We all want to be smarter. After all, we need the brain power to do our jobs well, and to make the most of our time with friends and family. Intelligence is necessary to make good decisions in life. Being smart is obviously impressive, and can help you land the job of your dreams or get a date with your crush. When your brain is working well, helping your children with their homework or talking about thought-provoking current events with your spouse or friends is easy. There are supplements and foods that can be consumed in order to boost brain activity and enhance intelligence. Of course, basic health tips like getting enough fresh air and resting every day can help to increase and sustain your intelligence as well.
Unfortunately, with all the things you can do to keep your wits about you, there are some things you do often that are actually making you dumber! You may not realize it, but there are several daily activities that seem “normal,” when in actuality the activities are keeping you from being as intelligent as you could be. Here are 10 shocking things you’re doing that are eating away at your smarts.
10. Watching SpongeBob SquarePants
There is proof that children who watch SpongeBob SquarePants and fast-paced cartoons like it perform poorer on mental tests than children who don’t watch these types of programs. When compared to children who watched educational programming or drew pictures, kids who watched SpongeBob were impaired in their executive function. The study was conducted in 2011 and appears in the journal Pediatrics. The debate as to whether cartoons are good for children has been an ongoing one, but this study certainly doesn’t make a great case for the popular Nickelodeon cartoon. Adults enjoy watching SpongeBob as well, so it’s likely that the negative effects of the animated show are prevalent in older viewers as well.
9. PowerPoint Presentations
According to the U.S. Army, PowerPoint presentations compromise your intelligence for a number of reasons. The presentations stifle a person’s critical thinking skills. PowerPoint also reduces the desire for thought-provoking conversation and interferes with thoughtful decision-making. Perhaps this is because the program has been designed to get people to sit down and listen to an overload of information, presented on slides. People use pictures sometimes to make the PowerPoint slides more appealing, but this tactic isn’t always effective. Instead of trying to follow along with the slides, it may be best to engage n fulfilling discussion. This allows each person to present questions and viewpoints, and receive insightful feedback.
Let’s face it. You hate having meetings at work, and you feel like they’re usually a waste of time. After all, you could be getting so much more work done if you were at your desk being productive. Instead, you’re stuck at a meeting pretending to pay attention to your coworkers as they spew out ideas you’re probably not interested in. One of the reasons that you may not care for meetings is that they diminish intelligent expression. This is especially true for women, according to a Virginia Tech study. Other social situations, such as going to a cocktail party or being on jury duty, also had a noted effect on a person’s ability to solve problems. So, it may be time to suggest that meetings be kept to a minimum if possible.
A study published in Environmental Health Perspective, which is a journal provided by the National Institute of Environmental Health Science, reveals that fluoride could make you dumber. The study showed that children in areas where fluoride levels were high scored lower on IQ tests than children who were not exposed to fluoride in such high amounts. Fluoride is a main ingredient in most toothpastes and some mouthwashes. Most of the drinking water in the United States contains fluoride as well, so if you’re particularly sensitive to it, it’s best to get a filter or choose water that you know is fluoride free. Fluoride has also been known to cause skin breakouts and fatigue as well.
It’s been common knowledge for quite some time that obesity poses a number of health problems and risks. People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop diseases such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension. Studies also show that being obese can decrease your intelligence. A 2010 study at Kent State tested 100 people who were obese before having weight loss surgery. Before the surgery, these individuals had memory skills that were below average. Just 12 weeks after the operation, their memory scores matched those in the average range for adults. This is just one more reason to eat a balanced diet and practice healthy habits for weight management.
5. Watching Fox News
Two academic studies, one from the University of Maryland and one from Fairleigh Dickinson University, assert that people who watch Fox News are compromising their intelligence by doing so. The Fairleigh Dickinson University study, which was conducted in 2011, revealed that people who watch Fox News were less likely to be informed about political issues than those who watched The Daily Show or MSNBC, or listened to National Public Radio. The University of Maryland study, conducted in 2010, revealed that Fox News viewers were more misinformed about the world’s events than people who got their news from other sources. Sometimes, simply changing the channel can do wonders for your intelligence.
4. Chewing Gum
If you’re heading to a meeting for work, getting ready for a date or just feel like you need to freshen your breath or calm your nerves, it’s pretty normal to grab a piece of gum. However, a study at Cardiff University in Wales reveals that chewing gum could compromise your intelligence. The study determined that chewing gum had a negative effect on short-term memory. The gum affected both the order of memories and the brain’s ability to identify items. Perhaps the sugar or sugar substitutes in chewing gum contribute to this. If you want to keep your cognitive skills intact, try mints or breath spray instead.
3. Watching Reality TV
You know better. You can tell when some reality show character is getting ready to cause a scene and risk public embarrassment, all in the name of high show ratings. Yet, you watch anyway, because you want to be entertained. Just remember that your addiction to reality shows could take a toll on your intelligence. A study conducted in Austria revealed that people who took an intelligence test after a reality show episode fared lower on the test than those who took the test without seeing the show. This is proof that you become dumber immediately after watching reality television. Is it worth the risk? That’s up to you.
2. Eating Too Much Sugar
You may think that sugary foods and drinks give you an energy boost throughout the day, but it’s usually short-lived. After eating something really sweet, you’re likely to experience a significant decrease in energy, which makes it hard to get through the rest of the day. A study conducted at UCLA revealed that eating sugar on a regular basis for just six weeks hampered the brain’s ability to learn and retain information. So, if you want to keep your smarts, it’s best to stay away from foods and beverages like candies, sodas and fruit juices that are high in sugar.
That’s right. Trying to do too many things at one time can actually make you dumber. While many people feel that multitasking is the only way to complete the day’s tasks, a Stanford University study shows that this just isn’t the case. The 2009 study revealed that people who multitask are constantly inundated with streams of electronic info, usually through a phone, computer or tablet. These people easily go from one task to another without completing one assignment or activity. Multitaskers also have a hard time paying attention, which means they’re bound to miss details and have to repeat a task over again. So, stick to doing one thing at a time, and you may find that you’ll be less stressed and a lot smarter.
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