20 Ways to Boost Brain Power
Some of the best ways to boost brain power include listening to music, reducing stress, sleeping well, exercising more, teaching others, seeking out new interests, doing brain puzzles, reading, breaking routines, writing by hand, having sex, and altering your diet to include celery, chocolate, pollen, spinach, beets, bananas, walnuts and turmeric.
For millions of years, human beings and our ancestors have benefitted from the miraculous functioning of our brain. Self-awareness, reasoning, logic, memory, knowledge retention, and dozens of other brain activities have brought us to where we find ourselves today, but that isn’t enough for everyone! The fact is, we don’t use anywhere near the capacity of our brain’s processing power, and just like any other muscle, our brain can get out of shape and lackadaisical. Furthermore, certain habits and behaviors can negatively impact the brain’s ability to function at its full potential.
The brain is essentially a supercomputer – better than real computer that we’ve created thus far – and we need to make sure that all the parts are working effectively. By ensuring the right mix of nutrients, protecting the brain from damage, and continually “flexing” the brain’s muscles, we can ensure that our cognitive abilities remain intact. We can even push our mental limits through behavioral, psychological, dietary, and physical habits, many of which you may already do! Let’s take a closer look at these 20 remarkable tips to boost brain power!
20 Tips to Boost Brain Power
1. Exercise – There is a definite link between physically working out and increasing your brain’s processing power. The endorphins released when you exercise can positively impact everything from blood flow to energy levels, all of which combine to give your brain a boost, particularly in the 30-60 minutes following the end of a workout.
2. Celery – One of the least well-known brain foods, celery is packed with luteolin, a compound that is directly linked to preventing neurodegeneration. This powerful substance achieves this by inhibiting inflammatory cytokines within the brain, which can slow down the onset of age-related memory loss.
3. Hydration – Water is a key aspect of human health, and as such, it plays an important role in cognition too! By keeping our bodies hydrated, we encourage proper metabolic function and a balanced energy distribution throughout our cells and organ systems, allowing our brain to work at full capacity. When dehydrated, cognitive function has been shown to decline significantly.
4. Dark Chocolate – Chocolate is delicious; on that we can all agree, but it is also great for your brain. Possessing substances like caffeine and theobromine, dark chocolate can increase short-term cognition. On top of that, cacao contains tons of antioxidants, which can protect the brain from cognitive decline.
5. Challenge Your Brain – Doing brain teasers, crossword puzzles, and other challenging mental activities can stimulate the brain to access old memories and pieces of knowledge that you have stored away in distant corners of your grey matter. By occasionally accessing these areas and promoting “outside the box” thinking, brain teasers and word puzzles can help to bulk up your brain power.
6. Bananas – Bananas have always been known as a brain food, mainly because potassium is a vasodilator, reducing the strain on blood vessels and increasing blood flow, which in turn increases oxygenation. The high levels of potassium in bananas can keep every corner of our brain active and engaged.
7. Pursue New Interests – Forming new cognitive pathways is one of the best ways to prevent cognitive decline and can delay conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. When plaque and free radicals attack the brain, they shut down mental pathways, but pursuing new topics and areas of interest, forcing your brain to adapt and “think” in new ways can strengthen the network of neural connections and keep your mind strong.
8. Spinach – Nitrates can be found in high quantities within spinach, along with a number of other antioxidants and essential nutrients that protect against the effects of free radicals on the brain, while also preventing tumors and cancer development.
9. Get Enough Sleep – Our bodies need rest, and so do our minds. Particularly after doing a mentally stressful activity (taking an exam or debating a complex topic), our brain needs time to recuperate and recharge. Studies have shown that concentration, focus, and knowledge retention are much stronger when an individual is well rested, even if that means snatching a nap in the middle of the day!
10. Pollen – Eating pollen may not sound particularly “normal”, but if you can work bee pollen into your diet, the amino acids, protein, and other unique minerals can increase the stamina and capacity of your brain, ensuring that your mental energy levels remain high all day.
11. Reduce Stress Levels – Being stressed can flood our bodies with loads of dangerous compounds. While stress hormones are important for survival (flight or fight response), chronic stress means that those hormones are constantly in our body, and that can exhaust the brain and even cause damage to the brain. For example, cortisol levels can negatively affect the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for short-term memory. In other words, if you’re stressed, you won’t be able to process and properly remember things in your day-to-day life!
12. Beets – Nitrate levels are often discussed in relation to health, but you may not understand why. After being transformed into nitrites after being consumed, these compounds continue on to reduce inflammation throughout the body, strengthening blood vessels and encouraging oxygenation of the brain, resulting in increased function and processing power.
13. Read More – The popularity of reading appears to be in decline, but it remains one of the best ways to expose yourself to new ideas, retain new knowledge, and sharpen your concentration skills. If possible, you should pick up a book once or twice a week to make sure that your brain is still firing on all cylinders.
14. Walnuts – The brain needs a number of substances to remain healthy, including vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids. Walnuts are easy-to-find sources of vitamin E and fatty acids, which work together to protect the brain from the damaging effects of free radicals.
15. Break Routines – If you feel that your life has fallen into a certain routine, your brain will feel the same way, channeling energy and attention to the same regular topics, never stretching beyond itself to explore new ideas and concepts. By breaking routines (walking a different route to work, trying out a new hobby on the weekend, or simply getting to know a stranger), you can keep your mind fresh and adaptive to new experiences.
16. Turmeric – Although most herbs and spices are used to flavor foods, special ones like turmeric have multiple uses. For example, turmeric contains curcumin, the active ingredient that boosts memory and cognition, and also lowers inflammation, which can prevent more serious complications.
17. Listening to Music – Research has shown that listening to music is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stimulate brainpower. Music impacts unique parts of our brain, and when listening to music while doing other activities, it forces our brain to multi-task and remain engaged in both activities, something that many people struggle with.
18. Write By Hand – In this modern age of computer and tablets, writing by hand seems outdated and obsolete, but there is no denying that writing something down helps to cement it into your brain and memory. That’s why taking notes by hand has been shown to help students retain information, as they are hearing it, writing it, and then seeing it, providing multiple engagements of cognition at the same time.
19. Laugh More Often – Laughter is a wonderful way to release endorphins into the body, and studies have shown that laughter stimulates creativity. If you’re feeling particularly groggy or brain-dead, let out a chuckle and let the normal chemical pathways in your body boost your brain power!
20. Have Sex – You may not expect to find this on every brain-boosting list, but sex does have some powerful positive effects on our body. Serotonin and oxytocin are both released when we have sex, and have been directly linked to creativity, problem-solving, and logical reasoning.