6 Ways to Make Yourself Smarter

Think it’s too late to become a brainiac? Think again. Medical science used to think that you were stuck with the smarts you had once you reached adulthood, but modern wisdom says that our brains continue to grow and adapt at any age. Nurture your gray matter and you can make yourself smarter, healthier, and happier – here’s how.

1 Protect the smarts you have! Protect your brain from physical injury by wearing a helmet when you ride bikes, motorbikes, or go snowboarding, and avoid aggressive sports. “The brain is very soft,” says Dr. Daniel G. Amen, author of Making a Good Brain Great, “and the parts involved with memory, learning, and mood stability are especially vulnerable to trauma. Even a so-called ‘minor’ concussion can have long-term repercussions on your brain that may show themselves long after that impact occurred.”

2. Maintain a healthy sex life. “Orgasm is very helpful for the brain because there’s a lot of activity that goes on and then it calms down. It’s like resetting the brain in many wawys,” says Dr. Amen. Recent Australian research found that intercourse directly stimulates the production of new brain cells; however, to keep those cells you need to do something intellectually stimulating soon after, so reach for that Sudoku book or crossword puzzle once you partner starts snoring.

3. Stretch your brain. Learn new things makes you smarter. The more you exercise your gray matter, the more connections your brain makes. Studying new languages or learning a musical instrument can be excellent activities, but trying anything new has the same effect if you work on it continuously. We’re not talking about watching multiple episodes of Glee, though: The book tube is a brain-dead activity, so limit how much time you spend zoning out in front of the box.

4. Exercise your body. Increasing your blood flow through exercise will get plenty of oxygen to your brain cells. helping them function more efficiently. A study by the University of Illinois found that people who did 45 minutes of brisk walking a week improved their cognitive speed by 15%.

5. Get enough sleep. When you’re catching z’s, your brain rejuvenates. Recent research suggests that our brains grow during the sixth and eighth hour of sleep, and that those who get eight or nine hours of sleep are more mentally alert.

6. Don’t cut too many carbs. A balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetable is key. “You may lose weight on low-carb diets, but you’re not going to have that mental edge because your active brain needs a steady stream of energy fueled preferably by complex carbohydrates,” says Dr. Alan Logan, author of The Brain Diet. Eating fruits with dark red and purple pigments such as cherries and blueberries gives long-term brain protection. So eat up and look forward to a long, mentally healthy life.

Fade to Gray

President Obama’s graying hair may be big news, but it’s actually normal for men and women in their late 40s to start going gray, no matter what their job may be. According to experts, after we hit 30 our chance of going gray increases 10-20% every 10 years.

Natural hair color is the result of pigments that our bodies actively produce. As we grow  older, this pigmentation process shuts down, hair by hair, and we gradually go gray and finally white. The process has always been a bit of a mystery, but a new European study in a biological publication called The FASEB Journal poses an interesting explanation. The study suggests that a hair goes white when an enzyme called catalase stops working and allows naturally-occurring hydrogen peroxide in the follicle to bleach it from the inside out.

Researchers have long held that hair goes gray according to a genetically-determined time clock, not because of stress. But this new evidence raises the possibility that
stress may be a factor in the failure of catalase, so maybe we can yet blame the job, the kids or the economy for our graying hair. The study also raises the possibility of finding a way to prevent the graying process.

Until a remedy for graying hair is found, though, we can either try to age gracefully or dye our hair. The President won’t say whether he colors his hair or not, but if you cover your gray you should consider going lighter than your natural shade unless you can afford to keep your roots from showing. According to Carla Anderson, owner of Balance Salon in Jersey City, NJ, light or white roots growing out on dark-dyed hair “makes it look like you’re balding.” For many of us, that may be the only thing worse than going gray.

Erectile Dysfunction and Heart Disease

I’m not saying that if you have Erectile Dysfunction you should panic about heart disease, but you should be aware of how the two conditions are correlated.  iTriage posted an interesting article yesterday, “How Erectile Dysfunction Might Just Save Your Life.”  The article is about a man who saw a doctor for his erectile dysfunction, and after several tests they discovered the man had coronary artery disease and had to have a five vessel coronary artery bypass procedure.

After reading this article by iTriage I was reminded how important it is to understand the cause of your impotence. Erectile Dysfunction is a result of narrowed blood vessels and poor blood flow to the penis, and narrowed blood vessels are a result of heart disease.  The arteries that supply blood to the penis, called the internal pudendal arteries, are very small and are often blocked before the more vital coronary arteries.  So erectile dysfunction and impotence can be a warning sign for a serious heart disease and life threatening heart attack.  Therefore all men with ED, and all men in general, should see their doctor and request an EKG to make sure that you are free of heart disease and lower your risk of heart attack.

As I said before, you shouldn’t worry too much about having a heart condition if you are impotent.  There are several causes other than heart disease for impotency.  Some other causes of impotency include:

  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Atherosclerosis (clogged blood vessels)
  • Smoking
  • Alcoholism
  • Injuries
  • Prostate cancer
  • Certain medications – diuretics, high blood pressure drugs, anti-depressants, anti-anxieties, anti epileptic drugs, antihistamines, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, Parkinson’s drugs, antiarrythmics, muscle relaxants, prostate cancer drugs, histamine H2-receptor antagonists, chemotherapy drugs
  • Low testosterone
  • Parkinson’s
  • Multiple sclerosis