Full Text – Nutrients for Better Mental Performance by Steven Fowkes at Google Tech Talk on December 2, 2009
Introducing Speaker: We have here today Steve with us whom I met not too long ago at something called a Smart Life Forum in Palo Alto, where many of the health professionals from this area meet every month and keep up with the current research. And he was the one person that seemed the smartest there, so I invited him to come here and talk to us and share some of his knowledge with us. So please help me in welcoming Steve here and see how, what he has to say.
Steven Fowkes – Executive Director of the Cognitive Enhancement Research Institute (CERI)
It’s a pleasure to be here. I’m about one week post-flu, so my voice may get a little bit weak, so please bear with me. I’m going to — the plan is I’m going to spend about 40 minutes going through the presentation and then hopefully have 15 or so minutes left for your questions. People like to raise questions and dialogue? Okay. Good.
Okay. I did this first slide with the idea of opening up the dialogue at the point of talking about cognitive performance, mental performance. What does that mean? I mean everybody talks about intelligence and everybody knows about problem solving and reaction time and memory and things like that. But in my opinion, mental performance is about any aspect of mental performance that relates to your health. And the number one aspect that we take for granted is sleep. And I will spend quite a bit of time on, I think, two slides, talking about sleep in more depth. But I wanted to raise this question now just because I want people to think about the context of your questions regarding smart drugs or smart nutrients.
Food – starting with the boring stuff working forward; B-complex vitamins. Okay. B-complex vitamins never really get any respect; haven’t for 40 years because you’re talking about one penny a day of your investment in your nutrition program – I mean that’s just a, it’s too old and too plain – but it’s really critical. Detoxification – we’re starting to get into some more risky stuff in terms of stress to your body. Nutrients can get pretty exotic. You can spend a huge amount of money on nutrients. And amino acids get even more high tech. I’ll get into that in terms brain neurotransmitter levels later. And then we get into the overtly medical: hormone replacement and pharmaceuticals. And I would also put herbs somewhere in this category in terms of a lot of complexity and a lot of potential for toxicity, as well, even though they’re natural.
Okay. So, I’m picking from the questions on the announcement starting off with: which nutrients promote optimal brain function? And the answer is all of them. If they’re deficient they’re affecting your brain. Some of these are also effective way beyond physiological levels. So in a sense, we cannot use Mother Nature as a guide for optimal brain function, because Mother Nature always gives us brain function per unit investment in nutrition. In the wild, the cost of a gram of Vitamin C is actually quite profound. You might fall out of the tree, break your arm and die from trying to get one gram of Vitamin C. But if you’re going to buy it in your health food store, you’re going to pay between two and twenty cents for it. I mean, why worry about it?
Next question I like to ask is: are they sustainable? Because a lot of these dietary supplement formulas out there that are designed to give you a smart pill, are not really sustainable. The first day you take it, it lights you up like a Christmas tree. But after a week, after a month you’re back to baseline again. But you don’t necessarily know that if you’re judging the value of the supplement based on its short term benefit to you, at the point that you started to take it. So the human mind is very able to make a cause and effect connection between something that you do and an effect that happens a minute or an hour later, but if the effect is a week or a month later, good luck. It’s not also about the parts. It’s about how well they work together. So metabolism is a key aspect of how your brain works. 3% of your body uses 20% of your energy. If you have a slight downturn, let’s say 30% in your heart function, you won’t see it if you’re not exercising at peak performance; but if 30% of your brain energy goes away, you are unconscious. So I’ll also get around to talking about some of these other kinds of things.
So this is really, goes to the question of what is your orientation towards a smart drug program and being the best that you can be? A lot of this is not exotic. It’s basic — food, breathing, nutrition, exercise, things that you’ve heard a thousand times before. So I’m not going to give you a real quick fix for how to bypass all of that.