This post is about the 7 habits that had the largest impact on my brain function.
My goal has always been to make my brain just as plastic, resilient, and knowledge-hungry as it was when I was 11 years old. This is a tall order, but I do think that brain-friendly habits can give you a cognitive edge.
When you’re a kid you soak up information from your environment. You have a voracious appetite for knowledge. After adolescence, this plasticity deteriorates and you become more fixed in your behavior and patterns of thought. This is why mathematicians tend to make their most important contributions to the field before the age of 30: math is a young man’s game.
This should take less than 2 minute of your time to read. Here are seven habits that gave me a cognitive edge:
1. Exercise, and lots of it
Not motivated? Instead of imagining a grueling exercise session, focus on the immediate next step on your path to the gym. It might be putting on athletic shoes. Or finding your keys. Whatever it is, don’t anticipate the pain of the workout – focus on what’s right in front of you.
2. Eat “brain foods” (see this brain food pyramid)
- Blueberries (frozen blueberries are most cost-effective)
- Cacao nibs (Raw cacao nibs or powder > dark chocolate > mild chocolate)
- Tumeric/Curcumin (India has a lower incidence of neurodegenerative disease)
- Coconut oil – delicious medium-chain triglycerides
3. 5 supplements everyone should take:
- vitamin D
- flax seeds or DHA/EPA fish oil
- B multivitamin
- creatine and choline
4. Environmental novelty (the 4 S’s)
- socialization keeps you sharp
- sex boosts neurogenesis
- studying enhances long-term potentiation
- stress – mild “eustress” is beneficial; severe, chronic stress is injurious
5. Break out of your comfort zone
I don’t care whether it’s brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand or traveling to India – do something to get out of your routine!
6. Optimize sleep
- 50 Tips for getting a better night’s sleep
- Improve Sleep Quality With This Sleep Optimization Checklist
7. Avoid neurotoxins
- methylmercury in seafood
- anticholinergic drugs
- acrylamide in potato chips and french fries
- fluoride in toothpaste (controversial)
- excess alcohol consumption and tobacco
If you liked this post, you might also like 10 stupid simple ways to improve your brain. Subscribe and I’ll send you a list of 100 more brain health tips!