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A bit about the thinking bits

The human brain weighs about 1,400 grams and is estimated to contain around 100 billion neurons (nerve cells), each merging off and connecting to another 10,000 branching networks throughout your body and mind. It is these neurons that form communication pathways through your body, allowing you to move your arms, count numbers and learn new skills.

The brain and the spinal cord comprise the central nervous system (CNS). Most information transmitted in the CNS is via electrical signals. These signals are generated by various ions, pumps and channels located in the cell membrane. You could think of your brain as one big electrical train going round and round on the track fueled by electricity, with messengers getting off at the various stopping points to deliver the message – the only difference is that a message is sent out in a millisecond.

The gap between one neuron and the next is known as a synapse. The process of conveying messages between neurons is known as neurotransmission, and is carried out by hormones, neuromodulators and neurotransmitters. In order to produce neurotransmitters, neurons use 75% of the total sugar (glucose) and 20% of the oxygen from the blood (meaning they are sugar-hungry machines!).

Ions (such as sodium, potassium and magnesium) are termed electrolytes as they carry an electrical charge. The changes in the electrical charge of a nerve, known as an action potential, are what pass the signal from one nerve to the next. In the same way a power cord passes electricity from a socket to your mobile phone, the movement of ions across a nerve also relays a signal.

Central Nervous System Neurotransmitters

There are about 40 different types of neurotransmitters in the CNS, including:

  • Amino Acids: glutamate, aspartate
  • Monoamines: noradrenaline (NA), adrenaline, dopamine (DA), serotonin (5-HT)
  • Acetylcholine (Ach)

Acetylcholine (ACh) is the most widely known neurotransmitter, and plays a significant role in cognition, memory, consciousness and motor control.

Formation and Storage of Acetylcholine

ACh is formed in the cytoplasm (cellular fluid) of the nerve terminal from free choline and acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA) via the action of the enzyme acetyltransferase. Once formed, ACh is packaged into storage sites that are located in the nerve terminals, awaiting the call to action from the CNS.

Release and Action

The arrival of an electrical signal (action potential) at the nerve ending allows the entry of calcium, which in turn triggers the release of acetylcholine into the synapse, transferring the message onto the next neuron. ACh, binds to two main receptors known as muscarinic and nicotinic receptors. Muscarinic receptors are involved in motor control, memory, and cardiovascular and temperature regulation, while nicotinic receptors are involved in…

Memory

Memory storage involves two distinct stages: short-term memory and long-term memory. Short-term memory is what lets you look up a telephone number, remember it, dial it, and then never think of it again. The transfer of short-term memory to long-term memory is affected by many factors, including:

Association

Tying ‘new’ information to ‘old’ information already stored in long-term memory appears to be important in remembering facts. For example, the first letter of each of these factors spells AREA. Next time you see that word, chances are you’ll remember part of this learning experience.

Rehearsal

Repetition:
Repetition:
Repetition of the material enhances memory.

Emotional state

We learn best when we are alert, motivated, surprised and aroused. An example is when we have a surprise birthday party or witness shocking events.

Automatic memory

Not all impressions that become part of long-term memory are consciously formed.

Each of these factors is vital to long-term memory, and may be combined to increase the potential for memory formation and retention. You can think of your brain like a muscle – the more you work it the stronger it gets. Unfortunately, just as our muscles get weak, our ability to store and retrieve information declines slowly with age.

Get the facts

We only use 10% of our brain? Myth!

How many times have you heard someone say that we only use 10% of our brain?
This would appear to be a myth that stems from people’s conceptions about their own brains: they see their own shortcomings as evidence of the existence of untapped potential , leading them to a false justification.
What is correct, however, is that at certain moments, such as when we are simply at rest or daydreaming, we may be using only 10% of our brains. In truth, our brains are active all the time, and we do use virtually every part of the brain at some point. Let’s put it this way: the brain represents 3% of the body’s weight and uses 20% of the body’s energy. Indeed our brains and human evolution is awe-inspiring.

Pre-processed sugar

Overeating, poor memory formation, learning disorders, obesity and depression have all been linked in recent research to the over-consumption of sugar.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average American consumes 156 pounds of added sugar per year. That’s a lot of sugar! If you find that hard to believe, that’s probably because sugar is so ingrained in our diets and hidden stoically behind slogans such as “97% fat free!”. It’s not so impressive when you find out the product contains 50 grams of sugar instead!
The key word to highlight is “added.”  While a healthy diet contains a significant amount of natural sugar (such as the case with fruits and grains), the trouble is when we’re chronically consuming added sugar in processed foods.
Have you ever experienced a crash in energy levels following a big meal? The high sugar content causes your pancreas to start secreting insulin. Insulin’s main mode of action is to sweep excess glucose out of your bloodstream and store it for later use, as glycogen (stored energy). This lowers the glucose available for your brain. The brain is not capable of storing glucose, initiating an energy crisis which causes you to feel spaced-out, weak, confused and or nervous for hours, impairing your ability to focus. This glucose deficiency is termed hypoglycaemia.

A standing ovation for caffeine stimulation

Caffeine is the preferred stimulant for most of the world’s population, and works by blocking the action of adenosine. Adenosine mediates the CNS by reducing its activity, has cardiac depressant characteristics and regulates blood flow. By blocking adenosine receptors, caffeine opposes these effects and indirectly leads to increased cAMP (a second messenger, or middle man, that has a vital role for communication to many biological processes and pathways throughout the body).
Regular doses of caffeine in the range of (100-150 mg) will stimulate the front part of your brain increasing alertness however, decreasing motor reaction time to both visual and auditory events. Caffeine is thus useful for counteracting fatigue in shift workers, students and as a cognitive enhancer, but can cause anxiety. In high doses, caffeine stimulates the myocardium (heart muscle) increasing both heart rate and cardiac output (the amount of blood pumped by each beat of the heart). Overstimulation may cause tachycardia (rapid heart beat).
Caffeine also has a diuretic effect (makes you lose extra fluid via urine) by increasing renal (kidney) blood flow and glomerular filtration rate (The amount of blood filtered by the kidneys every minute) and by decreasing tubular reabsorption of sodium and water. (Remember: water follows big molecules, and caffeine is known to inhibit sodium – this increase in sodium concentration is why many people feel the need to urinate after consuming a cup of coffee. The take home should be to have about 600mL of water before your first cup of coffee.

Dr Smart Mode of Action

Dr Smart is best consumed 30 minutes before strenuous mind activity (e.g. studying or exams), long hours of work or just simply for everyday mental clarity. Our proprietary formula provides your mind with a calculated blend of ingredients to support neurotransmission, including neurotransmitters such as glutamate and aspartate, and natural precursors that assist with the formation of acetylcholine. Dr Smart also contains glutathione (GSH) precursors, which help neutralize free radicals that can damage those brain cells that are hard at work. This beverage is designed to fire up your neuro-networks and sustain your energy release, supporting your work output, optimizing your endurance in long hours of concentration and promoting long term memory potential.

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The Dr Smart Start

So you have a long shift, study night, overtime or simply want clarity?

Stay away from pre-processed sugars, don’t eat big meals, give antioxidants (including glutathione!) some love, to help your brain is work intensely, 24 hours a day even when you’re dreaming. The big storm cloud of thoughts, ideas, reactions and feelings all need fuel for lightning and electricity, so exercise your mind and appreciate the endless potentials that exist right before your eyes (and behind them in your brain!).

  Can we offer you another drink?  

THE DR HANGOVER

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