The Quest for Alertness

I like to do many mental activities, such as, web-surfing, reading, writing, games of strategy, watching screens, and looking at art. That is, as opposed to purely physical activities (are there any?) and combined physical-mental activities like sports, crafts, and making art.

Specifically I like to apply logic to things. Our brains have many other abilities but that’s me.

In my fifties I started to notice some mental tiredness during daytime, along with less of my lifelong high-strung nervous energy. I began to search for improvements.

Now first and foremost, good circulation (cardiovascular fitness) is necessary to good brain …. uhh …. stuff. Aerobic exercise is the only way to increase or maintain cardio fitness. Bad dietary choices can harm cardio fitness over time by thickening the artery walls (at least, for some people).

And of course, proper sleep is necessary to have mental energy.

Besides for exercise and sleep, there are other ways to improve mental functioning. I have always observed that plenty of B vitamins are needed for alertness and energy.

I tried a diet that was organic fruits, nuts, legumes, and other vegetables. The diet had no refined sugar or white flour, and much less “bad” carbohydrates. It was along the lines of Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian Diet. It really boosted my energy. Since then, I have kept some improved  habits, but also backslid a lot. (It doesn’t help that I get occasional gifts of Kobe Wagyu beef.)

Caffeine has its place for sure. I have also used ginseng (powdered and standardized) for the past twenty years, a little bit daily. About five years ago I doubled the dose, which puts me at 33% of the label recommendation.

Ginseng has been a tonic in Chinese tradition for a long time. I strongly believe in traditional medical knowledge, including herbs. Trial and error, over centuries, works wonders.

My brand of ginseng also includes “Siberian Ginseng”, which is a different genus (Eleuthera) than American Ginseng (Panax). Siberian Ginseng contains different active chemicals.

I find that my ginseng regime gives me a bit more energy and endurance for late nights, and increases my libido.

But in recent years, many modern professionals are using a variety of newer food supplements and medicines  to improve their mental ability and alertness. This blog will discuss these other “nootropics” too.



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