Nootropics is the name given to a class of drugs which act as cognitive enhancers, increasing memory, intelligence, concentration, attention and motivation.
If you want to improve your brain function in the long term, or want to try something other than pharmaceutical nootropics, try juicing your own cognitive enhancers.
Fruits and vegetables can help improve mental performance in two ways: by improving the supply of oxygen to the brain, and by improving the neurochemical processes within the brain.
Improving Oxygen Supply to the Brain
Nitrates and potassium are known to widen blood vessels, increasing blood flow and therefore the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain.
Beets are rich in nitrates, and spinach is rich in potassium, making them both great cognitive enhancers.
Improving Brain Neurochemistry
Fruits and vegetables high in polyphenols will increase the efficiency of neurochemical reactions through two different actions.
The first is in its antioxidant action.
Because of the high volume of oxygen required by the brain, it becomes vulnerable to attack from oxygen-derived free radicals.
Polyphenols are high in antioxidants, which reverse some of the effect of free radical ‘aging’, making it function more efficiently.
The second action is due to the unique properties of the flavonoid group of polyphenols.
Different berries have different flavonoids, which had a slightly different effect on brain function in tests on rats:
Those given a feed of strawberry or blueberry were “much better able to find, and in some cases remember, the location of an underwater platform.”
And in a different test, rats on a blackberry supplemented diet experienced “improved motor performance on tasks that rely on balance and coordination, and the blackberry-fed rats had significantly greater short-term memory performance than the control rats.”
Meanwhile, another neurochemical study found the flavonoids present in blueberries had “the potential to enhance both short-term and long-term memory, by providing a more efficient structure for interpreting afferent nerve or sensory information.”
Juicing Recipes as Cognitive Enhancers
Richly hued fruits and vegetables are a good source of polyphenols, and more specifically, richly colored red, blue, black and purple berries are excellent sources of the polyphenol group, flavonoids. The darker and riper the better.
To make the best juicing cognitive enhancers, make sure you include at least one from each line:
- Beets, spinach
- Blueberries, cranberries (flavonoids; quercetin and myricetin)
- Blackberries, black grapes, strawberries (flavonoids: epicatechin and catechin)
- Raspberries, red grapes, cherries (flavonoids: anthocyanidins and cyanidin)
No juicer? This guide will help you find the right one for you.
Quick note on juicing berries: If you have a centrifugal juicer, you’ll need to wrap the berries in leafs when you juice them. Because otherwise, centrifugal juicers will throw the berry into the pulp bin without juicing it.
If you have a masticating juicer (which is best for leafy greens) you’ll be fine.
Beginners Blueberry Smoothie
- 1/2 cup skim milk
- 1/2 cup non-fat yoghurt
- 2 handfuls blueberries
- 1 teaspoon honey
Cognitive Enhancers Smoothie
- 1 Beet
- 2 handfuls Blueberries
- 2 handfuls Blackberries
- 2 handfuls Raspberries
- 1 Beet
- 1 Banana
- 1 small handful Blueberries
- 1 small handful Cranberries
- 1 small handful Blackberries
- 1 small handful Black Grapes
- 1 small handful Strawberries
- 1 small handful Raspberries
- 1 small handful Red Grapes
- 1 small handful Cherries
These recipes are just suggestions – use the information above to experiment with your own cognitive enhancers.
Read Next: How to Handle Stress
Further Reading: Berries and the Brain: Blueberry Smoothies over at Fit-Juice.com
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