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Brainpower Tips You Can Start Using Today

What can you do today to start improving the functioning of your brain? You'll find some suggestions for that below. Included in these brainpower tips are a couple things you can do that will give you immediate results.

Take Advantage of Your Smart Times

This may seem like an obvious tip, but we rarely stop to recognize when our brains are working particularly well so we can take advantage of that. Most of us are more mentally "awake" at certain times of the day, for example, and so it makes sense to schedule mentally challenging tasks for those times. But sometimes we just randomly have periods of clearer thinking. Such a state might be due to a combination of factors like a good night's sleep, a light protein-rich meal and some happy news that energizes you. A period of better mental function might also be completely unexplainable.

Whatever the reasons, at a time like this try to drop any routine activities and work on tasks requiring more brainpower. You should also do your deliberations and make important decisions when you are at your mental best. This is obvious, perhaps, but how often do you consciously apply this strategy?

Eat Fish

There are long-term benefits to eating fish, but the immediate effects shown by the research are faster brain waves and improved concentration. There is more about brain foods below, including some vegetarian options.

Exercise

Physical exercise is known to be good for brain health, and on Wikipedia you can find a good summary of the research on the effects of exercise on memory specifically. But in addition to the long-term benefits, other studies have shown that as little as ten minutes of exercise can speed up brain activity and cause a temporary improvement in brain function. In other words, you can walk for ten minutes right now and get an immediate mental benefit. I find that walking with a voice recorder in hand can be a great way to solve problems or generate new ideas (the recorder keeps you from forgetting them).

Dendrite-Growing Activities

Activities involving timing and coordination cause dendrite growth in the brain. More dendrites mean more possible connections in the brain, allowing your thinking and learning to be more flexible and efficient. The following are some examples of activities that can cause dendrite growth and improve your learning skills:

1. Any athletic activities requiring coordination and timing, such as basketball, soccer, or just tossing around a Frisbee.

2. Playing musical instruments. This is especially helpful if it requires precise timing. It is worth noting that many piano players are also good chess players -- this may be due to the exercising of the necessary pattern-recognition areas of the brain that happens with music training.

3. Painting and drawing, which involve hand-eye coordination.

4. Travel. If you don't think travel involves timing and coordination, you haven't used the city busses in South America, which sometimes don't even come to a complete stop. In any case, there's also some evidence that experiencing other cultures is good for the brain.

Brain Foods

According to Arthur Winter, M.D., director of the New Jersey Neurological Institute, the following are some of the best food for your brain.

Low fat milk or yogurt
Eggs
Lean meats
Poultry
Spinach
Other dark leafy greens
Whole wheat bread
Oranges
Black beans
Most other beans
Brown rice
Salmon

Fortunately for the vegetarians among you there are some decent choices on the list. In fact combining either brown rice or whole wheat bread with beans provides high-quality protein as well as being specifically good for the brain.

Avoid the Second Cup

Caffeine, if you do not have sensitivity problems, does help your brain quickly, if temporarily. Test scores of students have been found to increase with coffee, for example. But don't overdo it. Your heart rate goes up by as much as 15-20 beats per minute with two or more cups of coffee. That amount of caffeine also makes most people irritable and anxious. That isn't the best state for clear thinking. The beneficial effects demonstrated on test scores of students are generally found after one cup (or even a bit less depending on the strength of the drink). In other words, stop after one cup.


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