One of the hottest topics in the health and wellness industry right now are brain-boosting nootropics.
Whether you are looking for a mental boost to help you out with your work performance, wanting to capitalize on a mental edge in the gym, or you are someone who simply would like to feel brighter and more ‘with it’ on a regular basis, nootropics may seem quite appealing.
This said, keep in mind that there are two ways to go about doing this. You can go the synthetic route and opt for supplements that promise these types of benefits or you can go with the natural route instead.
While supplements may seem fast and easy, keep in mind they come with a cost – and more than just the cost of what you’ll actually pay for them. Not only are they quite pricey to buy, but you don’t always fully know the potential side-effects that may result from them. Add to the fact that it’s hard to know who to trust in a market where everyone is wanting a share of the pie and clever marketing tactics are being utilized and it can leave anyone feeling overwhelmed.
This is why natural is often the best route to go. The great news is there are many natural ingredients that you can use to enhance brain function and performance, and get your psychological well-being on track.
Let’s look at a few of the main ingredients to consider.
You know that stress-free, sleepy feeling you get after eating Thanksgiving dinner? Well that, in part, is due to the amino acid tryptophan, which can act as a nootropic.
Now, in part, the reason you feel so sleepy after that meal is because of how much food you are consuming. Eat that much of any type of food and one is bound to feel sleepy and sluggish.
This said, if you take in a moderate dose of tryptophan, you’ll tend to get the stress reduction benefits that this amino acid has to offer without the need to take a nape.
What few people realize about this amino acid is the fact that it can actually help to boost the overall level of serotonin in the brain, which can help elevate your mood, combat stress, and even reduce your risk of depression as well.
It’s actually one of the most commonly used non-prescription depression treatments out there. And, it’s also available in pill format. So don’t think that you need to go cooking up a large turkey each week to provide enough to eat each and every day.
Simply take the capsule and reap the benefits. Because it is just an amino acid, there should be no adverse reactions to using this.
Some research is also now suggesting that tryptophan may in fact help to improve memory as well, so it could potentially be used for that benefit also.
2. Artichoke Extract
When was the last time you ate an artichoke? If you’re like most people, you probably can’t even remember. An artichoke is not a food that many people include on their grocery list, but as it turns out, they can offer you real benefits that you should know about.
More specifically, the artichoke leaves may help to provide neural antioxidant properties, helping to boost your overall level of brain health and function.
These antioxidants may also help to improve your overall memory and therefore help those who are suffering from age-related cognitive decline.
In addition to that, according to research, artichoke extract may also help to lower overall cholesterol levels in those who are suffering from high cholesterol but are otherwise healthy.
The good news is that you don’t need to eat artichokes to experience these benefits. Simply take the extract in supplement form and reap the rewards.
3. Ginkgo Biloba
Another nootropic that deserves some attention is one that is already fairly well known, ginkgo biloba. This herb has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, so it’s one that has already earned a great deal of trust.
Ginkgo biloba is currently one of the top selling herbal treatments around the world, so it certainly is one that many people are making good use of. It’s often been used for anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidant properties, and to help improve circulation as well.
But, research also shows that it can have powerful impacts on the brain as well. Those who use ginkgo biloba on a regular basis note that they have improved mood, enhanced energy, and may also notice that their memory is better.
One of the primary ways in which ginkgo biloba helps to improve the health of the body, according to research published in the Journal of Molecular Neuroscience is by combating mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress.
It seems that gingko biloba is primarily great for helping to assist memory during times of high stress, so you can apply this information to your own lifestyle. If you are going through an exceptionally stressful period, whether due to work related issues or personal issues, taking gingko biloba at this time may help you combat that stress and keep a clear mind.
Additionally, ginkgo biloba is also one of the most heavily researched herbs with regards to cognitive disorders and Alzheimer’s disease, so that’s yet another reason to consider using this as a brain boosting aid. If you are suffering or are at risk for either of these conditions, speak to your doctor about the possibilities that this herb has to offer you.
Yet another study showed that when a group of test subjects who were otherwise healthy with no cognitive impairment were put on a trial to take gingko biloba for a four week time period, they found that those who were using the supplement reported a higher overall level of general mental health compared to those who were not.
Don’t let yourself think that you have to be ill to benefit from taking this herb. Anyone can benefit regardless of their current health status.
Finally, women will want to take note that gingko biloba may just help ease some of their menstrual symptoms as well. Women who were taking this supplement noted that it reduced the overall severity of their PMS, including the related symptoms of mood swings, headaches, and anxiety. If you often suffer from this, it’s well worth checking out.
One of the most widely used compounds in the world that definitely has notable nootropic effects is that of caffeine. Chances are, you’ve experienced this before. Whether you’ve downed a cup of coffee to get yourself out of bed in the morning, turned to one of the many popular energy beverages mid-afternoon to help get through your day, or you’ve felt the effects of one too many Cokes keeping you up at night, you know very well that caffeine can give you a mental edge.
Those who use caffeine tend to exhibit increased overall mental alertness, reduced sensation of fatigue, higher concentration levels, and according to research, may also help improve memory retention as well.
The one thing that you do have to note however with caffeine is the fact that it can be a double-edged sword. While you will experience these positive brain-boosting benefits when you first take it, when it wears off, you may notice the opposite. You may start to feel mentally sluggish and fatigued. Some people may also notice mood changes as the caffeine wears off and they become irritable and anti-social.
On top of feeling this way when caffeine wears off, if you use it too often, you’ll also start to notice that you experience these symptoms if you don’t take caffeine on a daily basis as well. Caffeine is a natural substance, but it is still an addictive one, so something you’ll want to pay attention to. Unlike say the previously mentioned tryptophan, there can be some unwanted side effects.
Moderation will be best with this one.
Keep in mind that caffeine adds up over time as well. Start paying attention to all the sources of caffeine you consume, even smaller ones such as chocolate. Many people don’t even realize how much they are consuming.
The next natural nootropic that you’ll want to consider is Taurine, which is another amino acid. You’ll often see this particular amino acid added into pre-workout supplements because of it’s powerful influence on performance. It not only helps to maximize physical performance, but can also help optimize psychological performance as well.
The way that Taurine works is by stimulating the release of a particular neurotransmitter called GABA. This neurotransmitter works in the brain to help combat anxiety and insomnia, so those who utilize Taurine often notice a calming, relaxed sensation taking over them.
Taurine can also help to lower the overall levels of cortisol in the body thanks to this impact on GABA, which means reduced stress and better focus and memory. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone and while beneficial in times of sheer physical stress, it tends to be disadvantageous when we are going about our day to day lives.
6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Finally, the last of the nootropics that you’ll want to focus on taking in if your goal is to keep things natural is omega-3 fatty acids. Not enough can be said about these important healthy fats in the diet as they are vital for everything from heart and brain health to inflammation reduction.
While you won’t notice immediate benefits from taking in omega-3 fatty acids like you would from say caffeine, the long-term effects of omega-3 fatty acids are well proven.
Research for instance suggests that a regular consumption of fish containing these omega-3 fatty acids may help to reduce the risk of cognitive decline as well as Alzheimer’s disease. So over time, it could be a powerful weapon for helping fend off memory loss and slow cognitive processing.
Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids may be useful in managing as well as preventing the occurrence of major depression. You may just get a mood boost over time by including this in your diet plan.
Omega-3 fatty acids can either be consumed through your diet plan itself by eating foods such as salmon, mackerel, or other fatty varieties of fish, or by consuming flaxseeds or walnuts, which are two non-animal sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Many people do instead choose to simply supplement with omega-3 fatty acids, which is a fine alternative as well. If it means the difference between you getting in the omega-3 fats you need or not getting them, it’s definitely worth it to go the supplement route.
So there you have a closer look at some of the best natural nootropics that you should consider using if you are hoping to give your brain a boost. Keep in mind that most of these products are easily accessible, so you will not need a doctor’s prescription to begin using them.
This said, if you currently are suffering from any psychological related conditions or are on medications for brain or psychological health, always speak to your treating physician before using any of these natural nootropics. You want to ensure there won’t be any possible interactions or negative side effects given your current condition.
Don’t underestimate the influence you can have over your mental health. With the right selection of supplements and foods, you can give your brain a big boost.
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