Everybody has a brain. We’re all born with one. Some brains (you may think) are naturally better than others. But, whether you have a “good” brain or not, the best part about having a brain is that brain training is possible! That’s right, every man regardless of age, education, or IQ status has the ability to train his brain. Yes, even you!
Up to this point, there have been many studies conducted on brain training and mindfulness. These studies have proven that men have the ability to train their brain in the following categories: attention, focus, memory, depression, anxiety/stress, and mood. If you are willing to work hard enough and refine your lifestyle, you too can improve your life in these categories. Most men who have worked hard enough to train their brain claim their life improved multiple facets. Men have claimed success in their work as well as their home life as well as an increase in their overall happiness.
If you want to dive into the world of mindfulness and training your brain there are a wide variety of strategies you can adopt in order to achieve your goals. The following strategy categories are popular among men of every age.
- Brain Training Games
The History of Brain Training and Improvement
Although it’s just your radar, brain training and improvement is not a new concept. In fact, memory training and brain improvement were first introduced by scholars at the Pelman Institute. Their card game that helped individuals improve their memory sequencing involved a deck of cards placed face down and flipping over two cards at a time in order to find the matches. Today, you likely know that game as “memory”. Believe it or not, Mark Twain was also one of the founders of brain improvement and memory training. He developed a game called the “memory builder” to help young scholars remember dates and historical timelines. His game was adopted by many schools and was the foundation of many memory training methods still used today.
Currently, the market for brain training and improvement is larger than ever. According to an article by MarketWatch, the brain training market is expected to exceed $8 Billion by the year 2022. Right now, there are countless brain training companies available to anyone and everyone looking to improve their mind, and there are new companies popping up every day. Some of the most popular brain training companies at the moment include Lumosity, NeuroNation, and The Brain Training Company. If you are interested in getting started on your brain training journey, any of these companies (and many others) offer apps and other strategies to get you going.
Myths About Brain Training and Improvement
Before diving into brain training it is important to create realistic expectations of the possible outcomes. Unfortunately, there are many myths circulating regarding brain training and what you can expect. First and foremost it is important to understand that training your brain and improving your brain function does not necessarily increase your IQ. There is a definite difference between IQ and cognition that will help you to understand why this is possible.
Cognition is regarding the way the mind works and any function of the mind, whereas IQ is simply a measure of your intellectual abilities (aka how much you know).
Another way you can think about this myth is by considering crystalized intelligence and fluid intelligence. Fluid intelligence is the ability to solve problems, use logic, and identify patterns.
On the other hand, crystallized intelligence is the ability to use learned knowledge and experience. Everyone has some level of fluid intelligence, but when you train your brain, your crystallized intelligence improves by because you teach it how to use your fluid intelligence more effectively. You are not necessarily gaining new knowledge, you are simply learning to harness your current intelligence and use it in a way that is beneficial to you.
Who Can Benefit from Brain Training and Improvement?
If you fall into the camp of the “typical male” you probably read or hear about brain training and immediately dismiss it as an option for self-improvement that is “not for you”. However, you could not be more wrong. Countless men of all ages and walks of life have found endless benefits within brain training and feel that it is something every man can benefit from.
Typically, men in their 30s and 40s look to brain training after an influx of stress in their lives. Whether it is their career, their family, or a personal experience that is bringing them down they realize they need a way to manage their stress and improve their thinking in order to move forward. As a result, many men at this age turn to simple brain training methods like meditation, diet, and exercise to build a solid foundation for mindfulness.
For those of you in your 50s and 60s, you are not out of the brain training range by a long-shot! In fact, at this point in your life, you might need it more than ever! Suddenly men in their 50s and 60s will begin to have (very minor) lapses in their memory or find themselves not being able to focus as well as they used to. To help combat these annoying occurrences, they can turn to brain training. Methods such as brain training games, brain training products, and nootropics may likely prove to be beneficial.
If you find yourself venturing into your 70s and beyond, it is highly likely you will find benefits from brain training like your younger counterparts. In your 70s you may start seeing signs of dementia or other diseases such as Alzheimer’s. For those of you whom the disease may affect, brain training games have proven to be extremely beneficial at alleviating symptoms.
Regardless of age if you are stressed, have difficulty with memory, or struggle with depression you should not overlook the endless possibilities brain training may bring. Many brain training methods such as meditation, dieting, exercise, nootropics, and different brain training products have all proven to be very beneficial and assisting with these different afflictions.
How To Train Your Brain
Now that you know you CAN benefit from brain training, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of how to do it. Of course, just like every other category of self-improvement, there are a million ways to do it. However, what is most important is finding a way to do it that works for you. Some of the most popular methods for brain training include using apps, reading books on brain training, and playing memory improvement games.
Brain Training Apps
It doesn’t matter whether you own an Apple or an Android, you can find a brain training app to help you build your mindfulness foundation on any device. Some of the most popular apps include:
- Cognifit Brain Fitness
Books on Brain Training
In addition to using apps, there are also many books you can purchase or borrow to help improve your brain. These books are available in many different categories and offer a wide variety of advice on multiple brain training topics. Popular books for brain training are:
- “Train Your Brain” by Terry Horne and Simon Wootton
- “Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long” by David Rock
- “Train Your Brain for Success: Read Smarter, Remember More, and Break Your Own Records” by Roger Seip
- “The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self” by Dr. Alex Lickerman
Memory Improvement Games
If you want to have fun while improving your brain, memory improvement games are the way to go! They come in a variety of styles and can provide hours of entertainment while also helping to improve your mind. Most men love these memory games:
- Crossword Puzzles
- Jigsaw Puzzles
No matter if you choose to use an app, read a book, or play a game any of these brain improvement strategies will help you build a firm foundation for improving your mind.
The Connection Between Your Mind and Food
If the first thing you look to when trying to make a change to your body is food, you are not alone. Many men find food to be one of the most cost-effective and understandable methods of lifestyle change available. That being said, many men also do not take the time to research their dieting method before diving in and therefore become frustrated when they don’t experience success.
If you are considering brain training to help you with anxiety, stress, attention, focus, memory or mood it is important to first gain an understanding of how food works in conjunction with these things.
To help you gain a better understanding of the relationship between your food and your brain, consider this. In an article published by Harvard, the body is compared to a car. Cars, as you all know, run best when they receive premium fuel. Our bodies are no different. And, just like a car, if you put bad fuel into your body it is going to break down. In order to improve your mind, you must have a healthy body. You cannot have one without the other due to the deep connection between your brain and your gut.
Many of our bodies most important chemicals for brain function are produced in our gut. One of them is serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for regulating your sleep, appetite, and moods. Without the proper amount of Serotonin, you are likely to become a weeping, unbalanced, easily distracted mess. And, because serotonin is produced in your gut, when you eat bad foods that produce bad gut bacteria you will likely experience the low serotonin downward spiral.
According to an article published by the UCLA Newsroom, it is stated that “changes in diet are a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities, protecting the brain from damage and counteracting the effects of aging.” They go on to discuss that what you eat truly has an impact on your whole body and the functions of your brain. For example, in a study referenced by the article school-aged children who were fed an ample diet of Omega-3 Fatty Acids scored higher on tests than children who did not receive the special diet. Due to the results of studies such as this, it is important to be fully aware of the long-term positive and negative effects the food you are putting in your mouth can have on your mental health.
The Best Foods for Your Brain
Full of Vitamin B6, B12, folate, and choline eggs are one of the best foods you can eat for your brain. Each egg is jam-packed with goodness that will help to regulate your memory.
- Wild salmon
Wild salmon is salmon in its purest form. And, along with being really tasty salmon is full of Omega 3 Fatty Acids that aid in improving brain function and clarity.
Avocados are a fruit that can be added to almost anything to make it better. And, as a bonus, they are a monosaturated fat which is important for increasing the blood flow to your brain.
The green goodness of broccoli is full of Vitamin K and Choline both of which help to make your cognitive abilities stronger and improve your memory.
Tomatoes are like the brain police. The high amount of carotenoids in them help to eliminate free radicals in the brain which can slow down brain function.
If you love blueberries, you are in luck because blueberries protect your brain! They do so by prohibiting oxidative stress which can aid against Alzheimers and Dementia.
Beets are great for your brain because they help to produce nitric oxide and oxygen-rich blood, which opens up the flow of blood to your brain.
Turmeric is an important ingredient to use in your diet if you are combatting symptoms of dementia. It is full of curcumin which acts as an anti-inflammatory and has beneficial effects for your brain.
Spinach is a versatile leafy green that is full of Vitamin K and other important minerals that can help aid against cognitive decline and forgetfulness.
- Dark chocolate
Delicious and beneficial, dark chocolate helps to improve blood flow to the brain and therefore improves brain function in those who eat a small amount on a regular basis.
The Worst Foods for Your Brain
Sugary drinks – When you eat or drink a lot of sugar, the insulin levels in your body naturally decline. And, when they decline, your brain tends to become foggy and forgetful making it difficult to function normally.
Refined Carbs – Carbs are much like sugar. If you eat too many refined carbs (aka not whole grain) they turn to pure sugar in your body and cause your insulin levels to go up. Therefore, you may become foggy or unable to function appropriately if you eat too many.
Foods high in trans fats – Remember how we talked about Serotonin being an important part of improving brain function. Well, when you eat too many trans fats your serotonin levels begin to drop causing brain function to drop as well.
Aspartame – Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is bad for your body on all accounts. However, most relevantly, aspartame has been proven to cause decreased brain function and even loss of memory.
Alcohol – When you drink alcohol in excess, your liver is affected and can produce harmful chemicals inside your body. When that happens, the harmful chemicals travel to your brain and produce negative results such as impaired brain function and memory.
Cured Meats – Cured meats are covered in chemicals called nitrates. And, if that doesn’t stop you from eating them you should know that nitrates have been known to contribute to hyperactivity and euphoria-both of which are bad for brain function.
White rice – White rice, like many other refined carbs, produces pure sugar within your body. This sugar can slow you down and make you feel lethargic seriously harming your brain function.
Fruit juice – Fruit juices are no different than sugary drinks such as soda and sports drinks when it comes to brain function. They all cause your body to produce excess insulin which slows down your thinking and reactions-not good for brain function!
Products You Can Use to Improve Brain Function
Although diet is a great place to start, there are many products on the market that can aid you in improving your brain function as well. The products mentioned below have all proven beneficial to men of different ages.
Vielight Neuro – Vielight Neuro is a product that will run you around $1,500.00 (or more) and is known for improving brain function and aiding against diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The Vielight Neuro does this by transmitting light therapy into the brain to improve the connections within.
PEMF Tools – PEMF Tools or Pulsed Electromagnetic Therapy Tools emit a low magnetic field to your body in order to help treat current diseases or improve your brain function. This tool has proven to be very beneficial in cases of severe brain dysfunction and can cost you approximately $7,000+.
tDCS – Transcranial direct current stimulation devices are worn around the head and help individuals with brain injuries or severe depression. These devices can be purchased for $300.00 and above.
QEEG/Neurofeedback Tools – Neurofeedback tools are rather affordable and can be purchased for $150.00 and above. These tools can be used to normalize brain activity through therapy and can also be used to train brains to work at their peak performance levels.
Any of these products can aid in improving and training your brain, however, it is important to find out what you want to get out of your training before you purchase one of these devices.
How Sleep Improves the Brain
Sleep is a function of daily life that most men take for granted. They think that as long as they lay their head down on the pillow at some point during the night they will be okay. However, if you are one of the men who think this, you are wrong. Sleep helps to improve your memory, clear your brain, improve your learning ability, and even increase brain plasticity.
In a study performed in Switzerland and discussed by the Telegraph in the UK, a large group of individuals was given a memory test. They were asked to look at images, go home, and then recall them the next day. The group was divided up into two separate cohorts. One got the appropriate amount of sleep and the other did not. Those who received the appropriate amount of sleep were better able to recall their memory pieces the next day.
If sleep can aid in something as simple as a basic memory test, imagine what it can do if you are studying for a test, attempting to learn a new skill, or improve your overall cognitive ability.
How Exercise Improves the Brain
Much like a diet, exercise is a simple method that can be used to improve brain function. In fact, basic exercise has been proven to aid in the improvement of memory, thinking skills, and other factors such as mood and the reduction of stress and anxiety.
According to a study published by Harvard, exercise directly benefits the brain by helping to reduce inflammation, reduce insulin resistance, and stimulate natural growth factors within the body. These growth factors include chemicals (such as endorphins) that naturally help to create the growth of new blood vessels in the brain. Furthermore, they discuss that people who exercise often are found to have a larger prefrontal cortex than those that do not. Both the creation of beneficial chemicals and the size of the prefrontal cortex directly correlate to improved brain function.
Understanding Nootropics and Improved Brain Function
Nootropics is simply a fancy word for naturally occurring or manmade chemicals that can provide an improvement to the brain. According to smartdrugsmarts.com in order to be considered a nootropic, a chemical must be able to improve memory and learning, help the brain function amidst distractions, protect the brain, increase the efficacy of neuronal firing, and have little to no side-effects.
Harvard discusses nootropics in an article they published online saying that there are few human studies regarding nootropics, but that doesn’t mean they do not work. In fact, there are many (countless) individuals who claim the benefits of nootropics and their brain-boosting effects.
There are synthetic nootropics such as Adderall, Ritalin, and Modafinil and there are herbal nootropics such as Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Ashwagandha, and Ginseng. Other nootropics you are likely familiar with include caffeine, creatine, fish oils, and Qualia. All of these nootropics have proven to be beneficial. However, if you are looking to utilize nootropics as a form of brain improvement it is best to research specific nootropics you are interested in using first to make sure they fit your needs.
Creating Mindfulness Through Meditation
If you open up the app store on your phone and search for “meditation” countless apps will pop up that claim the ability to help you improve your thoughts and control your mind. And, while practicing meditation blindly is beneficial, understanding the science behind meditation can be extremely helpful if you are looking to commit yourself to a meditation practice in order to train and improve your mind.
According to an article published by the UCLA Newsroom, science shows that practicing meditation on a regular basis thickens the brain and improves connections within it. The same article claims that MRI imaging during a study on meditation showed that individuals who practice meditation for a prolonged period of time have larger amounts of gyrification than those who do not. Gyrification, if you aren’t familiar, is the folding of the cerebral cortex on the brain. Scientists claim that high amounts of gyrification on the brain directly correlate with individuals who have a higher level of self-regulation and emotional control as well as introspection and awareness.
Considering this research and other credible studies yielding similar results, it is not a surprise that meditation has become widely known for relieving stress, aiding in the reduction of early symptoms of Alzheimer’s and/or Dementia, helping to heal those with brain trauma or PTSD, and impairing substance abuse.
Men Who Practice Meditation
If you are looking for real-life examples of men who have benefited from practicing meditation, you need not look any further than Hollywood. Many male celebrities state with confidence that meditation has made a positive impact on their career and life.
Clint Eastwood – A man among all men, Clint Eastwood practices Transcendent Meditation and has been for at least 40 years. Eastwood practices meditation regularly as a method for managing the stress that comes along with his day-to-day life.
Jerry Seinfeld – If you’ve ever laughed at a television show, you’ve likely laughed at Jerry Seinfeld. But, did you know that his preferred method for managing his hectic lifestyle is meditation? That’s right, even the funny guys meditate in order to relieve their minds.
Paul McCartney – If there is a man who knows what it’s like to live in the limelight of the world of Rock ‘n Roll, it’s Sir Paul McCartney. From being a member of the Beatles to his own musical career, McCartney has lived on the road for decades. And, he claims that the only way he was able to keep peace and sanity during those times was through meditation.
Now that you understand the science behind mindfulness and training your brain, you know it is a feat even you can achieve! There is nothing impossible about training your brain and, if you follow the methods we have outlined for you, you will be on your way to a better brain in no time!
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