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Optimizing your brain: 3 brain hacks

Get hungry for a better functioning brain

Fasting for better functioning brains? If you have ever fasted you may have noticed that you are mentally sharper. An appetite stimulating hormone produced in the stomach seems to stimulate the growth of new brain cells while also protecting the brain from aging.

This hormone is called ghrelin and is known as the "hunger hormone". It is produced in the stomach when it becomes empty. As more time passes without food, the concentration of ghrelin rises in the blood.

In animals it has been established that low-calorie diets lead to the better functioning of the brain and ghrelin appears to be responsible for this. When mice are injected directly with ghrelin, the brain will function better.

Tip: Try to fast part-time a couple of times a week. This is an easy ghrelin bio-hack.

Mother Nature for more relaxation

People seem programmed to feel peaceful and well in the countryside. Conversely, they seem to feel more confused and stressed in cities. It turns out that brain areas associated with a quiet meditative state become active when people look at photos of rural areas. When looking at photos of cities, activity was seen in areas of the brain that process visual complexity.

This research contributes to growing evidence that natural environments are good for the mental and physical health of people. Urban environments are confusing because the brain has no direct natural reaction to this. This makes the brain very active so you experience less rest, even if you have lived in a city all your life.

Tip: Go hiking in nature once or multiple times a week or just visit the quiet back garden more often.

Sunlight in the morning

Sunlight helps the brain work better. We are not talking about sunsets, or sun-gazing, but simple exposing of the eyes to natural outside daylight. Contact lenses, glasses, sunglasses and windows block certain light frequencies from the sun, so avoid them as much as possible.

In our eyes, light-sensitive cells are directly connected to the brain and sunlight provides optimal stimulation. It is known that these light receptors have a vital role to play in human physiology and health—not only in the brain but throughout the body.

The benefits: better natural sleep rhythms, optimal hormone regulation, improved reaction time and positive behavior. Sunlight in the morning also lets your body temperature rise to normal (it drops slightly during the night).

A lack of light due to poor timing, suboptimal spectrum or insufficient intensity antagonizes physical and mental health. You need about 20-30 minutes for optimal effect.

Tip: After getting up, expose yourself to the sun as quickly as possible to get your body ready for the day!

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