Cognitive Performance

Since reading about Neuroscience and seeing how beneficial it can be in regards to self-improvement my goal has been to improve my brain and it’s capacity as much as I can.

That my sound like a difficult task, but it really isn’t. Through brain optimizing habits, certain foods and tools you can gain a cognitive edge quite easily.

So what are the things that I’m using to improve my cognitive ability?

Weightlifting

Weightlifting is a great strategy for combating cognitive decline.

A study conducted a 6-month randomized clinical trial, finding that resistance training robustly promotes cognitive and functional brain plasticity primarily tho in elder people. Regular exercise increases endogenous testosterone biosynthesis which may improves cognitive function. What’s worth looking at is that Testosterone declines with age and so does cognitive function so High T = improved cognitive function? Needs further investigation.

Also, for an in-depth read about Weightlifting I recommend the book Muscle Up! by P.D. Mangan you can read my review of it here.

Eat Healthy Foods For The Brain

Blueberries

Blueberry flavonoids reverse age-related deficits in humans

Source

Raw cacao, dark chocolate, and mild chocolate

Dark chocolate and raw cacao enhance cognitive function, cerebral blood flow, and insulin resistance.

Source

Coffee

I know not a food but more of a drink nonetheless it’s good for your brain. Coffee is antioxidant-rich, modestly improves mood and arousal, and protects against Parkinson’s disease

Source

Eggs

Eggs are highly nutrient-dense & called Superfood for a reason.

Walnuts

Rich in phytochemicals, including copious polyunsaturated fatty acids, and offer benefits to brain health

Source

Supplements

Vitamin D3

Does a bunch of stuff such as maintaining the health of bones and teeth, and supports the health of the immune system, the brain and the nervous system.

Fish Oil/Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 benefits are good for many areas of health, from mental and behavioral health to preventing premature death from disease. It’s also good for your heart and it normalizes and regulates your cholesterol levels.

Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, especially for your digestive system. Probiotics help to move food through your gut and can treat some conditions such as: Irritable bowel syndrome, Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Infectious diarrhea (caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites), and Antibiotic-related diarrhea.

Creatine

Creatine is being studied for use in a number of diseases including Parkinson’s disease and depression. There is some evidence that creatine can boost memory. Creatine might also help treat a range of neuromuscular and neurodegenerative disorders in addition to improving cognitive ability.

Magnesium

Magnesium helps keep blood pressure normal, bones strong, and the heart rhythm steady.

Research also finds that an increase in brain magnesium improves learning and memory in young and old rats. The study suggests that increasing magnesium intake may be a valid strategy to enhance cognitive abilities and supports speculation that inadequate levels of magnesium impair cognitive function, leading to faster deterioration of memory in aging humans.

Source

Zinc

Researchers found out that Zinc levels in the brain control memory and learning functions. By increasing the levels of it, they were able to restore enhanced communications in the hippocampal region to improve learning and memory capabilities.

Source

Use Nootropics Specifically Nicotine

Nicotine? Yes, nicotine. The stuff that is in cigarrettes amongst 5000 other substances.

Sounds counterintuitive I know but Jennifer Rusted, a professor of experimental psychology at Sussex University in Britain, discovered that to her knowledge “nicotine is the most reliable cognitive enhancer that we currently have, bizarrely.”

Why is nicotine working so well?

Because it binds to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in the brain (those are neuron receptor proteins that respond to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine) and enhances cholinergic signaling (that’s a neurotransmitter system that plays an important role and shapes nervous system function and behavior.)

Nicotine also helps with memory. It improves short and long-term memory due to the increase of neurotransmitters that help with memory formation.

Disclaimer: I haven’t used it myself and neither do I smoke so I can’t speak from experience about nicotine. I provide this knowledge from a purely scientific perspective. If you want to buy Nicotine as a Nootropic online then this is a site I found that looks credible but as always I would advise you to do your own research before purchasing and trying it out.

Use Free Online Courses

Educating yourself is an excellent way to stimulate your brain. I’m taking a course in Python at CodeAcademy which is first and foremost Free, vast, and engaging because you are writing code from the getgo with some guidance so when you get stuck you won’t quit immediately, it’s really well done.

Other sites that offer online courses are MIT Open Courseware, Udemy, edX and coursera, and Coursera.

Optimize sleep quality

A good nights sleep is essential for effective cognitive functioning.

So what can you do to improve your sleep quality?

Cover all sources of light in your bedroom including electronic devices or any light source for that matter (yes, also the blinking ones).

There are also apps that gradually soften and change the color of your computer screen. I never used them myself but I heard good things about them. Flux is the one I heard the most and might be worth it. If you have experience with those kind of programs leave a comment and share your experience.

Keep your bedroom cool. Cooler temperatures at night are essential for a good nights sleep.

Avoid overly stimulating activities at night, and quietly read a physical book for a couple of minutes instead. It’s an excellent way to initiate the transition to sleep.

You can also use sleep-promoting supplements like magnesium threonate and melatonin to enhance your sleep.

Take Time Off To Relax

Lower stress has a good impact on your cognition because it decreases circulating glucocorticoids like cortisol, which in turn protects the hippocampal neurons and boosts moral.

I found a few things that usually work for me to relax and get rid of some stress:

Play Games

When you read my Neuroscience and Video games post then you know that there is evidence that video games improve cognitive performance such as visual attention, cognitive control, visual short-term memory, and general processing speed.

Besides video games there are several board games such as Chess that are good for your brain as well. Overall there are tons of games that are fun, social and will enhance your abilities in specific cognitive tasks so feel free to spend some hours in a week playing.

Meditate

Giving your brain some rest for 20 minutes or longer will lower or get completely rid of your stress, put you in a good mood, and increase your focus and attention span, all of which contribute to better skills when it comes to remembering things.

Optimize your diet

Whatever you eat can either have a good or bad effect on your brain. Eating fast food? Then welcome your coming brainfog, eating lots of fried food and the same thing applies.

Now, I am not telling you to go full vegan and just munch on carrots 24/7 but take care of your diet. Do some intermittent fasting and try it out for a couple of days/weeks.

You will experience a clarity of mind like never before, especially if you combine it with caffeine and I imagine the same applies with any kind of nootropic.

An empty stomach amplifies the effects of brain stimulating drugs, that has been my experience so far.

Fasting in general does wonders for your brain. This is evident by all of the beneficial neurochemical changes that happen in the brain when you fast. It also improves cognitive function, increases neurotrophic factors, increases stress resistance, and reduces inflammation.

“Dietary changes have long been known to have an effect on the brain. Children who suffer from epileptic seizures have fewer of them when placed on caloric restriction or fasts. It is believed that fasting helps kick-start protective measures that help counteract the overexcited signals that epileptic brains often exhibit. (Some children with epilepsy have also benefited from a specific high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet.) Normal brains, when overfed, can experience another kind of uncontrolled excitation, impairing the brain’s function, Mattson and another researcher reported in January in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience.”(source)

Final Thoughts

The key to optimizing your cognitive performance lies in change. Change of your habits, change of thought, change of routine, change of food etc. Change as much as you have to and then start optimizing to get the desired result.

That being said I hope you enjoyed this read and will apply some if not all the things I mentioned here. Happy improving and thanks for reading.

Until next time,

P.S. If you liked this post then you’ll like my books as well. You can get them on Amazon.

P.P.S. If you like what you read then I invite you to sign-up to my FREE Newsletter so you don’t miss out on Updates and up and coming Books, Articles, and more.

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