10 Ways to Increase Brain Function
You’re already smart, no doubt about that. You’re reading this, aren’t you?
But just imagine being even smarter…
Our theme this month is related to brain function and health. If you refer to last week’s post, you’ll notice we addressed brain fog specifically. And many of the tips here will serve to help reverse brain fog if you’ve got it—although it’s always better to address and eliminate the root causes.
Nevertheless, let’s talk about how you can become smarter, sharper, more discerning, more controlled, more focused and more present.
Several lifestyle choices should be largely self-evident: get enough sleep, drink enough water, eat healthy food and get exercise. Handling your life in an intelligent, conscious and purposeful way will lead to intelligent, conscious and purposeful thinking. And a healthy lifestyle leads to peak brain performance.
But can we increase our peak?
Let’s get down to it.
- Challenge yourself. If you don’t absolutely need it, get rid of the GPS when you’re driving, try to do calculations in your head and then verify with a calculator. Try to memorize your loves ones’ phone numbers. Watch 15 minutes a day of YouTube in a foreign language. Ditch the grocery list. I’m sure you can come up with more ideas on your own.
- Reduce Stress. Stress literally kills brain cells. Furthermore, it takes energy away from more high-minded pursuits. Fortunately, there are many ways to kill two birds with one stone and both reduce stress while training your brain. Reading books, for example, reduces stress while making you smarter and more knowledgeable. Meditating reduces stress and studies have shown that it also leads to improved intellectual performance and sharper memory. Going for walks outside reduces stress while enhancing the connectivity of your brain cells and combatting the effects of ageing on brain health.
- Ask questions and follow up. Start with this article. Take something I wrote, maybe something that seems dubious, and look it up for yourself. See if I’m right. Remember the value of “why.” Why are manholes round? Why do people have negative emotions? Why do the tides go out and come in? Be more like a child—whose brains are quickly growing and developing—and remember to be curious about yourself, others and the world around you.
- Go Outside of Your Comfort Zone. You’ve got to stretch yourself to get better—and that goes for anything. New experiences create new connections in your brain. Travel to a foreign culture. Take a comedy improv class. Try to learn how to crochet. Is there anything you’ve always thought was interesting, and you envied those people who found the time/motivation to do it. Just do it!
- Listen to music. Everyone loves music. It’s one of those things that’s truly universal. However, how often do you really listen? It’s one thing to turn on your favorite radio station that’s been playing the same 100 songs for the last 15 years, but it’s another to expand your musical horizons. Music causes your brain to release more dopamine than usual—the feel good neurotransmitter, that also makes you more alert and responsive. Also, listening to music causes your body to actually make more blood, which brings more oxygen and nutrients to the brain.
- Vitamin D. This one is HUGE! Particularly as so many of us are Vitamin D deficient. Your brain actually has receptors specifically for Vitamin D. They are in the hippocampus, which is a major player in memory and making sense of the world around you. It’s recommended that you get at least 5,000 units a day of Vitamin D. And this is particularly difficult in the winter. Take supplements, or eat significant amounts of animal protein—which tends to be high in Vitamin D.
- Fatty Acids. Your brain cells are partially composed of fatty acids. They are also used to trigger repair protocols in the brain. In addition, part of the connection between brain cells (where signals flow) is composed of Omega-3 fatty acids. You can get all the fatty acids you need by eating things such as fish, fatty red meat, poultry, eggs and dairy.
- Coconut Oil. Is there anything coconut oil doesn’t do? The brain benefit comes from coconut’s ketone bodies/ketoneacids. They help rebuild and repair damaged neurons and pathways in the brain, plus they can serve as energy sources for your brain and body.
- Coffee. Some of you are going to love this. One cup of black coffee has been shown to increase alertness and assist in memory recall. A compound found in caffeine blocks a certain receptor in your brain called adenosine, which in turn leads to increased levels of dopamine, which in turn increases alertness. Don’t go overboard, though, one cup is plenty.
- Vitamin B12. This vitamin is a bit of a mystery in terms of brain function, but several studies have shown that Vitamin B12 deficiencies are found in Alzheimer’s patients, people with brain fog, people with quickly-shrinking brain volume, age-related dementia and more. Essentially, there is definitely a strong connection. You can get plenty of Vitamin B12 if you eat seafood, dairy, eggs, beef and chicken.
Just imagine if we all followed these 10 relatively easy steps to increased brain power. Could we solve world hunger? Explore the galaxy? Figure out how to get the toaster to get the bread just right? Perhaps. I’d like to think so.