If you’re interested in getting more energy so that you can work longer and feel more awake throughout the day, then you might have some interest in the concept of nootropics. A nootropic is essentially a supplement or medication that can give your brain a slight boost, whether that means improving your memory, your focus or your attention. Notably, they can also help you to feel more awake and work longer hours without losing vigilance or generally needing to go to bed. One of the most popular examples is ‘modafinil’, which actually began life as a narcolepsy medication!
The problem with these mediations however, is that they can have all manner of unexpected effects on brain function. This is because they work by altering neurotransmitters – the chemicals that control our mood and state of mind. It’s impossible to change just one neurotransmitter without causing a cascade of reactions and in turn, this makes it likely that you can end up dependent on the substance in question, or end up too wired to sleep etc.
Cognitive metabolic enhancers are different because they focus on giving you more energy to work more effectively…
How Cognitive Metabolic Enhancers Work
Like any other part of the body, the brain gets its energy from our food. This comes from primarily but also from ketones and energy stores around the body as fat.
The more energy you provide your brain with, the better it can perform for longer. This will improve your mental sharpness, your memory, your mood and more. And cognitive metabolic enhancers can improve this quantity in a number of ways.
For example, when you consume vinpocetine or beetroot, this acts as a vasodilator. That means that it will widen the blood vessels (veins and arteries), which in turn means more blood and more oxygen can reach the brain. That means that your body can carry more energy to the brain, thereby helping you to feel more awake and alert.
Another example is creatine. Creatine works by allowing the brain to recycle used energy by restoring used ATP (the energy that comes from glucose). This can help you to get a fraction more energy output for your cells and studies show us that this can even cause a slight boost in IQ.
Then you have things like lutein, l-carnitine, CoQ10… each of these work by enhancing the function of mitochondria, thereby improving the energy efficiency of the cells. The mitochondria are the ‘energy factories’ found in every cell that actually make use of ATP and glucose. The more you have and the better they work, the better your brain will function.
There are many more examples of cognitive metabolic enhancers but the great news is that generally they come from eating a balanced and nutritious diet. There are few better ways to wake your brain up than to have a daily superfood smoothie, or a vitamin and mineral tablet. Try it for a while and see what it does for you!