Imagine possessing the most powerful force in the universe. What would you do with it? What if you can make it even better? Guess what? You already possess it. It’s your brain. It has approximately 100 billion neurons and each one connects to between 10 and 10,000 other neurons. That would be equal to 10 to the 100 power or more than all the atoms in the universe.
Neuroscience has advanced quite a bit over the last 10-20 years. We now know more about the brain than we’ve ever had in history. Part of that learning is that we know that our brains continue to grow throughout our life. Even our intelligence can grow.
The actions we take can have a profound effect on our brains. Like the muscles in our body, our brain needs challenges to grow. As humans, we thrive off of challenges. Sure, each person will respond differently. That is mainly due to our mindset. Our mindset comes from the structure of our brain.
The basic structure of our brain consists of the reptilian/ brain (brain stem), the paleomammalian/emotional brain (limbic system) and the higher thinking/neomammalian brain (cortex, including the prefrontal cortex). The reptilian brain is basic in its workings. This concept is known as the triune brain. A snake simply focuses on survival and instinct. Sure, we can go there as well and should at times. Yet, when our emotional response triggers the amygdala and a signal in sent through the brain stem, we will react as if our life was on the line and through instinct.
Our mid-brain is important for the emotional connection as well as learning and memory. The thing about the whole brain is that there is no true separation. One is simply built upon the other. It had to in order to deal with the changing world. Humans is the only species that has adapted to each change, not so much physically as we have by using our higher brain.
It’s at the cortex, the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system where we’ll do most of the work necessary to increasing your brain power. The prefrontal cortex is the CEO of your brain and when used properly, guides it to make effective decisions and reducing stress.
Let’s get to the five ways to help increase your brain power…
- Last year was the year of mindfulness. Hence, this is the first way to increase your brain power. Mindfulness is simply staying engaged in the moments of life. It also helps to develop the power of your CEO (prefrontal cortex).
- Physical activity, such as exercise, helps your brain to grow. Exercise is important for neuronal growth due to unleashing a protein known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) within the hippocampus. Exercise also increases dopamine and reduces mental stress.
- Good nutrition. Our brains uses 20% of our caloric energy by consuming glucose. Eating a lot of sugary foods won’t help. The brain has no way of storing glucose, only our body can in our fat cells. Since our brain can’t access fat storage cells, it must get a steady supply. This is where complex carbs, such as veggies come into play. Also, whole fruits (with its fiber) gives a slow and steady fuel supply to the brain. Our brains also needs vitamin B-12, folic acid and omega 3 fatty acids (as well as a plethora of our nutrition).
- Good physical health. It’s been said that a healthy body leads to a healthy brain. Using the 2nd and 3rd ways to increase your brain power. Make sure to reduce your body fat percentage. Obesity plays havoc on the brain. And poor health can lead to what is known as Type 3 Diabetes (Alzheimer’s Disease). Silent inflammation is part of that process.
- Good sleep, in recent studies has been shown to help clear the “junk” out of the brain cells. Our brains are heavily at work during our sleep cycle. Think of this like when construction crews come out at night to make necessary repairs so that the waking days can be more effective for all. Sleep is key for this. We also have glial cells that help in this regard. Heck, they outnumber our neurons anywhere from 10 times to as much as 50 times. They are part of the construction crew.
You have control in the power of your brain and its health. I’ve given you only 5 ways. Just by using them, you’ll have a better brain. Additionally, exercising early in the morning increases productivity and exercising after learning something helps to embed that learning into your long-term memory.
Bob Choat works as a Peak Performance Coach, Trainer, Professional Speaker, Author and co-owner of Optimal Life Seminars along with Dr. Lori Shemek, Ph.D. He is focused on people in every industry reach a higher level of performance in their lives.