Nootropics: A Limitless Cognitive Enhancer for Your Brain or Just Another Health Gimmick?

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Let's start with a disclaimer: I am a formally trained physician assistant and nationally board certified to practice medicine. I am expected to interview patients, perform physical exams, run laboratory tests, and make a diagnosis and treat my patients accordingly. I am 100% western medicine 100% of the time. I have faith in my training, faith in my research and faith in my career field. With that said, the age of information has ushered in alternative approaches to a host of chronic conditions, including obesity, fatigue, pain disorders, and insomnia. Have witnessed a failure of conventional medicine to treat these "diseases of civilization", I remain open-minded to the exploration of supplemental approaches. I say this having witnessed the remission of chronic conditions with intensive lifestyle modifications to include dietary modifications, meditation, and yes - use of supplements.  

The latest buzzword among supplement fans and so-called bio-hackers of the 21-century  is NOOTROPICS (noh-ə-TROP-iks). Often marketed as "smart drugs" (in not so many words) and "cognitive enhancers" they are said to improve cognitive function, particularly executive functions, memory, creativity, or motivation, in healthy individuals. Think Bradly Cooper 2011's movie Limitless, where his character stumbles upon an illicit substance which allows him to access the mythological 90% unused portion of his brain. Although seemingly a modern concept, nootropics are actually decades-old (centuries old if you consider any stimulant, including caffeine a nootropic). In fact, the word nootropic was coined by a Romanian psychologist and chemist, Corneliu E. Giurgea back in 1972. The word translates to "mind-bend" or "mind-turn" depending on your translation. 

What Nootropics ARE/AREN'T

The secret to successful supplement launch is in the vagueness of its supposed effects. If one applies the basic definition of nootropics, we can begin to see how widely this term can be applied to a host of compounds. Take caffeine as an example. I drink it every day starting at 6:30 am till usually around 3:00 pm. Why? For one, I love it (Black Rifle Coffe - Support Vets and BUY SOME!). I love the flavor, the smell, and the warmth but I also drink it for its kick to my cognition and its ability to fire me up for my lunchtime workouts (you too can workout anywhere this these pieces of equipment).


Nootropics are naturally occurring compounds that claim to help enhance the cognitive abilities of the brain including logical reasoning, motivation and mental energy, memory formation, recall, learning, creative thinking, concentration, and mood. These are known to have a positive effect on memory and some are even used for medical conditions such as Dementia and Alzheimer's. They can also help students to absorb and memorize more information. These smart drugs can improve attention and focus too, but with fewer side-effects than over-consumption of caffeine. (If you've never experienced the jittery nausea and stomach cramping from drinking two pots of coffee during an all-night study block, then you haven't truly experienced college).

There are several different types of Nootropics. These include: 

1.Choline & Acetylcholine Intermediates.
2.Synthetic B-Vitamin Derived.
3.Ampakines
4. Racetams
5.Natural peptide-based smart drugs.


To understand their function, it is essential to know about the different neural pathways that exist within the brain. Neural pathways are composed of neurotransmitters and the receptors. Neurons are the basic building structures of the central nervous system. Nerve signals are sent from one neuron to another through the action of neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters can either be excitatory or inhibitory. The excitatory neurotransmitters are the ones that broadcast a message to other neurons while the inhibitory neurotransmitters are the ones that keep the messages from being sent or received. Based on these received messages, the neurotransmitters then bind to the receptor sites on nerve synapses. There is a myriad of different neural pathways in the brain. Nootropics interact with the central nervous system by boosting the efficiency of these neural pathways leading to improved cognitive functions.

Here are some of the common nootropics and their claims (all should be used under medical supervision only):

1.Noopept
Claim:  improved learning ability, reduced anxiety, advanced logical thinking and an overall increased cognitive performance.

2.Pramiracetam
Claim: improved cognition, increased attention span. Neutral effects on mood or anxiety level.

3.Modafinil
This is one of the strongest available and should be used with under medical supervision. This drug is used to improve the alertness. It is considered to be a potent wakefulness agent. It can help get rid of sleepiness and persistent fatigue. It also has significant cognitive effects such as increased focus and improved mental energy.

4. Adrafinil.
Claim: very similar to Modafinil, as it converts to that compound in your liver. 

5.Aniracetam.
Claim: provides relief from stress and anxiety and allegedly positively enhances mood.

6.5-HTP.
Claim: a substance that is made in the body from L-Tryptophan, which then converts to serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is responsible for regulating mood neurotransmitters. It prevents you from over-excitement.

7.Huperzine A.
Claim: it helps raise the Acetylcholine levels in the brain. This is an important neurotransmitter and can help with not only memory but other cognitive functions and processes.

Although there are reports of positive benefits from these, you should still approach with caution and consider that any evidence to their efficacy is contaminated with confirmation bias and placebo effect. As with anything new, it is recommended you consult your doctor before using any of these chemicals because of their interactions with serotonin especially. Everyone and their brother is on some kind of serotonin modulator and excessive amounts in your system can cause serotonin syndrome.

Nootropics are available pretty much anywhere. My recommendation for those who have never tried them is Onnit's Alpha Brain and New Mood. Onnit does a lot of legwork in the field of researching their claims. I still hold a bit of healthy skepticism about their claims as all Onnit studies are self funded but are of good method. Take that for what it is worth.

Is The Paleo Diet Right for You?

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The answer is a resounding YES! There are zero negatives for which switching your diet to ancestral whole foods based eating plan. Humans have been around for approximately 200,000 years. That is a long time for the trial and error dependent tools of evolution to hone our physiology into well-orchestrated perfection. However, the story takes a turn for the worst. Back in the mid-20th century, humans decided to capitalize on nature with a pathetic attempt at improving on her methods. Rather than relying on food which grows from the power of the sun (all real foods come from the sun... even MEAT... queue vegan gasps!), we switched to foods mass produced on assembly lines pumped full of sugar and dangerously unstable and highly processed vegetable oils! What has resulted? A worldwide epidemic of chronic medical conditions set to bankrupt our society and send our children to early graves. That's right, we've reached the first generation of humans who may live shorter and markedly sicker lives compared to their parents. 

Here is Everything You Need To Know About the Paleo Diet

 

What Is Paleo Diet?

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The Paleo Diet refers to the consumption of foods that were available during the Paleolithic period. That means consuming plant and animal products that were available to humans 2.6 million to 12,000 years ago when the earth was in its purest state. Scientific studies in various fields of research including biology and biochemistry suggest that this diet is highly beneficial to humans. More specifically, it facilitates our physiological processes naturally. It helps us fight diseases as well. In contrast, modern foods are full of preservatives and artificial flavors among other chemical products. They work against the body leading to the development of diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease among others.

Paleo Foods

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Sources of protein on a Paleo Diet include beef obtained from grass-fed cattle. You can also eat chicken, bacon, and pork to get this nutrient. Other sources of protein include fish, geese, and oysters. Vitamins are another critical food group in the Paleo Diet Plan. You can eat fruits such as mangoes, papaya, pineapples, and oranges among others. Recommended vegetables include asparagus, broccoli, collard greens, and kales. Sources of fat while you are on a Paleo Diet include avocados, coconut oil, ghee, and lard. You have to avoid some foods if you are on this diet. For example, avoid dairy products including milk, yogurt, ice cream, and cheese. Remember, the consumption of these products started in 9,000 to 8,000 BC, which is past the Paleolithic period that ended in 12,000 BC. Other foods to avoid include grains, legumes, and starches. Moreover, the Paleo Diet discourages the consumption of all processed foods and sugars. Even alcohol is not okay. In other words, the Paleo Diet encourages you to eat foods that nature designed for you.

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The Benefits of a Paleo Diet Plan

A study by S. Linderberg and J. Soffman among other researchers determined that a Paleo Diet improves the level of glucose tolerance in people who suffer from ischemic heart disease. In fact, they compared it to the Mediterranean Diet over a twelve-week period, and they found that the Paleo Diet was better than the Mediterranean one when it came to helping people who are living with Type 2 Diabetes. The publication of these findings took place in the September 2007 issue of Diabetologia. Other studies have shown positive results for people who persist with this diet plan. For example, some of them indicate that a Paleo Diet leads to a reduced risk of developing heart disease. It improves your immunity as well. Finally, Paleo foods are an excellent source of monounsaturated fat lowering your risk of becoming obese. Remember foods in contemporary society are rich in saturated fats, which are bad for your body. Avoid them as much as possible by switching to a Paleo Diet as soon as you can.

In conclusion, the Paleo Diet Plan is a way of improving the physical health of your body naturally. It does that by helping you consume foods that facilitate physiological processes in your body. Remember, the Paleo diet is the key to health and wellness in life. Start your Paleo Diet Plan today and stick to it.

THe Absolute BEST Sources for Paleo Lifestyle: