Article at a Glance
- The human brain is a super machine that has baffled scientists for years.
- Everything in our daily routine—food, sleep, stress, or even certain websites we search on the internet—may have an impact on our mental performance.
- There are foods, supplements and products that can make you smarter.
The boss of our body, the brain, is the most complicated organ in our body about 6 inches long (16cm), about 5.5 inches wide (14cm) and nearly 4 inches deep (10cm) [R]. It controls everything we do from thinking, learning, feeling emotions and even our heart rate and breathing. Hence, it is imperative to protect our brain by keeping it healthy as this determines the quality of our daily life. In this article, we identify and see how certain research-backed biohacks (food, supplements, products or even things that don’t cost a dime) can contribute to optimal mental performance.
Eat Green Leafy Vegetables
We all know that eating green vegetables is good for our health and immune system. Here’s another reason you should make green vegetables part of your daily diet: it makes your brain 11 years younger!
Researchers at Rush University Medical Center followed 960 people between the ages of 58 and 99, with no signs of dementia, over an average of 4.7 years. The 960 participants completed questionnaires on how often they eat green vegetables, then they were divided into five groups based on the responses. The researchers assessed cognitive decline in those who ate the most (1.3 servings per day) and those who ate the least (0.1 servings per day) by giving them annual memory and thinking tests over the course of 10 years [R].
Researchers found that the participants’ scores declined by and average of 0.08 standardized units per year. However, the rate of decline for those who ate the most vegetables each day was slower by 0.05 standardized units per year compared with the rate for those who ate 0.1 servings per day, which cognitively, is the equivalent to being 11 years younger [R].
Salmon roe is a good source for a healthy emotional balance and positive mood. It is rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the omega-3 fatty acid.
DHA is one form of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and makes up a large portion of the gray matter of the brain. This is the part of the brain that is involved in muscle control and sensory perceptions. DHA is taken to the brain by a protein transporter called Mfsd2a.
According to research, humans who have a defective Mfsd2a protein develop early neurodegeneration because they fail to take DHA to the brain [R]. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and therefore, DHA, may help promote a healthy emotional balance and positive mood in later years [R]. You can test if you have a defective Mfsd2a protein by using tests that are available on the market [R].
In addition to DHA, salmon roe also provides protein, vitamins, minerals, and astaxanthin (an antioxidant compound that gives salmon its color). In human studies, astaxanthin reduces biomarkers of oxidative stress (tiny molecules called free radicals that normally work to remove the harmful toxins from the body) [R].
Qualia Mind, a supplement to optimize brain function, is a mix of nootropic compounds that includes neuro-vitamins, antioxidants, adaptogen extracts, amino acids and choline donors. This product supports and enhances every major neurostructure, system or physiological process [R].
It protects neurons from antioxidants and excitotoxins (a class of chemicals that overstimulate neuron receptors) and increases cerebral detoxification and grey matter density. Moreover, it also deletes neural connections that are no longer useful and enhances the necessary ones with the help of many modulators, and maintains cell membrane integrity [R].
Huperzine A is a substance found in a plant called Chinese club moss and can enhance brain function [R]. Its function is to act as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (AChEI). AChEI is a drug that stops excitation of nerves after transmission of an impulse. Huperzine A inhibits AChEI, thus making us more alert and functional.
Interestingly, Huperzine A is used as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and research has shown that it also enhances learning and memory and protects against age-related cognitive decline [R].
High Dose (4,000 IU) Vitamin D
It is not just vitamin D that we are recommending, high dose vitamin D. This is because high dose vitamin D improves visual memory but low dose vitamin D (400 IU) does not.
Insufficiency of vitamin D is associated with dementia and cognitive decline. In a study from northern British Columbia, Canada, 82 Healthy adults were randomized and blinded to high dose (4000 IU/d) versus low dose (400 IU/d) vitamin D for a period of 18 weeks. Performance in nonverbal (visual) memory improved in the high dose group, but not in the low dose group. Moreover, nonverbal (visual) memory seems to benefit from higher doses of vitamin D supplementation, particularly among those who are insufficient (< 75 nmol/L) at baseline, while verbal memory and other cognitive domains do not [R].
These findings suggest that a higher dose of vitamin D is particularly important for higher-level cognitive functioning, specifically for nonverbal (visual) memory.
New research finds that an increase in brain magnesium improves learning and memory.
It was demonstrated that magnesium promoted synaptic plasticity in cultured brain cells, and increasing magnesium in the brain via dietary supplementation was found to be more beneficial. In a reaction to this finding, a new magnesium compound, magnesium-L-threonate (MgT), was developed and made available.
According to research, half the population of industrialized countries has a magnesium deficit, which increases with aging and contributes to age-dependent memory decline. That is why boosting brain magnesium levels might prevent or reduce such decline [R].
The Halo headset by Halo Sport, a device that improves brain performance, works by applying a small electric current to the part of the brain that controls movement, firing neurons while training. Faster pathways are built in your brain as more neurons are activated resulting in an improved performance [R].
During a 20-minute session with Halo Sport, an electric field interacts with your motor cortex (the part of the brain that initiates voluntary muscular activity) that will put the motor cortex into a temporary state of hyper learning for about an hour. This way the motor cortex becomes hypersensitive to the input that receives from the environment [R].
Things that don’t cost a dime
The Brain.fm App and Website
Brain.fm is an app and website is a new way to improve focus and sleep. It combines music and neuroscience to improve focus, relaxation, and sleep affecting the neuronal oscillations [R]. Neuronal oscillations (the way that two neurons communicate with each other) can be measured from the scalp using an EEG (a test used to evaluate the electrical activity in the brain).
Neuronal oscillations can affect your mental state, how you feel, your focus level, or what you’re concentrating on. Therefore, controlling neuronal oscillations is critical.
Brain.fm app allows you to play music at specific frequencies resulting in different neuronal oscillation from 0.1 to 10 Hz for alpha focus. To induce sleep, you can create neuronal oscillations using music with a lower frequency, 0.1 to 2 Hz. In contrast, for higher activity, you can use neuronal oscillation of 10 Hz. What you are doing is programming specific music to cause a specific brainwave frequency to be induced depending on the activity you have chosen [R].
In this modern world, new ways of keeping our brain healthy and active must be implemented into our daily routine. Maintaining a healthy brain will not only improve your everyday life, but it will lead to a reduced risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s, and age-related cognitive decline. You are never too late to start a new, more beneficial daily routine for optimal mental performance.
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