A few weeks ago I was confronted by a gentleman who showed an interesting chart and had a challenging question for me.
The chart had two columns – on the left were listed a series of nootropics and on the right their plant or animal sources. The table was not new to me, but the person’s question made me think.
“Why should I take supplements if most of the Nootropics are derived from plants or animal sources.”
I know many have the same doubt. Hence, I’m reproducing the reply I gave to that gentleman. You know once I start typing I can’t tend to stop! So, the explanation below goes a little beyond answering the question with some great advice on taking food with nootropics.
Today, I’ll be discussing two points that I feel are closely related to one another:
- Why take nootropic supplements?
- What are the foods that can maximize the benefits of nootropic supplements?
Let’s deal with these questions one by one…
The reason I take nootropic supplements
The nootropic choline is found in steak, eggs, milk, and butter; N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine is found in meat, fish, eggs, nuts and oats. You see most of the Nootropics that we need to optimize our mental performance and productivity are already found in plants and animal products.
So why do I take nootropic supplements as well then? Because I’m a realist.
I can safely say that about 99% of all people don’t consume enough vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fiber; a large percentage of the population don’t adequately chew the food, and many of us have a weak digestive system that doesn’t absorb the nutrients fully.
There are many reasons why we can’t rely only on plants and animals for the essential nutrients our body needs for optimal physical and mental function – another big one being the damage cooking does to the quality of the nutrients.
So I started supplementing long ago because my diet wasn’t always on point, nor my lifestyle.
Healthy Food and Nootropics combined can drastically improve the results.
Listen to this because this is where it gets interesting… In a study a couple of years back determining the effects of vitamin B12 supplementation on 500 elderly people, the conclusion was that B12 had the ability to offer neuroprotective properties against accelerated cell degradation and aging – a known problem linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Interestingly, the researchers also discovered that the beneficial action of B12 was largely depended on the amount of ‘good fat’ in the diet.
Participants who followed a diet rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids responded better to the B12 supplementation and reaped the most benefits.
One such benefit noted was healthy fats such as those found in salmon, beef and pork, and avocado’s helped neuroplasticity – that is the brain’s ability to stay soft and supple – the ‘hardening’ commonly linked to memory loss, Alzheimer’s, and Dementia.
Through research and experimentation, I can say if you’re supplementing with Nitrovit or any other nootropics, these three types of food must find a place in your regular diet:
1. Omega-3 and Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs)
Fish Oil or Omega-3 in its own right is an excellent ‘nootropic’ that is quite well-known to boost brain functions.
Also, as I’ve mentioned in the above section, PUFAs can unleash the full potential of many nootropic supplements by binding to them, helping them to survive the digestive process.
Now while our brains thrive on Omega-3, we are unfortunately unable to produce it. We can’t do anything else but to look for external sources.
Of the three main types of PUFAs, EPA and DHA are found in meat and other animal products, and ALA is found mainly in plants.
I personally like to get my dose of Omega-3 fatty acids from animal sources because they are rich in DHA – our brain absolutely loves this stuff and needs it to fire on all cylinders.
If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you’ve to make do with ALA from plant sources. Our body is capable of converting ALA to DHA, but the process is so inefficient that nearly 75% of it is lost. As I see it, some DHA is better than no DHA.
I’m not the one to go for any omega-3 source. I have a terrible habit of adding only the best to my diet and want the same for you reading this. Mixing up your omega-3 sources from both plant and animals is advised.
Here are 5 sources of omega-3 fatty acids that have severed me well over the years:
Wild Salmon: Food that doesn’t require an introduction. Five years back, salmon dethroned tuna to earn the title of the most loved fish in the US. It’s a rich and tasty source of DHA. Just 100g of wild salmon contains around 2260mg of the healthy fatty acid.
Chia Seeds: These small seeds pack several essential nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids. There are 4915mgs of ALA in just 1 ounce of chia seeds. Also, keep in mind that these seeds go well with oats.
Oysters: Make delicious dishes or eat them raw, they taste great either way. In addition to omega-3, oysters are also rich in copper, zinc, and vitamin B12. There are 672mgs of DHA in 3.5 ounces of the oyster.
Flaxseed Oil: It contains more ALA than chia seeds. Besides, it’s good for the digestive system. By consuming 1 teaspoon of flaxseed oil, you supply the body with 7196mgs of ALA.
Mackerel: I prefer mackerel to salmon because it’s inexpensive and a better source of omega-3 fatty acids. I get 5134mgs of fatty acids into my system just by consuming 100g of this fish.
2. Complex Carbohydrates
After around 18 months of using my own personal nootropic formula, my memory felt as sharp as it ever had and I was finally able to focus long enough to start getting things done – So I consider myself living proof that nootropics work.
But, while those that persist and stack other healthy lifestyle choices to attain success (exercising, optimizing sleep, eating a balanced diet, continued learning such as studying to play an instrument etc), there are some people who can feel as though nootropics offer little improvement in cognition.
Granted, low-quality supplements and scam products can be held responsible for part of the problem, but the real issue often lays elsewhere – our daily diets.
Now, what works for some may not work for all, but through trial and error I’ve found personally that a diet low in simple carbs and rich in complex carbs can drastically increase the benefits of nootropic supplements.
Taking the right kind of carbohydrates can bring about a lasting change in your body – physical and mental.
Carbohydrates have historically always been linked to gaining weight, and yet their impact on cognitive performance has been largely ignored.
As I’ve done, you can cut the simple carbohydrates (i.e.) take as little as possible, and make complex carbohydrates a permanent member of your diet.
Complex carbs have a different chemical structure. Our body requires more time and effort to break the long-chain sugar molecules.
This is good because slower metabolism and gradual release of glucose into the bloodstream ensures we stay fresh and energetic throughout the day.
Foods that generally contain complex carbohydrates are also rich in nutrients like soluble fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Here are some of the complex carbohydrates that I include in my diet:
- Whole grains, quinoa, oatmeal, and beans
- Seeds such as chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds
- Nuts like walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, and hazelnuts
- Fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and avocado
- Vegetables such as asparagus, eggplant, cucumber, olives, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, etc.
- Leafy greens like arugula, spinach, lettuce, kale, etc.
3. Lean Protein
For a healthy brain, along with omega-3 fatty acids and complex carbohydrates, I also consume foods that are rich in protein.
I’ve passed the age of muscle hypertrophy, so I don’t need to take loads and loads of proteins.
Proteins are the building blocks of the body – I know you’ve heard this a million times.
But, are you aware that proteins play a crucial role in neuron communication?
It’s true, and our body also needs protein to support vital neurotransmitter production.
The nootropic supplements that I take always uphold their end of the bargain. My task is to do my bit by taking adequate lean protein to complement the supplement’s effects.
Some of the best lean proteins that I add to my diet come from egg whites (though I tend to eat the yokes too these days), low-fat milk, lean beef, tofu, white meat, low-fat cottage cheese, lentils, peas, beans, and Greek yogurt.
Depriving yourself of vital lean proteins however can leave you feeling mentally exhausted so don’t skip. Fast food does not contain that you require.
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To sum up, I have a simple mantra – follow a diet that gives equal importance to healthy fats, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates.
I never take them in equal quantity however. After experimenting along the standard guidelines, I ended up with this formula (for every meal) – two-teaspoon serving of food containing healthy fatty acids, two palm-sized serving of lean protein, and two cups of complex carbohydrates and vegetables.
I think fixing a poor diet solves half the problem when it comes to increasing attention span, building solid memories recalled at will, lowering anxiety, and a whole host of other benefits.
And for the other 50%? Well’s there is always Nitrovit.
I hope you find some use in the above, and remember – supplements only work when you do. Load up your day with the sort of tasks you would normally do, eat healthy, take your supplements, AND GET TO IT!
Until next time,