Boosting Your Brain Power

Your brain chemistry is affected by food and drink, exercise, thoughts, emotions,
the air you breathe, etc. Powerful groups of chemicals in your brain react to these
factors and can rev you up or slow you down accordingly. Oftentimes you get so
accustomed to the way you are that you choose foods, thoughts and habits that will
keep you in that state rather than change the routine and change the way you are -
even to accepting negative moods as normal and positive moods as too good to last.
If you moods are off balance, your intelligence, productivity and overall perfor-
mance is affected. For example, when emotional interest triggers the secretion of
adrenaline into the bloodstream, memory, thinking and sensory acuity is improved.
Adrenaline also prompts the release of stored-up blood sugar (glucose) which
neurons need for optimal performance, so avoid low blood sugar and artificial
sweeteners when doing brain tasks.
Your brain grows with exercise and atrophies with lack of use. Out of the
estimated 15 billion neurons of the human brain, 100,000 unused neurons deteriorate
each day. By improving your brain's circulatory system, your brain cells need not
deteriorate at this horrendous rate. Capillaries that supply your brain cells with
oxygen and nourishment can be manufactured by your body when they are needed.
An autopsy of Einstein's brain after his death revealed that there was a greater
profusion of superficial capillaries interlacing his cerebral cortex than men of ordinary
intellect. With a program of intensive mental exercise, your body must respond with
the development of new capillaries to provide the necessary oxygen your brain is
asking for.
Oxygen is the key to better brain usage. If your heart rate is increased and your
blood vessels are dilated, more oxygen can reach your brain; hence moderate exercise
can improve your brain's functioning. Deep, abdominal breathing is also very good,
because blood favors the lower areas of your lungs due to gravity, and a more
enriched mixing of blood and oxygen is achieved (see breathing exercises).
Improve your diet, and you can improve the functioning of your brain. For
instance, by eating leafy vegetables, nuts, apples, pears or grapes you supply your
brain with the much needed element boron that helps to increase your mental
alertness. High fat foods make your brain feel sluggish. By eating low-fat poultry or
fish, you charge up your bloodstream with amino acids, including tyrosine. Tyrosine
is carried across the protective filter called the blood-brain barrier where it converts
into the alertness chemicals, dopamine and norepinephrine. If stress exhausts your
supply of these neurotransmitters, the result is confusion, indecisiveness, anxiety and
depression. Fish, meats, egg yolks, soy products, oatmeal, rice, peanuts and pecans
contain choline which converts to the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, needed for a
sharp memory.
You can further augment your ability to think and learn by taking supplemental
dosages of choline (or lecithin), vitamin A, B-1, B-12, C and E. Eliminate smoking
and excessive fluid intake (which is mostly habit and not thirst anyway), narcotics,
alcohol, white sugar (which produces lassitude and fatigue) and excess caffeine
intake (which limits the blood flow in your brain).
Coffee is an instant dopamine booster, which tends to make us think more
quickly, react to stimuli more rapidly, and feel more energetic. But dopamine is a
building block of another neurotransmitter, norephinephrine which converts to
adrenaline. More than one or two cups of coffee often pushes the brain chemicals to
excessive levels resulting in nervousness, anxiety and aggression. Mental instability
is simply a chemical imbalance. To balance yourself, moderation in everything is
best.
To improve hemispheric balance, cross-crawling (stomach-to-floor) is a good
developmental exercise. Practice marching in place. First march in a homolateral
style, moving the same side arm and leg together, and then switch to the opposite side
arm and leg in a cross-marching style. Practice other cross-motor patterns like
swinging both arms to one side while lifting the leg of the other side in front of you
OR lifting your leg straight out to the side while raising your arm of the opposite side.
Turn your head from side to side as you do these drills. Do each cross-motor pattern
25 times per day until it becomes automatic for you.
To further boost your brain power, sharpen the whole range of your senses. See,
hear, taste, smell and feel the environment around you. Do things differently each
day and encourage yourself with positive affirmations. Use your left hand instead of
your right to open your car door or to comb your hair. Break out of the hypnotic
stereotypes of taking the same roads home from work or the routines at the breakfast
and lunch table, etc. At home, play thinking games like bridge, checkers, chess or
go. Build up your vocabulary. Do crossword puzzles, anagrams and jumble word
puzzles. Practice reading and drawing upside down or while looking through a
mirror. Learn another language or how to play a musical instrument. At various
points in your day, visualize in quick succession all the daily activities that happened to you up to that point. The more you use your brain, the more it will grow