13 Ways to Boost Your Brain Used by Scientists and Special Agents

Myth: Chess is the best sport for the brain.

Truth: The brain works better during complex physical training. During a full body workout hormones responsible for memory, assimilation of new skills, and preservation of neurons are being produced. For example, during an experiment study subjects had to solve tasks. During the break, group A was stretching, group B was resting. The results showed that the resting group failed the task.

The important thing is to avoid putting your health at risk during training. Rugby players often have brain disorders due to regular head injuries that happen during each game.

  • What to do: Don’t rely on chess and crosswords only. Swim, dance, and do yoga to develop your whole body.

Myth: Milk is good for your brain.

Truth: Milk has a lot of contraindications. Consuming other dairy products is much better for your brain and body than milk. Wine, chocolate, and other products that have a positive effect on your brain haven’t been proven yet and should be consumed in moderate amounts.

Obesity destroys neural pathways, and sugar and trans fats lead to inflammation. The brain shifts to low-energy work and falls into a depression. On the contrary, a lack of food can throw the brain off-balance: it uses all its energy to get food and can make a person become aggressive and irritable. The brain lifespan then shortens and the risk of brain disorders increases.

  • What to do: Include fatty fish, caviar, nuts, fruits, and vegetables to your everyday diet. Try the ketogenic diet (but first consult your doctor).

Myth: Many skills can only be learned in childhood.

Truth: Almost any skill can be learned and developed in adulthood.

For example, surgeons have started taking violin lessons after age 30 in order to develop their fine motor skills. Special agents have to play video games to improve their reaction speeds, logic, and proper behavior on a mission.

  • What to do: Don’t be afraid to do something you’ve been dreaming about as a child. New skills create new neural pathways preventing the brain from aging. Don’t be concerned about the age range: during the Olympics in Pyeongchang, Mexico was represented by a 40-year-old athlete in alpine skiing. He mastered this sport in just one year.

Myth: Positive thinking is for the young and inexperienced.

Truth: Optimists cope with failures easier and reach goals faster. On the contrary, pessimism and constant worrying increase the risk of heart attack by up to 29% and the risk of cancer by up to 41%. Even if your attitude toward life is determined by your genes, your life experience can form you as a person. That’s why many psychologists recommend developing a so-called positive distortion.

  • What to do: There is an online training tool that you can practice daily. You look at 9 different people and find the smiling one as quickly as possible. Regular training changes the way your brain perceives the world and lowers anxiety.
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