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15 Ways to Hack Your Brain

November 29, 2008 | 94,546 views

smart, memory, brainIf you're looking to improve mental cognition, increase your memory, and enhance your alertness, here are 15 easy ways to help out your brain.

1. Exercise: More than 20 percent of your body's blood and oxygen go directly to your brain. Exercise, particularly cardio training, effectively increases the flow to your brain, keeping it a well-oiled machine. But if you'd like something a little more Zen, try Yoga. Many Yoga poses, like Downward Facing Dog, are specifically engineered to get blood to your brain faster.

2. Hydrate: If you're looking for a little pick-me-up, don't reach for your usual double espresso. Instead try drinking water. The caffeine in coffee and soda may temporarily make you feel more alert, but in the long run will make you even more tired by dehydrating your muscles and constricting your blood vessels. Water, on the other hand, is a simple way to keep your mind alert and refreshed.

3. Find Stimulation: By decorating your work area brightly or switching your font color to something more vivid, you can work through boredom and fatigue. Aromatherapy can also be enormously effective, as smell is the strongest of the senses. Lemon, peppermint, and cypress oil are several scents known to stimulate the brain.

4. Think Happy Thoughts: Your brain, particularly your memory, doesn't respond well to stress. If you're tense, overwrought, or unhappy, you're much less likely to retain information or stay alert. Try to eliminate stressful influences from your life and workplace.

5. Play Games: Studies with dementia patients have shown that playing word games and puzzles can increase and even restore mental cognitive abilities.

6. Watch Quality TV: Unfortunately, studies indicate that passively sitting in front of the TV is counterproductive. But if you must, choose a game or quiz shows like Jeopardy, and try to answer the questions. Even if you have never heard of the Federalist Papers, your brain will be stimulated in the same way as if you were playing Trivial Pursuit with your friends.

7. Surf the Net: A recent study at the University of California Los Angeles found that searching the Web stimulated centers in the brain that controlled decision-making and complex reasoning. A simple task like searching the Web appears to enhance brain circuitry.

8. Eat Brain Food: If you want to get peak mental performance from what you eat, here are a few things to remember. Protein is the main source of fuel for your brain. Your brain also needs foods rich in crucial vitamins and minerals, and it's always better to get these from food rather than taking pills  …

• Vitamin A is needed to protect brain cell membranes
• B Vitamins are essential for neuronal growth and vitality
• Vitamin C is so vital for brain function that its levels in your brain are 15 times higher than anywhere outside your brain
• Vitamin E prevents and actually reverses brain deterioration

• Magnesium maintains the metabolic viability of neurons
• Zinc rids your brain of impurities
• Amino Acids are necessary to the growth and health of neurotransmitters

9. Load Up On Fish Oil: The omega -3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in fish oil keep the dopamine levels in your brain high, increase neuronal growth in the frontal cortex of the brain, and increase cerebral circulation. Krill oil is another excellent source of omega-3, and may even be superior to fish oil.

10. Eat Weeds: There are about a dozen or so 'brain-boosting' herbs, but the two most important are Ginkgo Biloba and Ginseng. Ginseng helps your brain adapt to stress agents by heightening the productivity of your adrenal glands.

11. Learn Something New: Very few people find the time to master new skills or even read a new book that isn't for work or class. But learning a foreign language, a new handcraft or recipe, or challenging yourself with an unfamiliar subject all increase brain growth.

12. Don't Waste Time: The best way to organize your mind is to declutter your life. Maximize your time with a few personal alterations. Make and keep a list of daily and long-term priorities, and don't let your focus wander.

13. Actively Improve Your Memory: The most effective way to remember facts is by forming multiple associations. For example, you may remember the date of your dentist appointment, because that number was the age of your favorite singer when he died. After that, repetition is a tried and true method of memorization.

14. Rest: Almost nothing is as crucial to proper and efficient brain functioning as sleep.

15. Have Sex: A lot happens to your body during sex, and much of it goes on in your brain. There is no activity that increases more blood flow to your brain, enhancing cognitive capabilities.

Having sex also produces hormones that dramatically improve brain functioning. One example includes the hormone oxytocin, which increases your ability to think of original solutions to a problem. Serotonin and dopamine, which surge after sex, help your creative thinking and support calm, logical decision-making.
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