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increase your focus & boost your brain power with these handy tips!
May 30, 2017


How to Increase Your Focus & Concentration Naturally…



Greetings everyone, and a warm welcome to our May/June edition of Life Saving Health Solutions - and a special welcome to all of our new subscribers. Thank you for being a part of our health circle and I sincerely hope you enjoy the information I’ll be sharing with you.


Let's not mess around. I'll get straight into the "meat" of this newsletter because I want to talk about some of the most potent herbs and mind/body tips that you can use to boost your brain capacity and increase your focus and concentration. By doing this, you'll increase your daily productivity significantly and get more done without having to exert any extra effort or spend any extra time...


Do you find yourself having a hard time keeping track of all the people, things, places, names, faces and appointments you’re supposed to remember? Maybe there’s bits of information you know would be useful but can’t recall them when the time comes? Or what about when you’re in a conversation (or argument) and you’re trying to think of the perfect thing to say (maybe to stick it up the person you’re talking to) but you just can’t think of it or get it out yet later when you’re at home or in bed you think of the perfect thing to say? (Don’t you hate it when that happens).


Fortunately, the world of herbalism and natural remedies offers several powerful ways and means for improving memory recall and concentration. Whether you’re suffering from memory loss, “foggy brain” syndrome or simply want to be able to increase your brain capacity and retainability, these amazing herbs and techniques work a treat to sharpen your intellect.

Here they are in no particular order…


1. Ginkgo Biloba: Ginkgo is believed to be one of the oldest living species of trees and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. As one of the most extensively studied herbs in use today, ginkgo biloba has been proven to increase blood circulation, particularly to the brain, which is why numerous studies have found it beneficial for improving memory recall in patients suffering from dementia. And ginkgo can also enhance mental performance and boost memory in people with normal functioning brains too. Ginkgo contains some strong flavonoids and terpenoids, which are believed to neutralize free radicals and pro-oxidants – the harmful substances that damage brain cells.

Other conditions that ginkgo works against include claudication, glaucoma, macular degeneration and tinnitus. The recommended daily dose for Ginkgo Biloba is 120 mg’s taken as a tablet, capsule, liquid, or tea made out of the dried leaves.


2. Maca: This Peruvian root is extremely high in antioxidants and is one of the newcomers on the list of “superfoods”. Because of its high antioxidant properties, maca is believed to inhibit an enzyme that damages cognitive functions. Since maca is also effective in helping the body increase strength and endurance, it can help in cases of memory loss or poor concentration caused by lack of energy.

In addition to these, maca contains high levels of many of the essential nutrients, particularly hormone balancing nutrients such as boron, zinc, magnesium and vitamins C and D - which is why it’s said to act as a powerful aphrodisiac for both men and men. The recommended daily dose is 2,000 mgs or 1 teaspoon of maca root powder.


3. Dragon’s Blood (Sangre De Grado): Found in the Amazon rainforest and used in traditional Chinese medicine, this plant contains a blood-red sap that’s used to treat tuberculosis, internal parasites, wounds and sore throats. Recent studies have also shown the chemical structure of the tree sap contains strong antioxidants and alkaloids that fight the enzymes that break down compounds our brains use for storing memories. The degeneration of these compounds is what causes the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Renowned botanist, James A. Duke, makes a potent herbal cocktail using 2 drops of dragon’s blood that he consumes every day. He says it helps to keep his mind clear and focused. Considering he’s about to enter his ninetieth year (and a recent interview proves the old buggers mind is still razor sharp), he’s definitely onto something! The recommended daily dose is 2-3 drops of 100% pure dragons blood in a glass of clean filtered water.


4. Ginseng:

Ginseng has been used in China for centuries to treat several diseases including memory loss and aging. A recent study has even shown ginseng to be effective in recovering memory loss in stroke patients that suffer from dementia. A powerful energy booster and performance enhancing herb, ginseng can also decrease blood pressure, headaches, insomnia and tremors, which all lead to improved concentration.

In addition, ginseng is a strong libido enhancer and cure for erectile dysfunction. Organic teas containing ginseng can be found in most grocery or health food stores, or this herb can be taken in tablet or capsule form. The recommended daily dosage is up to 1200 mgs, depending on your reason for taking the herb. If you can, go with Korean red ginseng as this is the most potent and effective.


5. Bacopa: An Indian herb commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, bacopa is renowned for enhancing memory, concentration and learning abilities. This is due to the bacosides, which are the main chemical constituents of the plant. These chemical compounds protect the synaptic functions of the nerves in the memory part of the brain known as the hippocampus (these synaptic functions receive and send off nerve impulses and can unfortunately degenerate with age).

Bacopa is also said to help treat heart problems, asthma, bronchitis, digestive disorders and anxiety due to its antioxidant properties. The recommended dose for Bacopa is 400-1200 mgs of the herb or 100 mgs of the standardized extract per day.


6. Rosemary: Rosemary has been used for centuries to boost memory, improve digestion, and prevent brain aging and cognitive decline. It’s used (along with turmeric, sage and other spices) to help prevent and manage Alzheimer’s and dementia. Rosemary contains powerful anticancer, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-stroke, antioxidant and antiulcergenic compounds. Coincidentally, the only place in the world where people eat rosemary every day, Acciaroli in Italy, has 45% of its population over 100 years old and 12% above 110, a world record!

Along with eating rosemary and/or drinking rosemary tea, sniffing a piece of rosemary or inhaling rosemary oil will increase your memory and cognitive function by as much as 75% according to a recent study. Psychologists at Northumbria University in Newcastle conducted the study and presented their findings at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society in Harrogate. Study organizer, Dr. Mark Ross said it enabled people to “remember events that will occur in the future” by 60-75 percent and to “remember to complete tasks at particular times.”


Other Things You can do to Enhance Your Brain Power…

Get Some Sleep: It’s impossible to concentrate and be focused if you’re fatigued or burning the candle at both ends. Get at least 7-8 hours a night of uninterrupted sleep and power-nap during the day if you need to. It may seem counter-intuitive, but taking a quick nap will do wonders for your focus. Harvard researcher, Robert Stickgold, says naps help you to separate important information from extraneous details. Basically, naps allow you to focus on what really matters.

So if you find yourself losing concentration, take a quick power nap. You’ll likely wake up with a better grasp on what you need to do. They don’t call it a power nap for nothing!

The trick is to keep your naps to 20-30 minutes. This prevents you from entering the deeper REM sleep zone, which can make you feel drowsy and irritable and even worse when you wake up.


Avoid Getting Hungry: You’ve seen the Snickers ad right? You’re not yourself when you’re hungry (I don’t recommend eating Snickers bars though). Hunger is distracting and signals that your brain isn’t getting the energy it needs to fuel your focus and concentration. Eat regular meals, with at least two healthy snacks in between (fruit is good). Make sure you don’t eat heavy or overly rich foods either as these can have a sedating effect. Some of the best foods for focus and concentration include…

- Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, which accelerate the signals between neurons and make your brain more responsive.

- Omega 3 rich foods like salmon, walnuts and pumpkin seeds. These are excellent for brain health and focusing ability.

- Eggs (the white and the yolk) contain brain-supporting choline and phenylalanine which your body uses to produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. Eggs are also an excellent source of the omega-3 DHA fatty acid.

- Avocados contain monounsaturated fats that support healthy blood flow to the brain.

- Whole grains help improve blood flow, regulate glucose (steady glucose levels make it easier to concentrate) and decrease the risk of plaque building up in the brain, so be sure to eat plenty of these.

- Blueberries improve learning and concentration while protecting the brain from free radicals.


Stay Hydrated: Being thirsty is highly distracting, but dehydration also causes fatigue that interferes directly with your ability to focus. Drink clean filtered water (not fluoride laced tap water) at regular intervals throughout the day - as much as half your weight in ounces. Even research from the Journal of Nutrition shows that dehydration negatively affects our ability to focus. So if you can’t focus, it may be a tell-tale sign that you’re dehydrated so you’ll definitely need to drink more. You can also accurately gauge your level of hydration by the clearness of your urine. When your pee is yellow this is a clear (silly pun) sign that you’re severely dehydrated and you need to get some H20 into you straight away!


Have a Cup of Tea: A little bit of caffeine is good for brain function. Give yourself a temporary boost and increase your ability to focus with some caffeine from tea, coffee or a few squares of 100% pure dark chocolate. Just don’t go overboard with these.


Chew gum: This old-school habit can actually enhance alertness and even help keep your attention towards the end of longer tasks. Chewing gum is also associated with reducing stress, another key element for increasing focus and concentration.


Key Nutrients That Enhance Your Concentration and Boost Brain Capacity...

Vitamin B3 or niacin — needed to maintain the continual supply of glucose your brain uses for energy. Without this key nutrient you’re likely to struggle with poor concentration, confusion and memory loss. Get at least 20mgs a day.

Vitamin B6 — needed for the production of neurotransmitters and to prevent confusion and lack of concentration. Again, get at least 20mgs a day.

Vitamin B12 — B12 is essential for having a healthy myelin sheath around the nerves. A B12 deficiency is fairly common and affects at least 15% of adults over 60 — and it’s totally avoidable! Aim for 1000mcgs per day

Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid — needed for oxidative metabolism (the first part of the metabolic process) of glucose and fats, and to synthesize fats, cholesterol, melatonin and acetylcholine. Go for at least 20mgs each day.

Vitamin C — this powerful antioxidant helps make the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which works on the part of your brain where your attention is controlled. Vitamin C is needed in large amounts. Follow twice Nobel Prize winner, Dr Linus Pauling’s advice and consume 10,000 mgs (yes you read right) of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) every day.

Curcumin — this unique polyphenol from turmeric has been used for generations to “effectively manage stress in China,” according to the US government’s National Center for Biotechnology Information. Recent studies suggest curcumin can enhance the growth of new brain cells - which is essential for optimal learning - and promote healthy connections to other brain cells whilst protecting them from damage. Even small amounts of dietary turmeric is linked to lower rates of dementia. A potent antioxidant, curcumin quickly reduces and alleviates the inflammation in the brain that contributes to dementia.

Since curcumin is quite difficult for the body to absorb, it’s advised that you combine ¼ teaspoon of black pepper with turmeric to enhance its absorption. This practice actually increases its bioavailability by as much as 2000%. 1-2 teaspoons of turmeric or a curcumin extract supplement every day is what you need.

Quercetin — another substance with strong antioxidant properties, quercetin is a flavonoid, or a plant pigment that helps give fruits and vegetables their bright color. Research shows it can help with free radical damage and inflammation.


More Helpful Tips to Increase Your Focus and Get More Done…

Soothe Your Emotional Stress -

Paying more attention to what’s happening to you during a stressful period actually helps you deal with that stress better. Being aware of your stress level in a particular situation is the start of mindfulness - which is the opposite of multi-tasking (multitasking is definitely something you want to avoid).


Get Outdoors - Studies have shown that people can concentrate better after communing with nature or even just looking at pictures of nature. Even if it’s just a walk in the park, this practice can calm all the stimuli that grab your (involuntary) attention. Nature let’s your focused mind rest and rejuvenate.


Meditate and be Mindful - While meditation and concentration are different, they can work together. Several studies show that meditating for 20 minutes a day improves both your concentration and attention span. If meditating and mindfulness are new to you, this description from Harvard Medical School explains it well…

“Mindfulness really does not have to be more complicated than learning to pay attention to what is going on around you — the idea is to focus your attention on what is happening in the present and to accept it without judgement.”

The simplest way to begin meditating is to first start noticing your breathing — become “mindful” of it — over the course of a few minutes. Then next time, focus more intently on your breathing for 10 minutes or so. When you get distracted, bring your consciousness back to your breathing (inhaling and exhaling). Also try practising focused attention (FA) meditation. With this type of meditation you direct your attention to an object. When your focus drifts, you bring it back to that object. FA can calm your mind and muffle distractions, and it gets easier with practice. Eventually, you’ll get to a point where you can concentrate with the least amount of effort.


Take Regular Breaks - Work in “chunks” rather than in one hit. Split your work into parcels and enjoy a timeout between each chunk. Staying on the same task or topic for too long fatigues the brain, just as too much exercise exhausts the body. Try the Pomodoro Technique created by Francesco Cirillo back in the 1980’s. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that enhances focus and concentration. It works like this…

Focus on a task for 25 minutes. Take a 5 minute break.

This is considered a Pomodoro. After doing this 4 times, you then take a longer break (around 15-30 minutes). Pomodoro requires short bursts of intense focus but the benefit and payoff is a few minutes of idle daydreaming and an increase in brain power!


Set Yourself a Goal - Establish an end goal for your task and reward yourself when you reach it with a refreshing beverage, social phone call, or walk outside. For longer tasks, plan them out in phases and take small breaks between each stage — just enough time to rest without affecting your momentum. Another approach to take when you find yourself unable to concentrate is to first take a quick break then switch to a different activity for a brief period of time. Everybody needs to hit the reset button every now and then.


Forget Multitasking - “Most of the time, multitasking is an illusion. You think you are multitasking, but in reality, you’re actively wasting time switching from one task to another.” -Bosco Tjan

Multitasking isn’t as effective as we think it is. You think doing 5 things at once is an effective use of your time and mental resources because you’ll finish faster, but it just doesn’t work this way. What we commonly refer to as “multitasking” is really task-switching, and studies show it actually decreases our efficiency.

According to the American Psychology Association, switching tasks can degrade our productivity by up to 40%. Each time you switch tasks, it requires your brain to change modes. Although this only robs you of a few tenths of a second, even over a short period of time it can quickly add up. If you must do more than one thing at a time, limit yourself to no more than two tasks. A 2010 study conducted by the French firm Inserm found that we can only do one task per brain hemisphere anyway (and of course the human brain only has two hemispheres).


Listen to Classical Music - “If I’m doing a task that’s very left hemisphere… that means my right hemisphere doesn’t have much to do and it gets bored. I find that if I have music going in the background while my left hemisphere is consciously concentrating on the work I’m doing, my right hemisphere can just kind of enjoy itself by listening to the music.” -Stephen Christman

Did you know that one side of your brain can get bored? The left hemisphere is better at concentration, logic, and reasoning. The right hemisphere is superior at complementary attention, such as responding emotionally and listening to music. So while you’re deeply focused on the task at hand, why not give your right brain something to do as well. Listening to classical music, like Mozart or Beethoven, can improve your spatial intelligence and help you concentrate better. In fact, what’s known as “the Mozart effect” was proven effective back in the early 90’s. This is something I like to do myself. Listening to Mozart while working on the computer definitely makes a big difference to your focus, concentration and memory recall abilities. I highly recommend you give it a try!


Exercise - Yet another reason to get out and get that body moving. Exercise releases powerful mood stimulating chemicals called endorphins. Mood stimulation or brain euphoria increases focus and concentration. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week. Raise your heart rate by 70% of your maximum. To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. Elevate your heart rate to 70% of that total.

Sometimes it’s actually best to exercise just before a period of intense focus or when you need to concentrate on a specific task. Focusing works best when you’re highly stimulated, and the time after exercising is optimal for concentration.


Write Down Your Distractions and Pestering Thoughts - Sometimes our brains betray us. It knows you’re doing work and so it will go off on tangents about what you’re going to eat for dinner, why Joe Blogs wore those pants, how much a new car will cost, how you spell Kathmandu, and so on. Brains can be more inquisitive (and annoying at times) than a non-stop talking 5 year old. Focusing requires you to minimize distractions, but how do you do that when your own brain is the culprit? The best way is with a notebook. Whenever a distracting thought comes up in your mind, jot it down to erase it from your short term memory. You can then carry on with your task.


Zone Out – Yes, recommending that you spend time daydreaming does seem misplaced in an article about focus and concentration. However, zoning out actually improves your brain function.

About 47% of our days are spent daydreaming. According to some researchers, it may actually be the default setting of our brain. Amy Fries from Psychology Today says it’s during these daydreaming episodes when your brain is most efficient and can better solve problems. So the next time you come across a problem, take a break and start daydreaming. It can help you to be a better and more focused thinker.


Give Yourself a Deadline – Make sure you don’t give yourself too much time to do a task. When you have all the time in the world to get something done, it never really gets done until the last minute. Your brain only focuses on what needs to be done next. If you don’t think you really need to do something, you likely won’t bother. Build your focus by self-imposing strict deadlines on yourself to help you overcome procrastination.


Group Similar Tasks Together – Studies show it can take up to 25 minutes for your brain to refocus when you switch from one task to the next. This is why multitasking is so detrimental to a person’s focus and concentration. Instead of jumping around from one task to the next, group similar tasks together. For example, send all your emails at one time, pay all your bills at another time, update your social media at one time, and so forth.


Do the Most Important Task First - What’s the most important task you need to do today? The most important is always the one you’re doing right at this moment, because you’re trading a non-refundable amount of time for it. So, when you approach every task “as the most important you need to do today”, you can trick yourself into giving it the most attention. Once that task is over, the next task is now the most important thing you’ll do today, and so on it goes.


Delegate - Some tasks and jobs are not worth your time. Delegate the work you hate to do to others who can focus on those tasks efficiently. For instance, if you’re not good at accounting, get an accountant. Get rid of the tasks you can’t or don’t want to do, and instead, focus on the good stuff. Life’s too short to iron for 3 hours if you hate doing it. Even though it costs money for services, you can increase your earnings by being more focused on the profitable tasks.

Here’s a few tasks to delegate…

-Housekeeping and cleaning

-Administrative services

-Laundry

-Accounting

-Gardening and lawn mowing


Work With Your Natural Rhythms - Are you a night owl or a morning person? It turns out that most of us are intermediates (at least 60%). Intermediates have no strong preference for morning or evening. Find out what time is best for you to focus on certain tasks and do them at this time. If you feel sleepy at around 2pm for example, don’t try and do your most important tasks at this time.


Organize and Prioritize Your Days - This is like working in blocks. Dedicate each day to one task. This is the way Twitter and Square co-founder Jack Dorsey organizes his days. Here’s what his weekly schedule looks like:

- Monday: Management & running the company

- Tuesday: Focus on the product

- Wednesday: Marketing, communications, growth

- Thursday: Development and partnerships

- Friday: Company, company culture, and recruiting

I do this myself and it works great. You may find that “theming” your day’s helps you to focus too.


This Just In…

Study Shows Daily Consumption of Tea Can Protect the Elderly From Cognitive Decline…

In keeping with what we’ve just talked about, a cup of tea a day can keep dementia away according to a recent study led by Assistant Professor Feng Lei from the Department of Psychological Medicine at National University of Singapore's (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (that’s a mouthful).

The study involved 957 Chinese seniors aged 55 years and up and found that regular consumption of tea lowers the risk of cognitive decline in the elderly by 50 per cent. This number was even better with higher risk participants. They experienced a reduction in cognitive impairment risk by as much as 86 per cent.

Researchers also discovered that the neuroprotective benefits of tea consumption isn’t limited to any particular type of tea either - as long as the tea is brewed from tea leaves such as green, black or oolong tea, it's fine.

"While the study was conducted on Chinese elderly, the results could apply to other races as well. Our findings have important implications for dementia prevention. Despite high quality drug trials, effective pharmacological therapy for neurocognitive disorders such as dementia remains elusive and current prevention strategies are far from satisfactory. Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. The data from our study suggests that a simple and inexpensive lifestyle measure such as daily tea drinking can reduce a person's risk of developing neurocognitive disorders in late life," explained Assistant Professor Feng.

He also said, "Based on current knowledge, this long term benefit of tea consumption is due to the bioactive compounds in tea leaves, such as catechins, theaflavins, thearubigins and L-theanine. These compounds exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potential and other bioactive properties that may protect the brain from vascular damage and neurodegeneration."


So to starve off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and to boost overall cognitive function, make sure you start drinking 2-3 cups of tea every day!


And This…

Probiotics Help Relieve Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression - Along With Gastrointestinal Upset - Research From McMaster University Has Found…



We’ve known about this for years around the health and healing traps, but thankfully, a recent study has been able to prove it so at least now doctors should jump on board and start prescribing probiotic supplements to their patients, especially their IBS patients and people who suffer from depression and anxiety (well hopefully anyway).

Published in the medical journal Gastroenterology, researchers from the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute reported that twice as many adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) showed improvements from co-existing depression and/or anxiety when they took a specific probiotic supplement compared to adults with IBS who took a placebo.

According to senior author Dr. Premysl Bercik, an associate professor of medicine at McMaster and a gastroenterologist for Hamilton Health Sciences, the study provides evidence of the microbiota (good gut bacteria) environment in the intestines being in direct communication with the brain. "This study shows that consumption of a specific probiotic can improve both gut symptoms and psychological issues in IBS. This opens new avenues not only for the treatment of patients with functional bowel disorders but also for patients with primary psychiatric diseases," he said.

Remember what Hippocrates said all those years ago… “All Disease Begins in the Gut”. Taking a good quality probiotic supplement is essential for EVERYONE, not just those who are suffering from digestive problems or anxiety and depression. Eating and drinking plenty of probiotic rich foods is also crucial as we can never have too many of these amazing little creatures residing inside of us… Cultures for Health – How to Make Your Own Probiotic Rich Foods at Home.


Well, that's it for today. Until next time, stay safe and stay well!

All the best,

Regards,

Troy.


P.S.

Do you have a healing story that you would like to share with others? Have you used a particular natural cure, home remedy or natural remedy for ANY type of health problem… and it worked! If so, please take the time to share your story and remedy in our new “Healing Stories” section. You never know who you might help and who may benefit from your experience. Here’s the link for you to check out what others have shared so far and where you can post your own story and remedy… Healing & Recovery Stories

Thank you, and our future readers thank you too!


P.P.S.

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About the Writer:

After being struck down with a severe and debilitating illness at the age of 26 and told by medical doctors that nothing more could be done for him, Troy Sawyer was left to search for his own cure, which he did find through natural recovery methods. Following three years of extensive research into nutritional therapies, he discovered that a deficiency of certain essential nutrients was the cause of his illness. Once remedied, Troy’s health returned to even greater levels than before his ailment.


Today, more than 18 years later, he spends his time constantly researching and staying up-to-date with all of the latest developments happening within the natural health field, along with working as a wellness and fitness coach. He also continues to help as many people as he can to enjoy the benefits of good health and longevity through his natural health website.


Troy today at 49 years young!




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