Fueling Your Child's IQ

How to improve cognitive functioning.

Your child’s brain is a growing organ that changes minute by minute. It is capable of tremendous changes, especially up to age 26.

In terms of maximizing the brain’s functioning, intelligence is highly influenced by everyday practices. Some critical brain nurturing activities have been shown to increase people’s test scores as much as 20 percent.

Not only have I observed these changes in my clinic, I have lived them. Having been diagnosed as “mentally defective and retarded” as a baby, I used certain techniques to enable me to earn four college degrees and serve on five major university faculties. Here are a few brain enhancers to try with your children at home.

Ten Immediate Ways to Increase Your Child’s Intellectual Capacity

  • Improve your child’s breathing skills in case he is unconsciously depleting his brain of oxygen and limiting his problem-solving skills and memory.
  • Serve children protein and complex carbohydrates for brain fuel and mental energy, especially for breakfast.
  • Encourage rhythmic physical exercise for children to gain better coordination and mental energy within the brain regions.
  • Realize the advantages of occasionally chewing gum. Look for gum approved by the American Dental Association to improve children’s mental capacity and reduce stress.
  • Use music to inspire learning and raise brain-learning intensity.
  • Schedule cognitive activities and avoid distractions within the time allotted for activities in order to strengthen concentration.
  • Motivate your child to do mental exercises, such as play chess and read, which help improve focus and concentration.
  • Limit your child’s television watching to no more than one hour a day. Also, prevent children from watching TV 30 minutes before study time.
  • Aid your children in practicing memory patterns for basic knowledge, such as with multiplication tables.
  • Nix food with processed sugar and high levels of preservatives, as well as food subjected to pesticides.

Brain Excitement Enhances Learning

It is a medical fact that the brain has periods of higher learning potential versus other times. This window of opportunity is related to the influx of bio-chemicals called brain growth factors. These factors coat each brain neuron with a rich, fatty substance that speeds up the learning process exponentially.

How do you turn on these factors? The most direct route is by creating an exciting learning environment that stimulates a child’s imagination. The more excited a child becomes, the better he or she learns. Positive reinforcement approaches can be a big supplement in generating excitement, like by giving your child an “atta’ boy” or a gold star for success.

However, motivating your child goes further than just a nod or smile. Exciting the brain requires some heavy commitment and creativity. Parents forget that even if their child probably wants to be an ace student, everyone needs some stimulation and initiative on a regular basis. Unless you have an extremely mature kid who is intrinsically inspired, his or her motivation to work hard loses its punch without payoff or inspiration.

Breathing Correctly

A surprising technique that has huge payoffs for intelligence is learning to breathe correctly in the confrontations of cognitive development. Most children— and adults— drastically slow down their breathing when they become afraid; other people might hyperventilate and nearly pass out. Either way, these reactive behaviors significantly imbalance oxygen absorption in the brain and reduce a person’s memory and problem-solving abilities.

For increased mental activity, remind your child to practice this basic breathing technique: Put the hand on the belly button and feel the rise and fall of each breath at a slow rate of ten to 12 cycles per minute, being sure to inhale through the nose. Studies have shown that within 20 minutes of exhibiting this behavior, a person’s IQ score can raise as much as 20 points. While there are other breathing strategies for empowering positive brain activity, this one can be remembered best. Have your child practice correct breathing techniques when completing homework assignments; you will be amazed at the improvement. It is a good practice for adults, as well.

Chewing Gum

Though school administrators generally rule against gum chewing in the classroom, chewing enables our brains to think better. Research has shown that chewing aids blood circulation in the brain that can increase memory and decrease anxiety. It also helps our breathing patterns and is associated with the production of high balances of some hormones related to a better metabolism.

Using Blue Light

As odd as it sounds, exposure to blue light stimulates the brain for increased cognitive potential. Research from animal studies has shown that this specific light wave form “wakes” up the brain and enhances activity. Consider going to your local hardware store and buying a 25-watt blue light and using it for a hard-to-wake child in the morning or when homework beckons. Blue light even stimulates the brain when a child’s eyes are closed.

Detoxifying Your Child’s Brain  

All of us are exposed to toxic elements, many of which can cross-circuit the brain. These elements are especially powerful in creating havoc for children. The most frequent toxic elements that we detect in about 30 percent of the children who come to our clinic for hyperactivity and lack of concentration are heavy metals, such as lead and mercury. Pesticides can be difficult to discover, but they can also hinder learning behavior.

Parents are usually shocked when we show them the high readings of toxic substances in children. While these substances do not reside for long in the bloodstream, they hide out in the body’s fat tissues and lymph glands.

Toxicity can result from exposure to air, water and ground pollution due to waste products. Even when a light bulb breaks, people around it are exposed to major contamination because the gas inside of light bulbs has high levels of mercury. Computers also have toxic elements embedded in them and can negatively impact community health when thrown in the trash. Adding to these problematic agents are preservatives manufacturers put in our foods that contribute to toxicity.   

Take solace that natural cleansing methods for the body, such as sweating from doing exercise and spending time in the sauna, have been available to us for hundreds of years. In this context, sweating offers a bonus benefit for the brain. In addition, supplements such as antioxidants like coenzyme Q-10 and vitamins C and B-6 have been shown to have good results. Ginkgo biloba has also shown some benefits for the brain. And aloe vera drink, papaya fruit, peppermint, ginger and green teas, licorice root and flaxseed have all been recommended for the natural process of cleansing toxic substances from the brain.

Eating Well

Much has been written about the right foods to fuel the brain. Optimum foods for cognitive enhancement are protein and complex carbohydrates, notably when eaten for breakfast. I am a big believer in eggs because they offer an extra mental boost from the choline. Some brands of peanut butter can be significant protein suppliers, and fatty fish like salmon is the gold standard for ingesting high levels of omega-3.

In a nutshell, there is much you can do to maximize the cognitive capacity of your child’s brain. Self-esteem, the environment, lifestyle and nutrition are all valuable and sometimes critical to fostering intelligence. It is believed that the influence of genetics becomes less important as a person ages, meaning by maximizing brain power and motivating a child to maintain a healthy mind and body, getting to the head of the class— or the boardroom— is attainable for anyone.