it comes to the American public, there is never a shortage of dietary
advice out there claiming to make people more healthy. Some diets
focus on trimming the waist line, others are designed to help you
pack on pounds at the gym. However, one thing you don’t hear
much about his how to take care of your brain. That’s where
we come in. Meniscus Magazine is here to support mind expansion
in as many ways as we can think of and here’s one: nutrition.
First of all, in order to understand
how to supplement the brain with different compounds, it is important
to understand the basic functioning of the grey area.
The brain consists of millions of
cells known as neurons. The function of these cells is to fire a
neurotransmitter into the synapse. The synapse is a gap between
the two nerve cells that when bridged by a neurotransmitter, will
trigger the next neuron to fire. Think of it a bit like dominoes
falling sequentially after the first one is knocked over.
The difference is, once the neuron
fires to activate the next link in the chain, the neurotransmitter
is sucked back into the nerve in what is called re-uptake. This
is analogous to each domino popping back up ready for the next fall.
Within each neuron is a delicate
system of electrical balance. This mechanism is at the very foundation
of every action your body plays out, voluntary or otherwise.
Many factors can contribute to how
well your brain functions chemically. Of course there are many genetic,
emotional and environmental factors that affect the brain dramatically,
but for this discussion, let’s focus on the chemical science
going on. With a quick trip to the health food store, you can give
one of your most precious organs a revitalizing dose of nutrients.
Here is a short list of some common mind drugs.
(Note: These statements are based
on research and personal experience and have not been evaluated
by the FDA—or anyone for that matter!—and are purely
intended as food-for-thought.) (No pun intended.)
enhancers - Ginkgo biloba – One of the most common
brain boosters, ginkgo is a tree thought to be several thousand
years old. It helps the brain receive oxygen from the circulatory
system by dilating the capillaries in the brain thus allowing for
more red blood cells to nourish brain cells. Ginkgo is also a powerful
anti-oxidant, a helpful defender of free radicals which contribute
to sickness and disease.
- Powerful anti-oxidants help the brain ward off old age
by countering enemy free radicals. – Vitamin E (20,000 iu),
Vitamin C (100-500 mg), Cardenoids (Beta-carotene), selenium (20-100
micrograms), Flavonoids and Glutathione.
enhancers - Created by brain cells and stored in vesicles,
the neurotransmitter serotonin affects mood, arousal, aggression
and clear thinking. Enhancing levels can serve as an antidepressant
but will also sedate and lower sex drive. Predecessors include meat,
fish and other protien foods. At night the pineal gland converts
serotonin to melatonin which aids sleep.
5HTP, St. John’s Wort, Prozac.
Energizers – Alertness, arousal, vigilance, mood, energy,
motivation, concentration, focus, verbal fluency, visual enhancement.
A very basic enhancer, vitamin B allows the body to convert food
to energy. B-vitamins will affect mood, energy, alertness, learning,
memory, verbal fluency, concentration, focus and vision.
Hormones – Influence memory, sex drive, mood and levels
of energy. May even affect creativity and overall awareness. As
the production of such hormones decreases with age, it may be helpful
to supplement them as the body ages. Includes supplements such as
pregnenalone, the precursor to several different brain hormones.
– A predecessor to acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter
that helps with learning, focus and memory. Most people are not
deficient, increasing the supply will result in a perceptable enhancement
in focus. Another way to increase levels of choline is to take an
herb such as Huperzine A which reduces the enzyme acetylcholinesterase,
which breaks down acetylcholine.
Donors – Affect mood, energy, well-being, alertness,
concentration, visual clarity: DMAE & SAMe.
3 fatty acids – Affect mood, clarity, serenity, mental
stability, concentration and focus, vision: Fish or flax seed oil
(1 tbsp each or around 1 gram), also contains phospholipids.
Please use caution and research
this information on your own before experimenting with these supplements.
This summary is for your information only. You’re on your
own, enjoy experimenting with your control group!
Sahelian, Ray, “Mind Boosters: A guide to natural supplements
that enhance our mind, memory, and mood.” St. Martin’s
Griffin, New York, 2000.