Are you finding it harder and harder to cope with changes to your routine or life’s unexpected curveballs?
These subtle clues might be your body communicating an overwhelmed and undernourished brain.
What is Cognitive Flexibility?
Cognitive or mental flexibility refers to our brain’s ability to switch between different tasks or adapt to new, unexpected situations efficiently.
It’s the mental elasticity that allows us to shift our thinking and adapt to novel or changing environments. The ‘secret sauce’ to juggling the multitude of demands thrown at you from work, your personal life, your family, your relationships, balancing your finances, making time to set and achieve goals… whatever the grind looks like for you.
Cognitive flexibility will decline as we age; however, many factors, such as stress, inflammation, nutritional deficits, environmental exposures and sedentary lifestyles, can play a role in hastening the process.
How Can We Support Better Cognitive Flexibility?
Your brain executes over 6000 thoughts or decisions per day. In order to continuously send and receive signals it needs to be protected, supported and well fuelled. In addition to maintaining many core brain-protecting health practices such as;
- Keeping stress levels low
- Getting quality sleep,
- Maintaining adequate hydration and;
- Eating a nutrient-dense diet
We can also target a range of aspects of our adaptive brain functionality with the help of the broad actions of nootropic herbs and nutrients.
How Nootropics Support Mental Flexibility
When it comes to biohacking brain performance, nootropics offer a promising avenue. Nootropics offer a wide range of therapeutic effects that build a healthier and more robust brain and nervous system.
- Provide supportive actions on memory, mood and cognitive neurotransmitter production (especially acetylcholine)
- Strengthen neuroplasticity
- Support healthy mitochondrial function and meet brain energy needs
- Contribute to neurogenesis (build more nerve networks)
- Control neuroinflammation
- Support healthy adaptability to stress
- Protect the structure and function of nerves
- Improve circulation and nutrient delivery to the brain and nerves
- Provide protective antioxidant activity.
By fuelling, protecting and enhancing the cellular function of the brain and nervous system, nootropic herbs and nutrients can help make our brain’s cellular nerve network operate at the highest level of efficiency.
Nootropic Choices For Cognitive Flexibility
Due to its unique nerve cell nourishing capabilities, phosphatidylserine can help improve cognitive flexibility by allowing messages to travel more rapidly from one end of our nerves to the other. Think; an improved ability to keep up with meetings, lectures or conversations and process and retain the information you’re exposed to so you can make more rapid responses when needed.
Ginkgo is arguably one of the oldest nootropic herbs in existence. One of its key actions is to help maintain healthy blood circulation and cerebral blood flow which is crucial to delivering the oxygen and nutrients needed to meet the energy demands of the brain. Research has shown that Ginkgo supports brain health, mental function and memory recall, through supporting several neurotransmitter systems and neurogenesis, the process in which new brain cells (neurons) are formed in the brain.
This nootropic adaptogen is well regarded for its potential to support fatigue states and help us to respond better under stressful circumstances. Research also suggests that it helps protect the brain from the damaging effects of oxidative stress by improving glutathione production. Its also been shown to support energy pathways and mitochondria, which are crucial to helping our brain meet daily energy demands.
A staple in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, Bacopa has been shown to improve cognitive function and adaptability by inhibiting an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine. By keeping acetylcholine levels optimised, not only can we focus, concentrate and learn with greater efficiency, but we can also recall information with ease, thanks to its long-term memory-supporting effects.
Playing an important role in energy metabolism, acetyl-l-carnitine (ALCAR) helps to fuel the brain by transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria, the cell powerhouses, where they are used to produce cellular energy (ATP). ALCAR is another precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which is a key driver of attention, memory and learning.
Another Ayurvedic gem, Ashwagandha is known for its adaptogenic properties. Research has shown that Ashwagandha can be effective in improving immediate memory and general memory, and in improving executive function, attention and information processing speed without any side effects.
This popular medicinal mushroom has been traditionally used in Chinese and Japanese cultures for its medicinal properties. Studies have shown that Lion's mane can help to improve cognitive function, including memory and concentration, in people with mild cognitive impairment. It is a popular cognitive enhancing choice thanks to its ability to promote nerve growth factor and its neuroprotective properties.
As a potent antioxidant that vertically integrates itself into cellular structures, it not only improves cellular health for more rapid delivery of cellular messages - but it also helps to protect brain and nerve cells from damage that can be induced by oxidative stress. Research has shown that astaxanthin helps with both mental and physical performance, particularly when under the pressures of physical or mental load.
Alpha GPC (L-Alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine)
Alpha GPC is a cholinergic compound that can cross the blood-brain barrier. It's a source of choline, which is a precursor to the important cognitive neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays a pivotal role in memory, learning, and cognitive flexibility. Some studies suggest that Alpha GPC supplementation can support motivation and cognitive function, especially in individuals with cognitive impairment.
Naturally found in tea leaves, L-theanine is known for its calming effects. It can promote relaxation and reduce feelings of stress without causing drowsiness and is scientifically proven to support alertness, memory, cognition, relaxation and sleep.
Find Your Nootropic Stack
One of the most wonderful things about nootropics is that they work in synergy when you take them in combination (also often referred to as a ‘stack’). We can magnify the impacts of nootropic herbs and nutrients when they have complementary actions. By choosing nootropic blends that are cleverly crafted for their synergistic benefits, we can take our cognitive speed from ‘dial-up’ to ‘broadband’.
Reach out to myBrainCo. clinical support team to discuss what nootropic stacks might work well to help you achieve your health goals.
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