Ultimately, these brain-boosting nutrients can help to improve cognitive performance when taken alongside a healthy and balanced diet. A holistic view is important when looking at any aspect of our physical and mental health, so seek advice if you are unsure about your nutritional intakes.
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