Cognitive Performance and Brain Health
Have you ever watched the movie Limitless, where Bradley Cooper takes the magical pill that makes his brain operate on Level 100,000,000? When the chemical reaction hits, he is suddenly cleaning his messy apartment like a madman, catching up on much-needed work and impressing his superiors, learning new languages, and basically kicking butt in all aspects of life.
If you’re like me, you’ve likely done a fair amount of research on how to eliminate brain fog, boost your cognitive performance, and protect your blood-brain barrier. Perhaps you’ve even read some of my articles or listened to podcasts regarding nootropics. Taking care of your brain is as important as caring for all the other aspects of your body and spirit. Now, let’s dive deep into what it takes to truly unlock your biggest superpower – cognitive fitness.
Covering the Basics for Brain Function
Nootropics and bio hacks for the brain are always fun and exciting, however, if you are not covering the basics for brain health then you are going to hit a major roadblock in your efforts to address cognitive function. You’ll actually find this to be true for just about every aspect of your well-being (i.e. hormone regulation, building strength, sleep, etc); my point – make sure that you cover all of your basic needs before getting into the advanced stuff!
3 Most Common Brain Issues
The three most common brain issues are neurotransmitter imbalances, “leaky brain”, and HPA axis dysfunction (HPA-D).
Neurotransmitters are the key to communication between your body and brain. When your neurotransmitter levels and their signaling pathways are optimized, your nervous system can process information more efficiently. More often than not, people tend to have neurotransmitter imbalances due to either genetic predisposition or lifestyle choices (nature vs. nurture).
How To Fix Your Neurotransmitters
- Avoid Antidepressants
- Limit Your Intake of Stimulants
- Avoid Toxins
- Avoid Sensory Overload
- Fix Your Gut
- Replace Your Building Blocks
- Lube Your Nerves
- Repair Your Genes
- Focus On Antioxidants
The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is defined by the NCI (National Cancer Institute) as a network of blood vessels and tissue that is made up of closely spaced cells and helps keep harmful substances from reaching the brain. The blood-brain barrier lets some substances, such as water, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and general anesthetics, pass into the brain. It also keeps out bacteria and other substances, such as many anticancer drugs.
Just as your gut wall can become leaky, your BBB can also become punctured or damaged, leaving you with a leaky brain.
How To Fix Your Leaky Brain & Strengthen Your BBB
- Get More Sleep
- Limit Your Alcohol Intake
- Control Blood Pressure
- Be Cautious With High-Fat Diets
- Drink Coffee & Tea
- Take Supplements
- Get More Magnesium
- Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve
- Avoid Frequent Snacking
- Nourish Your Gut Bacteria
- Decrease Inflammation
- Cold Thermogenesis
HPA-Axis Dysfunction (HPA-D)
Your HPA axis consists of the following:
- Hypothalamus – Part of your forebrain toward the front of your skull
- Pituitary Gland Just below the hypothalamus
- Adrenal Gland – Top of the kidneys
The entire axis operates on what is called a feedback loop. Feedback loops occur when the output of any system loops back to that system as an input. In healthy, low-stress individuals, the HPA axis feedback loop works in harmony. But when cortisol and norepinephrine are overproduced, the HPA axis eventually becomes desensitized to the negative feedback telling it to calm down.
How To Fix Your HPA Axis
- Avoid Excessive Exercise
- Reduce Inflammation
- Heart Rate Variable Biofeedback
Supplements For Brain Health
Supplementation brain is something that I do weekly if not daily. Some of my favorite supplements for brain health include glutathione (save 10% with code BEN) or NAC, activated charcoal, and fish oil (save 10% with code BEN10).
Nutrients For The Brain
Nutrients such as fatty acids, protein, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatories are all very robust and essential building blocks for those looking to care for their brain health. Without a doubt, these are a huge portion of what I refer to when I say you must cover your bases first when assessing your cognitive enhancement protocol. When building a nutrition plan, many of the nutrients in the video below are prioritized into my clients’ protocol from day 1.
Biohacking For The Brain
Here’s the fun stuff for all you biohacking nerds. PEMF, red light therapy, neurofeedback, and much more are some of the geeky tools I like to use for taking my cognitive function to the next level.
Cyclic Protein Restriction
Protein can actually be a hindrance to cognitive function if consumed in excess. Too much protein in the body creates a build-up of ammonia, which can cause a whole host of issues for the body.
Setting aside certain days to restrict protein will boost your longevity and brain health by decreasing your mTor activity, increasing your cellular autophagy, and much more.
Fasting is not only great for metabolism, cellular regeneration, and overall detoxification, but it also plays a ginormous role in brain function. One of the major reasons for this is the lowered levels of inflammation and insulin sensitivity.
Ketosis & The Brain
Ketosis can benefit the brain for many reasons, such as:
- Boosting mitochondrial biogenesis and oxidative energy production in neural tissue
- Upregulating brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)
- Increased mental function and acuity
- Reduced inflammation and lower levels of oxidative stress
- Assists in the conversion of excess glutamate to GABA
- Provides symptomatic and disease-modifying activity neurodegenerative disorders, Parkinson’s, and epilepsy
- Neuroprotective in cases of TBI or stroke
Lifestyle Hacks For The Brain
Lifestyle hacks for the brain are all integrated habits that you can easily weave into your routine which will significantly boost your overall brain function over time. Some of them, such as exercise, are probably a no-brainer. However, did you know that learning a new instrument, language, or skill will also assist in neuroplasticity?
This week’s call info
Tuesday, April 4th at 10:30 am CST
Speaker: Coach Debbie P
Zoom Link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/4636180446