Lion's Mane for a Lion Brain

How do I get my brain to work?
Can't focus enough to change the fact you can't focus or need to focus more?
Attention isn't what it used to be?
Brain deteriorating with age?

 

The truth is… it's not likely to be anything physiologically wrong with our brains at all.  Our modern day exposures are making us exhausted, stressed, invaded by technology, eating a diet that's lacking nutrition and not getting enough quality sleep.


In his book, Stolen Focus [1], Johann Hari describes:

We now live in ‘an attentional pathogenic culture’ – an environment in which sustained and deep focus is extremely hard for all of us, and you have to swim upstream to achieve it. It is not your fault you cannot focus

So many external factors in our lifestyles and environment contribute to our less than optimal cognitive state and feelings of constant anxiety.

For example, 'social media' has created a business model that is dependent on us looking at our phones as often and for as long as possible. It's designed rewards to keep us coming back by presenting us with information and entertainment tailored to our individual preferences.  By design, algorithms and engineering enable clever tech machinery to hack our attention and create addiction for the sole purpose of selling that precious attention to advertisers.  Because when we're not on Facebook or Instagram, their revenue stream disappears.

Technology is huge but not the biggest cause of our perceived brain dysfunction.  Like the tech giants, the fast food industry is equally as culpable.  Chocolate, sugary treats and fast food outlets are designed to make us eat as much as possible so they can make as much money as possible.  They do this with the full understanding that close to nothing in those foods provides a nutritional benefit for our body or brain.

The way we eat deeply affects our ability to concentrate, focus and retain information. The nutritional psychiatry movement is looking at how what we eat affects our ability to mentally perform, our mental health and our physical performance.  The way we eat is profoundly harming our brain functions in 3 ways:

  • Traditional breakfast: High sugar cereal or white bread which releases energy (glucose) into the brain which then crashes an hour or two later.  Brain fog sets in until the next sugar hit.  A rollercoaster of energy spikes and crashes resulting in patchy thoughts, missing memory and brain fog
  • Our modern day, busy life diet lacks vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are essential for our brain to develop such as Omega 3's, Magnesium and Vitamins B, C & E.
  • Our diets contain additives like food colouring, flavourings and preservatives like those on the labels of processed foods to extend shelf life, enhance flavour and look appetising.  Unfortunately they also act like a drug for our brain and people with diets high in these ingredients are significantly more likely to become more hyperactive, manic and experience attention problems than those with diets high in natural fruits, vegetables and proteins.

The way we choose to eat has a big impact and is interlinked with all other aspects of our lifestyle.  Transformation of the food industry has brought about food giving us brain fog which leads to distraction which leads to scrolling before sleep resulting in less sleep.

Prof Earl Miller, Picower Professor of Neurosceince, describes it as:

Living in a perfect storm of cognitive degradation as a result of being constantly interrupted

On average, we sleep 20% less than we did a century ago. Children sleep 85 minutes less than a century ago which has a profound affect on our overall health and vitality. Not only is sleep essential to our ability to focus and pay attention but the brain and body uses sleep to repair and regenerate damaged cells, clear out metabolic waste that builds up during the day that is carried out by the liver to dispose of from the body and is also responsible for retaining excess weight.  All sorts of mental and physical processes are happening while we sleep. Our sleep and eating patterns are affecting our immune system so we are experiencing illness more often and for longer.

The good news is, our level of diminishment is not beyond repair and completely within our control.

One study (backed by a wider body of evidence) has shown after eight weeks of Lions Mane supplementation, decreased depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders were observed. Lions Mane supplementation improved mood disorders of a depressive-anxious nature and the quality of the nocturnal rest [2].

Lion's Mane mushrooms have not only proven themselves as a culinary mushroom but also a well established candidate for brain and nerve health, concentration, mental clarity, memory and mood.

Studies have shown that there can be improvement in cognitive abilities of the aged if the mushroom is incorporated in their daily diets [3].

The reason for Lions Mane being an effective cognitive healer lies in the compounds which stimulate the synthesis of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), a protein responsible for boosting neurite outgrowth. These compounds have been identified as erinacines, erinacerins and hericinones found exclusively in Lions Mane mushrooms.

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Oyster (Pleurotus giganteus) have also been reported to have neurite outgrowth and neuronal health benefits.

So if you're ready to reclaim your brain and can imagine a world where we could more deeply engage in conversations; be present; focus on the task at hand; sleep more; stress less and experience more… then set about achieving an individual and collective level of change to combat these forces affecting our health and happiness.

[1] Johann Hari, Stolen Focus 

[2]  PubMed Article Lions Mane Improves Mood and Sleep Disorders 

[3]  PubMed - Neuronal Health

 

Lions Mane liquid extract