6

votes

Brain Optimization/Boost

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created November 21, 2012 at 1:59 AM

So currently, in a situation involving a (new) intellectually challenging job, and then grad school at night. The night time study sessions after learning and challenging the brain all day can be inefficient. Brain not working as good after being challenged all day too.

So it got me thinking, are there some good ways to either make the brain learn more efficiently or be able to learn new material for longer stretches of time (beyond the normal paleo eating)? What are some good meals to make the brain more efficient/go longer? Supplements? Anything else? Not talking about something to eat before a test or anything, just sustained long-term learning ability improvements.

I'm not on coffee yet, and don't particularly want to be. Also it doesn't seem to affect me much when I've had it in the past.

I eat 100% paleo, except a drink about once a month. I stay active and can tell that that helps.

There are a couple threads on here along similar lines already, but didn't find anything too great.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on November 30, 2012
at 09:26 PM

Its a huge benefit we talk about all the time on my site. Greatest way to get Mg too.

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 23, 2012
at 10:44 PM

Hey Quilt, this is a bit off topic, but you seem to know a lot about the sea. Do you think there is big benefit to being in the ocean a lot? I surf.

06ca9c524c28bc3fba95d4d90f8f43c6

on November 22, 2012
at 07:52 PM

I don't do the snack, but I do have the lunch around 3. My worst times are between 3 and 7 (probably due to the digestion of lunch).

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on November 22, 2012
at 08:46 AM

I think the morning/evening difference has to do with circadian rhythms in hormones, serum minerals and electrolytes. Levels are all highest between 9 am and 1 pm, then they decline, hitting a nadir in the middle of the night. I find that my head clears up -- just about every day -- at around 1.

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 21, 2012
at 10:23 PM

Got through the first one and I'm now headed to the store to get some scallops and or oysters.

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 21, 2012
at 09:30 PM

Also, I think large meals might slow me down as well, I think I'm gonna try out that 4 smaller meal deal and see if that doesn't keep things more consistent.

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 21, 2012
at 09:28 PM

That's a lot of pills!

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 21, 2012
at 09:28 PM

Could eating smaller, more frequent meals be a solution?

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 21, 2012
at 09:26 PM

It's not that I don't like coffee taste wise, just haven't noticed effects when I had it in the past and don't want to develop a dependency relationship. I try to fast at least 16 hours when I do it. Sometimes it's fine and I feel good, other times it makes me feel kind of stressed until I can eat.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on November 21, 2012
at 04:12 PM

Probably due to eating lunch and needing some energy to digest that food before its available as energy. That said, I don't have a solution since I have the same pattern, though I tend to have a small snack (jerky, nuts, or berries) around noon and an actual lunch around 4pm.

92d67b02a709cad2250f10848f9178e6

(2422)

on November 21, 2012
at 03:11 PM

Kyle, I think you can experiment with coffee and fasting. If you don't like coffee, then try black tea or something whenever you feel like you need to boost your mental performance. For me, that means I may need a cup of coffee at like 2PM-3PM. How long was your fast?

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on November 21, 2012
at 11:14 AM

Take your time, they're good reads.

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 21, 2012
at 03:35 AM

Thanks, there's some reading for me. Haven't been eating much seafood lately, you have me convinced. I've had very noticeable differences too on days I don't take my selenium and iodine supplements to days that I do. Only skimmed, reading tomorrow, time for some melatonin.

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 21, 2012
at 03:19 AM

Thats 2 for the fasting...funny, I seem to run better with a big crock pot breakfast. (As opposed to skipping breakfast)

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 21, 2012
at 03:16 AM

Solid advice, I follow all of that (except the coffee & fasting) and definitely think it all helps. I'll have to consider fasting more often, last time I did it it made me feel kind of stressed. The carbs thing is interesting, I've not eaten carbs for a few days before and then had some and it just felt like a switch turned on in my brain and everything worked again. Tried low carb for long enough to adapt too and think I like eating some carbs better.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on November 21, 2012
at 03:14 AM

Optimal Progesterone levels are the most critical factor in BDNF and NGF release. Both require awesome Cortisol/DHEA/melatonin axis function. Fasting is a good boost to progesterone as it sprinting and weightlifting HIIT like kettlebells but nothing beats optimizing the most important antioxidant axis in the brain to get progesterone right.

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 21, 2012
at 03:14 AM

Nah, no dairy whatsoever. Considering some grass fed better though if I can tolerate.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on November 21, 2012
at 02:44 AM

Do you do dairy? Excluding butter, I find dairy gives me brain fog and I feel MUCH sharper without it.

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 21, 2012
at 02:24 AM

The bulletproof executive blog is slowly convincing me to give his expensive coffee a shot. But, I don't really want to develop the dependence relationship so many people seem to have with coffee.

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 21, 2012
at 02:22 AM

The bulletproof executive blog is slowly convincing me to give his expensive coffee a shot.

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 21, 2012
at 02:19 AM

Thanks, I'm very lucky. I enjoy both the job and the study. But I enjoy it a lot more in the morning when my mind is eager than I do 8 oclock at night when my mind is fatigued! haha.

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9 Answers

6
92d67b02a709cad2250f10848f9178e6

on November 21, 2012
at 02:43 AM

I am very interested in optimizing my brain function since I start medical school pretty soon. This is what I have found so far from marksdailyapple (https://www.marksdailyapple.com/fasting-brain-function/)

Fasting Boosts Neuronal Autophagy

I???ve cited this study before, but I???ll do it again because it???s central to the theme of today???s post: ???short-term fasting induces profound neuronal autophagy.??? Autophagy, or ???self-eating,??? is the process by which cells recycle waste material, downregulate wasteful processes, and repair themselves. Brain health is highly dependent on neuronal autophagy. In fact, a recent paper shows that deletion of an ???essential autophagy gene??? in the hypothalamic neurons of fetal mice resulted in metabolic derangement (more body fat, poor glucose tolerance) and impaired neuronal development. Another study shows that disruption of neuronal autophagy induces neurodegeneration. Simply put, without the process of autophagy, brains neither develop properly nor function the way they should.

Fasting Increases Levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF)

BDNF is a protein that interacts with neurons in the hippocampus, cortex, and basal forebrain (the parts of the brain that regulate memory, learning, and higher cognitive function ??? uniquely human stuff). It helps existing neurons survive while spurring the growth of new neurons (neurogenesis) and the development of synapses (lines of communication between neurons). Low levels of BDNF are linked to Alzheimer???s, and supplementary BDNF prevents neuronal death, memory loss, and cognitive impairment in an animal model of Alzheimer???s disease.

I personally find that I learn things faster in the morning when I skip breakfast and drink coffee. It may have something to do with activation of sympathetic nervous system.

2) Get 7-8 hours of sleep. Sleep is important for the consolidation of memory and efficient learning.

3) Prevent inflammation in the gut and brain. Optimize your O3:O6 ratio, and intake of vitamin D, B and iron...I think your 100% paleo diet covers this part. But you can always make your diet better by identifying your food sensitivities/intolerances. Maybe you can play around with meal times, frequency and amount. Also, see if you do better on a higher/lower carb diet. I think I do better with higher carbs. I find that I don't learn efficiently after big meals, and I can't study with a hungry stomach at night. So I skip breakfast, eat at 1PM, 4PM and 7PM, and go to bed at 11PM.

4) Manage stress. I think exercise and outdoor activities are really good for stress management.

5) Know your attention span. I find that to maximize efficient learning per time, I need a 10 minute break after 50 min of studying. During the 50 min of study, I only concentrate on learning (no bathroom breaks, texting, Facebook, checking the time....).

6) Avoid heavy drinking. Alcohol at high dosage cause brain cells to release steroids that block the formation of long-term memories. But some studies show that moderate amounts of alcohol may improve memory by activating the NMDA receptor. I personally wouldn't take a chance with this one. I think a few drinks once in a while may be beneficial...but no binge drinking! I would hate to not remember what I studied.

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 21, 2012
at 03:16 AM

Solid advice, I follow all of that (except the coffee & fasting) and definitely think it all helps. I'll have to consider fasting more often, last time I did it it made me feel kind of stressed. The carbs thing is interesting, I've not eaten carbs for a few days before and then had some and it just felt like a switch turned on in my brain and everything worked again. Tried low carb for long enough to adapt too and think I like eating some carbs better.

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 21, 2012
at 09:26 PM

It's not that I don't like coffee taste wise, just haven't noticed effects when I had it in the past and don't want to develop a dependency relationship. I try to fast at least 16 hours when I do it. Sometimes it's fine and I feel good, other times it makes me feel kind of stressed until I can eat.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on November 21, 2012
at 03:14 AM

Optimal Progesterone levels are the most critical factor in BDNF and NGF release. Both require awesome Cortisol/DHEA/melatonin axis function. Fasting is a good boost to progesterone as it sprinting and weightlifting HIIT like kettlebells but nothing beats optimizing the most important antioxidant axis in the brain to get progesterone right.

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 21, 2012
at 09:30 PM

Also, I think large meals might slow me down as well, I think I'm gonna try out that 4 smaller meal deal and see if that doesn't keep things more consistent.

92d67b02a709cad2250f10848f9178e6

(2422)

on November 21, 2012
at 03:11 PM

Kyle, I think you can experiment with coffee and fasting. If you don't like coffee, then try black tea or something whenever you feel like you need to boost your mental performance. For me, that means I may need a cup of coffee at like 2PM-3PM. How long was your fast?

5
Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on November 21, 2012
at 03:12 AM

My answer is quite complex and detailed but I will put the links in order to Optimize you brain function. This happens to be my area of expertise.

1.http://www.jackkruse.com/brain-gut-5-paradigm-drifts-paradigm-shifts-epi-paleo/

2.http://www.jackkruse.com/brain-gut-6-epi-paleo-rx/

3.http://www.jackkruse.com/brain-gut-13-where-optimal-meets-all-world-performance/

The last link is what ties Optimal brain performance all together......sorry it is verbose but it gets you the answers you are searching for. Good luck and go create some starfish!!!

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 21, 2012
at 03:35 AM

Thanks, there's some reading for me. Haven't been eating much seafood lately, you have me convinced. I've had very noticeable differences too on days I don't take my selenium and iodine supplements to days that I do. Only skimmed, reading tomorrow, time for some melatonin.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on November 21, 2012
at 11:14 AM

Take your time, they're good reads.

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 23, 2012
at 10:44 PM

Hey Quilt, this is a bit off topic, but you seem to know a lot about the sea. Do you think there is big benefit to being in the ocean a lot? I surf.

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 21, 2012
at 10:23 PM

Got through the first one and I'm now headed to the store to get some scallops and or oysters.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on November 30, 2012
at 09:26 PM

Its a huge benefit we talk about all the time on my site. Greatest way to get Mg too.

3
Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on November 21, 2012
at 10:02 AM

Surprised nobody mentioned seafood. Last time I checked omega 3's are aweeeeesome.

1
71ef6fa9da502f1caa096f3047262f28

(130)

on November 21, 2012
at 07:41 PM

I thought Fish Oil was really good for your brain & memory and overall being sharper. I just started taking Vitamin B3, commonly known as niacin because it's supposed to help with brain function. It helps with Alzheimer's disease and the cognitive decline associated with aging, etc. There's information online about niacin improving memory tests scores and such. Might want to look into it.

1
2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on November 21, 2012
at 10:08 AM

stress reduction beats everything else for me

1
06ca9c524c28bc3fba95d4d90f8f43c6

on November 21, 2012
at 05:32 AM

I'll jump with the fasting as well. I have found that I am the most creative/productive in the early morning (no breakfast) and a BFC. My productivity level between 7AM - 12PM CRUSHES the rest of my day.

To add an odd point. I also seem to function at a high level later in the evening. The middle of the day is a bad stretch for me.

Matt
PhysiqueRescue.com

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on November 22, 2012
at 08:46 AM

I think the morning/evening difference has to do with circadian rhythms in hormones, serum minerals and electrolytes. Levels are all highest between 9 am and 1 pm, then they decline, hitting a nadir in the middle of the night. I find that my head clears up -- just about every day -- at around 1.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on November 21, 2012
at 04:12 PM

Probably due to eating lunch and needing some energy to digest that food before its available as energy. That said, I don't have a solution since I have the same pattern, though I tend to have a small snack (jerky, nuts, or berries) around noon and an actual lunch around 4pm.

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 21, 2012
at 09:28 PM

Could eating smaller, more frequent meals be a solution?

06ca9c524c28bc3fba95d4d90f8f43c6

on November 22, 2012
at 07:52 PM

I don't do the snack, but I do have the lunch around 3. My worst times are between 3 and 7 (probably due to the digestion of lunch).

1
235b077872243d4ee5796c6ace3c0970

on November 21, 2012
at 02:43 AM

I'm in your exact situation. Things improved with skipping breakfast, supplementing D3, and eating a MONSTER lunch in the late afternoon (2-3pm).

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 21, 2012
at 03:19 AM

Thats 2 for the fasting...funny, I seem to run better with a big crock pot breakfast. (As opposed to skipping breakfast)

1
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on November 21, 2012
at 02:09 AM

I've been there. My only recommendation is to focus on keeping stress low. I know that sounds almost impossible, but its critical. In addition to the workouts, take a few days to read something you enjoy vs being forced to. Also make sure you are getting proper sleep (I know that sounds impossible too!)

Good luck!

F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on November 21, 2012
at 02:19 AM

Thanks, I'm very lucky. I enjoy both the job and the study. But I enjoy it a lot more in the morning when my mind is eager than I do 8 oclock at night when my mind is fatigued! haha.

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