Two of the biggest concerns adults report when it comes to cognitive and emotional well-being are mood swings and inability to focus. There are days where our ability to laser-focus on a task or projects seems unwavering and our emotions seem to be steadfast.
And then there are those days where you feel scattered and unproductive, unable to collect your thoughts – and often also paired with this is a mood that is less than desirable.
In most cases, you can directly link these fits of mood instability and lack of ability to focus to the nutrients that you are consuming (or not consuming) in your diet. That’s because when it comes to emotions and concentration, you really “are what you eat”.
Food and the nutrients within the food we eat is the very fuel that makes our brains function as flawlessly as possible. When you’re putting low grade fuel in your body in the form of junk food or excessive sugar or fat, your brain functions at a lower level, and your emotions are often going to be rocky as well.
Just like a car, your brain needs the right nourishment to function both emotionally and cognitively at peak levels. Since we can’t always get the most “high octane” diet to provide this level-headed, peaceful existence, there are several supplements you may also want to consider that can add the right combination of nature’s best “drugs” for cognitive and emotional function.
Cinnamon capsules or raw cinnamon powder
A large reason behind those feelings of being “scattered” or completely unfocused is fluctuations in our blood sugar. When your blood sugar is shooting up and down, it is very difficult to concentrate. It also impacts your mood tremendously. Cinnamon capsules are a handy way to make sure this doesn’t happen.
You can also use the loose cinnamon powder, but the capsules are a much more convenient way to ingest cinnamon, especially since it can induce coughing and choking when taken in powder form if you don’t mix it with plenty of water.
Most cinnamon capsules come in 500 mg servings, with the recommended dose being two capsules, or 1,000 milligrams. It is also recommended that you take them with a meal. I prefer to take mine with lunch because I know that the worst part of the day for my blood sugar fluctuations tends to be the period between lunch and dinner.
However, if you notice your blood sugar dips between breakfast and lunch most often, you can take it with breakfast instead. It really helps carry your through to your next “refueling” without those feelings of emotional instability and scattered, unproductive cognitive function by stabilizing your metabolism of glucose (aka blood sugar levels).
Sceletium tortuosum (also commonly known as kanna)
This herb is a member of the succulent family, like aloe or the beloved diet herb hoodia gordonii, and is a native plant of South Africa. It was not well known in the western world until a few years ago when it gained notoriety for its ability to elevate mood and decrease the typical feelings of stress and tension associated with anxiety. It was used traditionally by African natives to help reduce anxiety and promote a happy disposition.
Since the herb helps promote an elevated mood and tempers the chemicals in the body that cause stress (cortisol and other destructive hormones), it also can greatly help with concentration as well. Anxiety is typically associated with disjointed thought patters and lack of productive focus.
The sceletium plant is rich in alkaloids, some of which serve as a natural SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor), which means it promotes the production and retention of the feel-good chemical serotonin.
Kanna can be found in loose powder form, or capsulated powder form. A little of this herb supposedly goes a long way, so use sparingly or follow the directions on the bottle if you’re buying it in capsule form. Users report that when using the loose form of kanna, they need no more than a pinch. It is probably best to test a small amount first.
Perhaps best known as a Chinese medicine herbal remedy for mental stamina, ginkgo biloba has many other promising properties when it comes to mood, cognitive function and overall ability to concentrate for sustained periods of time.
Ginkgo biloba’s primary benefit is that it improves the blood flow to the brain (and throughout the body). Not only does it help to dilate the veins and capillaries that carry the blood to the brain, but it also has some blood thinning properties which further helps to promote free blood flow.
It has been studied as a potential prevention mechanism, or even treatment mechanism, for alzheimers disease. Although there is nothing conclusive yet, it may be a natural remedy for those who feel their memory is slipping.
Danna Norek founded AuraSensory.com, which offers a line of natural skin, hair and body care including a popular rich face cream with vitamin C ester and MSM and a popular Natural Shine Enhancing Shampoo and Deep Hydration Conditioner.
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