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Most people want to be smart. They want to be able to state with honesty that they are intelligent. They also want to be able to do the things that intelligent people can do. They want to be able to remember things rather than rely on sticky notes and reminders on their phone. They want to be able to solve problems on their own without assistance from other people. They want, in short, to be able to make the best use possible of their brains. 

Wanting something does not necessarily guarantee that it will occur. Those who want to be able to use their brain to the fullest need to take care of that vital organ. The brain can only work with what a person gives it. If they deny it what it needs, then the brain cannot reach its full potential. If you really want to your brain to work as well as it possibly can, here are four things you should be doing to boost your brain.

Get Enough Rest

Many people see sleep as a necessary evil. It is a nightly time waster that they have to participate in unless they want to waste even more time the next day. As such, most people sleep as little as they can. They sacrifice sleep and claim that doing so keeps them more productive. After all, they have to “waste” less time sleeping.

Sleep is not just an unfortunate necessity required to keep the body energized. A lack of sleep does a great deal more damage than simply leaving you yawning the next day or needing a larger cup of coffee in the morning. A lack of sleep will keep your brain from ever coming close to reaching its full potential. If you skip out on sleep, you will struggle to form new memories and have a difficult time recalling the memories you already have swiftly or accurately. Sleep deprivation can also lead to brain inflammation as your body uses the time you are sleeping to flush toxins from your brain. Left unchecked, toxins and proteins can build up along your nerves and increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  

Eat Right

Sleeping well and eating right seem to be the cornerstones of just about any wellness or self-improvement regimen. This is unsurprising when you really consider it because the food you eat delivers the nutrients that your body needs in order to carry out its essential functions. If you do not give your body what it needs, your body has to start prioritizing. Does your body keep your heart beating or grow more muscle? Does it set fat aside for a later date or consume it now to avoid starvation? Does it repair bone or repair skin? Unsurprisingly, the deeper more essential functions are the first priority when the body has to start doing self-triage. Survival is the primary goal. Everything else is extra. 

If you want to give your brain a boost you need to make it a point to give your body nutrients that are especially good for your nervous system. Avoid raw foods as your body absorbs more nutrients when the food is cooked. So, lightly sauté your vegetables instead of simply cutting them up and munching on them. Keep your sodium and fat intakes on the low end of the scale. The increased blood pressure caused by high levels of sodium can damage the brain tissue around your blood vessels. If you have to eat high sodium foods, increase your potassium intake to help balance out your system. As for fats, keep trans fats to the absolute minimum, and replace them with healthier fats like those found in olive oil and nuts. Make sure you get enough vitamins as well, especially vitamins D, B12 and K.

Learn Something New

The brain is literally designed to learn new things, and the more you learn, the more your brain is able to continue learning. Your nervous system can be compared to your muscles. The more you use your muscles, the more they can lift. Your brain works the same way, so put your nerves to work learning something totally new. Learn to play an instrument or to speak a second language. Take a painting class or have a friend teach you how to ride a horse. 

The best things to learn when you want to grow your brain are those that require you to use multiple skills. An instrument requires using your ears to hear the music, your mind to remember what comes next and your hands to hit the next note. In fact, learning an instrument and learning a second language are the best ways to create new neural pathways in your brain. 

Use What You Have 

“Use it or lose it” is pretty much the slogan for how your body works. If you do not use your muscles, they will waste away. If you do not use your full lung capacity, it will shrink. If you do not force your bones to hold heavy weight, they will weaken. Your brain is no different. 

Your body only has so many resources, and it puts those resources towards whatever functions are both most essential and most commonly used. Obviously, keeping your internal organs functioning is the top priority, but the resources left over after those necessary functions are satisfied go to the most commonly used parts of your body. If you use lots of muscle but little brain power, your body will repair and grow your muscles before it increases your smarts. So, to grow your brain you need to use your brain. This does not mean you have to play a round of chess every morning, though strategy games are good for growing your brain. Instead, take a different route home from work and do not use your GPS. Do the math in your head instead of pulling out a calculator. See how many things you can recall before you have to look at the grocery list. Use the brainpower you have before chasing after more. 

Your body is an amazing machine, but it can only work with what you supply it. If you want to give your brain a boost, you need to provide your body with the necessary nutrients and motivation to create more neural connections. In essence, feed your brain and use your brain if you want to grow your brain.

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