Health and Wellness

5 Everyday Strategies to Make Your Brain Stronger (One of Them Involves Eating)

You can actually bulk up your brain strength -- without going to the gym.
5 Everyday Strategies to Make Your Brain Stronger (One of Them Involves Eating)
Image credit: GARO | Getty Images
Entrepreneur Staff
Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.
4 min read

We want to make sure that not only our bodies but our brains are healthy. Otherwise creativity and innovation can't happen. But you don't need to do a major overhaul to improve your brain function. It can be something as simple as taking time to laugh with a colleague or stocking up on olive oil. Read on for five ways to help your brain thrive.

Eat these foods.

You're looking to nourish your body and brain with foods that are high in B vitamins and antioxidants and Omega-3 fats. If you aren't already doing so, think about incorporating options like berries, salmon, beans and lentils plus leafy vegetables, like kale or spinach. Also, dressing your salad or cooking with olive oil can go a long way to aiding your memory, reports recent research from Temple University.

The scientists at Temple found that mice who were given diets with extra-virgin olive oil had "reduced levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau." Phosphorylated tau is one of the elements in the that is responsible for neurofibrillary tangles, a marker of Alzheimer's disease.

Try this recall mental exercise.

In a recent Johns Hopkins study, researchers found a 30 percent improvement in their working memory when they employed an exercise called a "dual n-back." The study participants practiced for 30 minutes every day for 5 days a week and tested their skills by recalling "a constantly updating sequence of visual and auditory stimuli."

In summary of findings, the researchers explained that the participants "saw squares flashing on a grid while hearing letters. They had to remember if the square they just saw and the letter they heard were both the same as one round back," they wrote. "As the test got harder, they had to recall squares and letters two, three, and four rounds back. It's kind of like the children's electronic game Simon, but instead of just recalling sounds and colors, you have to remember the current sequence and the one a few rounds back."

Related: Brain Science Says to Trust Your Gut in These Key Moments


Laugh at a joke.

A 2014 study from Loma Linda University tested out the theory that humor can improve how your brain functions overall. The study participants watched funny videos for 20 minutes and then did a series of tests to see how their short term memory fared and the researchers found that their learning ability increased by by 38.5 percent.

In a summary of the findings, study co-author Professor Lee Berk explained that when someone laughs, "it's as if the brain gets a workout because the gamma wave band is in sync with multiple other areas of the brain that are in the same 30-40 hertz frequency. This allows for thinking more clearly and having more integrative thoughts. This is of value to individuals who need or want to revisit, reorganize, or rearrange various aspects of their lives or experiences to make them feel whole or more focused."

Write it down.

A 2014 study conducted by a pair of psychologists from Princeton University and UCLA found that when students took notes in lecture by hand instead of typing everything up verbatim on a laptop, they actually did better on the exam . Even if they didn't get down every the lecturer said and took fewer notes, they were able to synthesize it in a way that gave them a better facility with the subject matter.

"The students who were taking longhand notes in our studies were forced to be more selective -- because you can't write as fast as you can type," study co-author Pam Mueller told NPR. "And that extra processing of the material that they were doing benefited them."

Dance it out.

All sorts of exercise is helpful to clearing your head and making you feel better, but a recent study from Colorado State University found a link between dancing and strengthening white matter in the brain.

The researchers looked at a group of older adults and had four different groups do aerobic walking, aerobic walking accompanied by a daily nutritional supplement, another took balance and stretching classes and the final group took the dance classes where they learned choreographed and social group dances.

The study found that the group that maintained the ones with the strongest brains where in the dance group. "Dance is more enjoyable than just walking in a gym," study lead author Aga Burzynska said in a summary of the findings. "We are looking for things that people find enjoyable and captivating, and will continue doing."

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