how to improve intelligence (The Ultimate Guide)

Getting peak performance at work, school, on the football field or on stage can motivate us to learn how to become smarter or how to unleash the power of the mind. Psychologists, nutritionists, physicians and others have offered thoughts that depend on what we eat, our daily habits, emotions and the levels of our minds.

Intelligence Definition

To understand how to improve intelligence, you need to grasp the meanings and types intelligence:

Intellectual intelligence refers to your mind’s power to acquire and understand knowledge or information acquired through your senses – sight, sound, taste, smell and touch.

In some circles, this is termed “crystallized intelligence” because it’s your ability to acquire information and comprehend it. The building blocks of crystallized intelligence include reading, your senses (taste, touch, sound, smell, sight) and experiences. It can be manifested or measured by the expanse of your vocabulary and how to apply or draw conclusions from information. These abilities typically get measured in a standardized test.

Fluid intelligence concerns your ability to perform abstract reasoning and solve problems in unique situations. Usually, this is independent of knowledge and involves your ability to perceive patterns and relationships and employ logic to make conclusions, and, for instance, to form uses that are not normal or traditional to an object.

Biological intelligence, sometimes referred to as neural efficiency, means your brain power – or your mental horsepower. A more intelligent person can do a given task or set of tasks with less brain activity, or horse power, than a less intelligent one. Stated differently, a more intelligent person has more brain power.

Emotional Intelligence refers to your ability to recognize whether you or someone with whom you interact or see is happy, sad, angry or indifferent and adapt or act appropriately to the emotion.

Tips on How to Improve Intellectual-Type Intelligence

Get Moving Physically

Your approach to getting smarter should include physical activity, such as aerobics, running or cycling.

Aerobic exercise is linked to the release of brain-driven neurotrophic matter (BDNF), which facilitates the generation, or growth, of neurons. Exercise can also boost brain function by increasing blood flow – and, therefore, oxygen and nutrients – to the brain. Cerebral blood flow in the “bilateral hippocampi” part of the brain can shape memory function or the risk of dementia.

According to a University of Minnesota, young adults who exercised regularly kept their memory and cognitive functions throughout their middle ages. In the "Sloop test," those who exercised more as young adults performed better than those who were less active in correctly identifying an ink color despite the use of a word that doesn’t match it. A study from Finland found that middle-aged adults could defend against dementia in old-age with physical activity.

Consider that, beginning in your 20s, you stand to lose up to 2 percent of blood flow per decade – and that’s without dementia. Physical exercise could stem that tide and help you retain that blood flow as you age.

Brain Exercises

Just as you need physical activity for your health and brain power, you likely should exercise your brain to improve intelligence.

You might recall classic games such as “Concentration” or pairs, solitaire, checkers, chess and backgammon. Often, you have found yourself playing along with contestants on quiz and other game shows; many of these have inspired or lent their name to computer and video-game products.

These brain exercise games, along with crossword puzzles and word searches, test your short-term memory, ability to sequence or find patters, strategy skills, problem solving, choosing alternatives, knowledge, and capacity to follow instructions.

Many brain training exercises don’t require a trip to the toy or video game store. Here are just a few:

Cooking. By taking up cooking or a class on it, you engage different parts of your brain that control taste, smell, touch and sight. To build your vocabulary or knowledge base, tackle recipes and dishes that involve ingredients unfamiliar to you.

Try naming flavors or ingredients. Use things in your cupboard or try to guess what is in a dish you might order. Attempt your guesses blindfold to sharpen the use of smell and taste.

Explore New Things. Redundancy can dull brain activity and deprive you of experiences, events and information:

*Sit at a different seat at the meal table;

*Take a new route to work, school or other regular destinations. You'll discover and recall new routes to the same places, especially if traffic delays necessitate them

*Observe the sights (buildings, landscaping, waterways, other features or even new construction) and smells along your routes.

*Switch to a different news channel or radio station in the morning or at drive-time.

Let Me Count the Ways. List non-normal uses of objects. For example:

*A baseball bat can serve as a baton, guitar (i.e. air guitar), a golf club, hammer.

*A toothbrush can clean crevaces and other small, tight spaces and surfaces.

In addition to being exercise for your brain in general, you'll learn to become resourceful.


Adequate sleep can improve your ability to concentrate and remember. Generally, adults need at least seven hours of sleep daily. For adolescents and teens, that time should run at least eight hours. According to a study, only 15 percent of teens achieve the recommended sleep daily.

Those with difficulty sleeping may lack magnesium. This mineral makes hormones such as serotonin, which regulates your proper sleep cycles, appetite and mood, and a nignt-time hormone called melatonin, which controls sleep.


What you feed your body can impact whether you'll improve brain power and activity. The food affects such processes as brain cell development and blood flow to the brain.

You might expect processed snacks, other junk food and pizza to discourage Brain Improvement. Researchers have found those adults who have diets high in these foods, along with red meat, scored lower on intelligence tests than those with omega-3 fatty acids (often found in seafoods). According to an animal study at the University of California at Los Angeles, fructose-only diets inhibit the work of insulin in helping the brain use sugar. As a result, your brain cells struggle to process your thoughts and emotions. Sugar which is not counterbalanced by omega-3 acids might slow learning and increase memory loss.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of foods that are conducive to brain improvement:

Celery. Within celery lies luteolin. This plant compound combats inflammation in the brain, the main culprit in neurodegeneration. Along with celery, you can find luteolin in carrots and peppers.

Broccoli and Cauliflower. These vegetables are packed with 182 milligrams and 177 milligrams respectively of choline. Research shows that, for adults, this substance protects neurotransmitters that can keep you sharp and strengthen memory. With the Vitamin K in broccoli, you’re better at cognition.

Bone Broth. Try soup and stews based on bone broth, which comes from turkey and venison bones, to improve brain power. The collagen from the broth builds brain and other cells in your body. Its glycine contributes to better memory and sleep.

Dark Chocolate. Yes, certain dark chocolates are things that make you smarter. The kind with at least 70 percent cocoa improves memory and cognitive functioning. This is thanks to flavanols, which spurs blood flow to the brain. Caffeine and theomobrine stimulate your brain and improve short-term functioning.

Spinach and Beets. These vegetables can improve brain function because they come stocked with nitrates, which help supply blood and oxygen to the brain because of their ability to open blood vessels. A study of MRI scans revealed older people with nitrate-rich diets experienced more blood flow to the frontal lobe. This area of the brain can shape the onset or pushback of dementia and cognitive functioning.

Improving Emotional Intelligence

Things that make you smarter include more than those that enhance the intellect. Talent Smart says that nine out of ten high-performers at work have strong emotional intelligence quotients, while eight out of ten low performers are deficient in emotional intelligence. If your EQ is low, it signals that you struggle in personal relationships, including the ability to work with co-workers or supervisors.

Some ways to raise your level of emotional intelligence include:

Negative internalization. Try assuming that someone doesn’t return a phone call because of a busy schedule, not because you offended him or he’s ignoring you. Negative internalization tends to place the focus on you or your self-perceived faults, rather than on the actions of the other person.

Fear of Rejection. We tend to stay on the sidelines because we fear defeat. Placing all your emphasis on one option rather than multiple ones exacerbates the pressure to win or get that job. The related fear of failure can be aggravated when we ignore the concept we get more bites at the particular apple or other ones.

Stress management. Stress is virtually unavoidable, but its harmful effects are not necessarily so. You exhibit a higher EQ when you meet stress head on, rather than merely reacting to it. As with intellectual intelligence, aerobic exercises provide energy (this time, emotional) to handle stress. Using caffeine, while it might encourage focus, also prevents you from the calmness you to summon measured and thoughtful responses to stress.

Do We Use Ten Percent of Our Brain

Thus far, we’ve focused on improving brain function as a way to increase intelligence.

However, in considering how to get smarter, you might wonder how much of our brain do we use.

Stated more directly, do we use ten percent of our brain? For one camp, the answer is generally no; instead, we actually employ all of it. To the skeptics, this is a myth that ignores the reality that significant consequences result from damage to much smaller portions than 90 percent of the brain. As you have read by now, lack of blood flow to frontal lobes or other small areas can diminish memory and cognitive function and increase dementia.

Mind Power

Yet, if you subscribe to mind power, you may answer in the affirmative. Adherents of mind power techniques believe you’re only using a tenth of your brain and invoke Sigmund Freud’s pyramid of the mind.

Dr. Freud postulated that only ten percent of our mind is conscious. Roughly half to 60 percent is subconscious and the remaining 30 to 40 percent is unconscious.

The conscious mind is where you communicate with yourself or the external world. Consciousness registers the results of the information you receive.

In your subconscious level, you store recent memory or information for which you need ready access for your conscious mind. This might include phone numbers, addresses, a grocery list, or directions to a house or job interview. In the subconscious realm, you also keep the information gleaned from senses and its meaning for you. Proponents of mental power point to your subconscious as the filter of all the information you receive. If your conscious tried to take it all in, you would become easily overwhelmed. The conscious takes orders from the subconscious.

Usually, repressed or suppressed thoughts and memories, such as a tragic event or abuse, often reside in the unconscious level. There might exist things you cannot recall, even if you wanted. Here, our habits, thoughts and beliefs are thought to originate at this base of the pyramid.

Mind Power Techniques

Here are some subconscious mind power techniques:

Train for Problem-Solving. This method relies on your conscious mind's delegating the problem-solving tasks to the subconscious. Under this approach, you might briefly ponder your dilemma, perhaps even writing it down. After some period, you dispatch it from your consciousness to your subconscious mind. Sometime later, the theory goes, you’ll learn the solution. It is akin to saying the answer will “come to you.”

Visualization. Treat this as a “mental run-through” of what you want to happen and repeatedly see it happening. John Kehoe suggests you view the desired outcomes, not as a possibility or wish, but as something that has already happened. The theory of visualization is that your repeatedly playing out a situation will cause the subconscious to act on it as if it’s real.

Meditation. As your body rests through sleep, your mind gets mental rest through meditation. This rest of the mind is premised upon removing distracting thoughts and sensory messages. Specific ways of meditation may include breathing exercises and even walking.

Meditation is touted as a tool to enhance thinking skills because of its stimulation of certain brain waives. Specifically:

*The alpha wave stores within your mind information necessary for logical thinking.

*The theta wave works on creativity and how quick you solve daily problems.

*The delta wave promotes a sense of being alert and ready because you have enjoyed dreamless sleep.

As you consider these ideas for improving brain power or mind power, you may learn how to improve intelligence and lifestyle habits that can build physical health, emotional intelligence and mental strength.

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