There are hundreds of articles overplaying the effects of supplements and their effects on the brain. It's a minefield for anyone to work out what is good and what isn't. For decades, fish oil has been shoved down children's throats from 'well to do' parents. However the omega 3 supplement market is quite lucrative and doesn't give the effects that were once thought in terms of brain capabilities. In a recent study involving over 350 children given supplements, over a 16 week period, no difference in working memory was seen compared to those who didn't take it (1).
So what does improve your mental performance, that can give you that edge everyday? Coffee? Coconut oil? Chocolate? Coriander?
Many papers indicate tangible differences after coffee consumption especially concentration (2). However, an hour or so post coffee I get that predictable lull, it isn't the best for productivity and was topping up with 4 or more coffees a day! There is a remedy for those effects though with Coffee with coconut oil and butter, started by the Bulletproof brand. The buzz around Bulletproof coffee, with butter and coconut oil (or MCT oil), blended in with coffee claimed to have the good benefits of coffee without the negative.
Obsessed with data, and actual proof rather than anecdote and marketing material, could I prove this or is it all just another placebo effect
Now I'm #fullyfocused: Coffee with grass fed butter and coconut oil. Yum
Thankfully there is a great platform to track your mental performances over a long period of time, Quantified mind . With short, and fun tests that tests different parts of your cognition such as working memory, reaction times, processing capabilities and motor function. Developed by statisticians and psychologists, it is a great fruit of the 'better living through science' way of life. Unlike most programs and apps similar to this, it requires a control group. Put simply, it requires 'how do I perform without the coffee' group. This allows for better reliability of results and comparison of improvements. Experiments without a proper control as destined for one place. The bin
As you can see below, the tests themselves are very simple, but give great insight into what's actually going on 'upstairs'
Few examples of the tests involved
A problem with much scientific publications, particularly those involving nutrition and derived benefits, is they are based on 'average' result, and this does not necessarily mean it will work for the individual. Running my own 'n=1' experiment allowed me to see how it was affecting me.
After a couple of months of testing I finally have some results. I had significant differences in all tests bar the last one. This was more of a technical skill, remembering a series of numbers and then repeating them backwards. Coffee is all I have every morning, and it has definitely been a telling factor in helping me be exceptionally busy and productive writing my PhD thesis, write for a few blogs set up a company. Its given me that advantage I didn't have before
What's great about Quantified mind, is that any type of experiment can be set up, whether it be time of day, sleep quality mediation alongside numerous tests. It's not as slick interface as luminosity, but does the job.
Test for yourself how it works for you, start with this one I set up