Here is an interesting fact, the brain makes up 2% of our body mass but uses 20% of our oxygen supply for normal function. That ratio of size, to oxygen consumption, says oxygen is pretty important for brain function. Now the brain literally controls every body function both conscious and unconscious, however the most researched topic about the brain isn’t how it controls the heartbeat, but more around how we can improve MEMORY.
Let’s get into that. Studies have concluded that oxygen supports improved memory retention and better concentration. This is due to its ability to boost blood flow to the brain and improve neurotransmitter production. Based on the research done at the University of Northumbria in Newcastle, England, it was found that a dose of oxygen or glucose can improve performance on tasks that require great mental effort.
It doesn’t take research from an academic institution to convince us that oxygen does effect our thinking abilities. Try sitting in a full lecture/board room with poor ventilation. Immediately fatigue and the onset of brain fog occurs, slowing down our true thinking potential. This effect is from just being exposed to poor oxygen levels. If we had to add stress or anxiety to the mix, the result would be far worse.
During stressful situations, commonly experienced by students before exams, elevated levels of cortisol are experienced. Elevated cortisol levels can interfere with learning and memory, weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and mental illness. Increasing the oxygen flow to the brain, de-stresses the mind and cortisol levels, allowing clear thought and improved mental clarity. Practices such as Yoga, Meditation and Breathing Technique, help reduce cortisol levels through the focus of breathing, promoting improved oxygen levels.
Having established the importance of oxygen in managing stress levels and memory recall, combining it with the aroma of peppermint only enhances cognitive performance. A study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience showed the aroma of peppermint led to improved memory and alertness.
A later study conducted in Cincinnati, Ohio exposed a group of students to the aroma of peppermint before a test which showed an improved accuracy rate of 28 percent compared to students who were not exposed to the aroma.
Combining good breathing practices with a mint aroma naturally improves cognitive performance while reducing stress levels and promoting mental clarity.
Most memory aids include different ingredients to improve blood flow to the brain by dilating the blood vessels carrying blood and oxygen to the brain. The goal behind this, is to improve oxygen levels to the brain. The brain’s primary fuel source is oxygen + glucose. Pure O2 directly increases oxygen levels in the blood via the lungs to get the most direct oxygen flow to the brain. The glucose element is derived primarily from carbohydrates in both simple and complex forms.
Stimulants such as coffee, guarana and ginseng help fire up the neurons, however their effects are short lived without proper sleep, nutritious foods and sufficient oxygen during stressful periods.
Practice good breathing technique
Exercise regularly (anything that gets the heart pumping)
Breathe supplemental oxygen during mentally stressful periods (exam preparation)
Ensure to combine simple and complex carbohydrates in your diet, especially during studying sessions and exams.