The 5 Fundamental Lifestyle Pillars for Optimal Health/Performance

The 5 Fundamental Lifestyle Pillars for Optimal Health/Performance

June 06, 2018

Adequate supplementation can only boost your performance so much.
 
Without proper nutrition, training, sleep/recovery and frequent meditation, you are missing out on a lot of cognitive performance and health benefits.
 
Nootropics can’t replace these fundamental lifestyle pillars, but, when used synergistically with these changes, can lead to heightened levels of performance which you likely have not experienced before.
 

Nutrition

Nutrition is crucial for optimising overall health and performance. It is essential to ensure you’re getting sufficient micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) in your diet to optimise bodily functions, health factors, and reduce chance of disease.
 
You also want to get enough macronutrients (Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats) to reach your preferred energy requirements. If you want to gain weight or muscle, then you must eat a caloric surplus of macronutrients.
 
If you want to lose weight or fat, then you must eat in a caloric deficit of macronutrients. Both Carbohydrates and Fats are useful for energy production, and fats, in particular, for regulating hormone levels in the body. Protein is needed to repair and build the body after intense exercise or stressors.
There is evidence to suggest that specific nutritional plans or diets such as Intermittent Fasting (I.F) or Ketogenic diets are great ways to improve both body composition and cognitive performance. This, however, is subject to change between individuals. We recommend doing your own research, looking at peer-reviewed studies, and consulting your doctor before attempting any strict nutritional regimes.

Training

Training both the body and mind frequently are necessary for ensuring continued performance and health increases over a long period of time.
 
Physical training such as cardiovascular training or resistance training is a great way to strengthen your heart, lungs and muscles within the body. By continuously stressing your body, you are allowing adaptations to occur that can dramatically improve both health span and life span. Not only this, but physical exercise releases endorphins, otherwise known as “feel-good hormones”, which is a physiological response to putting this kind of stress on your body.
 
Mental training or stimulation in the form of reading, problem solving, or exposing your mind to new ideas, which are all forms of learning, is crucial for continued cognitive performance benefits.
 
There are approximately 100 billion neurons within the human brain, all connected via synapses. When we are exposed to new information through our senses, this information is transmitted through these synapses and neural pathways and stored in our short-term memory.
By continually signalling these same pathways, they become stronger, and transmit information more easily via the synapses. This learning that is being stored in short term memory, is carried to another part of the brain, and compared with other memories, and stored among our long-term memory stores.
It is important to frequently stimulate the brain, to strengthen these neural pathways through the constant process of learning. This makes us more efficient at transmitting information, and storing new knowledge or experiences as memory.
 

Sleep/recovery

Sleep and recovery is yet another one of the basic pillars for improving our overall health and performance.
 
The body only has a finite amount of resources which it can allocate to any number of tasks in a day. Through physical training and mental stimulation, we expend these resources, and through nutrition, sleep and recovery we restore them and allow our body to function normally.
 
The average adult requires anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep a day, with many factors being involved that vary how much is really needed for the individual. The best way to determine your optimal sleeping pattern and requirement is to experiment, document how you feel, and adjust accordingly.
 
Factors like your nutrition, exercise levels, light and electronics can all affect your circadian rhythm, or natural body clock. Reducing exposure to light sources (in particular artificial blue light), stimulants such as coffee or energy drinks, and electronic devices for at least a few hours before bed may significantly improve your quality of sleep.
 
Also, your comfort level, based on temperature, ambient noise level, and where/how you’re physically sleeping can significantly affect your sleep.
 
There are always new products and technologies made available, such as the Oura Ring, which are capable of tracking your sleeping habits and patterns, and giving you suggestions for how to optimise and improve your sleep.

Meditation/Self-reflection

Meditation, often referred to as emotional, spiritual or mindfulness training, exists in an almost entirely separate category to what we have otherwise looked at.
 
The process of removing yourself from your daily routine for 10-15 minutes, reflecting internally, and taking a deep breath, can have profound effects on your mental and physical wellbeing.
 
Meditation is a great way to quell the anxieties and stresses that creep up in day to day life. Often, we get so caught up in our routines we forget to really take a step back and reflect on what’s most important. During mediation practices, all that matters is taking the time to understand and reflect on your internal thoughts, feelings and emotions in the present moment.
 
Long term meditation practice has been linked to higher hippocampal and gray matter density in the brain. This results in higher emotional awareness, stability and mindfulness of thoughts and actions in everyday life.
 
It can be hard to find time in the day to meditate, but using convenient applications such as Headspace, can certainly help. Headspace is a mindfulness app that you can download onto your smart phone, that “guides” you through 10 minutes of mindfulness practice/meditation each day.
 
This is a great way to get started and help you build a routine with your meditation practices.
 

Supplementation

Now that we have finally reached the 5th pillar for optimising health and performance, this is where we come in.
Supplements are often used to make-up for potential shortfalls in our nutrition or diet plans, or for convenience, to help us when we cannot be bothered to intake all our nutrients from large volumes of food.
 
Nootropics are supplements made for the specific purpose of improving various aspects of cognitive function.
As such, it is typical for Nootropics to include high amounts of natural compounds typically found within food or that occur within the human body, such as vitamins, minerals or amino acids.
These substances simply ensure that all basic health needs are met for a variety of bodily functions and biological processes.
 
Then it is useful to include compounds such as L-Theanine (from green tea), which can stimulate alpha brain waves, inducing a calm but alert sensation, often referred to as the ‘flow state’.
Other compounds such as Huperzine A can be introduced to slow the breakdown of Acetylcholine, the learning neurotransmitter, within the brain. It does this by inhibiting the enzyme which is responsible for breaking down acetylcholine. This leads to increased memory and learning.
 
Nootropic supplements, such as Claritea, use a stack of natural compounds that work synergistically to help improve overall cognitive function in individuals.
 
These supplements will not boost your intelligence indefinitely or to supra-physiological levels, but they will give you that 5% or 10% edge you may need in your daily life.
 


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