If you recognize this image...
...then you know the power of a “cup of joe", “rocket fuel", “daily grind”, or a host of other nicknames. “Coffee oh coffee”—or should we really say—“caffeine oh caffeine”!
As I sit here writing this blog, I see the slow swirl of steam rising from my cup, and the fresh aroma fills the morning air. Just the fact this hot brew is sitting on my desk gives me hope that the day will be productive.
But coffee is not the only vice that gets us going in the morning or through our days. No matter your poison—coffee, tea, sodas, energy drinks, or other pills or potions—there are many times we just need that extra help in getting ourselves going. We can all relate to the cat that seems to need coffee, or to have paid $10 for a spiced latte, double frothed, one-pump vanilla, with a double shot!
Ultimately, we are looking for a physical or mental energy boost and coffee works well because it is a stimulant. Stimulants are thought to give us the rush or perception that we are getting a mental boost, but this is not without a cost.
Let's dive into what stimulants such as coffee are, and whether there is a healthier choice you can make, but still get that boost you are looking for.
STIMULANTS VS NOOTROPICS
One of the first things we need to understand is the terminology when it comes to the ingredients in our favorite, "get up and go" vices that help us get our bodies and minds revved up.
There are two terms you need to understand: Nootropics and Stimulants….
What are Nootropics?
Nootropics work in a variety of ways to increase cognitive function.
Nootropics (aka Smart Drugs or cognitive enhancers) are any drug, supplement, or other substance that claims to improve cognitive function, memory, creativity or motivation for an individual and can give a stimulant effect.
FUN FACT: The term nootropics is derived from the Greek word “noos” (mind) and “tropein” (towards). The Greek roots are appropriate, given that enhancing memory, decision-making and creativity are goals that people have when they take them.
Three Broad Categories of Nootropics
What are Stimulants?
Stimulants fall under the natural compound category of nootropics. Stimulants speed up messages traveling between the brain and body. They can make a person feel more awake, alert, confident or energetic. Also, according to Webster’s New World Dictionary, a stimulant is defined as “any drug, etc. that temporarily increases the activity of some vital process (in the body) or of some organ”. Basically, when we consume a stimulant, the body reacts to this foreign substance by trying to flush it out of its system.
Types of familiar stimulants
- Ma huang
- Ginko biloba
- Panax ginseng
- Amphetamines (Adderall)
To help us understand what happens in our body when we take many natural compound nootropics, let’s dive into the most popular - Caffeine.
When the body ingests caffeine it excites the Central Nervous System which accelerates metabolism, respiratory and cardiac function, as well as many other functions in the body and creates the perception of increased energy.
However, it also creates tremendous stress on the body. Stress releases cortisol which causes nutrient depletion (magnesium and elemental minerals) and additional tissue breakdown compared to what the body experiences under normal conditions.
Here is the Problem
This hit of physical and or mental energy may give us the sense that we are revving up and turning your body and mind on, but there is a pretty significant downside.
The constant use of stimulants creates a gap in the body’s physiology when, over time and use, the body will eventually go into a hole as it is deprived of nutrients and minerals, and with elevated stress levels, forcing additional bodily systems to compensate.
When you habitually use stimulants, you tax the body and increase the stress load in the body without any time to improve or recover.
Here are a few more insights into coffee:
- Coffee is highly addictive
- Excessive use, then stopping, can lead to excessive fatigue, headaches and irritability
- Oils in coffee have been known to raise cholesterol levels
- Increases acid levels in the body
- Mold and mycotoxins are also most common in the process of storing and curating the coffee beans
- Addition of chemicals to treat, clean, and purify the coffee
Whether you are popping a pill or drinking a cup of coffee, there are health risks when taking any nootropics or stimulants.
DON'T REPLACE SPINACH WITH CAKE
Let me ask you this…
If you were low on iron, would you grab a piece of cake?
Well of course you wouldn't. You would be looking for something that would give you the iron your body needs. Well, this is what happens when we reach for stimulants. We are putting the wrong thing in our body and are not feeding our brain what it needs.
WHAT DOES YOUR BRAIN REALLY NEED?
When you use your brain, you are burning very specific things and if they are not available, you will struggle with brain fog, energy levels and mental focus.
The brain uses different nutrition than the rest of the body to function optimally.
Let’s look at a few of them:
Ketones & Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)
The brain uses ketones as the first energy source. Ketone bodies can feed the brain and can act as the primary fuel for cognitive activities. Once Ketones are utilized, then the liver converts MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) into ketones for the brain to use as fuel.
MCTs can be found in food sources such as coconut oil, which your liver can convert directly into ketones. MCTs, which are a type of fatty acid, have benefits beyond regular fats and long-chain triglycerides, in that they have a lower calorie content than other fats, are more rapidly absorbed by the body and are more quickly metabolized as fuel for organs.
Beta-Hydroxy Butyrate (BHB)
BHB is a ketone that the brain utilizes instead of glucose. Your brain utilizes BHB even more efficiently than glucose (sugar). Ketone bodies like BHB can cross the blood-brain barrier for utilization as well as cell membranes and the inner mitochondrial membrane. The primary role of mitochondria is to process the intake of food and oxygen and make energy for your cells. That’s energy for you!
For mental focus, we need a balance of the two. Ketones, such as BHB, are linked to an increased feeling of calmness or state of well-being due to their ability to increase GABA signalizing.
Low levels of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) and increased levels of glutamate can also cause brain fog. Glutamate is the excitatory neurotransmitter and GABA is the neurotransmitter that makes us feel calm and counters glutamate.
But You Need More Than Ketones and MCTs
There are additional ingredients that you need to support ketone activity, palatability, and delivery. Here are few of them.
Butyric acid is very commonly produced by digestion; and Butyrate, a derivative, is produced by beneficial "good" microbes and helps promote beneficial bacterial colonies.
Calcium is present and helps as a messenger for neurotransmitter synthesis and release and is also involved in long-term processes in the body (memory).
Coconut Oil Fiber
Coconut oil fiber contributes MCTs that support the effectiveness of BHB, as does MenaQ-7 (vitamin K2). K2 needs to be present to assist with supplemented calcium metabolism. BHB as a calcium salt provides 50% of the daily value (DV) of calcium. This prevents supplemental calcium from depositing into soft tissues such as cardiovascular tissue and the formation of plaques. K2 assists calcium storage in the bone.
Soluble Dietary Fiber
Because of the brain gut connection, fiber is a critical component of brain health. It is important to eat a soluble dietary fiber (prebiotic) that is designed to promote gut health.
Vitamin K-2 needs to be present to ensure appropriate absorption of calcium, to help keep the calcium out of the arteries, and to improve overall circulation. Poor circulation impacts brain functioning.
Magnesium also plays an important role in relaying signals between the brain and the body. Magnesium helps develop nerve cells in the brain and aids in brain development, memory and learning.
The central nervous system requires various amino acids found in proteins to function optionally. Amino acids such as tryptophan, tyrosine, histidine and arginine are used by the brain for the synthesis of various neurotransmitters and neuromodulators.
Phosphorus is critical for brain function and strength. Low levels of phosphorus can often impair breathing and brain function.
The brain needs potassium. Potassium helps brain cells communicate with cells throughout the brain and helps nerves fire properly when stimulated.
Sunflower lecithin is an emulsifier, but it is also included for its phosphatides, such as phosphatidylcholine and others, that support brain function and mitochondrial activity (energy) in the brain.
THAT’S A LOT OF STUFF
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Diatomaceous Earth absorbs into the bloodstream as silica which plays an important role in many bodily functions and has a direct relationship to mineral absorption.
Humic & Fulvic Acids play a critical role in transporting vitamins and minerals to every cell in the body at the molecular level.
The addition of Diatomaceous Earth and Humic & Fulvic Acids not only improves the initial transport of vital vitamins, minerals, ketones, and fatty acids throughout the body more efficiently, but also works together to optimize brain function at the molecular level.
WE KNOW YOU WON'T GIVE UP THAT CUP OF JOE…
But that is ok, we totally understand. In fact, as I wrap up this blog, I am finishing my cup of morning coffee. But what I do the rest of the day WILL impact my health. I can either pour a second cup of coffee, or I can make myself a Dr. Tennant’s® Brain Food. I will opt for the Brain Food!
So go think about it...pun intended...and give Dr. Tennant's® Brain Food a try, as your second "cup of coffee"!
If you really want to rev it up, try our Magic Cocktail.
It’s your body. It’s your life. Ingredients matter.
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MCTs – Medium Chain Triglycerides
No caffeine or stimulants – Just natural pure nutrients for your brain.