There are a lot of people today looking for ways to enhance their cognitive performance.
At Clean Green Minds, we write extensively about cognitive enhancement. Whether it’s heightening focus and concentration, improving memory function, or accelerating information processing, we’re obsessed with improving mental performance.
Yet the focus on improving performance means that potentially more important matters are left ignored.
We are of course talking about brain health.
Brain health is not as exciting a subject as cognitive enhancement. Having a healthier brain is not going to make you a better trader, it wont help you get that promotion, and it wont make you more socially appealing.
Not immediately at least.
But that does not mean that brain health isn’t something you should ignore.
In fact, you could argue that supporting good brain health is the best way to optimize cognitive function going forward.
You can use various nootropics to enhance focus and speed up learning. But these substances will only last as long as you are taking them for (usually).
Not only that, but using nootropics on a daily basis puts great strain on your brain cells. As you put them into overdrive, your brain cells will be consuming more resources, creating more stress, and potentially causing long-term damage.
If, on the other hand, you combine nootropics with an extensive brain health regimen, you can keep using cognitive enhancers for longer.
Not only that, but you’ll retain a “young brain” for far longer than your peers. If you properly look after your brain, then you could even stave off the worst symptoms of cognitive decline.
So how do you support brain health?
Here are some of the most effective methods.
One way to promote better brain health is to supplement with antioxidants.
Antioxidants bind with reactive oxygen species (or free radicals) in the blood. These free radicals react with your cell membranes, causing damage. Over time, if enough damage is done, your cells might stop working properly, or they could become cancerous.
Antioxidants “take the hit” as it were – they react with the free radicals and effectively render them harmless.
Some antioxidants are particularly adept at crossing the blood-brain barrier. According to Brian Johnson, Editor of VAGA.org, there are antioxidants which are particularly good for brain health.
He said: “Compounds like the anthocyanidins found in Maritime Pine Bark are very good at crossing the blood brain barrier, unlike other, more common antioxidants. Not only do they cross the BBB easily, but they also promote better cerebral circulation by triggering vasodilation. So they really deliver a big antioxidant load to your brain cells.”
Go on a long run
Research has found that cardio – or rather, prolonged cardio – is extremely beneficial to the body, including the brain.
Aerobic exercise (the kind where you are relying on oxygen rather than glycogen) improves blood flow, cardiovascular health and efficiency, and helps promote the body’s healing processes.
Studies have found that people who regularly run long distances each week have better cerebral circulation, better cognitive performance (in some tasks), and even generally better moods than people who do not run.
The mechanisms behind this effect are very straightforward.
Long-distance cardio causes systemic vasodilation. By opening up your body’s blood vessels, running allows some brain cells which might be starved of oxygen to finally get their fill. Running also improves aerobic capacity, meaning you can take in more oxygen and do more with it while at rest.
On top of this, prolonged cardio helps put your body into a “restore and repair” mode similar to that achieved while fasting.
If you want to optimize brain health, try going on some long runs and try out some antioxidant rich nootropics. The best nootropics usually contain some kind of antioxidant – make sure you use one containing an effective antioxidant for brain protection.