The use of these products is on the rise, along with the nootropic stack technique of combining or stacking different brain-boosting supplements
Although conversations in your examination and treatment rooms may center largely around musculoskeletal health as it relates to alignment and pain, many patients look to their chiropractic providers for advice in other areas as well. One of the areas that you may be asked about is how to boost brain health or create a “nootropic stack” of brain-boosting supplements, especially with older or success-driven patients.
Brain health, age and success
Three in four people aged 40 and up are concerned with the health of their brain according to a survey conducted by the AARP. Even if they haven’t noticed a change in other mental abilities, one-third of the individuals in this age range report experiencing a decline in memory over the past five years. This concern rises to roughly one in two for those 65 and older.
Data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that concern over brain health and age does have some merit since one in nine adults over the age of 45 have what is called Subjective Cognitive Decline or SCD. This is defined as a self-reported increase or worsening of confusion and/or memory loss.
The CDC adds that roughly half of the adults with SCD have functional difficulties related to everyday household activities such as cooking, cleaning, or paying bills. The age group most affected by these difficulties? While it may seem like the answer would be those over the age of 65, these difficulties are more common in those between 45-64 years of age.
Age isn’t the only reason patients may ask about ways to boost their brain health. Some might want to achieve a higher level of cognition so they perform better at work or to develop the brainpower needed to take their business to higher levels. Others may want to increase their ability to think more creatively or desire a greater level of intelligence. Two of the trending ways to attempt to achieve these types of goals include brain hacks and nootropics.
The latest in brain hacks
A brain hack is a technique that is implemented in the hopes of improving brain function or mental state. It can be as simple as repeating the name of the person you just met to better store that name into memory or it can be as complex as using technological devices to promote enhanced brain function.
Several hack-based organizations have made recent recommendations for individuals looking for brain hacks. Lifehacks recommends consuming a diet high in omega-3s, rebooting your body’s internal clock by spending more time in the sun and drinking less caffeine, and focusing on one thing at a time versus trying to multitask so that you are more aware.
Mindvalley suggests that boosting brain power lies in learning something new for at least 60 minutes each day. This hack is said to help by activating the reward center of the brain and is the same process used by many technologies today, such as those that send us notifications, encouraging our desire to respond.
The U.K.-based Sainsbury Welcome Center — an organization committed to understanding more about brain health and mental processes — indicates that top neuroscientists recommend a few brain hacks over others due to their effectiveness. These include:
- The ‘memory palace’ technique, which involves memorizing lists or names by connecting these items with something visual, making them easier to recall since we tend to recollect images better than words or numbers
- Linking memories to create a connection between similar concepts, such as meeting someone named Ralph and finding ways that they are like your Uncle Ralph
- Staying away from devices that emit blue lights later in the day because they can impact your circadian rhythm, with the Sleep Foundation adding that poor sleep negatively impacts memory and other cognitive processes
Brain health and the nootropic stack
Other patients may turn to nootropics to boost their brain’s health. A nootropic is a substance that claims to enhance cognitive function. Some are available over the counter while others are offered as a prescription. Either way, research indicates that the use of these products is on the rise, along with the nootropic stack technique of combining or stacking different brain-boosting supplements.
One of the most well-known substances for boosting brain power is caffeine. Though others that fall into the category of natural cognitive enhancers include curcumin, ginseng, and Ginkgo biloba.
Many also consider cannabidiol or CBD a nootropic due to its effect on mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. GlobeNewswire shares that the CBD market is expected to “grow rapidly” between now and 2027, which is when it is anticipated to surpass $61.2 billion.
How well do nootropics work? The University of Miami states that more research needs to be conducted to know for sure. In the meantime, there are other things that patients can do to protect and enhance their mental capabilities. This includes following a diet high in fatty acids and antioxidants, getting regular exercise, and allowing the body adequate time to rest as each of these helps promote optimal brain health.