Let’s take a look at the best practices and substances you can use to improve you mental state and focus. Almost every single of these things is connected to the workings of prefrontal cortex, which relies (as does the rest of the brain) on dopamine signaling. Here I will share with you what I found while studying the inner workings of these substances.
This is a relatively unknown neurotransmitter, but a very important one. It supports your working memory, focus, linguistic skills, your ability to use logic and reasoning skills and your creativity. Furthermore, it improves your muscle memory, coordination and mobility.
Acetylcholine is made from choline, which is present in eggs, meat, milk and yogurt. If you are searching for herbs, then Ashwagandha, Ginkgo biloba and Gotu kola should help with it. Also, nicotine binds to acetlycholine receptors, so any kind of tobacco is useful.
Matcha tea / Coffee with L-theanine
Matcha you must surely know already. It is a name for the Camellia sinensis plant, however, the green tea has different growth conditions, which modulate the L-theanine content of the herb. L-theanine guards you from the “mental crash” that would the caffeine contained in the tea cause. That is why it is a good idea to use L-theanine with coffee, if you are a heavy coffee drinker. For everything else, there is matcha. High in anti-oxidants, liver and heart protecting, boosts brain function, helps you mask the hunger signals — thus to loose weight (not so good if you trying to gain weight) and it even helps to prevent cancer.
Tyrosine, or L-tyrosine, is so called pre-cursor to dopamine (the reward hormone). That means that when ingested, it will not get annihilated in the blood-brain barrier. Dopamine is the single most important neurotransmitter for keeping your mind focused and healthy— have too much of it, you get schizophrenia, have too little and you have Parkinson’s. You can get tyrosine in beef, cheese (parmesan), soy beans, fish or in a powder form.
Mitragynine is the main compound of the herb Mitragyna Speciosa (Kratom). It increases motivation to work and focused attention. Mitragynine has a very potent opioid agonist properties — it suppresses pain and mental chatter — thus giving free flow to creativity. It is also used in overcoming addictions — it helps even with the hard drugs! Kratom also releases acetylcholine, mentioned above. Not only that, it also releases dopamine and serotonine, which further help you to finish your tasks.
Nicotine is a classic. Sherlock Holmes uses it. Carl Jung used it. Freud used it. In many cases, it is just a form of self-medication for lowered brain function, however, it also acts as a perfect cognitive booster. Nicotine binds to your adenosine receptors, thus rendering you unable to feel sleepy. Data have shown that long term smokes are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease — nicotine increases the levels of dopamine in the brain, thus making the task at hand more rewarding.
Focus on your breath. If you realize you are in your thoughts, focus on your breath. Are you thinking about other things other than your breath? Observe that you are doing so, and return to focusing on your breath. After a few days of 20 to 60 minutes exercises you will be able to achieve the state of clear mind and you will be way more aware of your impulses, with that difference that you will only observe them and not act on them. In turn you will be able to focus way more and you will be able to stay in the present moment.
HIIT and Cold showers
Exercise increases blood flow to your brain by 15%. So does cold exposure, where scientists have found that putting your hand in cold water increases the speed of blood flow to your brain. Imagine what everyday morning cold showers will do to you! (or maybe you could ask Wim Hof, the coldman). Cold exposure supports the endocannabinoid system, thus calms you down.
You get ketones when fasting or on a ketogenic diet. They are the absolute best fuel for your brain — like feeding your engine with high octane gas. Ketones increase blood flow to your brain by 39% and cerebral blood flow in animals by 65%. Ketones also regenerate your myelin (fatty insulation of your neuron connecting axons), increase growth of new brain cells and support mitochondria health. You can get them when fasting (you should feel it the second or third day) or keto-diet — no carbohydrates, sugar or fruit — only fat and proteins.
It is to be found in raspies, dark chocolate, grapes and red wine. Resveratrol increases BDNF (which helps with keeping your neurons alive) and supports your mitochondrial cells. It also increases brain blood circulation and cognition.
Most commonly used to improve brain health. It increases cognitive function, memory and memory. Ginkgo also reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia, when at the same time elevating your mood and mental energy. It does so by elevating blood flow to your brain.