On days when your brain has trouble loading, everything else seems to fall apart with it. You forget important things, make terrible decisions, and fail at being productive. Grr!
You can blame this state of blegh-ness on factors like sleep deprivation, genetics, stress, diet, and lifestyle. But what each of these have in common is they all target one thing first: your brain. After all, it is the command center that keeps your body running.
The body’s powerhouse, your brain is responsible for all your thoughts, memory, and speech. It even controls your organs, receives and sends messages through nerves, and releases hormones whenever you need ‘em. Pretty important for a bunch of grey matter in your head, huh?
A healthy brain is a smart brain. That much, we know from the get-go. But how does the food you eat affect your brain? Here’s how it breaks down: when you’re stressed, your brain treats stress as an infection. Your body then fights this through inflammation. Small amounts of inflammation can encourage your body to toughen up, repair itself, and protect itself against illness, but too much of it is bad.
Your gut does damage control by making sure that inflammation doesn’t become excessive. Gut hormones that travel to your brain can even help you focus and process information, which are both important for productivity.
That’s why brain food is so important. Especially those rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, minerals, and essential vitamins. Brain food helps protect your brain from diseases and keep it healthy.
Been struggling to get your fill? Here are 6 brain-boosting supplements that will keep you sharper than ever!
6 VITAMINS TO TAKE TO BOOST YOUR BRAIN FUNCTION
1. MACA ROOT
PERFECT FOR: Enhancing memory, boosting your mood
THE 101: Hailing from the Andes, Peru, maca root is often referred to as “Peruvian ginseng.” The root is usually dried and consumed in powder form, but can also be found in capsule or liquid form.
WHY IT WORKS: Maca root contains flavenoids, a plant compound which help reduce anxiety and depression. It gives you that much-needed jolt of energy, minus the jitters that typically comes from caffeine. It even helps with learning and memory retention, thanks to its high antioxidant content.
HOW TO: Flavor-wise, maca root has been described as earthy and nutty. It’s commonly incorporated into oatmeal, smoothies, and other health drinks. However, experts recommend not adding it to hot drinks, as the nutritional value may be diminished. Although there is no official recommended dose, you can start out with 1 teaspoon daily and work your way up.
TRY: Roarganics Maca Root Powder (250g), P1,000
PERFECT FOR: Preventing free radical damage
THE 101: Commonly known as “luyang dilaw,” turmeric is the spice responsible for giving curry its rich yellow color. It’s a member of the Ginger family, making it a tropical plant. To this day, southern India remains to be the world’s largest producer of Turmeric.
WHY IT WORKS: Turmeric has been linked to many health benefits, which includes bettermemory, mood improvement, and stress management. This is all thanks to its abundance of curcumin, an antioxidant which protects your cells against free radical damage (which cause illness and premature aging). It even lowers the rate of Alzheimer’s disease and improves cognitive performance.
HOW TO: Turmeric has a bitter taste, much like ginger. It commonly comes in powder form. Recently, it’s become more popular as the star ingredient in golden milk. Alternatively, you can also opt to have it in capsules to reap its benefits.
TRY: Philippine Pure Turmeric Powder (200g), P300, Philippine Pure Turmeric (150 Capsules), P595
3. COCONUT OIL
PERFECT FOR: Feeding your brain
THE 101: Coconut oil gets a bad rap because it’s been said that it’s rich in heart disease-causing fats. This couldn’t be more wrong! In reality, coconut oil is abudant with MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides)—the good kind of fat. Not only are these good for your heart, they work wonders for memory and brain health, too.
WHY IT WORKS: Your body changes these MCTs into ketones, a kind of energy that the brain can use. Ketones help prevent brain fog and memory loss. If “ketones” rings a bell, it’s because it’s the very same energy you train your body to use when you’re doing the Ketogenic Diet.
HOW TO: Not only does taking coconut oil help improve memory recall, it’s also great for losing weight! Replace your current cooking oil with it, mix it into your smoothies and salad dressings, or have it by the spoonful. For an even more fuss-free option, pop it as capsules!
TRY: Herbs of the Earth MCT Oil Capsules Caprylic Acid (3000mg), P1,290
4. GINGKO BILOBA PERFECT FOR: Improving concentration and focus
THE 101: Gingko Biloba is a large tree with fan-shaped leaves, commonly found in China, Japan, and Korea. It is said to be one of the longest living tree species in the world, with uses for asthma and bronchitis being recorded as early as 2600 BCE.
WHY IT WORKS: Thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, Gingko Biloba helps improve blood circulation. This leads to better mental functions, memory, and even social behavior. In other words: your head will be clearer and your day-to-day focus sharper. Plus, studies even show that it reduces anxiety and depression.
HOW TO: Gingko Biloba is available in capsules, tablets, or even as dried leaves for teas. Be careful, though: children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and those with epilepsy and people taking blood thinners should NOT take Gingko Biloba. People with diabetes should also consult with their doctor first.
TRY: Herbs of the Earth Ginkgo Biloba for Optimal Brain Support (60 Capsules), P999
5. BACOPA MONNIERI
PERFECT FOR: Optimizing brain power
THE 101: This perennial plant is used in Ayurveda (natural healing) and in herbal medicine. In India, Bacopa is commonly given to children during their early childhood to enhance cognitive and memory function. The chemical responsible for this is called Bacosides, and can be found in Bacopa.
WHY IT WORKS: Bacosides promote kinase functioning, the process of breaking down substances, so that your brain cells can use them. The result is improved memory retention. This also helps people who suffer from short-term forgetfulness.
HOW TO: If you can’t have it in its original leaf form, powders or capsules are a good compromise. Historically, Bacopa Monnieri taken with ghee, a clarified butter from India. Since it’s fat-soluble, be sure to take it with a meal.
TRY: Piping Rock Bacopa Monnieri 500mg (90 Capsules), P750
6. OMEGA 3 FISH OIL
PERFECT FOR: Improving brain function
THE 101: Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are something your body can’t make by itself, so you need to get it from your diet. Omega-3’s, commonly found in fish like salmon, are heart-healthy brain food that helps keep your brain running smoothly. They keep cells in tip-top shape and facilitate better communication between brain cells. Say goodbye to brain fog and hello to improved memory!
WHY IT WORKS: Omega-3’s contain active forms of EPA and DHA, which the body can use easily. How are these important for your brain? Low levels of DHA mean a higher risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and memory loss. On the other hand, high levels of EPA and DHA mean better stress management and higher quantities of serotonin, the brain chemical you stay in positive spirits.
HOW TO: As usual, it’s best to get your Omega-3’s through the food you eat, which means lots of fatty salmon, nuts and seeds, and plant oils. In case this isn’t an option for you, supplements can help you meet your recommended daily dose.
TRY: Puritan’s Pride Omega-3 Fish Oil (1200mg, 200 Softgels), P1,320
Brain fog got nothing on these, don’t you think?
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