We summarize 17 articles from 2016 loaded with insights into the working of the brain and mind. We didn’t write them, but they’re so good we wish we had!
Staying on top of new developments that relate to brain health and fitness is a big part of what we do.
Every day, we find and read dozens of new articles (and listen to podcasts and watch videos) in fields ranging from nutrition and neuroscience to psychology and personal development.
From all the topics we review, we then choose just a few that become the basis for the articles you read on Be Brain Fit.
But we regularly come across stories that are not only very informative, but also very well done.
In fact, we wish we had created them. It makes us a little envious, and a bit jealous.
Oh well, we know we can’t do it all.
What we can do, however, is let you know about this wonderful content with its great insights into the working of the brain and mind.
By Jonathan Levi at Becoming SuperHuman
The weekly Becoming SuperHuman Podcast features extraordinary people who have achieved “superhuman” levels of performance in their field.
Entrepreneur and lifehacker Jonathan Levi has conducted 100 interviews with doctors, neuroscientists, and experts in various personal development fields including memory improvement, fitness, productivity, happiness, and anti-aging.
In this article, he summarizes the main takeaways from these 100 interviews.
If you are really ambitious, you can use the links you’ll find in the article to listen to all 100 podcasts.
In addition, Jonathan has created two recap podcasts.
There’s enough material here to keep you listening for much of 2017!
By Karen Young at Hey Sigmund
When someone you care about is depressed, it’s hard to know how to treat them.
You might be tempted to ask them what’s making them depressed (they don’t know) or tell them to cheer up (they would if they could).
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Psychologist Karen Young offers her best advice on what to say and what not to say, how to tend your relationship, and how to keep their depression from bringing you down too.
If someone you love is depressed, you simply must read this insightful article.
If you are depressed, you may want to share it with your friends and family.
Related article —
Natural Antidepressants: 14 Proven Ways to Beat Depression Without Drugs
By various contributors, Snack Nation
Last year I was green with envy over Snack Nation’s popular post 23 Healthy Brain Food Snacks that Boost Memory and Brain Power.
Unlike our article on brain snacks, theirs focused exclusively on brain-healthy snacks convenient for the office. (What a great idea!)
Snack Nation has done it again.
This time they’ve raised the bar by reaching out to dozens of health experts for their favorite snacks to keep at work.
If you try to eat healthy but snacks are your downfall, with this list you’ll never run out of healthy ideas.
By Jordan Fallis at Optimal Living Dynamics
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF, is something we mention often on Be Brain Fit.
BDNF is a protein that acts like fertilizer to stimulate the formation of new brain cells — something we all can use more of!
BDNF is one of those topics we’ve been meaning to write about in depth, but never got around to.
And now we don’t have to because it would be hard to top this excellent post by Jordan Fallis.
Jordan’s interest in BDNF is not just an academic exercise.
After suffering two concussions, living in a moldy house, and falling into a deep depression, Jordan researched how to increase BDNF and then used what he learned to heal his own brain and turn his life around.
By various TED Talk speakers, Ideas.TED.com
Reading books is one of the best things you can do to stay mentally sharp, expand your horizons, and maybe even be successful.
Some of the most productive people on the planet — Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk — attribute at least part of their success to their avid reading habit. (1)
This list contains the favorite inspirational and uplifting books of 70 TED Talk speakers.
There is something here for everyone.
Some selections are intellectually challenging, while others are appropriate for reading to children.
Both fiction and non-fiction are well represented.
Please don’t be among the 70% of Americans who haven’t read a book in the past year. (2)
By Allen Wei at Learn Relaxation Techniques
The many benefits of meditation are well documented.
It can reduce stress, make you healthier and happier, and even help you live longer!
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But developing a successful meditation practice isn’t easy.
Whether you are a meditation newbie or have been doing it for years, this list of free meditation resources has something for everyone.
By James Clear at JamesClear.com
In this post, wildly popular blogger James Clear explains that nearly everything in our lives, from cars to the internet, was created in the last 100 years.
But the human brain as we know it is essentially the same as it was hundreds of thousands of years ago.
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Our brains evolved to keep us safe in a very different kind of world with very different dangers.
This engaging post explains how our brains are no longer ideally suited for our modern environment, why that makes us worried and anxious, and more importantly, how we can overcome this tendency.
Related article —
25 Proven Natural Remedies for Anxiety Relief
By Cara Giaimo at Atlas Obscura
When humans are stressed out and afraid, their “flight or fight” fear response kicks in.
But surprisingly, not all animals react in the same way to fear.
You’ve probably heard of “playing possum,” but you might not be familiar with goats that faint when facing danger. (Watch the goat video in the post.)
If you are interested in animal behavior, you’ll enjoy learning about some of the weirder ways animal cope with fear.
By Teodoro Zareva at Big Think
If you are a bike rider, you know you should protect your head by wearing a bike helmet.
But most riders find them hot, uncomfortable, and cumbersome, so non-compliance is high.
And once your helmet takes a hit, you need to retire it and buy a new one.
But fortunately, some very clever people are using their brains to protect our noggins.
This article explores innovative solutions such as an inexpensive, recyclable helmet made of paper or one that activates on impact much like an air bag.
By Eric Fluckey at The Brain Flux
If one simple habit promised to make you happier and healthier, improve your relationships, and be more successful, would you do it?
Eric Fluckey at The Brain Flux has done an outstanding job of compiling the evidence-based benefits you can experience by simply taking a few minutes a day to be grateful.
Expressing gratitude is pretty easy and doesn’t take much time, especially compared to many other positive lifestyle changes.
For these reasons and more, we think making gratitude a daily habit is a no-brainer.
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By Philippe Drolet at New Kings
If you’ve ever felt that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, you’ll be interested in Phil Drolet’s gentler, kinder approach to being productive.
After seriously burning out, Phil did extensive research and self-experimentation on staying productive while living a balanced life.
Phil has learned how to be successful while still finding time to take care of his health and relationships.
In this post he shares his secrets, including his exact daily schedule and weekly routine for getting it all done — and still having a life.
By Dr. Kevin Curran at EthnoHerbalist
When you think of natural mental stimulants, you probably think of coffee or tea and their caffeine.
But there are many plants that stimulate and enhance brain function in other ways.
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This article was written with a unique perspective.
Dr. Kevin Curran teaches cell biology and ethnobotany at University of San Diego.
One of his main areas of interest are the health benefits and cultural history of medicinal plants, especially those of North and South America.
By Joe Leech at Diet vs Disease
APOE4 is a gene variation linked to late-onset Alzheimer’s.
Having this gene does not mean you’re destined to get this disease, but it does put you at a somewhat greater risk.
If you or a loved one has this gene, you’ll almost certainly want to know what can be done to minimize the chances of developing this disease.
Joe Leech, who has a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics, takes a look at dietary factors that impact the expression of the APOE4 gene.
He has also done a great job of explaining the complicated mechanisms of this gene in a way that’s easy to understand.
By Sprouts Schools
Learning about the importance of a developing a growth mindset was the most life-altering and actionable new concept I learned in 2016.
Children are naturally curious but yearn for parental praise, and good report card grades trains many children to believe that failure is bad and to be avoided.
But some children see problems as interesting challenges and actually welcome failure as an opportunity to learn.
They have what’s called a growth mindset and understand that the more they practice, and fail, the more they’ll learn and grow.
Superachievers like Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and Albert Einstein had growth mindsets.
This video shows how you, too, can adopt a growth mindset by deciding to embrace problems as opportunities.
To learn more about developing a growth mindset, I also recommend reading Dr. Carol Dweck’s best seller Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
By Mike Kamo at Nutrition Secrets
If you’re like me, you’ve got a cupboard full of half-used bottles of herbs and spices.
But did you know that many common culinary herbs are good for your brain?
In this article by Certified Personal Trainer Mike Kamo, you’ll learn which everyday herbs can help you stay mentally sharp, calm, and happy.
This should inspire you to dust off those jars and start using herbs liberally to make your food taste better and improve your brain health.
Related article —
12 Brain Foods That Supercharge Your Memory, Focus & Mood
By Chris Bailey at A Life of Productivity
One common theme throughout Be Brain Fit is that modern life is tough on brain health and mental well-being.
But is the solution really to turn back the clock and live like a caveman?
Productivity expert Chris Bailey decided to put that idea to the test.
In a fascinating experiment, Chris ate, slept, worked, and moved “like a caveman” to see how it impacted his energy, focus, and productivity.
He reports, “The positive effects I began experiencing as I adopted these habits were staggering.”
I’m so grateful to Chris for doing this, so that we don’t have to.
By Tim Urban at Wait But Why
This might not seem like an obvious choice to be on this list since most of us will never do a TED talk.
But the focus of this post is on two psychological phenomena everyone can relate to — procrastination and fear of public speaking.
If you’ve ever found yourself putting off something really important, you’ll identify with Tim’s account of his struggle to get ready for his TED talk.
Ironically, he turned this painful journey into the topic of his talk, Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator.
Both the post and video are uproariously funny but also have some major insights as to why we procrastinate and what to do about it, and how to overcome fear of public speaking.
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Tell us what you think of this list in the comments below.
Are there any other articles you found that you really liked?
Should we do this again next year?