Nootrophics - they're set to be one of the biggest hypes of 2018 but what exactly are they are? Are they necessary to our health?And is the research there to support them? Let me explain (and remember you read it here first!)
What are nootrophics?
Nootrophics are natural supplements or compounds which can enhance brain function. They play a variety of roles ranging from mood to anxiety to cognitive funtion to creativity. They may sound weird and you might be pretty uncertain at this moment in time. But what if I told you that there's a high chance you're already consuming nootrophics most likely on a daily basis? Yep, caffeine is the most commonly used nootrophic in today's society as people utilise it to increase energy as it inhibits receptors which slow brain activity.
Where can I find nootrophics?
Nootrophics can come in the form of already recognised nutrients such as omega-3, anti-oxidants and amino-acids. However, they are also avaliable in the form of herbs and spices including some more obscure ones such as Ginkgo and Bacopa Monnieri. Furthermore they are also naturally present in some of the foods you're already eating. Foods such as beef, chicken, turkey, fish and dairy products contain an amino acid called Acetyl L-Carnitine which is converted into Acetyl CoA in the brain. This then binds with Choline to form Acetylcholine; a neurotransmitter which plays a role in learning, cognitive function and memory development.
Do they actually work?
Whilst found naturally in food they can also be taken as supplements (of which there are a wide range and you should consult a health care professional before doing so). Some research has suggested that Ginkgo can help reduce anxiety, improve cognitive function and memory. However, the evidence is not conclusive and more research is required. Other suggested nootrophics include: ginger, St John's Wart, cinnamon, currcumin, green tea and caffeine.
Having said this, let's take a reality check, whilst these may seem like the next biggest hype it's really important to realise that the research in this area is far from complete and so it's difficult to draw conclusions. I recommend speaking to a nutritionist before embarking on any new nootrophic plans!