8 Reasons Why You Should Try Supplements To Improve Your Brain Function
Your brain is inarguably the most important organ in your body. Not only do you need it to think, but your nervous system keeps you alive– regulating everything from breathing to heartbeat and digestion.
Fact checked by Nattha Wannissorn
Unfortunately, diet, lifestyle, and environment nowadays are unfriendly to the nervous system. As a result, many of us are not reaching our full potential in terms of our cognitive function, happiness, and health. Brain fog, premature cognitive decline, and mental health issues are becoming increasingly common, but they’re neither normal nor healthy.
The good news is that:
- You have the power to not follow the status quo and
- Once you’re aware of this, there are many things you can do to mitigate the negative effects and reach your full potential.
Just as you can improve your brain and enrich it with interesting information, you can affect it negatively by some events encountered daily. In this article, we will cover why most people need and benefit from brain-enhancing supplements.
The Collective Mental And Cognitive Health Are Declining
Between 2007 and 2017, mental health disorders and substance abuse incidence increased by 13% . The trend could be due to the rise of technology, the demand for a faster lifestyle, and less time for relaxation.
Moreover, the risk for the development of anxiety and depression disorders has increased as of 2020.
The current events, such as the pandemic, the racial disparity, and the war, have also had a tremendous impact on mental and physical health. On the other side, worldwide stigmatization of mental issues and disorders imposes a huge drawback as well.
Currently, mental health issues affect about 500 million people and cause up to 50% of all disability cases.
To boost the state of your mental health, you can try:
- Reducing social media and news consumption
- Meditation and self-reflection
- Open communication about your concerns with a person of trust.
Here Are The 8 Reasons You Should Try Supplements To Improve Brain Function
1. Modern-Day Stress And Traumas
You need some stress to survive, but it’s the chronic, unrelenting stress that can destroy your brain and ruin your health. Our bodies endure stressors we could run away from, but we cannot run away from job interviews, exams, or the economy.
We know that stress takes a toll on our mental health, but it also directly affects our brain.
Here is what stress can do to your brain:
- Reduced neuroplasticity – disruption in your brain’s reorganization of function and structure, reducing your ability to learn and adapt
- Decrease in size, especially in the hippocampus (memory center), causing memory problems
- Altered emotional and behavioral responses
- Affected gut microbiota, which influences the brain
- Increased risk of Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases
Getting rid of stress is almost impossible, so it is important to learn how to process it and approach obstacles differently. The good news is that it’s less about the stress that affects your health and more about how you perceive it. Practices like meditation and yoga can improve your stress resilience.
Our mood-enhancing supplement, Cognibiotics, helps support healthy stress resilience and balance stress response through the gut-brain-microbiota axis.
2. Air Pollution And Toxic Exposure
Dirty air is something we deal with on a daily basis. Emissions originate from different vehicles, industrial factories, and power plants. The polluted air, or smog, contains a lot of toxic compounds, as well as cancer-causing molecules. This type of pollution is detrimental to our lungs and the Earth as a whole. And, unfortunately, it affects the brain too.
Animal and epidemiologic studies have demonstrated that exposure to air pollution can contribute to the following:
- Brain cancers
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Neurodevelopmental disorders, such as Autism spectrum disorders
- Disruptions in brain structure in a developing fetus (prenatal exposure)
- Decreased brain networks (early childhood and adolescence exposure)
In order to minimize these negative effects of pollutants and toxins, you can move to a less polluted location. However, this may not be practical due to work and family situations. If you live in a polluted area, consider getting a good air purifier that can reduce harmful airborne microbes, chemicals, and particulate matter.
Also, be sure to support your body and brain’s detoxification and antioxidant capacity every day by getting enough sleep, eating a nutritious diet, and sweating regularly. Some supplements, such as N-acetylcysteine and sulforaphane are antioxidants that also support the detoxification pathways. These supplements can support the detoxification of these pollutants and mitigate their negative health effects.
3. Nutrient Deficiencies
The modern-day food chain tends to be deficient in many nutrients your brain needs to function optimally. Therefore, it’s typically beneficial to supplement with the following nutrients.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are very important for the brain. Omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies can cause cognitive dysfunctions, disrupt brain development, and chemically change your brain cells. It can also increase overall inflammation in the body.
Fish and seafood should be good sources of preformed Omega-3, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). However, many of these foods, especially the inexpensive ones, are farm-raised and fed with corn and soy, so they’re not high in Omega-3. To get Omega-3, you need to get fatty wild-caught fish, or farmed fish fed with meals high in Omega-3.
Many types of fish, especially bigger fish and those higher up the food chain, are also high in heavy metals and other contaminants from the ocean. These contaminants are very bad for your brain and overall health. So, it’s better to focus on smaller fish such as sardines.
Given how hard it can be to get all the Omega-3 you need, it can often be cheaper and safer to take an Omega-3 supplement. High-quality ones should be pure and tested for contaminants.
Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in over 300 biochemical reactions within the body and brain. Magnesium deficiency correlates with lower brain functions and mental health measures. In many cases, daily magnesium supplementation can boost mood and mental health. Also, magnesium promotes relaxation and improves sleep.
Choline is an important building block of your cell membranes and key neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Certain neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive declines correlate with low choline intake and low acetylcholine. Choline generally plays a very important role in cognitive function and mental health regulation.
Incorporating a whole food diet will give you the choline boost you need, especially if you focus on chicken liver, eggs, salmon, quinoa, and cruciferous vegetables !
Amino acids are building blocks of proteins and neurotransmitters– chemicals that propagate your neuronal signals. They regulate your cognition and mood.
Essential amino acids must be taken via food. This is the only source, apart from supplements. Those essential amino acids are then used to make non-essential ones in your body. Some examples include glutamate and glycine, which are neurotransmitters themselves.
Amino acid deficiencies may lead to a shortage of neurotransmitters in the brain, and thus reduced cognitive performance. Products of animal origin are the richest in amino acids (both tissue and organ meat). However, whole grains, legumes, and plant-based diets can also provide amino acids when combined with supplements.
Vitamins And Minerals
Other vitamins and minerals also contribute to brain function and health. Vitamin B deficiencies, for instance, can contribute to the development of depression, dementia, and cognitive dysfunction.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is a great solution. Furthermore, our vitamin and mineral supplements, Primergen V and Primergen M respectively, provide you with the necessary amounts of multivitamins and more than 70 minerals to optimize your brain health.
4. Not Enough Sleep And Poor Sleep Quality
Nowadays, many people are struggling with sleep or unknowingly have suboptimal sleep. Some can’t sleep, some sleep too much, and some are used to unhealthy sleep schedules.
Sleep is essential for both your brain and body. You are refreshing your brain, giving it time to repair and reprocess.
During sleep, your glymphatic system cleans up the beta amyloids and extra wastes from neurons. This is only possible during deep sleep. Apart from waste management, the glymphatic system also distributes essential molecules across the brain, like amino acids, lipids, and glucose.
Sleep is important for memory consolidation and many different brain regenerative processes. This highlights the biological importance of sleep in nearly all animals.
Not surprisingly, poor sleep can contribute to the risk of:
- Cognitive impairment
- Aggressive behavior and emotional instability
- Working memory reduction
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Lack of focus
- Oxidative stress
To improve your sleep quality, consider the following:
- Use relaxing supplements before bed
- Meditate for 5-15 minutes before bed to calm your body and your mind. Practicing meditation before sleep will lead to relaxation and easier entrance into the deep sleep phase, allowing maximum repair and rest.
- Use mattresses that complement your sleeping positions and body type. To avoid tossing and turning due to uncomfortable beds or positions, find a mattress that contains just the right amount of firmness. Some people prefer softer mattresses to support their bodies during the night, while others prefer firmer. Being comfortable is crucial.
- Time your meals appropriately (eat 3 – 4 hours before bed)
One of the main reasons people struggle with sleep nowadays is circadian rhythm disruptions. Even if you can sleep despite an unhealthy circadian rhythm, it can still affect your brain.
5. Circadian Rhythm Disruptions
Circadian rhythm refers to your body’s internal clock pendulum. It controls all the changes that occur in our bodies within 24 hours, according to the internal sleep-wake clock. These changes may be of physical and psychological nature and are triggered by light exposure, eating, movement, sleep, darkness, and more.
Many modern lifestyle factors can disrupt your circadian rhythm, such as artificial light and lack of sun exposure.
Sunlight is the leading factor in the circadian rhythm. However, the amount of daily obligations and job duties prevent us from getting enough sun exposure. This, of course, directly influences one’s circadian rhythm.
Sunlight is the main source of blue light. This form is a longer wavelength, and it inhibits the production of melatonin and makes us feel alert and awake.
Additionally, exposure to blue light is rising during the night. Our TVs, smartphones, and LED lights are all sources of unhealthy blue light. Shorter wavelengths of blue light classify as harmful as they can cause eye strain and retinal damage. These can confuse your body’s clock, which can accelerate brain aging and be bad for your cognitive performance over time.
Many people with an unhealthy circadian rhythm and sleep try to make up for lack of sleep with caffeine, but coffee cannot replace sleep. It only blocks your ability to feel tired or fall asleep.
Here are some tips on how to improve your sleep and circadian rhythm:
- Limit the unhealthy blue light exposure, especially before bed and through the night. Avoid watching lots of TV or videos on your phone before bed. If you limit the exposure to light, melatonin is secreted. This will regulate your circadian rhythm and tell your body that it’s time to sleep.
- You can also use blue blocker glasses. These will reduce eye strain and negative effects of unhealthy blue light.
- Increase the exposure to healthy blue light in the morning. In contrast, sunlight or light alarms will send a signal to your body that it’s time to wake up.
6. Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress relates to an imbalance of prooxidants (free radicals: oxygen-carrying molecules with an uneven number of electrons) and antioxidants.
Mitochondria, which are the power plants in our cells, are most vulnerable to oxidative damage. Oxidative stress can jam mitochondria energy production and damage mitochondrial DNA, causing it to create more oxidative stress.
Our brains need a lot of oxygen and energy, so they’re very susceptible to oxidative stress. High oxidative stress in the brain can cause brain fog and fatigue, and eventually damage the neurons.
Over time, oxidative stress can contribute to (though not the sole cause of):
- Brain aging
- Brain fog
- Neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease)
- Brain inflammation
- Insulin resistance
Aside from other health tips in this article, the following can help you address oxidative stress:
Eating The Rainbow
Try to incorporate as many colorful fruits and vegetables into your diet as you can to get a lot of dietary antioxidants. Vitamins C and E are of crucial importance due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Polyphenols are naturally found in plants and also exert anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Many colorful plant-based foods contain the most polyphenols, such as beans, grapes, and oranges.
Take Supplements With Antioxidant Properties
Many brain-boosting supplements (nootropics) have antioxidant activity that protects neurons and mitochondria from oxidative stress. They may also help restore mitochondrial function after oxidative stress or other factors interfere with it.
7. Addictive Habits
Smoking is widely spread among the general population and is detrimental to overall health. It raises your oxidative stress levels and exposes you to many toxic substances.
Smoking correlates with anxiety, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, smoking as well as any addiction tends to disrupt dopamine pathways.
Alcohol is neurotoxic. It can also increase oxidative stress and disturb your sleep. Drinking can shape your brain and can be bad for the following aspects of brain function:
- Learning ability
- Behavioral control
- Visuospatial processing
- Psychomotor speed
Lastly, screen time also plays a role in compromising proper brain functioning. Extended exposure to social media and blue light, or playing video games for hours, can be bad for your mental and brain health. Try to reduce your screen time to optimize your brain function.
8. Sedentary Lifestyle
We have already highlighted the importance of a healthy and balanced lifestyle on your brain. Physical activity increases brain-derived neurotrophic factors, which are important for mood, cognitive function, and slowing down brain aging.
Therefore, a sedentary lifestyle, especially sitting a lot, is bad for your brain
Regular exercise is neuroprotective and reduces the risk of depression, Alzheimer’s disease., Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and chronic stress. Moreover, it improves your sleep.
Physical activity helps your body to remove toxins and improve functions of many organs. Engaging in physical activity of any kind is highly beneficial, whether you decide to go hiking or just for a walk.
These unnatural modern dietary and lifestyle factors are all bad for your brain. Most of them are unavoidable for our survival, especially if we want to live our lives to the fullest and be happy.
In addition to being mindful and living a healthy lifestyle, supplements and biohacks make it possible to maintain a healthy brain and thrive despite all of these factors. They correct deficiencies and mitigate the negative effects of unhealthy modern-day factors. At the same time, nootropics can help you boost mood and cognition.
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