You would not believe what my brain has survived.
I won’t go into details here, but suffice to say, the work I’ve done to return my brain to peak health and the stuff I’ve been able to improve upon have been nothing short of amazing.
Believe it or not, neuroplasticity isn’t just a buzzword- it’s a real, powerful thing that our brains are totally capable of.
But what is neuroplasticity? It’s simply your brain’s amazing ability to adapt and change to its environment. And contrary to old, inaccurate belief, your brain can and does change throughout your entire life.
Gone are the days of believing that what you’re born with, you’re stuck with in the ol’ noodle department.
Even neurogenesis in adulthood seems possible (although the debate rages on) and your brain can literally get bigger.
You don’t need to be a neuroscientist to reap the benefits of neuroplasticity. In fact, you’re probably already doing things to improve your brain’s size and function without being aware.
Geniuses are built, not bred
Why should you care, though? After all, no one sees your brain and it’s gotten you this far, hasn’t it?
Trust me, you want to improve your brain. It’s essentially you, and the better you are, the better everything is.
Your relationships, your health, your personality, your talent, your career, your family, your goals, your mood …all will improve in direct proportion to the improvement of your brain.
Sounds amazing and too good to be true, right?
Read on for simple yet powerful ways to perk up your brain to its best health, and be prepared for the last tip- it’s not a commonly recognized one!
Your Diet is All the Things:
A lot of brain health blogs will suggest supplements to enhance your brain goals, and that’s great. But the bottom line is, your nutrition is absolutely essential to your brain health and its ability to grow and improve. Since diet advice can get complicated, let’s stick to one simple tip: (If anyone reading is ready to dive into a diet that can hack your brain’s potential like whoa, head here. You must greatly reduce or eliminate sugar from your diet. Simple, sure, but not easy. That’s because sugar, its substitutes, and refined grains are in at least %80 of processed foods. Your brain just cannot even with sugar.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids:
Ok, so I’m not going into nutrition in depth, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of a diet rich in omega fats. These powerhouse fats have been shown to increase the size of brains, but only if the amount was high enough. There are three different types of “omega-3s”: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) all of which can be found in nuts, seeds, certain wild-caught fish, and top-quality cuts of grassfed meat. You’ll also need a great supplement, too, but no need to overdo it or megadose.
This is a style of eating (whatever diet you decide on) that just means you don’t eat anything for a period of time. This can be daily, and lasts anywhere from 12 to 16 hours. You’re probably already doing it! Stopping eating at 7 pm and then not eating anything until 7 or 8 am. I drink the Bulletproof method of coffee that seems to continue a fast and don’t have breakfast until around 10 am. I’ve noticed big benefits to my brain fog. Intermittent fasting can also make you less insulin resistant, and possibly improve immunity and lower diabetes risk. Be sure to experiment with this, though. Everyone will respond differently.
I can’t emphasize the real-world benefits of this practice enough. Not only can it change the structures within your brain as well as its neurochemistry but it can literally make you a better, more empathetic person with more patience, more gratitude, more creativity, more focus…seriously, there’s not much meditation can’t do. Check out some simple ways to begin a meditation practice here.
Need another excuse to have sex? Well, look no further for validation that sexual healing can fix what’s broken. In addition to the neurochemical benefits (the feel-good chemicals like oxytocin that lower stress and have heart-health benefits, to name a couple of perks) sex also appears to encourage neurogenesis.
Learn an instrument and a new language:
According to Harvard neuroplastician Gottfried Schlaug, “…intense musical training generates new processes within the brain, at different stages of life, and with a range of impacts on creativity, cognition, and learning.” And learning a new language can boost intelligence, increase memory, and even lower risk for neurodegenerative disease like dementia.
Weird, I know. You don’t have to get good at juggling, just engage in the challenge of the activity. Juggling could actually be one of the best ways to grow your brain, permanently. It’s improving hand/eye coordination, of course, but it’s also growing new brain matter in the parietal lobe. Freaky but I’m definitely giving this neurohack a try.
It’s amazing to me that one of the best ways to become a genius has been around for thousands of years. It not only encourages a positive change in neurochemisty but it also appears to bolster and grow actual brain matter. Be consistent! Researchers at McGill University and the NIH found that the more yoga you do, and the longer you do it, the better.
You may already be doing plenty of aerobics, but it’s certain varieties that can really make your brain happy. HIIT (high intensity interval training) is a bit like a poor man’s oxygen treatment- meaning it can give a good jolt of oxygen to a foggy, sad or injured brain. Longer sessions of moderate cardio like light jogging or even walking have been shown to boost brain health and creativity, as well as memory and mood. And exercise that targets leg strength (squats, anyone?) can really implicate brain health and intelligence.
Brain training games:
I saved this hack for last because it’s the one you may be most skeptical of. I used to be, too. Years ago I became obsessed with increasing my IQ. I wanted to see how far I could take it. I started using several different brain training games, all of them backed by some pretty solid research. I would train for up to 2 hours a day. Yeah, no kidding. #nerd #getalife but I did see incredible gains in fluid intelligence (gf) which neuroscientists have been saying is not set in stone. The intellect you’re “born with” is not what you’re stuck with. Nowadays I stick to IQ Mindware who consistently puts out solidly researched brain training programs with impressive results in its users. Many of them get into high IQ societies like Mensa. I’d like to note, though, that traditional IQ tests and standard methods of measuring IQ are becoming less impactful the more the brain is researched. Intelligence is a nuanced thing, and varieties of intelligence can’t always be measured by logic and reasoning tests. However, for increasing working memory capacity which will have a direct benefit to your work and creativity, I really recommend this discipline (only 20 minutes a day!)
Ok, so I’m hoping you read through this, because having a beautiful and fit brain is a priority you deserve to have in your life. No, it’s not an obviously sexy, trendy thing to pursue…but it’s worth it.
Re-pin for your foggy-brained friends!