Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A non-caffeine boost: flaxseed oil?!

A professor whom I respect referred me to the blog of a Berkeley psychology professor, Seth Roberts, and sometime last year I read his theory about the beneficial effects of flax seed oil on mental performance. He's carried out somewhat-flawed trials on himself and concludes that flaxseed oil increases mental acuity. He's been very systematic, but only has 1 subject and he chooses not to blind himself to which oil he is consuming. He's not the only one to say that omega-3 fats are healthful, so it didn't seem completely outlandish.

Recently, I decided to try the flaxseed oil, so I've been having 2 T Whole Foods brand flaxseed oil (nose-clipped) first thing in the morning, 1 hour before tasting anything. After 1 week, I noticed that I seemed to be procrastinating less and working more. I didn't do any measurement to substantiate my subjective impression, and that's only an association, but it is nonetheless encouraging.

What surprises me the most was that today, after getting almost no sleep at all, I took the flaxseed oil first thing in the morning and have been no less productive than normal. Which is to say, not amazing, but I am not doing what I usually do when I haven't slept which is staring off into space for long periods or going on a long google hunt for nothing in particular. (Plus, I'm also not very hungry.)

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