Beating Brain Fog With Nootropics
Look around you. At any given point of time, consider how much sensory information is being processed by your brain at each moment of every day. You’re contending with a cellphone always by your side, artificial light indoors during daytime, noise pollution, electromagnetic fields, all while doing your day job! Even when you’re sleeping, your brain is hard at work processing, filing, cleaning and building.
Fear not, your brain is a magnificent organ! In honour of Brain Awareness month, it always helps to understand the brain a bit better, be aware of what can go wrong and also know how best to care for your brain with lifestyle changes and nootropic supplements. After all, your brain should be your most valuable organ if you want to live a long, healthy and vibrant life!
Other than having your wits about you later in life, making sure our brains are cared for is extremely important. While our brains have unimaginable capabilities and are immensely powerful, the reality of modern living could result in sensory overload, which in turn has been shown to result in chronic fatigue, depression, mood swings, anxiety and irritability.
The good news: you don’t have to make a new home in a cave or mercilessly block out all external stimuli! There is solid research on a number of lifestyle and diet interventions, as well as on compounds that allow you to deal with sensory overload, sleep deprivation and other modern-day stressors.
These supplements, if used correctly, can actually change how your brain performs. They do this by, amongst other things, improving blood flow to the brain and changing how neurons are utilised and developed (for the better).
What is Brain Fog & Leaky Brain?
Do you every just flat out forget something, like a name or an appointment or a word you’ve known forever? Does it feel like sometimes there’s been a glitch in the Matrix and your brain just kind of bombed out? Something people regularly complain about is so-called Brain Fog.
Symptoms often listed include:
- Wandering thoughts
- Jumbling of words
- An inability to focus
- Struggling to commit things to memory (ever JUST meet someone only to forget their name not even three seconds later?)
- Lack of concentration
- Low energy
Brain fog is almost always caused by inflammation of the brain and your nervous system. We all have something called a hypothalamus in our brains, and it’s basically the control centre. Inflammation throws it out of whack, which means that the part of your brain that deals with executive and cognitive functioning (emotional, memory and behavioural responses) is affected.
Other than inflammation, this can also be caused by free radicals (tackle this by prioritising sleep, de-stressing and avoiding sugar and vegetable oils), genetics, diet, sleep apnoea, leaky gut or a histamine intolerance (for example fermented foods like cured meats or sauerkraut).
Finally, you also need to be aware that poor lifestyle choices (or good choices like healthy food which is affected by toxins as an example) can result in Leaky Brain, which is when the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) which is responsible for letting good stuff into your brain and keep bad stuff out, becomes compromised.
Lifestyle and Diet
Ah, the good old “You are what you eat” and “You are what you eat, ate” speech. Yup. But it’s true! We are essentially made up of cells. Cells have membranes that decide what can enter and leave that cell. These membranes are made from the fat that you eat. If you eat damaged fatty acids (in vegetable oils like sunflower and canola oil) or a lot of trans fats (fried food), you’re incorporating damaged fats into the building blocks of your cells, including those in your brain.
Dietary advice for a healthy brain would be to consume healthy fats (think olive oil and avocadoes as well as DHA and EPA found in a quality fish oil supplement), avoiding sugar, trying intermittent fasting and paying attention to gut health. Avocadoes, blueberries, bone broth, broccoli, eggs, rosemary and salmon all have studies behind them showing improvements in verbal and visual memory, protection of neurons and prevention of neurodegenerative diseases.
Read More: Your health starts in the GUT!
Nootropics for the Brain
If you’re really into brain health and optimising your own personal super computer, look no further than the wonder that is nootropics.
Nootropics should be distinguished from smart drugs (think Ritalin, Adderall and Ampakines) in that while they both target brain functioning, the latter are often synthetic, while nootropics must be non-toxic and neuroprotective to earn the title of nootropic. Smart drugs should be used with extreme caution and not over the long-term, whereas nootropics are generally non-synthetic (other than Noopept) and natural & safe and can be used in the long term.
Read More: What are Nootropics?
Nootropics have been around for at least 5,000 years and humans have been relying on them long before large pharmaceutical companies ran the show. When people question whether supplementation of any form in the context of a healthy diet is necessary, it’s always good to remember that our ancestors have actually been using all of these nootropics for centuries!
When you look at the studies done on some of these nootropics, it’s a real shame that they’re often viewed as “alternative” medicine when the results of this research shows remarkable improvements in brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, on par and often better than pharmaceutical drugs. There’s a reason that they’ve been around for so long.
Brain fog can really take the wind out of your sails. You don't have to suffer with brain fog or leaky brain. By implementing these few recommendations you can take matters into your own hands by optimising your overall brain health for mental clarity.
This information does not serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is for informational purposes only and does not provide a comprehensive explanation of the different compounds. Always consult your doctor first when making any changes to medication or supplementation.
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- Thea is the founder of Neolaia – Biohacking SA and passionate about all things biohacking, functional medicine, holistic and ancestral wellness. She enjoys the occasional triathlon, is fanatic about yoga and the gym and loves n=1 biohacking experiments more than anything else! Learning about the latest in scientific research for health and wellness and applying this knowledge is what makes her happiest!