Lotty Somers tells us all about nature’s brain foods and how new supplement Indi Mind can deliver a mental boost without the coffee ‘jitters’.
Did you know that 70 million cups of coffee are consumed every day in the UK alone? If you are one of the people behind this staggering number, you have been consuming the most widely used nootropic in the world, caffeine.
Often referred to as ‘smart drugs’, nootropics can be natural or synthetic substances that have a positive impact on mental performance. Caffeine is a highly effective stimulant and cognitive enhancer, as it boosts mental energy almost instantly. It also stays in your system for up to six hours, so if you drink coffee after 1pm you might find that you struggle to get a good night’s sleep. However, if you’ve ever had one too many coffees, you may have also experienced some unwanted side effects, including unpleasant jitters or an increased feeling of anxiety.
As caffeine acts as a stimulant to our central nervous system, drinking too much can lead to increased symptoms of anxiety.
This is not to say that caffeine should be removed from our diet, with numerous studies highlighting the myriad of health benefits associated with caffeine consumption. We know that coffee beans contain beneficial polyphenols and are high in fibre, with a significant amount able to pass into the beverage. There is also extensive evidence that demonstrates the positive effects of coffee on our gut health. A recent PREDICT study found coffee drinkers tend to have a more diverse microbiome due to the prebiotic properties of coffee, which feed our beneficial gut bugs.
Nootropics That are Smarter Than Coffee
Luckily, coffee isn’t the only nootropic out there. Powerful plant-based powder, Mind from Indi Supplements, offers a ‘smarter than coffee’ alternative that you can make into a delicious drink.
Indi Mind gives you a brain boost in the form of guarana, which contains caffeine, alongside other phytonutrients. Guarana provides slow-release caffeine for sustained concentration and is proven to work within 15 minutes and last for up to four hours. It also contains theobromine (also a stimulant) and theophylline (a substance used to treat symptoms of respiratory disease). Research published in the medical journal Appetite found guarana helped prevent mental fatigue and improved cognitive performance. It’s also been found to help promote learning.
Frank founder Melanie Sykes is a big Indi Mind fan herself, saying: “It takes the edge off that coffee craving in the morning whilst delivering the same boost and it sets my coffee free trajectory for the rest of the day!”
There are many different kinds of nootropics, with scientists discovering neuroprotective and neuroregenerative properties in a number of plants and fungi. The ingredients in Indi Mind have been meticulously formulated to also help harness long-term benefits, proven to combat neurodegenerative decline, particularly with regard to memory and reducing the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s.
These include Bacopa Monnieri, a plant that has shown an exciting ability to stimulate the branches of nerve cells known as the dendrites. Lion’s Mane mushroom has also been shown to promote neurogenesis (the development of new nerve cells), which scientists think could offer benefits in treating neurodegenerative decline in dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Further research is now focusing on these foods and the medical applications they may hold.
Even everyday foods like beetroot have powerful nootropic properties that you might not expect. Rich in dietary nitrates that open up blood vessels, consuming beetroot boosts blood flow to the brain and this increased supply of oxygen doesn’t just help your brain function in real-time, it can also help future-proof it from diseases like dementia.
Dr Federica Amati (PhD), who works as Chief Nutrition Scientist for Indi Supplements, is a big advocate of the ‘Rainbow Diet’ for optimising brain health.
The polyphenols which give plants their bright colours are the perfect building blocks for our gut microbes to make helpful postbiotics that help reduce inflammation. These polyphenols also reduce oxidative stress in the brain and improve blood circulation by helping look after our blood vessels.
“Investing in high flavanol cacao, such as the one found in Indi Mind, coupled with a source of caffeine like guarana, is ideal for long-term health and an immediate boost,” she says.
The Importance of Maintaining Brain Health
Brain health is a term that covers so much, from sleep to mood to mental wellbeing and cognitive function. We know from observational studies and intervention trials that several factors have impacted our brains in the past couple of years. This includes exacerbated stress and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, continued increase in screen time and reduced time outdoors, as well as changes in our diets and for some of us, loneliness and loss of social connections.
Stress causes an increase in cortisol levels and if this is sustained over time this causes chronic low-grade inflammation. Couple this heightened stress state with foods that are inflammatory for our bodies and you have a perfect storm of pro-inflammatory chemicals. These can damage our brain and make it more difficult for us to focus. In the long term, this can lead to cognitive decline and is associated with an increased risk of dementia.
Luckily for us, the science is clear that there are powerful ways to reduce stress and improve our brain health. This includes regular exercise, time outdoors and eating polyphenol-rich plant foods.
Research also shows that there is simply more power in powders and drinking a whole food powdered supplement offers a convenient way to pack a polyphenol punch, increasing the efficiency of your supplements and upping your intake of nutrients, fibre and phytocompounds.
Taking a supplement in powder form also has the added advantage of a larger surface area, making it easier for the necessary enzymatic reactions to happen.
A very simple swap to make for improved brain health and focus is with a supplement powder such as Mind, simply add a scoop to your favourite plant-based milk, when you feel that you need a boost of energy and clarity to your day. So, the next time you are heading back to the coffee shop for another cappuccino to get you through your afternoon meetings, why not harness the power of nature and try something new?