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THE FIX

The Truth About Brain Supplements: Nootropic Ingredients to Benefit Cognitive Performance


Nootropics for focus


Our brain is a high energy organ. It only weighs 2% of our body but it consumes about 25% of the nutrients that are circulating within the body!

Today we explore the mind and how we can look to support this fascinating organ through small behaviours and good nutrition.

What is a Nootropic?

Nutrients that affect the cognitive performance of the mind are known as Nootropics. The word "noos" originates from the Ancient Greek word for "mind". Whilst Nootropics have become somewhat of a buzz word in the health and fitness industry in recent years, they have in fact been around for centuries and are commonly referenced in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing as they may help to facilitate learning and memory or overcome natural or induced cognitive impairments.

A regular diet of various nutrient-rich foods is critical for optimal and sustained cognition. What we eat has a direct and long-lasting effect on the brain. 

What are Nootropics Supplements?

Nootropic supplements belong to the class of substances that act as cognitive enhancers, likely to improve specific mental functions, including concentration, memory, and attention span.

Nootropics fall into two general categories:

  • Natural nootropics: These nootropics are found naturally in foods, herbs and plant extracts and have been evaluated for their capacity to improve cognition.
  • Synthetic nootropics, often know as "smart drugs" are pharmaceutical agents having a substantial effect on mental functions. They often require a prescription and must be used under medical supervision.

Here at Beautifully Nourished, we always opt for natural and work with ingredients found and sourced naturally and sustainably from plant and herb origins. 

How do Nootropics Work?

The human brain is unique in its size and complexity. To understand how nootropics work, we need to consider how the brain works and how nootropics work on the brain. Research surrounding nootropics show enhancement of cognitive functions in the human brain, with natural nootropics effects including a boost in brain function and in brain health.

There are a number of mechanisms influenced by the administration of nootropics, such as glutaminergic signalling and amyloid precursor protein.

Nootropic benefits are seen when interacting with the pathways and mechanisms relating to mental function such as memory, creativity, motivation, and attention. The nootropic affects the brain's performances through number of mechanisms or pathways, for example, the dopaminergic pathway.

Nootropics enhance blood circulation to the brain and increase essential nutrients and oxygen flow to the brain. The improved supply of blood and nutrients to the brain helps the organ to run effectively and efficiently, creating the following reactions in the brain:

Increased Brain Energy: The brain utilises 25% of the body's entire energy reserves, so when we are tired, the brain lags down.  Nootropics help to reverse this and keep sufficient nutrient and energy reserves flowing to the brain. 

Balanced Brain Chemicals: Nootropics improve cell-to-cell communication and bring the chemicals in the brain to balance.

Increased Blood Flow: Nootropics improve delivery of nourishing compounds to the brain removes brain-damaging neurotoxins

Higher Brain Waves: Nootropics increase amplitude in certain brain waves can improve focus and keep relaxed

More Potent Neuroprotection: Nootropics increases the brain's antioxidant capacity, especially when facing stress helping protect brain cells.

Brain Regeneration: Nootropics slows ageing and reduces brain damage by reducing natural regeneration.

Are Nootropics Safe?

Natural nootropics are regarded as safe.  We recommend not taking them if you are taking SSRI anti-depressents until you have confirmed that it is safe to do so with a doctor. 

If you are new to nootropics, opt for natural and start with small dosages. Practice mindfulness while using nootropics for enhanced effects. 

Benefits of Nootropics

The various benefits of nootropics are discussed in detail below.

Nootropics for Stress and Anxiety 

Nootropics for stress can help in different ways, including strengthening the body's resistance to stress, replenishing brain chemicals exhausted by stress, and naturally promoting feelings of relaxation.

By regulating stress, nootropics can help us feel more relaxed and achieve a higher level of cognitive performance. Only by removing stress can the brain reach its full potential.

Nootropics for Motivation

Nootropics help to regulate the brain chemical dopamine, a neurotransmitter that drives pleasure. Altered dopamine levels have been linked to low motivation and related concerns like insufficient mental energy, lazy mood, and slow cognitive processing.

Nootropics that assist dopamine levels and benefit motivation helps to balance brain chemicals and support dopamine levels associated with the healthy mental drive. 

Nootropics for Focus and Attention

Attention underlies many other cognitive functions, and nootropics may help with various features of attention, including:

  • Focused attention
  • Selective attention
  • Alternating attention
  • Divided attention

Nootropics for Sleep

All of us are aware of the link between healthy sleep patterns and brain performance. Nootropic brain supplements optimise both sleep and cognition at the same time.

Nootropics for sleep have significant performance benefits because they promote a calm and relaxed mental state, helping to stimulate the onset of sleep itself.

5HTP is an excellent Nootropic for Sleep.  Serotonin levels can affect mood, sleep patterns, appetite, memory, learning and impulse control. The level of serotonin in the brain has an adverse effect on our state of restfulness and restlessness.

5-HTP can help to relax the mind and prepare the body for bed at night, with research also suggesting that 5-HTP may support the reduction of low mood and depression, which can often lead to sleep disturbances. 5-HTP also aids sleep as it increases levels of serotonin, which plays a role in levels of the body's sleep hormone: melatonin. 

Melatonin governs the body’s ‘sleep-wake’ cycle. Production of the hormone rises in the evening to promote sleep and drops in the morning to help wake the body up. 

Nootropics for Energy

Nootropics are energy boosters because they work without stimulants and eliminate any unpleasant side effects as seen with coffee.  For example, Green Tea is an excellent, natural nootropic for energy and focus.  In isolation, caffeine is able to promote wakefulness and alertness, however it can also result in outcomes such as restlessness, anxiety and jittering. When caffeine is combined with L-theanine, as within the Beautifully Nourished Cognitive Enhancer, the productivity and creativity-enhancing benefits of caffeine remain and the potential negative effects are subsided by L-theanine’s capacity to promote relaxation without sedation.

Nootropics boost brain energy by supporting healthy blood flow to the brain to improve the oxygen supply and glucose. Nootropics optimise mitochondria power plants for efficient production of energy. They also strengthen the brain's resistance to stress and tune brain waves to the Alpha frequency, revitalising feelings of "wakeful relaxation".

A Beautifully Nourished Brain

Nootropics naturally exist in many of our daily consumed drinks and foods, such as Caffeine (Amino Acids) and Gingko Biloba - which we include in our mild and natural Nootropics Cognitive Enhancer supplement, along with Amino acids; L-Taurine, L-Carnitine, L-Arginine, and Choline Bitartrate, to help enhance cognitive functions, mental performance, and alertness.⁠ 

Food for Thought; Nutritional Tips to Support Brain Health

  • Include foods that have a slower glucose release like whole grains, legumes and beans to provide a steadier energy release throughout the day. 
  • Nutrients such as selenium, vitamin C and omega-3 support cognitive health and brain function, and play an important structural role in brain tissue.
  • Other known natural nootropics include: Ginko Biloba, Choline, Caffeine, L-Tyrosine Vitamins V12, blueberries, turmeric, spinach, egg and dark chocolate to name afew.

Other Ways to Support The Health of Our Brain Include:

  • Regular fresh air
  • Mental stimulation
  • Balance
  • Maintenance of hydration levels
  • Adequate sleep and periods of relaxation 

The Bottom Line

Nootropics supplements aren't just supplements that make you healthy, unlike other vitamins. This supplement can make a huge difference in your everyday life, making you more productive, calm and focused.

Studies show that the best nootropics can help the brain in a lot of different ways of functioning from creativity to decision making. Some nootropics can bring the effect and change just a few minutes after taking it, although some may take a while before you can feel the impact.

There are some disclaimers for every nootropic before using, which should be read, such as the length of usage and the dosage. There are different types of nootropic supplements: supplements for stress, anxiety, weight loss, focus, sleep and many more. The most astonishing aspect is that they assist the brain and body in many ways.

 

By Ayesha Gulzar, PharmD, Doctor of Pharmacy &
Katherine Elyse Blake, Founder BSC Nutrition, ANutr

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