It all starts at the top
I’m a big believer in performing at as close to 100% every day as we can. I’m a realist, so I know that this obviously isn’t always possible but I also know there’s a lot we can do to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our daily living. Many of us partake in things that drop both of those.
- We drink too much, too often causing a host of dehydrated deficiencies which we are slower to recover from as time goes on.
- We eat junk “food” which not only delivers little in the way of the nutrients vital to a healthy body and brain, but also leads to massive deficiencies and imbalances.
- We are a sleep-deprived world, which causes a cascade of ill effects.
- We are hyper connected which leads us to develop an intense need to multi-task and seek out our next hit of Candy Crush Saga dopamine as we lose our ability to focus and truly connect.
So what can we do about it? Well, most of the above affects our brain’s ability to focus and make better decisions when it comes to what we eat, drink, think and do. What if there were things we could do to aid our brain, possibly even improve its awesomeness rating? There just might be…
Let’s get supple-mental
I recently wrote an article for The Wilson Post regarding tryptophan and vitamin D. In it, I mentioned providing a link for those who would like to learn more about the benefits that tryptophan supplementation provides. For starters, here is that link. To sum it up, tryptophan provides our brains the building blocks it needs to produce more serotonin. That’s important for a number of reasons. I suggest checking The Wilson Post website and reading the article or clicking the aforementioned link for more.
Vitamin D is critical to our overall health as well. This link from Examine.com (an awesome website for updated information and science-backed research, or lack thereof, for most any supplement available) provides more than I could ever hope to fit into a thousand word blog post. But taking vitamin D pills will only benefit you if you’re already deficient in it. More on this in the next section.
While I take tryptophan regularly and have noticed a huge increase in my overall well-being and happiness, there are a few other supps that I’d like to suggest. I’ve personally taken these for over a year and have noticed the benefits. Most of all, there is measurable science out there to back them up. There are far too many “Brain Focus 5000”, “Super Brain Grow”, and “Gray Matter Monster” scams out there that are nice enough to offer far too little of the active ingredients for far too high of a price – how kind of them – especially when it’s much easier to go right to the source. By trying out some of the below herbal selections, you’ll be spending less while getting more. I’m providing links for all of the suggested supps for those who care to read up.
Look into some of the following: (as with anything, be sure to check with your Dr prior to beginning any new supplementation or fitness routine…but you knew that already, right?)
- Gotu Kola – this Ayurvedic herb has been shown to have a mild ability to improve mental clarity and reduce mental fatigue.
- Huperzine A – inhibits the degradation of the learning neurotransmitter acetylcholine, thereby reducing cognitive decline.
- L-Tyrosine – an amino acid that is reported to enhance focus.
- Alpha-GPC – contains choline and has been shown to promote cognition (and may even promote power output for the athletes reading this).
- Choline – going straight to the source may be more affordable. Found in egg yolk, choline has strong cognitive benefits.
- And on and on – click for an extensive list of more nootropics (brain boosting options). Be wary of the list though, as some options are synthetic.
As you can see, especially from the final link, the list is quite extensive. As more research is performed, more options are added. The handful I’ve listed are what I personally use and what I always keep in stock, with Alpha-GPC being the exception as I occasionally opt for the more affordable and simpler choline.
Now that we’ve covered simple options that you can find at most any health food store, let’s look at something a little more important. Unfortunately it’s a little more difficult to come by…
You can’t fail this test
I’ve told many people to not waste their money on certain supplements just because a friend or celebrity trainer/doctor recommended it. Something will be most beneficial and effective for you when you are proven to be deficient in it. It’s for this very reason that I suggest we should get blood work done regularly. At the very least, once a year. If you can afford it, twice or even three times a year.
By getting blood work done you’re able to quickly and easily identify where you’re deficient, allowing you to then formulate a proper game plan of nutrition and possible supplements to correct the imbalance. You’ll then be fast on your way to feeling like a million bucks, without having to spend it.
I hope that regular blood testing will soon be available to the masses. I have dreams of walking into a local pharmacy and being able to do a quick blood scan on the spot, so I can grab the deficient supps on my way out the door. We can only hope that day is fast approaching.
In the meantime, our options are companies like WellnessFx, who “combine direct-to-consumer access to advanced blood tests, phone consultations with progressive health practitioners, and intuitive online data tracking, offering customers the ability to identify and reverse potential health risks long before symptoms appear.” In simpler terms, they offer you the ability to get as in-depth as you’d like and provide you with customized reports and additional support to cover whatever facets you’d care to examine.
If you’re interested in WellnessFx and their services, click here
The genetic factor
Another test that I’ve done personally that I highly recommend is that of genetic testing. Performing a genetic test may sound painful, but it’s as simple as ordering a test kit, spitting into the provided tube, sending it off and analyzing your results. I used 23andMe for mine, as they provide a host of awesome information.
You can then take that data and run it through additional reports like Promethease to really dig deep down. It’s up to you how far down the rabbit hole of self-testing you want to go, but you can be sure that you’ll come out much more enlightened and capable of crafting a proper lifestyle that best fits you, your current state, and your genetic makeup. I can geek out to this stuff all day, can’t ya tell?
While you do have to spend a little more to get to these coveted results, it should be viewed as an investment in yourself and your future. Being proactive in your health care is infinitely cheaper than being reactive to a health crisis that could’ve been avoided.
At the time, I had to save up a little to get my results, but the difference that it’s made in how I eat and live each day, and the impact that’s provided to my mental clarity, energy and overall well-being is well worth the money I spent. Money is replaceable. You can always get more. Our time here is not. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
So now what?
We’ve covered a few options that you can run down to your local GNC or Vitamin Shoppe and buy on the cheap, as well as some bigger investments with bigger payoffs. The options are out there. As we progress and the availability expands, I can envision a future where we all can function at a higher level each and every day.
If you’ve read this far but still don’t want to try a new supplement or look into getting blood work and genetic testing done, you can at the very least add in exercise and mindfulness practices like meditation to your daily habits. Life is all about progress. We have an infinite amount of ways to go about finding that progress and applying it to our lives. By doing so, we can live the high-powered lives we were meant to, allowing us to enjoy our time here a little more each day.