In the past, it was thought that a person’s Intelligence Quotient, or IQ, remained consistent from early in life on, but that’s just not the case.
A new study published in the journal Nature indicates that it’s possible to increase your IQ by maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle and by implementing mental exercises. Just to clarify, one’s IQ doesn’t actually measure a person’s intelligence. Instead, it measures a person’s problem-solving abilities.
The researchers in the study say that a fifth of children during their adolescent years could gain or lose as many as 20 points in IQ—depending on how they feed it and train it. The study, titled “Verbal and Non-Verbal Intelligence Changes in the Teenage Brain,” also found that IQ improvement corresponded to actual structural changes in the brain. Interestingly, the scientists found that the children who did increase their IQ also had a strong correlation with an increase in the volume and density of the gray matter in their brain. Incidentally, the gray matter of the brain includes parts of the brain involved in muscle control, sensory perceptions like seeing and hearing, memory, emotions and speech.
The study’s co-author, Sue Ramsden, observed that “late developers can catch up” IQ-wise. She compared how the IQ can increase to changes that can occur when an adolescent goes from being a “couch potato” to becoming physically active or even athletic. It’s all in how intentional people are with their IQs.
Kids aren’t the only ones who can improve their IQs, though. A 2008 study titled, “Building Fluid Intelligence with Training on Working Memory,” showed that it is possible to increase IQ via training. Some ways of doing so include: solving puzzles, reading challenging books, learning a new language, leading an active lifestyle and exercising regularly, having an active social life, writing—including writing with your opposite hand, learning a new task and avoiding and managing stress.
You’ll also want to eat well for a strong IQ. Some brain boosting foods to enjoy are:
- Salmon and other fatty cold water fish—These contain plenty of omega-3 fatty acids (which help to build and maintain myelin in the brain), protein and other brain-supporting nutrients.
- Lean, organic free-range beef—This is high in iron, which supports memory, attention span and alertness.
- Organic, free-range chicken and turkey—Poultry is high in tyrosine, an amino acid required for the production of the alertness chemicals dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine.
- Organic, free range eggs—These are high in protein (and can support alertness by increasing levels or norepinephrine) and high in the B vitamin choline, which supports memory.
- Berries, especially blueberries—Many berries are excellent sources of antioxidants and anthocyanins, compounds thought to help protect brain cells from toxins, to improve the use of glucose in the brain and to promote normal communication between brain cells.
- Beets and edamame—These contain phenylalanine, an amino acid that helps relay signals from one brain cell to another.
- Dark green, leafy vegetables like baby spinach—Green, leafy veggies are packed with iron, which is involved memory, concentration and mental functioning.
- Broccoli and other cruciferous veggies—These are packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients that help protect brain tissue from toxins.
- Carrots—These are high in beta carotene and other natural substances that help protect brain tissue from toxins.
- Citrus fruits—These contain vitamin C and other antioxidants that help maintain sharp memory and help brain cells resist damage.
- Organic, probiotic-rich yogurt—Yogurt is a probiotic food that has been found in many studies to boost mental alertness.
- Legumes—These provide glucose to fuel the brain, while the fiber they contain slows the absorption of glucose, helping to maintain stable levels of energy and support alertness and concentrations.
Additionally, you’ll want to include avocados, extra virgin olive oil, apples, nuts, turmeric, barley and dark grapes to your brain-healthy diet.
Talk about smart eating and living!