How to Build a Digital Brain (Your Second Brain)

The human brain is a marvel with lots of capabilities. As more researchers study the brain, we get to know how much information the brain can store.

According to the Scientific American journal, The human brain consists of about one billion neurons. Each neuron forms about 1,000 connections to other neurons, amounting to more than a trillion connections. If each neuron could only help store a single memory, running out of space would be a problem.[1]

What if you can not only store more data but easily retrieve them and make more room in the brain for problem-solving and creativity?

You can easily cope with the growing body of knowledge by building a second brain (what I refer to as a Digital Brain). Managing information effectively means understanding that you cannot use your head to store and remember every detail.

Information is essential in everything that you do. To develop a new skill, complete a project successfully in the workplace or start and run a business, you’ll need the right information. To achieve your career goals and improve the quality of your life, you need to manage information effectively.

Read on to find out how you can build a second brain to manage information effectively and achieve your goals.

What Is a Second Brain?

How many times have you struggled to remember an important point from an article or book you read recently? Have you ever wasted time looking for a file that you thought you had saved?

If you’ve ever found yourself in such situations, you are not alone. Millions of people across the world are struggling with information overload in our modern society. Information overload is overwhelming because it taxes your mental resources and leaves you anxious.

This is where the concept of the second brain comes in.

Building a second brain doesn’t involve creating a man-made copy of your mind or recreating the human brain. It involves building an external system that captures, organizes, retrieves, and archives the ideas and thoughts that come to mind. The second brain enables you to optimize how you record, organize and recall information.

While you can use analog tools to build a second brain, digital tools are superior in every way.

Digital tools are more portable and accessible compared to physical tools. Due to these advantages, we are going to focus on the digital ways to build a Digital Brain.

Digital Brain

A Digital Brain is similar to an external hard drive. You can store additional information if your hard drive is full. However, it records, organizes, and recalls. This means that you won’t have to struggle to improve your memory. This memory has a lot of elements.

From a computing perspective, memory involves three key elements:

  • Recording — storing the information
  • Organization — archiving it in a logical manner
  • Recall — retrieving it again when you need it

Like a computer, having a Digital Brain will work in the same way as this memory framework to manage how information flows into and out of your brain.

For example:

When setting up a new account on a website, due to strict security settings, many sites require you to come up with complicated passwords with special characters that you don’t usually use.

As a result, you now have to memorize this new password (Record), associate it with the other passwords that are stored in your brain (Organize) and enter that password the next time you log in (Recall).

Even in this simple example, there are several parts in the process that will make it all too easy to forget. Because this new password is unique, we have a hard time recognizing it with our regular patterns. And if we don’t use the password every day, it’s easy to forget it after a few days. One day you’ll try to recall the password but enter the incorrect one over and over again.

It’s one of the most common things that happen. Is it because the information is complicated? Nope. A password is just a bunch of characters, numbers, and symbols.

It happens because our brains are not made to memorize. With a Digital Brain, you can delegate it to do the heavy lifting.

Why You Need a Digital Brain

Having two brains is optimal. The brain that you were born with is quite limited.

According to a Stanford Study, the cerebral cortex alone has 125 trillion synapses. The average adult human brain has the ability to store the equivalent of 2.5 million gigabytes of digital memory.[2]

Building a second brain allows you to bridge the gap in your ability to learn and remember.

A second brain helps you to:

  • Learn and store information effectively
  • Recall information faster when required
  • Organize information to reveal connections and patterns in your thought process

If you want to expand your knowledge and achieve your professional goals faster, you should build a Digital Brain. While building a second brain takes a lot of time and energy, you’ll get to manage your time effectively for important projects. You need a Digital Brain for the following reasons:

1. Utilizing Mental Resources Effectively

Like any other organ, your brain has limits. This is especially true when you are trying to solve a complex question or work on a task. If you are working on a work project and your mind keeps wandering, it will be quite difficult for you to concentrate and complete it on time.

The second brain helps you deal with distractions. Having a solid system in your life will help you solve complex problems quickly and stay on track in the long run. It’s easy to focus on your most important tasks when you are not thinking about other things.

2. Staying Organized

Life is all about balancing professional and personal obligations. With so many things to do at any one time, you can easily forget to work on important tasks. This is especially true if you are developing a new skill . A Digital Brain will help you stay organized and avoid a stressful life.

To succeed in life, you have to get things done. And to get things done, you have to be organized. Organizing the knowledge that you have will help you get ample time to work on your most important tasks.

You’ll get to complete your projects faster since you’ll be using valuable materials and effective methodologies. As you accomplish your goals, you’ll unleash your creative confidence. And this will allow you to take on bigger projects.

3. Establishing a Creative Process

Our modern world is driven by creativity. However, for millions of people across the world, creativity is mysterious and unpredictable. Immersing yourself in a pool of associations, triggers, questions, and ideas that others have collected over the years can spark your inspiration and creativity when you need it.

Building a second brain is the key to establishing your creative process and building habits that will help you achieve your biggest goals in life. You don’t have to be a perfectionist or overthink to unleash the creative process.

4. Transforming Your Knowledge Into Opportunities

This is the greatest age of entrepreneurship that has ever been witnessed. Today, you can publish your knowledge online, find an audience and create new streams of income.

Whether it’s a business or hobby, you’ll find yourself with lots of career options and countless opportunities. With ideas and insights at your fingertips, you can easily expand your economy with knowledge.

5. Improving Your Thinking and Uncovering Connections

In our modern economy, your career success depends on how you think. Instead of trying to be an overthinker or perfectionist, you can easily collect the best images, stories, metaphors, anecdotes, and observations in one place.

And this will improve your imagination and reveal connections between different ideas. Research studies have shown that improving your imagination can increase your chances of achieving your biggest goals in life. [3]

Your ability to uncover patterns will allow you to spot opportunities before others and stay ahead of the crowd.

6. Developing Credibility For a New Business Or Job

Your main asset is the knowledge you’ve gained over time as a result of experience. If other people cannot access this knowledge without taking your time, they’ll be stuck. Thanks to the rapid advancement of technology, you can make knowledge tangible.

This allows you to spend your time as you want while ensuring that others get the information that they need. When you build a Digital Brain, changing jobs or starting a new business becomes an opportunity to learn new things.

7. Utilizing Learning Resources Effectively

Millions of people are using online learning resources today to develop new skills and get more opportunities in life. There are a lot of online learning resources. They include books, forums, podcasts, articles, and webinars to name a few.

Most of these resources can be accessed for free or at fair prices. Breaking this knowledge into small bits and storing it can help you save a lot of time and money. Building a Digital Brain will help you stay on top of your learning process. Learning will become an enjoyable activity that will help you make rapid progress.

What Does It Feel Like to Have a Second Brain?

I’ve been managing my work and family life in a more productive and organized manner all these years thanks to my Digital Brain.

I don’t need to go through the trouble of painstakingly recalling passwords for my 1001 accounts. I never forget a single item from grocery lists my wife gives me.. I’ve never forgotten a meeting. And I’m able to retrieve and recall important information and documents easily, anytime and anywhere.

When you delegate the task of remembering to a second brain, you’ll minimize stress and anxiety because you’ll know what’s needed to be done with every piece of information.

You’ll gain confidence when dealing with information because nothing can be forgotten. You’ll manage your fears and anxieties better by getting them out of your mind and making solid plans to address them. You’ll make a sense of the volume of information that you encounter every day and have a clear mind.

How to Develop Your Digital Brain (Your Second Brain)

Does it cost a lot to build a second brain? The answer is no, and yes.

It doesn’t cost a lot of money, but it does cost some effort.

As mentioned earlier, develop your Digital Brain requires:

  • Recording — storing the information
  • Organization — archiving it in a logical manner
  • Recall — retrieving it again when you need it

And we’ll dive into each of these elements:

1. Before Recording, Decide What Information Matters to You

To become an achiever in the modern world, you’ll need to manage huge amounts of information effectively. Every article, book, webinar, podcast, email, and text message has value. However, trying to remember everything is not only overwhelming but also impractical.

Think back to your purpose and goals, what information do you need?

  • To grow
  • To tackle your current challenges
  • To achieve what you want

You need to consolidate ideas and develop a solid system that will help you achieve your goals. Developing your Digital Brain will allow your biological brain to imagine and create.

What You Can Do Now:

Take out your phone and go to your social media feeds. Unfollow stuff that provides information that doesn’t make you a healthier, happier, or smarter person. You don’t need unimportant stuff to overload your brain.

2. Record Information With the Right Tool

In most instances, we capture information without any preparation – we brainstorm ideas in a word processor, email ourselves an important note or take notes while reading.

However, we never use this information. Whether you are producing or consuming information, you need to store it in a centralized place such as Microsoft One Note, Notion, Evernote, and Bear to name a few.

These apps allow you to store small bits of information. You can save images, screenshots, hyperlinks, webpages, and PDFs. And access them using different devices.

Different kinds of information may require different tools:

  • Note-takingNote taking apps like Evernote is one of the best note-taking apps in the world. Users can add audio clips, Slack conversations, PDF documents, text notes, images, scanned handwritten pages, emails, and websites.
  • Saving useful articlesPocket is an amazing app that offers nice features and good organizational capabilities. You can sort your documents by image, video, and traditional text. Its new design has been optimized for the web.
  • Information related to scheduleCalendar apps will not only remind you of your most important tasks but also help you manage your time effectively and boost your productivity. There are a lot of calendar apps. The best calendar apps are easy to access, have lots of amazing features, and can be accessed using multiple devices. They include Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, and Microsoft Outlook Calendar.
  • TasksTo-do list /checklist apps are essential if you want to stay on top of your tasks. When choosing to-do list apps, some of the factors that you should consider include ease of use, flexibility, your budget, and cross-platform compatibility. Some of the best to-do list apps include Google Keep, Google Tasks, and Apple Notes.

What You Can Do Now:

Download a To-Do app and put down everything you need to buy this week or month. Then, set deadlines and/or reminders based on the need of different items. Experience the benefit of not forgetting buying anything in your next shopping.

3. Organize Information With the Right Tool for Easy Retrieval

After capturing information, how should you organize it?

When you start collecting and organizing critical information, you’ll start noticing connections. An article on networking will help you understand online marketing. A business card that you saved a few years ago can help you follow up and get new clients.

You can easily organize information by choosing the right tools. Here’re some criteria in choosing the right tools:

  • Is the tool available in different devices and that the information can be synced across the devices?
  • Is it dedicated for personal use or for a team?
  • Does it enable easy information retrieval, for example, with a search function?
  • Does it allow easy categorization or data labelling?
  • Does it allow users to create lists or collections for organization?
  • Does it allow easy connections between ideas and information?
  • Does it help with mind mapping and organize thoughts in a visual way?

There’re many ways to organize information and data effectively, if you want to learn more, check out this article.

For instance, at Lifehack, we use Notion to organize our playbooks and important databases. We choose Notion because it helps my team store different types of information in a very organized way. It allows us to create different collections of data, and share specific information with members according to their roles easily. It’s also available in different devices.

What You Can Do Now:

Download Notion and choose one of these templates to start organizing information — whether it’s for your work projects, or home projects!

Conclusion

Building a Digital Brain (second brain) allows us to save information systematically, come up with new ideas and turn them into reality. Your second brain serves as an extension of your biological brain. And it protects you from the effects of forgetfulness thus allowing you to take on bigger creative challenges.

One of the biggest challenges that people who love learning is feeding themselves information all the time without ever putting it to use. The experiences that would make their lives better get postponed every day until they are forgotten. Information only becomes power when it is put to use. But we can save that for another article: 7 Tips On Putting Knowledge Into Action

Featured photo credit: ian dooley via unsplash.com

Reference

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What Is Information Overload (And How to Overcome It)

We all know the feeling—you are reading online news articles on a certain subject while listening to a podcast or the news on TV, and then BOOM! You feel too overwhelmed to figure out what to do next. You are stricken with a bout of what is commonly known as “information overload”—all you can do is sit and think about everything you just read or heard, making it hard to focus on any tasks you may have at hand.

Wouldn’t it be so ideal to be able to immediately move forward on future projects you need to do, rather than sit and ruminate over and over again about all of the information you consumed? One thing is certain: you would definitely get so much more done.

Well, no need to let society’s never-ending abundance of information keep you down. This article will help anyone understand exactly what information overload is and how to overcome it.

You will no longer be stuck staring at your computer screen in frustration when you need to write that proposal for work, put off your workout so you can scroll through “just one more” article on your smartphone, or let social media distract you from all of your household tasks!

So, without further ado, here is an overview of what to know about information overload and surefire ways to overcome it.

What Is Information Overload?

Information overload is the act of learning so much that it hinders you from taking action.

For example, maybe you just read countless news articles, white papers, and other sources of information on a certain subject. Or, you listened to a lot of informational podcasts or radio shows and then felt completely inundated with varying perspectives and opinions.

The most common manifestation of information overload is “analysis paralysis” in which we get so much information about something that we can’t decide which decision is the best one to make. There are simply too many options brought forth by all of the information you just consumed, so you just think about all of the different avenues without moving forward.

Information overload can cause us to become so stressed out that we decide not to make any decision at all (which is in and of itself a decision). Also, according to Psychology Today,[1]

“Information overload can lead to real feelings of anxiety, feeling overwhelmed and powerless, and mental fatigue. It can also lead to cognitive issues such as difficulty making decisions or making hasty (often bad) decisions.”

Therefore, information overload can be extremely detrimental to our psychological well-being.

Why Do We Get Information Overloaded?

Information overload is more common today than it has ever been, and there is one reason for this: we have easier access to more information than we have ever had in all of human history.

Think about it. With the advent of the internet, most of us—and if you are reading this online, then you are one of them—have access to almost every bit of information in the world now at our fingertips.

We now have WiFi-connected laptops and high-tech smartphones that allow us to scroll through and actively consume news articles, opinionated statuses on social media, e-magazines, videos on YouTube, etc. any time and any place. We have unending and immediate access to them all. All of this media consumption can affect how we live.

Are You a Media Multitasker?

Let’s not also forget all the ways we media multitask, such as when we play a show on Netflix in the background while getting caught up on our TikTok and Instagram feeds for the day. Or, when we read online news articles while listening to a podcast.

According to Good RX, “people who media multitask perform poorly on tasks requiring focus and filtering out unnecessary information.”[2]

This can mean issues with productivity and maximizing work output in your professional life.

Don’t Forget About Passive Consumption

What about all of the information we passively consume without even trying?

Yes, we are constantly consuming information as we read ads on our subway commute to work, listen to the radio and glance at billboards while driving, keep our TVs playing as “background noise” while we cook dinner, etc. We are still processing this information without even being aware of it.

What does this all mean? That we are all bombarded with information all day long.

As humans, we were simply not designed to process this much input. We exacerbate the situation with the way we work today in the “information” economy. We have come to the point where we consider the act of gaining and passing on information (through mediums like email and sharing content on social media) the same as being productive.

This means that the more information we get and the more we pass on, the more we think we are getting done. Yes, there may be a few jobs—like executive assistance—where this is true, but for most of us, it is just overloading us with information and hindering us from actually doing work and taking action.

How Do We Overcome Information Overload?

The overabundance of information can weigh us down mentally. Yes, we all have heard the expression that “information is power”, but that is not actually accurate.

It was Jim Kwik who said,

“Information is not power, it is potential power.”

The real power is in the action that you put forth with the information you consume.

Information Is Potential Power

To overcome information overload, what you need to do is actually use this information. Don’t just let all of it stress you out and cause anxiety—apply it in your everyday life as you see fit.

That ingenious article you read in a recent industry publication? See how you can apply some of the learnings to your next business strategy. The interesting political take you heard on the radio? Share it with your friend when you two are discussing current political events.

The key is to get good at determining the amount of information you need for the task at hand. Then, once you have that information, you apply it to the task.

Do this for everything, whether it’s for your projects at work, side hustle, DIY projects around the house, or other hobbies.

Yes, this method may mean you will occasionally make a mistake. However, the feedback you get from making the mistake—more information—will help you move towards your goal more efficiently and quickly than trying to learn everything before even getting started.

This “learn as you go,” hands-on process will help you figure out the info you need to keep and filter out for tasks.

Technology Can Help

In addition to only seeking info when you need it, Harvard Business Review also recommends using technology to hold onto information that you don’t need for an immediate task. They recommend “creating a Word or Google document in which you write down information that your brain doesn’t need to remember or store. In the early days of a new job, this is a clever way to offload the overload.”[3]

Setting the excess info aside can give you the chance to sort out and organize your information, determine what is needed right away, and then use the extra info later if needed.

How Do You Prevent Information Overload in the Future?

Shoot, ready, aim.

In my own experience with growing the Live Lingua online language school, I have found that the best way to avoid information overload is to start on a task before going and looking for any information. Yes, this means trusting your instincts and the knowledge you already have before doing any real research.

For example, I will work on something as far as I can until I don’t know what to do next. It is only at this point that I will look for the information I need to overcome the roadblock I face at that moment.

Once I have just enough information to overcome the issue I am dealing with, I go back to work and work as long as I can until I get to the next roadblock. I then repeat this process until I finish whatever I am working on.

This means that I spend just enough time gathering information as necessary, and I get the task done more quickly. Try this method out, as it can help prevent you from going down any internet wormholes, getting confused by various perspectives and articles, and then deciding you need a quick “brain break” by scrolling on social media, ultimately stifling your progress.

To Wrap It All Up

In today’s digital era, we are all constantly bombarded with information from all angles, every single day. This can cause information overload and all of the emotions that come along with it: overwhelm, stress, anxiety, and so on.

You can overcome any information overload you may currently be experiencing by using and applying the information in your life and determining what you need for a task. Then, in the future, prevent information overload by starting on a task before going and looking for any information.

Featured photo credit: freestocks via unsplash.com

Reference

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5 Most Effective Approaches to Solving Problems in Life

Authors, poets, and lyricists keep reminding us of something important: Life can get complicated. From family feuds to health issues, we’re bombarded with all sorts of concerns. That’s why it’s essential to have a solid approach to solving problems along the way.

You can’t anticipate every zig or zag, of course. But you can foster some habits and responses that will allow you to feel more balanced, focused, and confident—even when things go awry.

Discover your approach to solving problems. If your response to unforeseen challenges is to freeze, then you might try to think of a plan of action for the next time you encounter a change in plans.

Here are the five most effective approaches to solving problems in life.

1. Rearrange Your “Eggs” Into Several Baskets

Diversification isn’t just good for your financial portfolio. It’s also smart when it comes to setting yourself up with healthier coping mechanisms. In other words, have a number of aspects of your life that bring you contentment and joy.

These could be anything from a hobby like tinkering on a woodworking project in your basement to going on two fun vacations a year. Being able to find comfort in a variety of activities or relationships keeps you from being totally devastated when something happens in one area.

For example, if you lose your job, you will undoubtedly feel numb, angry, frustrated, sad, and a host of other emotions. Nevertheless, if you haven’t made your work the sole center of your existence, you can find a respite from negative feelings by redirecting your energies toward other parts of your world.

2. Learn to Acknowledge, Name, and Analyze Reactions

Do you tend to push away strong reactions or, on the other hand, let those reactions rule your words and actions? It’s important to remember that experiencing emotions is normal. You can learn to accept them without allowing them to guide you, though.

This can be a difficult concept to accept, of course. Marcia Reynolds Psy.D., writing for Psychology Today, notes that she helps people reimagine their connections with their emotions by seeing them as “mind events” rather than catastrophic ones. In other words, they’re manageable as long as you’re willing to learn how to tame their effect.[1]

For instance, you may find it best to jot down your feelings in a journal. This enables you to delve deeper into emotions and dissect them into their tiniest parts. Over time, you may see patterns emerging which give you more insight into who you are and fuel your desire to master your responses rather than allow them to master you.

3. Wait Before Making Major Decisions

Are you someone who has an impulsive mindset? You’re like nearly 17% of adults in the United States who self-reported as being given to impulsivity.[2] Though some types of impulsive decisions can be fun, such as going out for a happy hour at the last minute with new colleagues, other impulsive choices can be mistakes.

What is the approach to solving problems of an impulsive nature? Force yourself to wait.

That is, rather than doing something right away, give yourself some necessary time. Instead of putting in a bid for a house that’s just out of your price range, step back so you can re-evaluate why you want the house in the first place. Rather than quitting your job abruptly because you had a big blowup with your boss, cool your heels for a few days.

This doesn’t mean that you won’t end up doing what you originally intended. Sometimes, your first instincts will prove correct. More often than not, however, you’ll be glad you didn’t allow your gut to lead you into a regret-filled reaction.

4. Break Big Dilemmas Into Digestible Parts

There’s a saying that goes something like this: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” It’s an excellent reminder that a solid approach to solving problems is to break bigger obstacles into smaller parts.

Take a financial crisis. Even if you’ve been a terrific money manager, you can find yourself encountering significant cash woes due to anything from a divorce to a health scare. What’s your first response likely to be? Probably to allow your brain to think of worst-case scenarios.

Before you assume that you’ll end up homeless or forced to move back in with your parents, take a deep breath. Then, extract the nuggets of truth from your circumstances.

Is your savings completely wiped out or do you have some money to tide you over? What behaviors could you change to steward your existing cash? Would a second or third job be a possibility?

Peeling apart the big problem often makes it seem less gigantic and gives you insights into how to overcome it.

5. Taking a Learning Approach to Solving Problems Like Stumbles

Unfortunately, failing is part of being a human being. Just ask massive “failures” like Thomas Edison, J.K. Rowling, Jerry Seinfeld, and Oprah Winfrey.

Wait—you didn’t know they were failures many times before they were successes? It’s true. They just didn’t allow their failures to get in their way.

Can it be tempting to give in to feelings of failure? Of course. It’s very difficult to pick yourself back up after something in your life has gone unbelievably wrong. But a good approach to solving problems that arise from failures is to reframe the failures as learning lessons.

The next time you fail big-time—or on a smaller scale—write down what you learned. Think about your failure.

Why did it happen? Is it part of a pattern of issues that keep arising throughout the years? How could you avoid something similar again?

For example, maybe you keep getting into debt like millions of other Americans whose individual debt loads clock in at around $90,000.[3] Use your recurring debt as the springboard to come up with a fiscally healthier approach to solving problems. Basically, teach yourself an approach to solving problems that do not involve spending all your money.

Final Thoughts

Do you have a go-to approach to solving problems or perhaps a few of them? If not, start building a personal care toolkit that includes problem-handling skills that will help you move more easily through life’s more challenging phases and experiences. These five most effective approaches to solving problems in life will definitely help you with what you want to achieve.

Featured photo credit: Roman Melnychuk via unsplash.com

Reference

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12 Best Brain Foods To Help You Focus Like A Laser

Do you ever feel like your brain can function better than it is currently? Have you ever had moments of laser sharp focus and wished they stayed with you forever?

We have all had those moments where we found ourselves being super productive and having lengthened periods of concentration and focused attention, and if there was a way we could make such kind of mental state a permanent state for us, we would definitely go for it.

And while we cannot make the state come back and stick with us forever in just an instant, there is a way we can slowly cultivate it in our lives in the long term.

One of these ways is by being keen on eating brain boosting foods. Some foods enhance the regions of the brain that are linked to concentration, focus, reasoning, thinking abilities, and overall brain health. By eating these foods regularly, you can also improve your brain function and slowly work to a healthy and well performing brain.

Let’s take a closer look at the 12 best brain foods to take to boost your focus and overall mental health.

1. Coffee

Coffee is among the most popular beverages that sharpen your focus and increase productivity. Millions of people across the world rely on it to help them through demanding tasks at work and assignments at school.

The reason why coffee has proven to be effective over the years is due to the two components in it that largely enhance the brain.

These components are antioxidants and caffeine.

Antioxidants help with protecting the brain from common mental health conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.[1][2]

Caffeine, on the other hand, is responsible for influencing the brain in various positive ways including blocking out a brain chemical called Adenosine that makes you want to sleep and increasing the levels of serotonin neurotransmitters which in turn boosts your mood, increase your level of alertness and concentration.[3][4][5][6]

However, it is important to note that taking coffee with moderation is the way to make the most of it. If you take more than 4 cups a day, you might be setting yourself up for the nasty side effects that come with it which are restlessness and inability to sleep.[7]

Striking a good balance between coffee and other beverages will help you avoid the chances of experiencing the side effects. You can try drinking coffee only on those days you want to tackle tedious tasks, and only when you are working on them to maximize its effects in your life.

2. Fatty Fish

When the words fatty fish are mentioned, you naturally direct your attention to salmon, pollack, cod, sardines, mackerel and tuna.

These contain omega 3 fatty acids, which are known to help with improving learning abilities and memory, not to mention helping with building nerve and brain cells.[8][9][10][11]

Improved cognitive performance brought about by omega 3 fatty acids can be attributed to the fact that they help increase flow of blood in the brain. [12]

Also, when it comes to general mental health, eating oily or fatty fish helps to delay the mental decline that comes with age, as well as depression and reduce learning problems. [13] [14]

Omega 3 has also been associated with the lowering of the protein called Beta-amyloid in the brain that is responsible for forming destructive clamps in people who struggle with Alzheimer’s.[15]

You are encouraged to add fatty fish to your eating plan and consider having it often.

Also, if you would like to obtain omega 3 fatty acids without having to feel like you have to eat fish every time, you can use other alternatives such as walnuts, flaxseeds and avocados. They are also good sources of omega 3.

3. Maca

Maca is a plant from Peru that is grown in Central Andes and has been cultivated a little over 2000 years now. Its scientific name is Lepidium meyenii and is used as a foodstuff as well as a medicinal plant.

It is said to bring about many health benefits including boosting learning abilities and memory, improving mood, increasing energy levels and endurance, improving sexual health in men, and regulating blood pressure.[16]

When it comes to the mental health benefits, Peruvian natives in the Central Andes attribute their children’s good academic performance to regular use of maca.[17]

While there are different varieties of maca, studies have found that the black variety is the one that shows strong effects on mental health improvement, and both hydroalcoholic maca extract and boiled aqueous maca extract have the same effect on the brain.[18]

Scientific studies on maca are still in their infancy and the cause of the effects that it has shown are not yet fully established. However, it is suggested that Macamides, which are maca compounds, might be behind its potency.[19]

You can add maca to your smoothies, energy bars, oatmeal, and any baked foods to enjoy its benefits.

4. Green Tea

Green tea is another known stimulant that helps you remain alert. It contains two compounds that go a long way in influencing the brain.[20]

First, it contains caffeine which accounts for the alertness.

Although coffee contains a much higher quantity of caffeine than green tea, the latter is found suitable to use for those who prefer a well toned effect of caffeine.

Caffeine helps with regulating neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, dopamine and adenosine, as earlier mentioned, that helps with keeping you awake and in good balance in terms of moods and brain function.[21][22]

Second, it contains. L-theanine.

L-theanine is an amino acid that can cross the blood-brain barrier and into the brain which then promotes increase in GABA (Gamma aminobutyric acid) which promotes relaxation.[23][24][25]

It also increases the alpha waves in the brain which are responsible for the calm, conscious and relaxed mental state.

When L-theanine and caffeine are combined, they both have a much powerful effect, and this explains why taking green tea for many people has been found more rewarding than coffee.

L-theanine has also been linked to other mental health benefits such as improving memory and protection from mental illnesses like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.[26][27]

Taking green tea in the morning and just before going for a physical exercise helps.

5. Green Leafy Vegetables

Greens are packed with nutrients that enhance the brain in great ways. Broccoli, Swiss chards, kales, dandelion greens, collards and spinach are among the vegetables that have high nutritional value that make them useful for brain health.

Broccoli, for instance, has antioxidants and Vitamin K, among other plant compounds that contribute to better memory, anti-inflammatory effects and brain protection benefits.[28][29][30]

Kale is heavily packed with nutrients like Vitamin A, B6, C, K, potassium, manganese, copper and calcium that promote brain development, slowing cognitive decline caused by age, depression and even various health conditions like Alzheimer’s.[31][32][33][34]

Generally, leafy vegetables contain a variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that elevate various regions of the brain that are associated with memory, alertness, processing of information and overall brain health.

Working with delicious green smoothies and recipes that use a lot of greens will largely contribute to a better functioning brain.

6. Dark Chocolate

Other than the sweet taste, dark chocolate also boosts your brain.

It contains three compounds that make this possible, which are, caffeine, antioxidants and flavonoids.

Since we have already seen that caffeine offers the stimulating effects that keep you alert and antioxidants help with keeping mental illnesses and cognitive decline at bay, let’s take a closer look at flavonoids.

Flavonoids are micronutrients that reduce neuroinflammation, protect neurons from neurotoxin-based injury and are potentially effective in enhancing learning, cognitive performance and memory.[35][36] [37]

Studies have also revealed that dark chocolate brings about a positive feeling.[38]

Dark chocolate contains cacao, which is often referred to as cocoa. Aiming to eat dark chocolate that carries more than 70% cocoa ensures that you get optimal benefits from it.

7. Nuts

Nuts such as walnuts, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, to name a few, contain several brain improving nutrients.

They come with the popular antioxidant, Vitamin E, that protects the brain cells and cell membranes from oxidative stress and damage by free radicals.[39][40][41]

Long term consumption of nuts has contributed to a sharper memory, better academic performance and lower risks of getting mental illnesses too.[42][43]

They have also shown abilities to improve the factors that account for good heart and brain health.

All nuts have their nutritional benefits but you are encouraged to eat walnuts more as they have a much higher value due to the presence of high levels of alpha-linolenic acid, which is a type of omega 3 fatty acid.

8. Avocado

Avocado is surprisingly a berry, and it is referred to as a big berry.

Although it hasn’t been fully studied yet, it is believed to carry vitamins B5, B6, C, E and K. Also, it comes with folate and potassium.

There are also low amounts of other nutrients including copper, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and iron that are present in it.

Moreover, it contains a monounsaturated fatty acid called Oleic acid, which is part of what makes olive oil good to use. This fatty acid is known to have many benefits, some of which are lowering inflammation, and brain development.[44]

Adding it to your recipes or making smoothies, and regularly eating it together with your favorite fruits will help you take advantage of its nutritional value.

9. Eggs

There are 4 micronutrients in eggs that give the brain an extra edge, folate, choline, vitamin B6 and B12.

Folate helps to slow down the mental decline that comes with age.[45]

Choline is used by the body to increases the levels of a neurotransmitter known as Acetylcholine that is associated with memory, mental function and moods.[46][47][48]

The yolk of an egg is where the choline micronutrient is in high quantities, and people who desire to increase their choline levels in the body are encouraged to focus on that part.

Vitamin B6 brings down the high levels of an amino acid called Homocysteine in the blood that causes depression and other psychiatric issues.

It also plays the role of increasing the levels of neurotransmitters like GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid), serotonin and dopamine, which modulate emotions.

Vitamin B12 also helps with reducing the symptoms of depression as well as preventing losing neurons that in turn cause poor memory.[49]

10. Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are categorized into lemons (which include meyer lemons and eureka lemons), sweet oranges (which include blood orange, Valencia, cara cara and navel), limes (which include kaffir, Persian and key lime), mandarin (which include tangelo, tangor, satsuma and clementine), grapefruit (which include ruby red, white and oroblanco) and others such as yuzu, sudachi, citron and pomelos.

They have the B vitamins as well as Vitamin C, copper, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. There are also lots of varieties of carotenoids, essential oils and flavonoids present in citrus fruits.

On top of that, they are also known to possess antioxidating and anti-inflammatory effects.

Vitamin C reduces inflammation, offers protection to neurons from oxidative stress, modulates neurotransmission (communication between neurons), and also influences neuronal development.[50]

Some of the minerals in citrus fruits have been found to reduce symptoms of depression in women.[51]

They have also been associated with influencing communication through the nerves and regulating neurotransmitters.[52]

The flavanoids protect the nervous system from damage through the anti-inflammatory effects they have. And this helps to keep mental health conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s away.[53][54]

11. Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice we add to our foods to make it delicious that also does a bit of magic to our brains.

Curcumin is a primary active component in turmeric that easily passes the blood brain barrier.

It brings about anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that drag along the benefits of improved memory, promoting growth of new brain cells and managing moods.[55][56]

Also, it has shown potential to handle Alzheimer’s diseases, although it has not been fully confirmed as reliable treatment.[57][58]

12. Beetroots

Beetroots which are commonly referred to as beets are also great brain enhancers.

They can help prevent mental decline that is associated with poor blood flow to the brain. They have nitrates that encourage blood vessel dilation that then allow more blood and oxygen to flow to the brain, and thus enhance its functions.[59]

More specifically, they improve flow of blood to a part of the brain known as the frontal lobe.

This is a region that is linked to higher cognitive functions including concentration and attention, problem solving, reasoning and judgment, motor function, impulse control, memory, social interaction and emotions.

Conclusion

There you go, the best brain foods that you should make your closest friends.

You should aim to have them often if you would like to see an improvement in your brain function in the coming months. Looking for recipes that use the foods mentioned above as ingredients and adding them to your recipe book is a good place to start.

Also, mixing them up with the foods you like eating goes a long way in not only making sure that you are minding your brain health but also enjoying what you eat in the process.

Featured photo credit: Maddi Bazzocco via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] PubMed.gov: Effects of coffee/caffeine on brain health and disease: What should I tell my patients?
[2] US National Library of Medicine: Neuroprotective and Anti-inflammatory Properties of a Coffee Component in the MPTP Model of Parkinson’s Disease
[3] PubMed.gov: Effects of caffeine on mood and performance: a study of realistic consumption
[4] PubMed.gov: Caffeine and adenosine
[5] PubMed.gov: The role of adenosine in the regulation of sleep
[6] PubMed.gov: Roles of adenosine and its receptors in sleep-wake regulation
[7] US National Library of Medicine: The Safety of Ingested Caffeine: A Comprehensive Review
[8] National Center For Complimentary And Integrative Health: Omega-3 Supplements: In Depth
[9] PubMed.gov: Omega-3 Fatty Acids and their Role in Central Nervous System – A Review
[10] National Library of Medicine: A meta-analytic review of double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of antidepressant efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids
[11] PubMed.gov: Novel insights into the effect of vitamin B₁₂ and omega-3 fatty acids on brain function
[12] PubMed.gov: Quantitative Erythrocyte Omega-3 EPA Plus DHA Levels are Related to Higher Regional Cerebral Blood Flow on Brain SPECT
[13] PubMed.gov: Omega-3 fatty acids and dementia
[14] PubMed.gov: Fish consumption and cognitive decline with age in a large community study
[15] Harvard Medical School: Foods linked to better brainpower
[16] US National Library of Medicine: Acceptability, Safety, and Efficacy of Oral Administration of Extracts of Black or Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii) in Adult Human Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study
[17] PubMed.gov: Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands
[18] PubMed.gov: Effect of three different cultivars of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on learning and depression in ovariectomized mice
[19] US National Library of Medicine: Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands
[20] PubMed.gov: Effect of Green Tea Phytochemicals on Mood and Cognition
[21] Wiley Online Library: Adenosine, Adenosine Receptors and the Actions of Caffeine
[22] PubMed.gov: Caffeine and the central nervous system: mechanisms of action, biochemical, metabolic and psychostimulant effects
[23] PubMed.gov: The neuropharmacology of L-theanine(N-ethyl-L-glutamine): a possible neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing agent
[24] ScienceDirect: L-theanine—a unique amino acid of green tea and its relaxation effect in humans
[25] PubMed.gov: L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state
[26] PubMed.gov: Green tea extract enhances parieto-frontal connectivity during working memory processing
[27] PubMed.gov: Neurological mechanisms of green tea polyphenols in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases
[28] PubMed.gov: Vitamin K status and cognitive function in healthy older adults
[29] Increased dietary vitamin K intake is associated with less severe subjective memory complaint among older adults
[30] US National Library of Medicine: Assessing Competence of Broccoli Consumption on Inflammatory and Antioxidant Pathways in Restraint-Induced Models: Estimation in Rat Hippocampus and Prefrontal Cortex
[31] ScienceDaily: B vitamins and the aging brain examined
[32] PubMed.gov: The Importance of Maternal Folate Status for Brain Development and Function of Offspring
[33] PubMed.gov: Treatment of depression: time to consider folic acid and vitamin B12
[34] PNAS: Preventing Alzheimer’s disease-related gray matter atrophy by B-vitamin treatment
[35] US National Library of Medicine: Flavonoids and brain health: multiple effects underpinned by common mechanisms
[36] Harvard Medical School: The thinking on flavonoids
[37] PubMed.gov: Epicatechin, a component of dark chocolate, enhances memory formation if applied during the memory consolidation period
[38] PubMed.gov: The sweet life: The effect of mindful chocolate consumption on mood
[39] PubMed.gov: Effects of vitamin E on cognitive performance during ageing and in Alzheimer’s disease
[40] PubMed.gov: The effect of adrenaline and of alpha- and beta-adrenergic blocking agents on ATP concentration and on incorporation of 32Pi into ATP in rat fat cells
[41] PubMed.gov: Vitamin E-gene interactions in aging and inflammatory age-related diseases: implications for treatment. A systematic review
[42] US National Library of Medicine: LONG-TERM INTAKE OF NUTS IN RELATION TO COGNITIVE FUNCTION IN OLDER WOMEN
[43] PubMed.gov: Cognition: the new frontier for nuts and berries
[44] US National Library of Medicine: Neuroprotective effects of oleic acid in rodent models of cerebral ischaemia
[45] US National Library of Medicine: Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function
[46] PubMed.gov: Choline: an essential nutrient for public health
[47] Pubmed.govThe relation of dietary choline to cognitive performance and white-matter hyperintensity in the Framingham Offspring Cohort
[48] NCBI: Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline
[49] PubMed.gov: Vitamin B-12 concentration, memory performance, and hippocampal structure in patients with mild cognitive impairment
[50] PubMed.gov: Preventive and Therapeutic Potential of Vitamin C in Mental Disorders
[51] NCBI: Association between Lower Intake of Minerals and Depressive Symptoms among Elderly Japanese Women but Not Men: Findings from Shika Study
[52] Harvard Medical School: Precious metals and other important minerals for health
[53] PubMed.gov: Role of Quercetin Benefits in Neurodegeneration
[54] PubMed.gov: Neurodegenerative Diseases: Might Citrus Flavonoids Play a Protective Role?
[55] PubMed.gov: Efficacy and safety of curcumin in major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial
[56] PLOS ONE: Curcumin Enhances Neurogenesis and Cognition in Aged Rats: Implications for Transcriptional Interactions Related to Growth and Synaptic Plasticity
[57] US National Library of Medicine: The effect of curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimer’s disease: An overview
[58] NCBI: The effect of curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimer’s disease: An overview
[59] NCBI: The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease

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What Is Loss Aversion And How To Avoid This Bias

Have you been feeling particularly cautious lately? Do you find yourself avoiding making major or seemingly risky decisions until you feel life has returned to “normal”? This isn’t unusual, and you are not alone. In these uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic, people would rather stick with what they perceive as safe. They veer away from making any sudden changes that could rock the boat and resort to loss aversion instead.

After more than a year of having to take drastic measures to secure our safety as well as those of our loved ones, it’s not surprising to find that some people would choose to hunker down even when faced with issues that don’t pose any mortal danger to them.

The pandemic has challenged us to become more resilient—a good thing—and even pick up an additional useful skill or two.[1] However, the flip side presents us with a potentially unfortunate side effect—that it could have altered our risk-taking behavior.

Read on to learn what loss aversion is and how you can avoid this bias.

Taking Risks, Making a Change

Why is it important to have a healthy view of risk? Shouldn’t we approach life with caution to avoid making mistakes?

I would say that, indeed, making careful, decisive choices will yield great results, so long as you can identify the line between being reasonably cautious and being downright fearful. There are also certain patterns in decision-making that you must watch out for.

To illustrate further, I present you with this example: Let’s say you meet a kind stranger who offers you your choice of a great deal with absolutely no tricks. He gives you $45. Then, he asks you if you want to hold on to the money or give it back to him in exchange for a coin flip. If it’s heads, he’ll give you $100 right then and there. If it’s tails, you get nothing.

So, which one do you choose? Instant cash in your pocket or a chance to flip the coin? Think hard before you read further.

When I present this coin scenario to different audiences, about 80% say they’ll take the $45 from the stranger. That’s the choice I made when I was also presented with this scenario many years ago. The same can be said for most people in studies of similar choices.[2] And why not? The $45 is a sure thing, after all.

Back then, I thought that I’d certainly feel foolish if I took the risk just for a shot at getting $100 only to lose out. My gut instinct told me to avoid losing. I suppose anyone would feel the same way initially.

Here’s the thing, though. If we run the numbers, the chance of getting heads is 50%, so in half of all cases, you’ll get the $100. In the rest of the cases, you won’t get anything. So, that’s equal to $50 on average, compared with just $45.

Now, imagine if you flipped the coin 10 times, then 100 times, 1,000 times, on to 10,000 times, and then 100,000 times. At 100,000 times, on average you would win $5 million if you picked the coin flip for $100 every time, compared with $4.5 million if you picked $45 each time. The difference is an amazing $500,000.

This means that picking $45 as your gift from the stranger leads to you losing out. The correct choice—the one that will mostly not lead to you losing—is to pick the coin flip. Pick the other choice and you’re pretty much guaranteed to lose over multiple coin flips.

However, you might reason out that I presented the scenario as a one-time deal and not as a repeating opportunity. Perhaps, you’d say that if you knew it was a repeating scenario, then you would have picked differently.

The problem lies with this: studies have shown that our gut addresses each scenario we face as a one-off.[3] In reality, we are presented with a multitude of such choices every day. We are goaded by our intuition to deal with each one as an isolated situation. However, these choices are part of a broader repeating pattern where our gut pushes us towards losing money. We avoid risks—fearful of losing—and end up losing in the end.

Why Are People Afraid to Take Risks?

We are prone to shying away from risks due to a mental blindspot called loss aversion.[4] This is one of the many dangerous judgment errors that result from how our brains are wired—what scholars in cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics call cognitive biases.[5]

Research has shown that people are more sensitive to possible losses than potential gains.[6]

Loss aversion goads us into having an unhealthy view of risk, causing us to have a knee-jerk and one-size-fits-all approach to risk-taking, which is to outright reject it. This rejection runs counter to the resilience and flexibility we gained during these uncertain times. It also poses a threat to how we can continue to adapt to the shifting nature of this pandemic, as well as how to smoothly transition to a post-COVID life.[7]

The Sweeping Influence of Loss Aversion

It’s easy enough to think that loss aversion only comes into play during major decisions or turning points. However, we are presented with a multitude of similar choices daily that—much like in the coin-flip scenario—represent a broader pattern that could cause us to lose out in life.

Remember that loss aversion isn’t just limited to decisions that have a corresponding monetary result. It also applies to situations and circumstances where avoiding a possibly negative outcome might blind you to potentially positive changes in your life.

Here are some aspects of life that can easily be derailed by loss aversion.

1. Exiting Toxic Relationships

Have you ever stayed in a relationship (romantic or otherwise) that has clearly already run its course? Perhaps this relationship already causes you distress or keeps you from reaching your personal goals.

Yet, despite indications that you would have a healthier, happier life without this stressful relationship, you find it difficult to walk away because of the disruption it would cause in your life. You worry about the loss of your routine, and this holds you back.

2. Making Much-Needed Career Changes

People are particularly cautious about making career changes especially during this pandemic, opting to “wait it out” and just trudging on until life returns to “normal.”

We need to remember that we may never get back the version of normal that we had pre-pandemic. Just as the world changed and readjusted to COVID, so did each individual, and so did employers.

Jobs and employment are constantly shifting and evolving, more so now than before, so you have to weigh and consider if the loss of an old job is truly that daunting versus transitioning to a new career that could enrich your life mid- and post-pandemic.

3. Dealing With Your Current Pandemic Life and Looking Forward

Loss aversion can trickle down even to the smallest perceivable things in life. With our wariness of COVID-19 modifying our behavior when it comes to going out, physical distancing, and socializing, it’s perfectly understandable to someday come out of this pandemic more cautious, more health-conscious, and more aware of our security than we were before 2020.

However, as we start to consider what the world will be like after the pandemic, we should also plan our lives accordingly. This means that while our social and networking circles were forcibly shrunk in the last year, there is no need to let our lives deliberately stagnate for fear of leaving our comfort zone.

It also means that, when the time is right, we must be willing to reintegrate our lives into a changed world and balance the risk with a potentially more meaningful life.

Conclusion

While it might seem daunting, looking ahead into the future calls for a reexamination of loss aversion. If left unchecked, it will keep you from living your best life as it goads you into focusing on what you could lose versus what you might gain.

With or without the pandemic, viewing risk with a steady perspective can indeed be helpful when weighing how to proceed with major life decisions. However, focusing too much on the risk may lead to abject fear, which can keep you from making balanced, decisive choices.

Identifying the repeated pattern of our choices and knowing how to tackle and transform each possible loss into a gain will go a long way in winning in life—with or without a pandemic.

More Biases That Unconsiously Affect Us Every Day

Featured photo credit: AJ Yorio via unsplash.com

Reference

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16 Brain-Damaging Habits To Stop Doing Now

Have you ever felt like your mental health is getting worse by the day? Like you are slowly going backward mentally instead of improving? Well, it may have something to do with your habits that can be brain-damaging and harmful to your mental health.

See, some habits may seem to fit our lifestyles and desires but affect various aspects of our mental health without us knowing. Maybe you are used to drinking eight cups of coffee every day as you work on demanding projects so that you can hit your deadline. It helps to do that since it will keep you alert and productive, but this destroys your brain slowly.

To learn how excessive caffeine works against you, along with other habits that you have made as your second nature that are slowly and quietly killing your brain, read on.

You will learn what not to do so that you improve and maintain optimum mental health for years to come. Here are 16 brain-damaging habits to stop doing now.

1. Allowing Yourself to Be Overwhelmed by Stress and Anxiety Frequently

If your life is filled with stress-inducing events that constantly weigh you down, this might affect your mental health in the long run and damage your brain. Studies show that stress may cause long-term changes in your brain that make you vulnerable to various mental illnesses by influencing a process known as oligodendrogenesis.[1] This process involves the formation of oligodendrocytes, the myelinating cells of the nervous system.

Myelination, which happens to the cells of the central nervous system, is when there is an increase in the fatty myelin sheath that surrounds the neuronal fibers and processes that make electrical transmission in the brain much smoother. When stress accumulates in your life, it affects the extent or rate of myelination, which then brings about exposure to mental health conditions.

To avoid getting stressed all the time, you should consider reducing the factors that increase your chances of having stress. A problem-solving plan or strategy that helps you solve the problems you face regularly can also go a long way for you. Moreover, working with a stress-relieving technique such as meditation can also help reduce the high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.

2. Failing to Take on New Challenging Activities

If you are used to doing the same tasks every day for a long period, chances are that you are slowly destroying your brain. Now, this doesn’t mean that if you are a doctor or a lawyer and you are doing the same tasks almost every day, you are hurting your brain. No, having a career or becoming an expert at something by regularly doing it is okay, and it has positive benefits. However, if you don’t go out of your way to do something new and stretch your brain a little, then you are bringing problems to your life.

Research shows that doing new things creates new patterns for your neural activity, making your brain sharp and maintaining optimal mental health.[2]

Learning a new skill has been found to create these patterns so learning fine arts, driving a motorbike (if you only know how to drive a car and vice versa), learning a new language, or learning any other skills, craft, or activities that you have never done before really adds value not only financially but also mentally.

Even in your place of work, you can increase your knowledge and skill-set in different aspects of your career by advancing your studies as this also helps. You don’t necessarily have to pick up an entirely new hobby or skills that are unrelated to your line of work or interests.

3. Avoiding the Gym Room

We can all admit that we are not always pumped up to go to the gym or follow the fitness routines that we have set for ourselves. Sometimes, a day comes when we are not feeling it. And then a day becomes two, and then three, and before long, it has been months or years since we worked out.

Being inactive for long causes functional and structural changes in the brain, which increases the chance of getting cardiovascular problems.[3] Sitting for hours without following it with some serious exercise can have a significant effect on your health and be brain-damaging. That is why you are always advised to spare a few minutes out of your day to do some form of physical exercise that will get your blood running.

Becoming active fitness-wise means doing it every so often, not every day. If your work schedule doesn’t allow you to work out each day, you can do it on those days when you have little to no work, at least three to four times a day.

Remember that your body is the only body you have throughout the years you are going to be here on earth (and maybe mars, too, if Elon Musk makes it habitable before we die). You don’t get another body at some other point in the future, so you have to ensure you take care of it by frequent exercising, whether it’s aerobic exercise, strength training, or balance exercises, or any other type you find fit for you.

4. Making Binge Eating Your Second Nature

Overeating is considered to be a bad eating pattern that causes brain-damaging health problems in the long run. It affects you physically and also puts you at risk of getting serious health conditions, such as obesity, heart problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes, and these conditions are associated with brain conditions like Alzheimer’s and others.

According to a study presented in the annual meeting held by the American Academy of Neurology, having too much food has also shown the increased possibility of mild cognitive impairment or memory loss after a few years.[4] This applies to binging on both healthy and unhealthy foods for a prolonged period.

To solve this, you first need to be aware of the dangers you are exposing yourself to by overeating. Would you like to have to suffer for a lifetime for eating the large pizza every day for a month or more? Is it really worth it?

Awareness of this when you get tempted to eat or when your cravings are high, coupled with a strong will to change your life for your peace and health’s sake, can help you make a positive change in your life.

5. Obsessing Over Sugary Foods

Taking foods that have no nutritional value work against your body and brain. Your brain requires nutrients to perform well and if you fall into the habit of having high sugar foods, you are denying your brain the opportunity to function well and develop well and thus, cause a condition called malnutrition.

On top of that, the brains of people who are used to taking junk food have been found to have regions that are associated with memory and learning to be relatively smaller than those of people who eat healthy foods.[5]

You should make an effort of eating healthy foods often and in favorable amounts to make sure that your body is making the most of them and improving your health.

6. Not Getting Enough Restful Sleep

We all require refreshing sleep after a long day at work, but we don’t always get to have that. Maybe you have some tasks you need to complete or an assignment that you need to submit before the deadline, so you steal some of your sleep time to work on that.

Making this a habit and depriving yourself of sleep makes it hard for your brain to function properly. Other aspects such as alertness, memory, the ability to learn verbally, and the emotional state of your brain are also affected.[6][7][8]

Very few hours of sleep also reduce your rate of productivity and your ability to decode people’s emotions. Managing your time well during the day, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, keeping away electronics, and avoiding stress are better ways to ensure you get the amount of sleep that your brain requires to perform at its best.

7. Juggling Many Tasks at Once

The main reason why we multitask is to achieve more in less time. However, doing this is more counterproductive than you might think.

Firstly, you think you are doing more in a short period when in fact, you are setting yourself up for disaster. Our brains are not designed to multitask. We are meant to handle one task at a time, and when we multitask, our attention is divided and we end up doing low-quality work. You give your brain very little time to process and prepare how you should approach each work the right way to get the desired results and thus, strain it.

Also, research shows that multitasking increases the levels of the stress hormone, which can be brain-damaging.[9] In the long term, your actions affect the overall performance of your brain.

8. Constant Information Overload

We live in a world where we constantly seek new information or receive information that is meant to improve our lives in different areas. However, if we frequently put ourselves in a state where we are receiving more information than we can handle, this takes a toll on our brains.

If on a typical day, you are taking in a lot of new information and trying to process and work with it, you put a lot of pressure on your brain’s ability to decode and apply the information in the needed areas, and this makes you ineffective. You also affect your memory and decision-making abilities.

Whether it is a new training at work, or trying to keep up with new technology, or even doing your studies, you should try to do it in moderation so that you benefit from it and you keep your brain operating well. Also, creating a plan of how you are going to take in the information in small bits, process it, and then give your brain some rest and then get back to it based on your schedule will save you big time.

9. Loving the Couch Too Much

The brain is structured in a way that only gets better when it’s put into work. Think of it like a muscle. You are supposed to do training now so that you can be strong. In this same way, you should train your mind by involving it in a series of tasks during the day, some of which are fairly challenging so that you get it to go the extra mile, which results in better performance and improved mental abilities.

For example, when you are working, if you are used to concentrating for 30 minutes to one hour and then you take a break, you can try doing one hour to one hour and 15 minutes three times a week. Then, when it becomes fairly easy for you to do it, you make it a daily thing.

If you stay idle for a long period, you will be subjecting your mind to mental decline, which will, later on, impact your life and make it difficult for you to be efficient like other people. However, if you push your mind just a little once in a while, you will get better and utilize your full potential.

10. Limited Socializing

Well, this one is going to disappoint most introverts, although not much. Staying alone for a long period might be working against you more than you think it does for you.

See, human beings grow and get better with more interactions. The very act of interacting with a person involves the brain and boosts its function at the same time. When you are speaking to someone, you have to think, reason, and process what you are told so that you can give good responses. You have to retrieve some information from your memory and use it in your discussions, and you also have to store new information that you get from the person you are speaking to for future benefits.

When you fail to meet new people or talk to the close people you already have, you are losing out, and this can be brain-damaging. Research has shown that creating and actively maintaining social networks helps to keep mental decline at bay and enables you to be more mentally sharp.[10][11]

Even if you are an introvert and find more power in being alone, try to strike a balance between your alone time and time to get to know people. You will be amazed at what you’ve been missing out on.

11. Blasting Your Headphones

Neuroscientists from the University of Dallas found that being exposed to loud noises might affect your brain’s ability to process sound and also makes it more likely for your brain to struggle even more to understand speech sounds.[12] It may also bring about impaired memory and alterations in moods and behavior.[13][14] And this is one of the reasons that cause memory-related conditions in older adults later in life. In other words, frequent exposure to loud noises can be brain-damaging.

Since the brain is being overtasked, it becomes hard for it to keep up with the daily demands and still operate at its best for years to come. While having loud music seems appealing, you should try to reduce the number of times you listen to loud music or being in a place with a loud noise to protect the key areas of your brain.

You can work with the ratio of 3:1, that is, for every three times you listen to low music, you listen to loud music once. Alternatively, you can give it up entirely and focus only on moderate volume.

12. Heavy Smoking

When a pregnant woman smokes, she prevents the brain development of the baby she’s carrying, something that later on affects the baby.[15] Smoking also makes your brain shrink, promotes an imbalance of hormones that are brain-controlled, and makes you twice as likely to suffer from dementia as the average person.[16][17]

Heavy smoking also weighs your memory down.[18] If you are a big-time smoker, you should consider getting therapy to help you overcome the destructive habit or use other self-improvement methods such as awareness meditation, subliminal messages, and others that you feel may work well with you.

13. Having a Thing for Darkness

Staying indoors in dimly lit rooms the whole day for weeks can make you feel depressed and also increases your chances of getting cognitive impairment.[19]

Sunlight offers vitamin D that is responsible for regulating the cerebrospinal fluid and enzymes in the brain, which are associated with nerve growth and synthesis of neurotransmitters that help with sending electrical signals in the brain.[20] It also promotes a healthy circadian rhythm that also sharpens the brain.

Sparing a couple of minutes to bask in the morning and afternoon sun carries a lot of nutritional value for your physical and mental health.

14. Covering Your Head When Sleeping

When you cover your head when you’re sleeping, you increase the intake of carbon dioxide and reduce oxygen levels in your brain. And since your brain requires oxygen to function properly, you end up hurting yourself.

Also, this is among the actions that may contribute to sudden infant deaths.[21] That is why you are always advised to keep your head as well as your baby’s uncovered when sleeping.

15. The Smart Device Addiction

Using mobile devices in this technological era is inevitable. But when you do it too much, especially at night, you risk your ability to fall asleep easily, which brings the brain-damaging effects of lack of sleep.

On top of that, it limits your level of creativity and makes you dependent, which is not a good thing for someone who is required to be active and productive during the day and sleep peacefully at night.[22] Smart device addiction is also associated with increased mental health conditions, low self-esteem, limited learning abilities, and high chances of cognitive decline. [23]

While you have to use mobile devices, it is good practice to make sure that you are controlling the amount of time you are spending on it and keep it to the minimum.

16. Strong Relationship With Caffeine

Caffeine is good for remaining alert and busy, but when you have more than 400 milligrams, which is estimated to be around 4 cups, then you put yourself in a position where you are most likely to fight with headaches, drowsiness, and migraines. In some cases, it might cause hallucinations and more confusion in your life.

Having caffeine, just like all the other habits mentioned here, is a simple and ordinary thing that we do and appear okay but may have a huge impact on our brains over a period if not controlled. Too much caffeine can be brain-damaging, but you can easily avoid this.

Conclusion

In summary, embracing habits that seem comfortable and more fitting for us in various situations may seem to improve our lives but in fact, they may do quite the contrary. They may be brain-damaging or even harmful to our physical health.

Instead, you should aim at engaging in various mental and physical exercises like meditation, going to the gym often, getting involved in challenging brain games, learning new languages, using your other hand instead of the dominant one, being careful how you sleep and how you handle stressful events in your life, and remain active for the better part of the day. And also, don’t forget to make new friends often.

These habits will not only get you out of your comfort zone but also challenge your mind in a way that will improve it.

More Tips on Boosting Brain Power

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Reference

[1] Nature: Stress and glucocorticoids promote oligodendrogenesis in the adult hippocampus
[2] Science Daily: How the brain changes when mastering a new skill
[3] PubMed.gov: Physical (in)activity-dependent structural plasticity in bulbospinal catecholaminergic neurons of rat rostral ventrolateral medulla
[4] Harvard Medical School: Overeating may reduce brain function
[5] Medical Express: Eating junk food found to impair the role of the hippocampus in regulating gorging
[6] Nature: Altered brain response to verbal learning following sleep deprivation
[7] Wiley Online library: Neural basis of alertness and cognitive performance impairments during sleepiness. I. Effects of 24 h of sleep deprivation on waking human regional brain activity
[8] Science Direct: The human emotional brain without sleep — a prefrontal amygdala disconnect
[9] NCBI: Psychobiological responses to critically evaluated multitasking
[10] Plos One: Psychological well-being in elderly adults with extraordinary episodic memory
[11] US National Library of Medicine: The evolution of episodic memory
[12] Science Daily: Effect of loud noises on the brain revealed in study
[13] US National Library of Medicine: The Effect of Noise Exposure on Cognitive Performance and Brain Activity Patterns
[14] US National Library of Medicine: Loud Noise Exposure Produces DNA, Neurotransmitter and Morphological Damage within Specific Brain Areas
[15] Wiley Online library: Effects of maternal smoking in pregnancy on prenatal brain development. The Generation R Study
[16] Science Direct: Nicotine and the central nervous system: Biobehavioral effects of cigarette smoking
[17] Science Direct: Non-treatment-seeking heavy drinkers: Effects of chronic cigarette smoking on brain structure
[18] US National Library of Medicine: Brain Activity in Cigarette Smokers Performing a Working Memory Task: Effect of Smoking Abstinence
[19] US National Library of Medicine: The Relationship Between Long-Term Sunlight Radiation and Cognitive Decline in the REGARDS Cohort Study
[20] Scientific American: Does Vitamin D Improve Brain Function?
[21] PubMed.gov: Consequences of getting the head covered during sleep in infancy
[22] Harvard Medical School: Screen Time and the Brain
[23] Springer Link: Effects of Excessive Screen Time on Neurodevelopment, Learning, Memory, Mental Health, and Neurodegeneration: a Scoping Review

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What Is Abstract Thinking And How To Develop It

While incredibly valuable for making wise decisions in work and life, abstract thinking is greatly underappreciated.

Abstract thinking refers to our ability to understand complex concepts that don’t rely directly on our physical senses. Such thinking relies on our capacity to hold frameworks and models in our minds of how the world works. The ability for abstract thinking is so necessary for our increasingly complex and digitalized world—where our physical senses are not nearly sufficient to lead us in the right direction.

The key to abstract thinking comes from metacognition—our ability to understand our own mental processes. In turn, metacognition embodies the essence of abstract thinking, as we cannot observe with our senses our mental processes. We have to rely on abstractions—models of our mental processes—to understand how we feel and think.

Cultivating our metacognition represents an excellent way to develop abstract thinking.

Developing Metacognition to Strengthen Abstract Thinking

Were you ever in a situation when you received constructive criticism—well-delivered or rough—from your boss, your customer, your colleague, or your coach? What did your gut tell you to do at that moment? Did it tell you to be aggressive and shout back? Perhaps it told you to hunker down and disengage? Maybe it pushed you to put your fingers in your ears with a “la-la-la, I can’t hear you.”

Fight, Freeze, or Flight

Behavioral scientists call these three types of responses the “fight, freeze, or flight” response. You might have heard about it as the saber-tooth tiger response, meaning the system our brain evolved to deal with threats in our ancestral savanna environment. This response stems from the older parts of our brain, such as the amygdala, which developed early in our evolutionary process.

Fight, freeze, or flight form a central part of one of the two systems of thinking that, roughly speaking, determine our mental processes. It’s not the old Freudian model of the id, the ego, and the super-ego, which has been left behind by recent research.

One of the main scholars in this field is Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel Prize for his research on behavioral economics. He calls the two systems of thinking System 1 and 2, but I think “autopilot system” and “intentional system” describe these systems more clearly.

Developing your metacognition involves internalizing these two systems into the way you think about yourself and your own mental processes. In turn, by doing so, you also develop your abstract thinking, by thinking in an abstract manner about your own thinking.[1]

The autopilot system corresponds to our emotions and intuitions—that’s where we get the fight, freeze, or flight response. This system guides our daily habits, helps us make snap decisions, and allows us to react instantly to dangerous life-and-death situations.

Fight-or-Flight in Modern Life

While helping our survival in the past, the fight-or-flight response is not a great fit for many aspects of modern life. We have many small stresses that are not life-threatening, but the autopilot system treats them as saber-tooth tigers. Doing so produces an unnecessarily stressful everyday life experience that undermines our mental and physical well-being.

Moreover, the snap judgments resulting from intuitions and emotions usually feel “true” precisely because they are fast and powerful, and we feel very comfortable when we go with them. The decisions arising from our gut reactions are often right, especially in situations that resemble the ancient savanna.

Unfortunately—in too many cases—they’re wrong, as our modern environments have many elements that are unlike the savanna, and with growing technological disruption, the office of the future will look even less like our ancestral environment. The autopilot system will, therefore, lead us astray more and more in systematic and predictable ways.

The intentional system reflects rational thinking and centers around the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain that evolved more recently. According to recent research, it developed as humans started to live within larger social groups. This thinking system helps us handle more complex mental activities, such as managing individual and group relationships, logical reasoning, abstract thinking, evaluating probabilities, and learning new information, skills, and habits.[2]

While the automatic system requires no conscious effort to function, the intentional system requires a deliberate effort to turn on and is mentally tiring. Fortunately, with enough motivation and appropriate training, the intentional system can turn on in situations where the autopilot system is prone to make systematic and predictable errors.

Intentional Metacognition, Intentional Abstract Thinking

Effective metacognition involves addressing the problems caused by our autopilot systems. You need to catch areas where it goes wrong, and doing so involves abstracting yourself from your own emotions and intuitions. You need to recognize that your emotions, while they feel right, will often lie to you—as in the example with constructive critical feedback.

You also need to be able to manage your own emotions and train them to be more aligned with reality. Both the recognition and the training rely on the intentional system. By strengthening your intentional system’s ability to guide your autopilot system, you will build up your metacognitive abilities and your abstract thinking.[3]

We Are Not Entirely Rational Thinkers

We tend to think of ourselves as rational thinkers, usually using the intentional system. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

The autopilot system has been compared by scholars of this topic to an elephant. It’s by far the more powerful and predominant of the two systems. Our emotions can often overwhelm our rationality. Moreover, our intuition and habits dominate the majority of our life. We’re usually in autopilot mode. That’s not a bad thing at all, as it would be mentally exhausting to think through our every action and decision.

The intentional system is like the elephant’s rider. It can guide the elephant deliberately to go in a direction that matches our actual goals. Certainly, the elephant part of the brain is huge and unwieldy, slow to turn and change, and stampedes at threats. But we can train the elephant. Your rider can become an elephant whisperer. Over time, you can use the intentional system to change your automatic thinking, feeling, and behavior patterns to avoid dangerous judgment errors.

It’s crucial to recognize that these two systems of thinking are counterintuitive. They don’t align with our conscious self-perception. Our mind feels like a cohesive whole. Unfortunately, this self-perception is simply a comfortable myth that helps us make it through the day. There is no actual “there” there—our sense of self is a construct that results from multiple complex mental processes within the autopilot and intentional system.

When I first found that out, it blew my mind. It takes a bit of time to incorporate this realization into your mental model of yourself and others—in other words, how you perceive your mind to work. Bottom-line is that you’re not who you think you are. The conscious, self-reflective part of you is like a little rider on top of that huge elephant of emotions and intuitions.

Want to see what the tension between the autopilot system and the intentional system feels like in real life? Think back to the last time your supervisor, client, or investor gave you constructive critical feedback. How easy was it to truly listen and take in the information, instead of defending yourself and your work? That strain is you using your willpower to get the intentional system to override the cravings of the autopilot system.

For another example, consider the last flame war you got into online, or perhaps an in-person argument with your loved one. Did the flame war or in-person argument solve things? Did you manage to convince the other person?

I’d be surprised if it did. Arguments usually don’t lead to anything beneficial. Often, even if we win the argument, we end up harming relationships we care about. It’s like cutting off your nose to spite your face; a bad idea all around.

Looking back, you probably regret at least some of the flame wars or in-person arguments in which you’ve engaged. If so, why did you engage? It’s the old fight response coming to the fore, without you noticing it. It’s not immediately obvious that a fight response will hurt you down the road. Thus, you let the elephant go rogue, and it stampeded all over the place.

Whether in personal or business settings, letting loose the elephant is like allowing a bull into a china shop. Broken dishes will be the least of your problems. Scholars use “akrasia” to refer to such situations where we act against our better judgment. In other words, we act irrationally, defined in behavioral science as going against our own self-reflective goals.

What If My Gut Helped Me Make Many Good Decisions?

It’s wise to be wary of absolute statements. Research shows that in some instances, gut reactions can be helpful in decision-making contexts.[4] In other words, it’s not necessarily irrational to follow your gut. Developing your metacognitive skills involves learning when going with your gut may be a better idea and when it may not.

For instance, a great deal of experience on a topic where you get quick and accurate feedback on your judgments may enable your intuitions to pick up valuable and subtle signals that more objective measurements may not discern. Our intuitions are good at learning patterns, and immediate feedback about our decision-making helps us develop high-quality expertise through improving pattern recognition.

Another example: if you have a long-standing business relationship with someone, and then you experience negative gut responses about their behavior being somehow off in a new business deal, it’s time to double-check the fine print. The savanna environment involved us living in tribes where we had to rely on our gut reactions to evaluate fellow tribal members.

However, don’t buy into the myth that you can tell apart lies from truths. Studies show that we—yes, that means you, too, unless you’re a trained CIA interrogator—are very bad at distinguishing falsehoods from accurate statements. In fact, research by Charles Bond Jr and Bella DePaul shows that we, on average, only detect fifty-four percent of lies—a shocking statistic considering we’d get fifty percent if we used random chance.[5]

Overall, it’s never a good idea to just go with your gut. Even in cases where you think you can rely on your intuitions, it’s best to use your instincts as just a warning sign of potential danger and evaluate the situation analytically.

For example, the person with whom you have a long business relationship might have just gotten some bad news about their family, and their demeanor caused your instincts to misread the situation. Your extensive experience in a given topic might bring you to ruin if the market context changes around you, and you find yourself using your old intuitions in a different environment, like a fish out of water.

Conclusion

To survive and thrive in the modern world, you need to develop your abstract thinking—the ability to think about the world through frameworks and models. To do so, you need to cultivate your metacognition, which is the capacity to understand and manage effectively your own mental processes—your thoughts and feelings.

The key to doing so involves the abstract thinking framework of the autopilot system and intentional system. You need to abstract yourself from your existing autopilot system’s emotions and intuitions, recognize and catch when they are leading you in the wrong direction, and train them to lead you in the right direction instead of using your intentional system.

More on How to Think Clearly

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Reference

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12 Proven Ways To Increase Your Intellectual Wellness

Are you looking for ways to boost your brainpower, think faster, increase your cognitive capacity, and improve your overall health and happiness? If yes, then it’s time to focus on increasing your intellectual wellness.

Many people focus on their physical wellness and taking care of their bodies. However, it’s just as critical to dedicate time and energy to keep your mind healthy. Not only does intellectual wellness improve all of the above, but engaging in mentally stimulating activities may also reduce cognitive impairment and put you at a lower risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s.

What Is Intellectual Wellness?

The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.[1]

Intellectual wellness, therefore, is an active pursuit of working towards an optimal intellectual state. It can include being open to new ideas, thinking critically, expanding your knowledge and skills, exposing yourself to new ideas, people, and beliefs, discovering more about yourself and your potential, being open to different perspectives, and fostering creativity.

12 Ways to Increase Intellectual Wellness

Lots of supplement companies make millions of dollars claiming to improve your brainpower and brain health. Do they work? Maybe. But there are plenty of things you can do, free of charge, to increase your intellectual wellness and improve your brain function.

Here are 12 ways to increase your intellectual wellness.

1. Try Something New

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s capacity to continue growing and evolving in response to life experiences. Historically, scientists believed that the brain stopped growing after childhood. But current research shows that the brain can continue growing and changing throughout the lifespan.[2] Your brain can change and adapt through stimulation, stress, and experiences. Your job? To provide those experiences!

What new thing will you try to do outside your comfort zone? You could pick up a new sport, travel to a new location and learn about its history, learn a foreign language, or take a class at the local community college. What challenge will you choose to expand your brainpower?

2. Read

One of the common habits of the most successful people in the world? They read. Oprah, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, Sheryl Sandberg, LeBron James are all avid readers.

So, what should you read? Anything that expands your mindset, your views, your experiences, and your knowledge. It can be a magazine, newspaper, or a good fiction or non-fiction book. It doesn’t matter. If it stimulates your mind and generates interest or allows you to learn something new or explore something interesting, dive in—your mind will thank you for it.

3. Exercise

Not only is exercise good for your heart and body, but it can also help improve another major muscle, your brain. In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise—the kind that gets your heart and sweat glands pumping—appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.[3]

Other studies show that aerobic exercise stimulates the release of the substance known as a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which supports the growth of new connections in your brain. Ultimately, exercise enhances your learning, sharpens your memory, and helps you feel better overall.

Aim for at least 30-60 minutes of aerobic exercise—walking, running, biking, swimming—three to five times per week.[4]

4. Be Social

We are social beings hardwired for connection. That means we need to spend time engaging with others to thrive as we learn how to get a life we can enjoy. Studies have shown that people who socialize often have higher levels of happiness than those who don’t.[5] Plus, when you’re around others, we learn and grow because we hear different perspectives and new stories.

Make an effort to grow and nurture healthy relationships in your life. Spend time—either in person or virtually—with friends, family, and colleagues. Join a meetup hiking group, take a cooking or dance class, or join a recreational sports team. Attend the office (virtual) happy hour. Make a concerted effort to make deeper connections, listen attentively, and learn from the people around you.

5. Stay Curious

Curiosity increases brain activity and activation. Being curious about something not only improves learning about that specific subject but increases your overall learning and retention capabilities, too.[6]

Curious how your car engine works? Take it apart. Curious why your local baker started her bakery? Ask her. Curious about the plant-based movement? Watch a documentary. Identify one thing that you wish you understood better—big or small, it doesn’t matter. Just find something you’re curious about, explore that thing, and activate your brain!

6. Eat Well

The food you eat fuels not just your body but your brain. In fact, your brain consumes about 20% of your daily calories![7] Inflammatory foods such as sugar, dairy, and refined carbs affect you negatively, while clean, nutrient-dense foods affect you positively.

Some great food sources for brain health include antioxidants in blueberries, micronutrients such as magnesium and zinc in pumpkin seeds, vitamin K, folate, and beta carotene in green leafy vegetables, flavonoids in chocolate, lutein, and the healthy fats and compounds in nuts, specifically walnuts. Why do you think they’re shaped like a brain?! Increase your intellectual wellness by including a couple of these foods consistently into your diet.

7. Get Creative

Creativity stimulates your intellectual wellness and improves your overall health. Take music, for example. You’ve likely heard that music makes you smarter. One study showed that executive functions (EF) were enhanced in musicians compared to non-musicians. These include problem-solving, working memory, processing speed, and cognitive flexibility.[8]

Not the musical type? That’s okay! You can get creative through doodling, painting, crafting, writing, photography, pottery, or even gardening—anything where you can come with an open heart and mind and dive in with curiosity and exploration.

8. Stay Hydrated

The human brain is composed of over 75% water, with some studies suggesting that the number is closer to 85%. What do you think happens when we are dehydrated? You guessed it—the cells in your brain are dehydrated too, and you experience brain fog, loss of focus, memory as well as headaches, and emotional issues like moodiness and fatigue. According to research, “water gives the brain the electrical energy for all brain functions, including thought and memory processes.”[9]

Do you want to improve your focus and clarity? Aim to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses daily. Increase the hydration factor by adding electrolytes or a little sea salt to increase absorption into your cells.

9. Sleep

Sleep. Sleep, you say? Doesn’t that seem like an odd thing to do if I want to grow my intellectual capacity? Shouldn’t I be actively doing something? When we sleep, our brain removes stored toxins and takes out the ‘mental trash,’ which allows our brains to function better. According to research, “sleep has a restorative function. Lack of sleep impairs reasoning, problem-solving, and attention to detail, among other effects.”[10]

I used to wear it as a badge of honor that I didn’t sleep much. Maybe you do, too. However, studies continue to emerge on the importance of getting enough quality sleep and, more importantly, the consequences when you don’t. Make getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a priority. Your mind and body will thank you for it.

10. Practice Self-Reflection

Just like physical wellness is about growth and strength, so is intellectual wellness. Taking the time to reflect on yourself and your life is a great way to engage your brain.

Self-reflection is defined as “meditation or serious thought about one’s character, actions, and motives.” It’s about taking a step back and reflecting on your life, behavior, and beliefs. Self-reflection improves self-awareness, provides perspective, facilitates a deeper learning level, challenges your assumptions, enables learning and growth opportunities, and even improves confidence.

Like the idea but not sure where to start? Here are some great tips for self-reflection.

11. Meditate

Meditation and mindfulness seem to be the answer to all that ails you, and yes, they can help with increasing your brainpower, too. Meditation allows you to calm your thoughts and achieve greater mental and emotional clarity.

Don’t want to meditate? Just breathe. Deep breathing increases circulation by bringing oxygen to your muscles and brain. It initiates your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest), promoting a state of calmness and quiets your mind.

What happened when you started to read this? Did you take a deep breath? Great, you should be feeling much clearer. Practicing deep breathing or meditation for just five minutes a day will make a huge difference in your intellectual wellness.

12. Pick Up Your Rubik’s Cube

Okay, you can probably tell I’m a child of the ’80s. Games can help exercise your brain and improve your long-term and working memory. Working through puzzles or finding words in patterns uses a great amount of brainpower. Increasing your ability to work through these activities can maintain and build your intellectual wellness.[11]

Want to go old school? Pick up a crossword puzzle, grab your book of sudoku, or play a game of chess. New school? Grab your smartphone for a game of Words with Friends or check out one of the many free brain game apps like Lumosity or Brain HQ.

Ready to Get Started?

You don’t need to do all of these to increase your intellectual wellness. Think of these as a menu to improve your brainpower and mental stimulation. Your next step? Identify two to three items you will commit to trying, then go out and do them.

Your brain controls your body and your overall health and well-being—it’s time to commit to actively increasing intellectual wellness. Your brain will thank you for it!

More on Intellectual Wellness

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Reference

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What Is Circadian Rhythm And How To Restore It For a Sharper Brain

Do you sometimes feel like you are not in sync with your brain or body? Our habits and daily activities greatly affect how we have a productive day and restful night and a balanced life generally. Some certain processes and functions happen in our bodies at different times of the day that need to be in line with our activities during those times so that we are in harmony with our internal processes and in balance with our existence.

A good example of this is the process of the body preparing for the absorption of food and the activity of eating. Circadian rhythm plays a huge role in these processes. Making sure they are synchronized with our daily activities goes a long way to helping us live a healthy, happy, and fulfilled life.

However, you may ask, “what is circadian rhythm and what exact effects does it have in our lives?”

Well, we will take an in-depth look at that to help you understand all there is to it. We will be looking at the general concept of the circadian rhythm, how it works, examples, what it is made of, how it goes out of balance, and how to restore it for a sharper brain.

A Bird’s Eye View

Circadian rhythm is simply the pattern of natural changes that occur in living beings in different aspects including mentally and physically for about 24 hours. Some of the natural changes in humans include changes in body temperature, cell regeneration, hormonal changes, sleeping at night, and remaining awake during the day, to name a few.

These changes not only happen in human beings but also in plants, animals, and other living organisms like fungi. There are many other biological processes, such as absorption of food, which recur in all living things after every given period.

The word “Circadian” itself comes from the Latin names “Circa,” which means around, and “Diem,” which means a day, forming the meaning “changes around a day.” This relates to the changes that happen in a typical day in living things.[1]

The circadian rhythm is also linked to the earth’s rotation on its axis that determines the day and night since the rhythm is also affected by external factors such as light. The study of circadian rhythms is known as chronobiology.

Understanding the Mechanics of Circadian Rhythm

Ideally, circadian rhythm regulates the different processes and activities within our brain and bodies as well as in other life forms. Certain factors affect the circadian rhythm that comes from within, which include our lifestyles, eating habits, age, physical activities, and social activities.

Light is another major factor—though an external one—that plays a major role in the circadian rhythm. When our eyes sense varying degrees of light, this information is sent to a region of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (also called the SCN). It then directs the other parts of our brain and body to activate certain processes and changes that are per the brightness level of the light detected and time of the day, while making other processes that don’t match the time of the day inactive. It simply modulates activity in the body depending on the time of the day.

The suprachiasmatic nucleus is commonly referred to as the master clock, or the circadian pacemaker, and is made up of around twenty thousand neurons or nerve cells. It is located in the part of the brain called the hypothalamus. It is referred to as the master clock because it also controls the other small biological clocks that exist in organisms.

The small biological clocks are in all tissues or organs of all life forms and they involve the proteins interrelating with cells and getting the body to be more or less active. Research studies have shown that the genes that make up the biological clocks in human beings, plants, fungi, and some animals are the same.[2]

Compared to circadian rhythms, biological clocks do much bigger work as they are also responsible for the changes that happen in organisms like plants when different seasons come, making them not limited to the 24-hour cycle. Circadian rhythms are part of the effect that comes from biological clocks.

Examples in Different Forms of Life

Almost all life forms have circadian rhythms. Let’s take a look at some of them.

In Humans

The digestive system is an example of the circadian rhythm. During the period of feeding, the circadian rhythm prepares the body for the changes that are about to happen in the gut, small intestines, and large intestines, among other body parts. It influences the production of proteins, digestive juices, and other bodily substances that are needed for this process.[3]

In Plants

The Gonyaulax polyedra plant, which is an aquatic plant that produces light at night without perceptible heat or combustion, gives a good example of circadian rhythm in plants. The plant lightens up during night hours but the light becomes dim during the day. This happens almost every 24 hours.[4]

In Animals

In animals such as rodents, mammals, or birds, the circadian rhythm is seen to influence feeding patterns. Rodents are known to have a strong sense of smell at night and the presence of light that is detected by the biological clock in the hypothalamus helps them know the best time to go look for food. Circadian rhythm also plays a role in indicating their times to hibernate or be active and their mating seasons.[5]

In Fungi

Spore development, as well as liberation in fungi, are among the known circadian rhythms in organisms of this kind. The factors that influence the release of spores are light, humidity, temperature, and wind velocity, and during the day, the sensitive spores that are thin-walled, which might be damaged by sunlight, are normally released at night while the other spores, which have thick walls, are released at daytime.[6]

What the Circadian Rhythm Is Made Of

The circadian rhythm involves a lot of factors and the changes that occur within us target various parts. Here are some of them.

1. Period Genes and Cryptochrome Genes

To begin with, two essential genes play a key role—the period genes and cryptochrome genes. They are linked to the protein that fills the nucleus of a cell at night while also reducing it during the day.

2. Body Cells

There are cells in your brain that sense light and darkness and relay this information to other parts of the body to get ready for changes, such as sleeping or waking up, feeling fresh and alert, or tired. As a result of these cells, parts of your body respond to the changes and get you to either sleep or wake up.

3. Body Temperature

Using the circadian rhythm that is related to sleeping and waking up again, when you are about to sleep, your body temperature goes down so that you can fall asleep easily. When you are about to wake up, the temperature rises and you feel more wakeful and alert so that you can get up and tackle the day.

4. Hormones

The two hormones that are recognized in the sleep-wake cycle are cortisol and melatonin.

When you are about to sleep, high levels of the melatonin hormone are produced and this hormone is also affected by light. More melatonin is produced when it is dark, that is why you are always advised to turn off the lights as you go to bed. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is produced during the day, especially in the morning, and it helps you get up and running.

When the Circadian Rhythm Gets Out of Sync

There are times when the circadian rhythm is interfered with by various incidents. When the rhythm is off, many aspects of our lives are affected including our sleeping patterns, blood pressure, mental and physical health, digestion, and moods, among others.[7][8]

Here are some of the occasions where the circadian rhythm gets out of sync and the problems that come with each case:

1. Traveling Across Different Time Zones

Crossing multiple time zones in a short period can throw the sleep-wake cycle off balance. Taking intercontinental flights that get you into new locations that could be slightly ahead or behind the time of your local area of residence can make you have difficulties adjusting.

This brings about a disorder known as “jet lag” disorder. In such cases, you have trouble sleeping at night or remaining awake during the day among other difficulties. For most people, it takes about one week for their circadian rhythm to be aligned with the time zone of their new location. It may be faster or slower than that for other people.

2. Working in Rotational Shifts

People who work in shifts, mostly the night shifts, normally have a problem with irregular sleeping patterns that clash with the circadian rhythm.

Ideally, we are all programmed to work when there is natural light outside and sleep when darkness sets in. However, shift workers do quite the contrary which makes them struggle to fall asleep when others are working and be fully awake and fresh while others are sleeping. Working late hours of the night or the whole night disrupts the circadian rhythm and brings trouble in various ways including low productivity.

3. Random Light

Bright light from devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets and the lighting in your house can affect your sleep-wake circadian rhythm.

Research shows that the circadian rhythm is usually very reactive 2 hours before you go to bed, which means that if you use these devices around this period, you are more likely to struggle to fall asleep.[9] You may end up sleeping late at night and wake up late as well.

4. Bad Sleeping Habits

Certain habits practiced at night may also mess with the natural sleeping rhythms. These night activities include eating or drinking heavily, having different sleeping times, taking stimulants, having uncomfortable sleeping conditions and environment, and doing mentally demanding tasks.

5. Medication

Certain prescription medications can affect sleeping patterns. These medications include diuretics, clonidine, beta-blockers, sedating antihistamines, Theophylline, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).[10] Taking these may make you take longer to sleep or keep waking up at night or even wake up late in the morning.

6. Certain Health conditions

Health conditions like blindness, brain damage, dementia, or head injuries may also interfere with your circadian rhythm.

7. Stress

When you are stressed, you are constantly worried about something, and this weighs your mind and body down. As a result, you find yourself having little to no sleep at night and wake up the following day feeling moody and exhausted.

8. Changes in Various Genes

When there are changes in our genes, our biological clocks are also touched, and this can tap the rhythm out of its natural flow.

9. Aging

As we grow old, our circadian rhythms also change. This may also give us a hectic time trying to keep up with our daily activities.

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders

When it comes to sleeping, certain disorders affect the sleep-wake circadian rhythm. Here they are along with their causes and symptoms.

1. Irregular Sleep-Wake Rhythm Disorder

This is a disorder that involves a lack of a proper sleeping routine. People with this disorder tend to sleep at different intervals in 24 hours. They may try their best to create a fixed sleeping routine, but it is not always easy for them to make it work.

This disorder is found in people who are old as well as those with mental health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and brain injury. It is caused by reduced activity of suprachiasmatic nucleus neurons, limited exposure to bright light, circadian clock’s reduced response to light and other factors that influence it, and limited physical and social activity during the daytime.[11][12]

2. Delayed Sleep Disorder

This condition relates to those people who sleep later than the normal sleep time. You will find them preferring to sleep from 1 am onward, but this also affects their waking time.

While this is not a common case among adults, it affects most teenagers. The causes of this disorder are not fully established, but it is believed that it could be linked to someone’s genes, behaviors, or hidden health issues.

3. Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder

This disorder mostly affects completely blind people, and it is where a person’s circadian rhythm is not able to work in harmony with the 24-hour cycle. People with this condition find their sleeping time being delayed by hours or minutes every time to the point where it goes all round the clock. If they try to follow a fixed sleeping time, they are deprived of sleep constantly.

4. Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder

This is a disorder where a person starts feeling sleepy in the afternoon or early evening. People with this condition cannot be active during these times, and depriving themselves of sleep so that they sleep at the normal sleeping time does not seem to help much.

The good thing is that just as they sleep early in the evening, they also wake up early in the morning. However, if they happen to wake up too early, they can’t go back to sleep again.

The circadian rhythm in such people is advanced, making them do things earlier than normal. This problem exists in few middle-aged people and older adults.

Restoring the Circadian Rhythm for a Sharper Brain

Good sleep, proper flow of activities through the day, and other healthy practices account for a sharper brain. If your circadian rhythm is off, there are certain practices that you can do to help promote a smoother natural flow that in turn strengthen your brain.

While these practices don’t help with all cases of unhealthy circadian rhythm, they go along way in solving many possible situations that are negatively impacting it. You are strongly encouraged to make use of them to help you improve your brain and body as a whole.

Here are the practices:

  • Try to follow a fixed daily schedule. Set your alarm to wake up at the same time every day. Go to bed about the same time each day. It helps your circadian rhythm to take clues on your sleep-wake cycle.
  • Spend 20 to 30 minutes every day on physical exercise.
  • Eat healthy foods while avoiding having too much during night hours.
  • Avoid taking stimulants like coffee before going to bed.
  • Reduce the length of your naps and avoid them late in the afternoon.
  • Avoid using your devices or being exposed to any bright artificial light 2 hours before sleeping.
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable and the bedroom is quiet, dark, and sleep-friendly.
  • Expose yourself to plenty of sunlight in the morning when you wake up and during the day.
  • Avoid any activities that are not related to the essence of your bedroom when you are already in bed.
  • Do a bit of reading, meditation, and stretching before sleeping.

Since we all have different brain and body chemistry, you should feel free to test out the tips above and determine which ones go well with you and stick to them.

If you have consistent troubles with your health relating to your circadian rhythm, please visit your doctor for diagnosis and professional medical treatment.

Conclusion

In summary, maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm will allow you to make the most of your brain and body and also help you have an easy time sleeping when you need to be asleep and remaining awake, active, and productive during the day.

A healthy lifestyle contributes to working your circadian rhythm right and makes for a fruitful day and improved overall well-being.

More About Circadian Rhythm

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Reference

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8 Surefire Problem-Solving Strategies That Always Work

Whether you’re dealing with a creative block on a personal project or you’re facing challenges in the workplace, finding sustainable solutions to problems is an integral part of personal and professional growth. As the British-Australian philosopher Karl Popper once said, “all life is problem-solving.”

As important as problem-solving is to success, not all approaches are created equal. The best problem-solving strategies ensure both efficiency (finding a solution as quickly as possible, with the minimum number of barriers) and effectiveness (finding a solution that actually solves the problem long-term).

To accomplish both, you may need to try out some new ways of seeing and handling challenges. Here are 8 surefire problem-solving strategies that work, no matter what you’re struggling with.

1. Break It Down Into Smaller Pieces

Staring down a big problem can feel overwhelming, especially when the stakes are high. That sense of overwhelm doesn’t just cause you to feel on edge, but it also compromises your ability to work effectively. Studies show when the stress response is active, the part of the brain required for problem-solving tasks essentially shuts down.[1]

To ease that stress and enlist the much-needed logical part of your brain, try breaking the problem down into smaller, individual issues you feel more confident tackling. For example, if you’ve missed your revenue goal two quarters in a row, try to resist framing the problem as “we’re losing money.”

Instead, identify the individual problems contributing to the larger one—for example, marketing, supply chain, or communication issues that may be at play. Then, work—slowly but surely—to overcome barriers in each area, ideally, in order of importance. Not only will you feel less stressed in the process (which leads to smarter decision-making), but you’ll also feel more motivated to press on as you gain a sense of accomplishment, one step at a time.[2]

2. Ask Someone Else for Input

I remember it clearly: I was sitting in my office, staring at the computer screen, trying to figure out where I went wrong in a line of code. Two hours in, and I wasn’t any closer to figuring out where I’d messed up (and, more importantly, how to fix it). Then, a colleague I’d planned to have lunch with came in. Almost instantaneously, she looked over my shoulder and saw the issue. I had to laugh—she hadn’t even been working on this project with me, but her fresh set of eyes solved my problem.

One of the most effective ways to reach a solution, faster? Don’t rely only on your own mind for an “aha” moment. Involving people who see the world differently than you—ideally, someone with a different skillset or from a different department—to chime in will help you more easily and quickly find the right approach.

3. Understand the Root Cause

Albert Einstein famously said, “If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.”

It sounds like common sense, but it bears repeating—you can’t solve a problem unless you know what the issue actually is. Before you start mapping out potential solutions, ask yourself, “why did this problem occur in the first place?”

For example, imagine one department in your business is consistently not meeting its goals. That’s certainly a problem, but it may not be the problem. When you dig a little deeper, you might find a need for better communication or more training.

Ensuring you have a deep and accurate understanding of what’s causing the problem will save you time working toward a solution and prevent you from having to backtrack to find a better one.[3]

4. Define Success

One of the most important things I’ve learned as an entrepreneur: start with a clear vision of success. Before I launched my business, I envisioned what people’s lives would be like if my product succeeded. I try to follow the same approach when I’m tackling challenges.

Begin the problem-solving process with a clear understanding of what “success” would look like when the problem is solved. How will your company and team function if this problem isn’t an issue anymore?

Once you see how you want things to be, you can work backward to find practical ways to achieve that vision. For example, if you’re consistently frustrated by low morale among your employees, imagine what a motivated, positive team would look like in everyday operations. What do you want to achieve, and how would it change the course of your business?

By picturing your ideal situation, you can more easily pinpoint the steps you need to take to make it happen—in this case, perhaps implementing team-building events, more paid vacation, and incentives for reaching goals.

5. Try Silent Brainstorming

Enlisting other people’s perspectives can be a good way to find the answer you’re looking for. But if you’re attempting to tackle a problem with others, keep in mind the dynamic of the group.

Think back to your last Zoom or in-person meeting. Whose ideas do you end up hearing or applying most often? If I kept a running tab, I’d guess my most outgoing, assertive team members “win” these brainstorming sessions most often—simply because they’re not afraid to speak up.

If you’re hitting a wall in problem-solving, you’ll need to find a way to hear everyone’s voice. One way to do that is a silent brainstorming session. Invite team members to spend a designated amount of time coming up with solutions for the same problem. Then, have them share their approaches and ideas in front of the group, or individually with you.

When everybody has a chance to contribute equally—without the distraction of a lively discussion—you’ll be more likely to develop an effective problem-solving strategy and find the answer you’ve been looking for.

6. Imagine Someone Else’s Perspective

Can’t get a group together but feeling like you need someone else’s brain to solve the problem you’re struggling with? One of my favorite problem-solving strategies is to use someone else’s perspective to see all sides of a problem and potential solutions.

As you brainstorm, imagine you’re sitting at a table with different personality types and thinkers—for example, a critic, an optimist, an artist, and a data analyst. You can think of real people you know and imagine how they’d respond to the problem, or you can simply imagine people who think differently than you.

The idea is that by using your own creativity to adopt different perspectives on the same issue, you can more quickly reach an effective solution.

7. Decide What Won’t Work

Process of elimination can be a helpful tool when you’re trying to figure out how to overcome a challenge—mostly so you don’t waste time “reinventing the wheel.”

Next time you come up against a problem at work, ask yourself (or someone else) if you or anyone else in the organization have encountered similar issues in the past. If so, what are the solutions people tried, and more importantly, did they work? If not, cross it off the list and keep brainstorming.

If the past solutions proved to be effective, then ask yourself one more question: “Do I have the resources to apply this solution in my current situation?” If the answer is “yes,” then you have a resource at hand—and you just saved yourself some time.[4]

8. Take Breaks

It might sound counterproductive to step away from a problem you’re trying to solve, but doing so can actually save you time and help you develop an even better solution.

Sometimes called the “wanderer technique,” taking breaks has long been shown in research to boost creativity and attention span.

When you’re focused on (and stressed about) a problem, your brain can grow fatigued, which prevents you from finding innovative ways to deal with the issue. On the other hand, when you step away and think about or do something else, your brain can wander. Given some stress-free time with your unconscious mind, you can make connections you wouldn’t have if you were staring at a screen or notebook.[5]

Final Thoughts

As common as it is to encounter challenges at work and in life, it can be frustrating to spend time finding solutions, especially if you’re not sure if the solutions will be effective. By approaching your problem-solving with a bit of strategy and intention, you can both save time and find better solutions. It’s a win-win!

Just follow these 8 surefire problem-solving strategies and you’ll have higher chances of overcoming obstacles in your journey to success.

More Problem-Solving Strategies for Overcoming Challenges

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7 Best Brain Supplements that Actually Work

As important as it is to look after our body, it’s also important for us to be looking after our own mental health. Doing daily exercises, eating plant-based or organic meals, amongst other activities are a good way of promoting our brain health. But for many other people, they feel that they can be getting more out of it.

There is a tonne of top brain supplements available for you to look out for. With plenty of brain supplements available on the market, we wanted to pick out the ideal supplements for you to purchase. As such, the ones we recommend offer the following:

  • Nootropics – Every one of these supplements is a nootropic, meaning that they are drugs that have a track record of improving cognitive function.
  • Science-backed – One of the big problems with brain supplements is that there is no oversight. The best memory supplements, therefore, are the ones that have been researched and have studies to support the use of them.
  • Price vs. Value – All of these nootropics are able to work on various parts of the brain, offering plenty of value at a reasonable price. They’re one of the best memory supplements and can stave off age-related brain problems such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Below is a list of the best brain supplements to improve your memory, sharpen your focus and grow your brain further.

1. Blended Vitamin & Mineral

When it comes to supplements, it’s hard to find a supplement that offers a blend of vitamins spread over many vitamins. This isn’t the case when you’re purchasing from the Infuel brand. Infuel Focus Boost offers a great blend of vitamins and essential nutrients that can help in whatever you hope to achieve.

The vitamins, which include Vitamin A, B complex, C and D, that Infuel Focus Boost provides will allow you to stay focused and sharp throughout the day. You’ll also find that your energy levels, memory retention and overall clarity will be increased with this brain supplement.

2. Fish Oil

Another one of the best memory supplements to consider is fish oil supplements. Fish oil supplements provide a rich source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

These types of omega-3 fatty acids have been tested thoroughly and have been linked to several types of health benefits. One such improvement is brain health.[1]

Out of the various supplements available, Nature’s Bounty is an ideal pick. They are softgels which means your body will be able to absorb all the nutrients. The company also prioritizes purity so you can expect no filler or unnecessary ingredients in these pills. Paired with the fact they are trusted by wellness experts is enough to say this is a quality brand.

3. Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a type of antioxidant that occurs naturally in the skin of purple and red fruits such as grapes and other berries. You can also find this in red wine, chocolate and peanuts.

Even though you could get resveratrol from those sources, health experts still recommend supplements to ensure you get higher doses of it. Studies show that taking resveratrol is able to prevent the deterioration of the hippocampus,[2] the part that is connected to our memory.

One brand that caught our attention for providing this supplement is Toniiq. The company takes pride in their 600mg capsules providing the highest quality of resveratrol you can find. Better yet, they are ethically sourced and cultivated using an extraction process that ensures a 98% purity. While it’s not 100%, it’s a big stretch as other brands that produce resveratrol tend to contain 50% or less purity.

4. Phosphatidylserine

Also known as phospholipid, it’s a type of fat that our own brain has right now. That said, because our brain will deteriorate with age, taking supplements of this type can actually help in preserving the health of our brain.[3] By preserving your brain, you’ll be able to keep up with typical brain functions as you would normally.

Out of the various best memory supplements available, Double Wood’s phosphatidylserine was a notable one. It’s made in the USA and tested for purity. It’s non-GMO, soy-based, and the capsule is gelatin.

5. Acetyl-L-Carnitine

Acetyl-L-Carnitine is an amino acid that our body produces ourselves. But like many supplements on this list, boosting its production with a supplement has proven to be beneficial for us. In this case, this is one of the ideal focus supplements to go for as studies show taking these supplements to boost focus, improve memory and slow down age-related memory loss.[4]

Out of the various top brain supplements available, our pick is the NaturaLife Labs supplements. They are GMO Free, and Vegan friendly. Beyond that, these supplements are highly potent at 1500mg. It’s also made 100% pure acetyl-l-carnitine so you shouldn’t expect fillers or binders when taking them.

6. Ginkgo Biloba

You probably haven’t heard about Ginkgo Biloba much because it’s actually a herbal supplement that stems from the tree of the same name.

Think of it as a supplement hidden in plain sight as it’s incredibly popular amongst people who look past the unique name and figure out what it does. Research shows, taking these supplements increases blood flow to the brain which in turn improves brain functions of the brain.[5]

Nature’s Bounty offers these top brain supplements too and is a great brand to purchase from. Similar to what’s mentioned above with the previous supplements, these are pure and high-quality supplements.

7. Creatine

Creatine is the last on our list and is something that you might be familiar with. After all, it’s commonly found in protein powders, meats, fish, and eggs too. Creatine is also found in our own bodies and plays an important role in our energy levels and metabolism.

That said, not every person is big on eating those kinds of foods. As such, supplements provide a good way to get the creatine your body needs. Not only does creatine help with energy levels, but also sharpen our brain – namely an improved memory and thinking skills.

You can look to protein powder for creatine, but you can also consider capsules as well. With capsules, you don’t have to think much about adding liquids. Optimum Nutrition’s Creatine capsules are a notable option as they provide 2.5 grams of pure creatine per serving. They’re also easy to swallow making it an ideal supplement to try out.

Bottom Line

When looking for brain-boosting supplements, you don’t have to look far. Paying attention to your diet can help you out in keeping up your brain functionality.

However, adding one or two of these supplements into your daily supplement routine would help you in boosting your brain functionality, memory, and stave off the various age-related brain problems.

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Reference

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