Don’t stop training your brain just because you are done with school. Your brain will continue to change throughout your entire life, and what you do matters how that change will happen. Scientific and psychological studies have found demonstrable ways to unlock more of your brain potential, which can totally revolutionize your life. Read the top 50 tips to improve your brain:
Dress the part
The clothes we wear- or what we believe their significance to be- affect our mental processing abilities. Dress well, test well have never been more true.
A UCLA study found that a diet steadily high in fructose slows the brain by hindering memory and learning. Over time, insulin may no longer affect brain cells; this is troubling because insulin regulates how these cells store and use sugars.
The American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that generally speaking, TV and screen-based entertainment in higher amounts were associated with a lower quality of mental health.
The New England Journal of Medicine conducted a study and found that those who participated in mentally stimulating activities were associated with a reduced risk of dementia.
….. Or the color blue
Being surrounded by the color blue makes you more imaginative, and increases your ability to think outside the box.
Surround yourself with the color red
The New York Times reports that those who were tested on information against a red background were more successful in recalling that information and details. The color red also improves athletic performance.
Relax with your pet
Spending time with your best pal increases your serotonin levels and decreases those of cortisol, thus fighting depression and anxiety. Your brain functions more successfully with minimal levels of cortisol.
Increase intake of Vitamin D
Too little vitamin D can contribute to faster cognitive decline in older adults; this leads to a higher risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Pool is way more than a bar game: it helps you focus, engages multiple parts of your brain, builds logic and ability to remain successful under pressure, as well as hand-eye coordination.
Avoid fluoridated water/ limit consumption of fluoride
Excessive amounts of fluoride are linked to dementia, genetic damage and cell death, increased lead absorption, and other health issues.
Listen to classical music
USC has found a connection between classical music, brain power, and a reduction in anxiety. College students who listened to classical music were put in a heightened emotional state, making them more receptive to information.
Spend time in nature
Stanford reveals that spending time in nature decreases risk of depression. Mental health equally as important in mental training; time in nature has positive impacts on mood, cognitive functions such as working memory, and your ability to combat anxiety.
Learn to play an instrument
Time magazine confirms that “in developing children, playing an instrument allows them to begin hearing and processing sounds that they had never heard before”. There is a neurophysical distinction between specific sounds that can help with literacy, thus improving academic ability. BUT you must be actively engaged in order to reap the benefits.
Yale has found aromatherapy is proven to improve mood and reduce anxiety.
As reported by the BBC, compounds in rosemary could be responsible for changes in memory performance; smelling (and eating) rosemary leads to an increase in the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
These are a great Omega-3 source: a healthy fat that protects the connections between brain cells; the more protected these connections are, the faster information travels in the brain. Ingestion of chia seeds can also improve memory, mood, and prevent brain disorders.
Also a good source for magnesium, buckwheat contains tryptophan, a natural mood-calmer. Your brain functions better when you aren’t stressed or anxious.
This legume is an awesome (and tasty) source of magnesium, a mineral that speeds up message transmission. Stress causes you to expel the magnesium in your system, so it’s important to replenish it.
Don’t go crazy, but this crustacean can help you: one serving of crab contains 1840 mg of phenylalanine- an amino acid needed to make essential neural chemicals. It’s also a great source of B12.
Already known as a health food, celery contains luteolin: a compound that calms inflammation in the brain and is linked to the reduction of age-related memory loss.
A chemical in turmeric (curcumin) boosts memory, slows Alzheimer’s, and stimulates neurogenesis. It can even aid in the removal of amyloid plaque (the gunk that causes Alzheimer’s).
Marmite (brewers yeast)
This is one of the greatest food sources for B1 and B6. Reasons you should embrace this condiment: a B1 deficiency leads to a form of dementia and B6 assists in neurotransmitter production- thus strengthening memory and cognition.
We aren’t saying you should go meatatarian on us, but red meat does contain high levels of B-12 which is an over-all energy booster, “vital to healthy brain function”. **A deficiency in B-12 causes nerve and brain damage.
This natural sweetener is filled with antioxidants that can prevent cellular damage and loss in the brain.
Through the combination of caffeine and the amino acid L-Theanine, tea reduces mental fatigue, improves reaction time and the working memory. By drinking tea you can avoid memory loss in the long term.
Eating chocolate produces dopamine- a chemical that increases your capacity to learn quicker and retain info better. Obviously, don’t go overboard but one to two squares a day will produce the desired effect.
Columbia’s Yian Gu conducted a study to find that by sticking to the Mediterranean diet led to 5 fewer years of brain shrinkage. Consuming more fish and less meat is associated with higher total gray matter volume and total brain volume overall.
The less time you have in nature, the greater the link to psychological issues. Hiking or walking in nature increases blood flow to the subgenual prefrontal cortex (which is good for healthy brain cells).
Archery trains your ability to focus to focus- thus engaging the cerebral cortex. It is a patient sport that works hand-eye coordination (cue the hippocampus and cerebellum).
A deeply meditative activity, birdwatching slows brain decay in the grey matter; with longs amounts of time in the quiet, you are allowed the time to relax and reflect.
Through walking, there is a 50% reduction in risk of developing Alzheimer’s; there is a reduction in brain atrophy and it promotes mental health as a means of reducing stress. Walking also has the ability to prevent anxiety and depression by triggering endorphins.
This pass-time stimulates multiple parts of the brain such as the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus; it also increases blood flow to the brain, keeping cells healthy. Alzheimer’s Weekly says that it could prevent dementia.
Hatha yoga improves cognitive function and boosts focus and memory. Yoga can boost sexual mechanisms in women- promoting cell growth in the hippocampus.
Princeton conducted a study on rats, finding that “sexual activity may lower stress,” while simultaneously stimulating and promoting cell growth in the brain’s hippocampus – a region critical to long term memory and spatial navigation. It is also related to anxiety regulation.
Harvard shows that dance activate sensory and motor circuits, altering the brain with memory improvement and strengthened neuronal connections.
Forbes Magazine confirms the study that mindfulness and meditation changes brain structure; there is an increase in cortical thickness in the hippocampus and reduced brain cell volume in amygdala (the region that governs fear, anxiety, and stress).
Chess stimulates brain growth of dendritic spines; like improving a wifi signal, this leads to better neural communication. Added bonuses include increased IQ, increased problem-solving, and improved reading skills.
Expand your horizons
This just in from Harvard: expanding your horizons challenges current mental pathways and builds new neural connections to accommodate the new information you learn.
By forcing you to recall past sequences, you improve your fluid (working) memory. In doing so, you actually increase your brain capacity- making you smarter! Use of these in elementary schools has shown to improve their cognitive power.
Exercise alters the brain so that it protects the memory and thinking process, and regular aerobic activity boosts the size of the hippocampus.
Blueberries slow the progression of age-related degenerative diseases AND improve learning, memory, and motor skills. Blueberries contain powerful antioxidants and a phytonutrient that improves the communication connection between cells.
Harvard study confirms that we need sleep: without it, we are unable to focus or learn efficiently. Sleep actually allows the brain to consolidate and organize information so that you can recall it properly.
Fasting/ Dietary Restriction
Fasting promotes distinct neural precursor cell growth and the number of newly generated cells in the hippocampus increase. This practice actually enhances neurogenesis.
All nuts contain magnesium- a mineral that is linked to the improvement of short and long term memory, preventing cognitive decline. Munch away.
A study by MIT conducted on those with early Alzheimer’s found that having a mixture of nutrients improves memory and the loss of connections between brain cells.
After monitoring the brain activity of students reading literature such as Jane Austen, Stanford has discovered “dramatic and unexpected” blood flow in multiple regions of the brain. These higher levels of brain activity reinforce the synapses and help keep the brain young.
Board games train your cognitive skills such as problem-solving by engaging hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex- the regions responsible for complex thought and memory formation. In doing so you can retain and rebuild cognitive associations.
Surf the internet
Browsing the interwebs triggers decision making and complex reasoning that stimulates and could improve brain function.
Own/ spend time with a horse
Time with horses reduces stress, engages the right brain during training, and has the added benefits from being with nature.
Bonus tip: Stress Less
Effects of stress on the brain: cortisol (released when stressed) kills cells in the hippocampus region- the region that controls your episodic memory. Chronic stress leads to premature brain aging, which leads to impaired ability to process information and react in a timely fashion, as well as increasing your capacity to forget information.