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Shoot! I’m out of chocolate! I’m writing my flow article today – I need to replenish my supply as soon as possible!
That’s how my Sunday morning started at 5 in the morning
Why chocolate? To write?
I am a brain trainer, brain nutritionist, brain performance, brain productivity specialist who facilitates focus, attention, creativity, inspiration, drive and flow of mind to help my clients get into the “zone”. Areas where we lose track of time and do our best, where we deliver our best results and where there are great opportunities to bring our world-changing innovations that we will be known to future generations.
Most people are not aware of the fact that any state of mind – flowing state or panic attack – has biochemical, brain-chemical “signature”. There are some molecules in our brain that we feel are our brain and our blood in any mental state.
The best part? We can modify these circulating chemicals through nutrition, lifestyle, environment and behavior.
Chocolate in mind
At a molecular level, the flow state has a signature expressed in five basic brain chemicals – norepinephrine, dopamine, anandamide, serotonin and endorphins. Every time we enter this realm of magic, where aha moments happen at a much higher rate, our brains are showered with these chemicals.
Chocolate is one of the few foods that stimulates the five chemical flows to the brain. It either contains building blocks for these chemicals, or it makes our brains more resilient because of the hundreds of phytochemicals in chocolate, or chocolate compounds help keep chemicals in the brain for longer – all the way to a flow-enhancing effect. That chocolate production is still not clear.
Chocolate is one of the richest sources (and basically only, except for black truffles) that researchers have dubbed a “molecule of pleasure” – anandamide. When we are in a flowing state, our brain naturally produces lots of anandamide. By eating chocolate in the form of chocolate bars, hot chocolates, cocoa, etc., we can deliberately increase the levels of these pleasure molecules. Chocolate contains extra compounds that make pleasure lasting – Anandamide does not have a long “brain life”; It spreads quickly.
Anandamide binds to the same receptors as the active compounds in marijuana. Receptors that are present not only in the brain but throughout our body and are part of the endocannabinoid system that reduce anxiety, help our body and mind cope with stress and create feelings of happiness and joy. Anandamide affects our memory, sleep, appetite and pain receptors among other important processes.
Another major benefit of chocolate is associated with increased blood circulation to the brain, higher performance, improved brain and mental health, prevention of cognitive decline, memory formation and learning ability.
Related: If you don’t pay attention to it, you’re missing out on peak performance
Productivity and chocolate
While many entrepreneurs, high performers, executives, and innovative leaders are known for seeking nootropics and smart drugs to enhance their cognitive abilities, many are not known for their love of chocolate. I see it as a delicious oversight.
Most nootropics and brain-enhancing substances available are a miss, not a hit. Drugs that people use to treat ADHD, brain fog, confusion and anxiety have serious side effects. And yet chocolate, a psychoactive substance that has been shown to have a brain-enhancing effect, has been largely forgotten and neglected. I partly blame the candy industry for this, which has robbed the brain of true chocolate.
In some studies, chocolate has been shown to have significant positive effects on many brain conditions, such as brain health, cognitive performance, memory, learning, prevention of cognitive decline, and even intestinal health as a prebiotic substance.
The type of chocolate that offers the most benefits is 75-85% cocoa bar – the higher the percentage, the better it works. In the United States, the minimum requirement for something considered chocolate is 10% caco; 25% in the EU; And 20-24% in the UK (for milk chocolate). Kako beans are expensive, which is why many candy growers try to reduce the cost of the product by using less. All the sugar and other non-food additives make it a brain crash, not a brain booster.
Related: Every Entrepreneur Needs Flow. Nootropics you can get there.
Chocolate Flow Recipe
When I ran out of chocolate this morning, I went to my “Caco Dealer” at Playa del Carmen, a local coffee / chocolate store in Mexico, to get my Flow Fix – a 10-ounce, 100% Caco bar. These times usually last for 10 days. About 30 minutes before the start of my writing session, I eat half an ounce of chocolate. About an hour into my writing, I use the same amount again to finish stronger.
I drink chocolate for any activity that requires me to be creative, productive, collaborative, open-minded or flexible, such as assembling a presentation pitch, intelligence strategies for my brand development, finding new ways to provide my coaching or even a dance to go For class. Chocolate also helps with memory and learning, so I have a piece of dark chocolate before the Spanish class.
Related: 7 Easy Ways to Get to the Flow State When Writing
A chocolate booster for your next team brainstorming session
While helping companies create better intelligence experiences and foster a culture of innovation, I always recommend that you include dark chocolate in the process because of all the history and research data above.
If you have a space dedicated to group brainstorming or innovation activities, place some dark chocolate at the entrance with a poster of the benefits of the brain. Do you have a solution-oriented, troubleshooting zoom session with your team? How about sending everyone some dark chocolate before the session and micrododging collectively?
I remember volunteering for one of Seth Godin’s events in NYC a few years ago. Towards the end of the break, I found Godin a bit tired – talking for hours at any interactive event or workshop can be tiring. I had a 100% dark chocolate bar with me, so I offered it to him. He replied, “I need it,” and happily went to the scene to eat half of the two-ounce bar.
What you do with this information is up to you: you can ignore it, not believe it and turn it off unnecessarily, or you can try something that people have been using for thousands of years. Check it out and see what happens.
The state of any brain is controlled by a group of molecules that move through our brain at any given time. You can wait for the lucky moments when the chemical ingredients combine “naturally” to create the elusive state of flow that we often wish for, or you can design for it. And heck, do we need another reason to eat more chocolate?
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