Increase Your IQ With the Right Foods, Herbs, Vitamins, and Exercises for Your Brain

January 4, 2015 Updated: August 1, 2015

By Organic Lifestyle Magazine

If you can take IQ tests over and over again, study them, get help figuring them out, and learn how to do them quickly and well, your score will improve. Some would argue that this is not really increasing intelligence, but it is. Experiences that challenge the brain’s cognitive abilities raise intelligence–real intelligence. IQ tests, while certainly not a great indicator of how well someone will do in life, are a pretty decent indicator of memory, problem solving skills, and other cognitive functions. Obviously, an abundance of these skills is helpful.

A better idea than taking IQ tests over and over again is to do some other brain teasers, learn a language, and learn to constantly exercise your brain. Live life like it’s all about learning, because it is!

Combine these mental push-ups with the right diet, a fitness program, and a few brain boosting herbal supplements, and your focus will be sharp while your cognitive ability will improve significantly.

The more you practice using your brain in various, challenging ways, the better you will get at using it. The better you take care of your brain’s health, the more efficiently and easily it will work, and the longer it will work as well.

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(Shutterstock*)

How Brain Is Connected to Your Gut

Your brain is very connected to your gut. We have a symbiotic relationship with every microbe living inside us, and the highest concentration of microbes is in our gut. In addition, parasitical influences, like candida running rampant throughout our body causing us to crave junk food, can be traced back to intestinal health.

Speaking of candida, this fungus has been identified as a possible cause and a definite contributor to depression. Getting your intestinal health up to par is the most important first step in increasing your intelligence. Healthy gut = healthy body = healthy brain.

Good bacterial health is necessary for balanced hormones. Gut bacteria produce 90% to 95% of our serotonin, the key neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood. We need bacteria to assimilate B vitamins, which are essential to the function of the nervous system and the brain. Without enough B vitamins, we can’t concentrate well.

Gluten also leads to an overabundance of Candida and a host of other problems in the gut and the whole body which directly affect the brain’s ability to function.

Brain Boosting Herbs

If you’re looking for a quick boost to finish a term paper, there are lots of herbs and other things you can do right away. If you’re looking to increase your cognitive abilities over a period of time, and enjoy life with a clear head and all the focus you need, then the first step for most people is to kill the candida and balance the gut, so don’t skip that section above!

Bacopa

Bacopa is used to treat ADHD, anxiety, brain disorders, poor memory, and tension. Bacopa has been shown to stimulate brain function and improve cognition skills and memory. It also increases serotonin, a brain chemical known to help sooth and relax the mind.

Ginseng

Ginseng is a well-known stimulant that can reduce stress, increase focus and memory, and raise metabolism and energy levels.

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(Shutterstock*)

Sage

Sage has been shown to improve memory. Sage is being investigated as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

Gota kola

Gota kola renews nerve functions, fights premature aging, aids circulation, and improves memory and intelligence.

Rosemary

Rosemary stimulates the pituitary gland, which produces the HGH (human growth hormone) needed to regulate weight and look younger. It also improves memory, along with a host of other benefits.

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea has been shown to increase energy levels, reduce fatigue, and improve cognitive ability (specifically: associative thinking, short-term memory, calculation, concentration, and speed of audiovisual perception)

Ashwagandha

This herb is to Ayurvedic medicine as ginseng is to Chinese medicine. People use ashwagandha for improving cognitive ability and it treats many other health problems from infertility to inflammation.

Vitamins, Minerals, Fats, and Other Nutrition Our Brains Need

A deficiency in any one of the following nutrients can lead to brain health issues. Even less than optimal levels can impair cognitive function.

Fats

Numerous studies have proven that eating a balanced diet with healthy fats, and/or a fatty acid supplement with omega 3s, are imperative for all brain functions. It’s no wonder, since the brain is about 60% fat (if you exclude water, which makes up about 70%). DHA is a fatty acid chain that is one of the major building blocks of the brain, critical for optimal brain health and function. Of the many fatty acids that benefit the brain and offer noticeable cognitive improvement, DHA is the most significant. Balanced healthy fats are also needed to properly assimilate B vitamins.

B Vitamins

B vitamins are the vitamins of the nervous system and they are needed for the numerous functions critical to every cell in the body. B vitamins are essential for hormone production, stress management, and the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. B vitamin deficiencies are not uncommon, and lead to many physical and mental illnesses. Anyone suffering from an inability to concentrate, PMS or other hormonal issues, insomnia, depression, or virtually any other mental health issues should reach first for B complex.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is more than an anti-oxidant and necessary vitamin for fighting infections and viruses, it is necessary to synthesize the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. It also helps the body flush heavy metals such as iron and copper from the brain.

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(Shutterstock*)

Vitamin D

Normal brain development and function is dependent on vitamin D. Deficiencies have been proven to impair cognitive abilities.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is essential to maintain the integrity of cell membranes. Among other symptoms, a deficiency in this vitamin manifests in neurological symptoms including injury to sensory nerves and impaired coordination and balance.

Calcium

The brain requires calcium for secretion of neurotransmitters. The body maintains a specific level of calcium in the blood at all times, pulling calcium from the bones, if the level in the blood drops too low. So deficiencies generally affect bone health, not the brain.

Iodine

The thyroid requires iodine to produce its hormones, which are used in the myelination of the central nervous system. It is also critical in the development of the brain, therefore deficiencies during pregnancy can result in various neurodevelopmental deficits from mild cognitive deficits to mental retardation.

Iron

Iron is essential for proper development of the brain cells that produce myelin and for the synthesis of neurotransmitters. An iron deficiency during fetal development can cause permanent learning and memory deficits; childhood deficiency also causes cognitive impairment.

Magnesium

Magnesium is essential for metabolic reactions required for brain function. Deficiency results in neurological and muscular symptoms.

Selenium

Selenium is required for antioxidant enzymes in the brain and other tissues.

Zinc

Zinc plays a role in neurotransmission as well as catalytic, structural, and regulatory roles. Deficiencies can cause congenital malformations, deficits in learning, and other deficits including attention and learning.

Choline

Choline is another essential nutrient needed for myelination of nerves, neurotransmitter synthesis, and cell membranes and other structures of the brain and nervous system. Deficiency is related to cognitive defects.

Antioxidants

Your brain uses a lot of oxygen, and therefore, it is highly susceptible to free radical damage. This is why antioxidants are critical brain boosters. They protect brain cells by neutralizing free radical damage and preventing premature brain cell aging. Anthocyanins, the antioxidants that are found in berries, have been found to be particularly beneficial to the brain.