How to Improve our Minds

Nowadays, each of us wants to take care of ourselves and be healthy, which is a very positive thing.

We take care of our physical appearance by going to the hairdresser, beautician, and even go as far as to go to a plastic-surgeon in order to improve this and that. We care about how we look and what we wear. We relax by going on holiday, pampering ourselves with massages, or by socialising with friends. But what do we do for our minds?

Our brains are comprised of 100 billion neurons (that’s 16 times more than there are people on this planet) and every neuron can have up to 10 thousand dendrites, or protrusions, that they are connected to. Neural networks connected by dendrites can be understood as information super highways. What’s more, there is constant traffic on these neural highways, there are millions of neural impulses along this complex neural network. These neural pathways collectively build up our memory and become stronger and  more stable if the information which they carry is used regularly. Consequently, we can quickly recall information from any given route. In fact, up to 40 times faster than information that we do not use very often, which is transmitted via more vague and unstable pathways. This is why it is sometimes more difficult to recall certain pieces of information from memory.

We have some good news for you!

Until recently, it was believed that our brains only created neurons during childhood. However, recent studies have shown that neurogenesis (the process of creating neurons) occurs throughout the entire lifespan of human beings. What’s more, the more you train your brain by providing it with stimuli and stimulating its activity, the more neurons are created. The more information you try and remember, the more neurons will be created in order to facilitate the capacity and longevity of your memory. After all, your brain is also  a muscle and it’s up to you if your brain will be in shape or not.

So what should we do to have a great memory and a powerful brain?

Don’t let your brain get bored! It’s important to create as many neural connections in our minds and repeating newly acquired information so that the neural connections in our brains are as stable as possible. As a result, our brains will work much more efficiently. We will be able to easily recall different information and will be much easier for us to come up with new ideas or solutions.  A better functioning brain means a better functioning body, and more importantly, it will delay the aging process of brain cells, hence a better memory and more efficient brain functionality in the later years of our lives.

What is important for our brain to function more efficiently?

1. Oxygen

Make sure the rooms we spend most of our time in are properly ventilated so that our brains can get the oxygen they need. Our brains are very sensitive to the lack of oxygen and  won’t function properly when they don’t have enough of it.


2. Exercise and Physical Activity

Regular physical activity is even more important than mental activity because it helps our bodies release hormones that increase the number of neurons in our brains. We don’t have to work out every day for hours on end, only for 30-45 minutes 3-4 times a week. What’s important is that we do physical exercise regularly.


3. Mental Activity

The greatest pleasure we can give our brain is mental activity. Our brain doesn’t like to get bored, it likes to constantly learn something new. The more information you try to remember, the greater memory you will have. If you spend 10 minutes a day on mental training daily, you will not only improve your ability to think faster but will also be able to connect facts better.


What kind of mental activity positively influences our brain?


-Learning foreign languages

A research study conducted in 2007 at York University in Toronto concluded that people who are bilingual or are learning a foreign language have a significant concentration of neurons in areas responsible for memory and attentiveness. Learning foreign languages over a several year period prolongs the youthful fitness of the brain in old age.

-Learning something new.

Research carried out by the Washington University School of Medicine has proven that each additional year of education reduces the risk of senility and dementia by 13-18%, it is about every situation in which we learn something new and stimulate our brain through increased activity, it does not have to be very an overly-ambitious course like  accounting or medicine, it can merely be as simple as learning how to sew.

-Doing crossword puzzles

By doing crossword puzzles, we are placed in a situation where we must find the correct answer or “solution” to a given question. This helps us train the analytical part of our brains and will make problem solving easier for us in the future.

-Playing a musical instrument

By playing a musical instrument we can not only develop our ear for music, but by being able to play or repeat patterns of notes and getting the timing right is also a form of memorisation that can help us build more stronger and stable neural pathways in our minds.

 -Board games

The goal of most board games is usually to win, this creates a competitive atmosphere among friends when playing them. That’s why playing boards games isn’t only a great way to spend time while socialising with others but also helps you develop your strategic thinking skills.

  -Reading books

As you read, try to focus on exactly what it is you are reading and try creating images of it. You can also ask yourself questions about what you are reading. When you try learning more about something, it stimulates your creativity, which in turn helps in retaining new information.


4. The Right Diet

Our brain is made up of 80% water, therefore keeping our body properly hydrated is extremely important. A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, good fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals is a great source of energy for our brains. Additionally, vitamin D3 is not only vital for our bones but also plays an important role in helping our brain function and produce neurons. The combination of vitamin D3 and curcumin (a natural ingredient found in curry spice or curcuma) stimulates the immune system, which removes beta-amyloid from the brain. Beta-amyloid is a protein that accumulates within the brain in the form of senile plaques, leading to neuronal death and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. We can increase the  antioxidant activity  curcumin by 1000 times by adding some pepper to it. It is also worth noting that “more is less” when it comes to eating, as our brain generally doesn’t like it when we overeat, making it harder for us to focus and work effectively. Finally, we should reduce, if not completely eliminate smoking, drinking alcohol and eating processed food from our diet as they are not only bad for your brain but also for your entire body.

5. Sleep

Sleep has a positive influence on our creativity, which plays a key role in remembering new information.


6. Social Activity

Develop your passions and interests with others! You will not only be doing the things you like with other people but will also be able to share experience and knowledge with one another allowing for your minds to grow and develop together.


7. Meditation

Meditation not only calms the body and soul but also increases the volume of areas in the brain responsible for memory just after 8 weeks of regular meditation.


In conclusion, the condition of our brain and how fast we can acquire new information only depends on us. If we remember to introduce new habits that can improve the functionality of our brain, we will very quickly notice new ideas and solutions to problems come into our minds. Not to mention we will be able to remember things we read and other information much better. We won’t have as much trouble remembering things, such as: important messages or what we were supposed to do on a given day. Training our brains brings us lots of benefits and will only improve our functionality in society and thus increase our confidence.


Useful Vocabulary

Word or Phrase Definition or Synonym
Nowadays These days / Currently
pampering ourselves to treat or gratify with extreme or excessive indulgence, kindness, or care
protrusions Bumps / lumps /  juts / projection
collectively as a group /  as a whole / together
recall remember / call upon
vague unclear
unstable unsteady / volatile / unbalanced
lifespan the duration of one’s life
facilitate provide
capacity the maximum amount that something can contain
longevity the length of something’s existence
be in shape be fit
acquired gained
delay a period of time by which something is late or postponed
hence therefore / that is why
ventilated airy / oxygenated
constantly all the time
bilingual speaking two languages
attentiveness concentration, the ability to focus
prolongs making something last longer
senility a physical decline associated with old age
dementia a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life
overly-ambitious an exaggerated desire to achieve success
analytical Logical / inquisitive / methodical
patterns a regular and intelligible form or sequence
getting the timing right doing something at the correct or idle moment
strategic thinking the ability to come up with effective plans in order to achieve success
creativity inventiveness / imagination
hydrated watered well / not dry
vital crucial / important
accumulates collects
a key role very important or pivotal position
volume the maximum amount that something can contain
habits routines / things that are done regularly


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Katarzyna Gajda
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