From studying for exams to preparing for a big interview, we all have times when our brains need a little extra boost. And as much as we love coffee, sometimes it leaves you feeling more jittery than genius.
We’ve already written about the power of nootropics in increasing your memory and focus, but you’re not always going to have the time or money to get your hands on those. The good news is, there are a few natural ways you can improve your cognitive function without having to break the bank. We have a feeling you may be surprised by some of them!
Scroll through the gallery for 7 unexpected ways you can boost your brain power.
1. Eat fried rice
If you have a habit of ordering takeaway during busy times, you may actually be doing yourself a favour — depending on what you order. A new study from the University of Boston reveals that certain takeaway meals have been proven to increase memory test scores. This is thanks to an ingredient called substance called choline, which is common in egg-rich takeaway foods like fried rice and Fiorentina pizza. The research also showed that Neopolitan pizza was a good brain-boosting takeaway choice, thanks to the high level of polyphenols. Of course, you could always make these meals at home to save yourself money and make it a little healthier!
2. Have a nap
It’s no secret that a power nap works wonders when you need a little mid-arvo pick-me-up. But did you know it can also boost your memory? While a 20-30 minute snooze increases energy and alertness, a one hour nap has been shown to be best for improvement for remembering facts, names and faces. However, unlike your power nap, it may leave you feeling a little groggy. So, if you’re going to do it before an exam, presentation or networking event, you may want to do it a few hours before you leave. You can have your nap at home or head to a nap class at The Indigo Project!
3. Sniff mint
Is there anything this herb can’t do? Not only does it taste delicious in milkshakes and relieve headaches, it also makes you smarter! There are many studies that show taking a whiff of mint improves your problem solving skills, judgment, attention span and memory. It’s also been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Scientists believe this is because the peppermint scent increases the oxygen flow to the brain.
4. Listen up
There’s a good reason there are so many ‘work’ playlists on Spotify — listening to certain types of music has been proven to increase your brain power. But if you want to really reap the benefits, you may want to swap your Miley Cyrus for Mozart. Research shows that music by the classical composer increases the brain wave activity linked to memory, understanding and problem-solving. Funnily enough, the scientists found that this did not happen with the music of other classical composers like Beethoven — only Mozart!
5. Play Tetris
We know, playing video games when you’ve got an overflowing to-do list seems a little counter-intuitive. But extensive research shows that playing Tetris boosts your memory and makes you more efficient at processing information. This works both short-term (so, you’ll be more alert after finishing a game) and long-term by actually changing the structure of the brain. Scientists believe this isn’t specific to Tetris, but is the case with all puzzle games. So, if you don’t want to dream about falling blocks every night (yes, this really happens when you play a lot of Tetris), something like Sudoku or Words With Friends may be more your style.
6. Beet it
It’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but beetroot packs a serious punch when it comes to boosting your brain power. It’s loaded with nitrates, which have been shown to increase blood flow to the parts of the brain associated with executive functioning (aka. getting sh*t done!) It also contains vitamin B9 and carotenoids, which are both known to aid cognitive function. If you’re not keen on the taste, try baking it into a healthy brownie or sipping on a beetroot latte!
7. See red
If you’ve been looking for an excuse to buy some new workout clothes, this may be it. Research shows that looking at the colour red enhances brain performance in attention-demanding tasks. This is because the brain associates red with danger, which makes you more alert. Meanwhile, blue has been proven to increase your creativity. So, whether you want to improve your performance at the gym or wear your workout gear as you plow through your to-do list, you can shop some colourful new threads here.