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FEB. 3, 2018
HEALTH & FAMILY

10 Secrets to Increasing Your Brainpower

MIND YOUR BODY by Willie T. ONG, M.D.

How can we become smarter? Are there scientific ways to increase our brain’s capacity? Let’s find out.

According to Dr. Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen, a study shows that, on the average, a person’s intelligence (measured by IQ) decreases by five percent every 10 years. But this is just the average. The good news is that there were

some people in the study whose IQ even increased as they aged. Here are the 10 secrets to increase your brainpower:

1. Take a 45-minute walk. The poet Robert Frost used to have long walks in the woods while creating his next poem. Walking helped him think better. This is true because walking improves the circulation in our body, including our brain. This increase in blood flow to the brain will make it sharper and think more clearly.

2. Stretch your brain. Doctors found that intelligent people have more cross-circuitry in their brains. The nerve cells are more connected and have more interaction with each other. How do we stimulate the growth of these nerve cells? One way is to expose your mind constantly to new inputs, new challenges, and new projects. Don’t be contented with what you can do today; strive to learn more. Enroll in an adult-learning class. Solve crossword puzzles and Sudoku. Don’t retire. Another technique is to read a magazine or talk to an expert in a field totally alien to you. One time, I read my daughter’s magazines and listened to her CDs. It was a refreshing eye-opener. Keep on learning and studying.

3. Eat brain food. Yes, there is such a thing. The top foods for the brain are (1) an ounce of nuts a day, which are filled with good oils and can increase your serotonin levels; (2) oily fish like tuna, tilapia, sardines, salmon and catfish are full of omega-3, which are good for the arteries; (3) olive oil and avocados are likewise filled with omega-3s; (4) Cocoa or dark chocolate have healthy flavonoids, which keeps the arteries young; and (5) tomato-based foods, like spaghetti sauce, have folate and lycopene that fight aging.

4. Consider supplements. Omega-3 fish oil supplements have been proven to increase blood flow to the brain, heart and the whole body. It prevents strokes, heart attacks, and depression, too. Recent studies show it may be beneficial for Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin B complex tablets (with folate) can also help protect you from a stroke. Folate reduces dangerous homocysteine buildup that leads to cracks in the arteries.

5. Consider 80-mg aspirin tablets. Discovered in 1899, aspirin has been proven to help patients with heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes. Aspirin makes our blood thinner and helps reduce clots in the blood vessels. Men over 50 and women after menopause should highly consider taking an 80-mg aspirin tablet once a day after meals. However, aspirin is not perfect because it can cause stomach ulcers in some patients. Consult your doctor first.

6. Have friends older or younger than you. According to gerontology professor Dr. David Demko, having friends older or younger than you can help stimulate your brain. Young people can learn from the wisdom of older people. And older people can imbibe the energy and zest of the young. It works both ways. Open yourself to new things and new perspectives.

7. Learn to cope with stress. Prolonged stress causes the body to release a stress hormone, called cortisol, which is detrimental to the body in the long run. Try to avoid or fix these stresses if you can. Find a better job, resolve the difficult relationship, and fix your health problem. On the other hand, short-term stresses, like projects, deadlines or making a speech, are not harmful. Laughter, meditation and deep breathing can help reduce stress. Laughing reduces anxiety and tension, and releases good endorphins, which can counter the bad effects of stress.

8. Daydream away. Visualize. Did you know that people who daydream often about their life’s goals have a better chance of achieving them? Positive-thinking proponent Norman Vincent Peale even suggests writing your goals on a piece of paper and carrying it in your wallet. If you train your brain to reach your goal (like becoming a top businessman, sportsman or artist), then your brain will try to find ways to achieve this goal. Visualize success and you can achieve it.

9. Protect your head. This is just common-sense advice to protect your brain. Wear a hard hat if needed. Wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. Avoid boxing as a sport if you can. Shout “fore” if you hit a wayward golf shot. And, don’t let anybody hit your head. Also, invest in good shoes so you won’t fall. For the elderly, always walk with someone you can hold on to.

10. See a doctor. Finally, when you need help, go the experts. Get an annual checkup. Follow these 10 tips so you can healthier and smarter. (www.philstar.com)

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