It’s 3 p.m. and you’re in a very important meeting with very important people. They’re talking to you but all you hear coming out of their mouths is gibberish. You know you should be actively participating in this conversation, but it is physically impossible at this point. You feel lethargic, drained—you’ve hit a wall. Or maybe you’re sitting at your desk and its midday. Instead of being able to focus on what you’re reading, you find yourself slipping away—into sleep.
If these scenarios sound familiar, you are not alone. Feelings of an afternoon crash are common whether you are a business executive or a teacher. Adequate amounts of quality sleep, a balanced diet, and exercise have all been shown to aid in preventing day-time fatigue. But let’s be honest, there are days when these habits fall to the wayside yet the need to perform is still there. So what do you do?
More evidence is showing that moderate amounts of caffeine can actually improve concentration, focus, and short-term memory. In a 2007 study from the University of Western Austria, students who consumed a low dose of caffeine reported feeling more awake, clear-minded, and energetic than those who did not consume caffeine (1). The caffeine drinkers also reported a greater ability to concentrate and focus while in class.
So how does caffeine go to work in the brain? Scientists have found that caffeine stimulates brain activity in areas associated with working memory as evidenced by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A 2008 study assessed 15 healthy males to see the effect of caffeine when completing a “working memory task”—a cognitive exam that involves engaging in reasoning and comprehension to complete a goal (2). Subjects were given caffeine 20 minutes prior to completing the task while undergoing a brain scan. Researchers found increased activity in the cerebral cortex—a portion of the brain that plays a key role in memory, attention, awareness, thought, and language—when subjects consumed caffeine.
Other parts of the brain affected by caffeine are the “feel good” neurotransmitters called β-endorphins. Researchers looked at subjects who engaged in 2 hours of cycling that were either given caffeine or placebo. In those who consumed caffeine, β-endorphin levels nearly doubled (3). No change was evident in the placebo group suggesting that caffeine can help improve mood.
It turns out that caffeine may be more effective with a partner too—as recent science shows the combination of caffeine and L-theanine (found in green tea extract) may amplify cognitive benefits more so than caffeine alone. A study out of Nutrition Neuroscience found the combination of L-theanine and caffeine improved both speed and accuracy of performance of an “action-switching” task and reduced susceptibility to becoming distracted (4). In another study, the combination decreased mental fatigue ratings and led to faster reaction time and working memory response (5). Subjects also reported decreased ‘headache’ and ‘tired’ ratings and increased ‘alert’ ratings. This evidence suggests that L-theanine and caffeine together may be more beneficial for improving performance on cognitively demanding tasks.
For those days when you need an extra brain boost to stay motivated and alert at work, keep focus through a workout, or study for an exam, caffeine, especially in combination with L-theanine as found in Isagenix e+, can give you just what you need to stay on top of mental tasks and perform at your top ability. Because lets face it, if your brain’s not working right, you’re not working right.
- Peeling P, Dawson B. Influence of caffeine ingestion on perceived mood states, concentration, and arousal levels during a 75-min university lecture. Adv Physiol Educ 2007;31:332-5.
- Koppelstaetter F, Poeppel TD, Siedentopf CM et al. Does caffeine modulate verbal working memory processes? An fMRI study. Neuroimage 2008;39:492-9.
- Laurent D, Schneider KE, Prusaczyk WK et al. Effects of caffeine on muscle glycogen utilization and the neuroendocrine axis during exercise. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2000;85:2170-5.
- Owen GN, Parnell H, De Bruin EA, Rycroft JA. The combined effects of L-theanine and caffeine on cognitive performance and mood. Nutr Neurosci 2008;11:193-8.
- Haskell CF, Kennedy DO, Milne AL, Wesnes KA, Scholey AB. The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biol Psychol 2008;77:113-22.
Article was reposted from: http://www.isagenixhealth.net/sharpen-up-beat-the-brain-drain/