8 Unexpected Things That Lower IQ, According to Scientific Studies

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Many of us try to keep our minds sharp by doing puzzles and learning new things. But some of the other things we do might lower IQ. Read on to find out how you may be sabotaging your own intelligence.

Research has found that the following things and habits lower IQ and ruin cognitive functions. Some of these may surprise you while others make perfect sense.

1. Eating a fatty diet

A diet that is high in saturated fat can hamper our brain’s functioning and lower IQ. Studies have shown that fatty diets can impair our cognitive ability, reduce our reaction times, damage our memory and even cause feelings of depression. Saturated fat found in processed meat, cakes and biscuits is the worst culprit.

The University of Montreal study found that a high-fat diet can also affect our mood and that eating high-fat foods can be addictive and leave us to craving more.

So to keep your mind sharp, cut out the bacon!

2. Multi-tasking

Earl Miller is a neuroscientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who specialises in the area of multi-tasking and divided attention. He warns that:

“The brain is not wired to multitask. When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly and every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost.”

Just spotting an email mid-task is enough to lower IQ by 10 points! Our frontal lobes can only deal with a certain amount of information at one time. It’s a bit like when you open too many tabs on your browser and your computer freezes.

Multi-tasking means we are less efficient at everything we do. It also means that we do not get deep enough into the task to have real breakthroughs. So, if you want to do deep work, switch off the notifications.

3. Just Googling it

Being able to google information whenever we need it may be having an effect on our memory and cognitive abilities. When we can’t remember something, rather than thinking long and hard until we all the answer, we just ask Google.

Microsoft says our attention spans have suffered, falling from an average of 12 seconds 15 years ago to eight now. In addition, using Satnav may be affecting our spacial awareness as we no longer need to read maps.

4. Reality TV

Okay, this one is not so unexpected. An Austrian study has confirmed something that we’ve long suspected – TV may well be rotting our brains. Well, at least some reality TV.

In the study, some participants were shown a fake reality TV show about a football hooligan. After watching the show, the participants were given a general knowledge test. Those who had watched the show didn’t do as well the test as the participants who had not watched the show.

5. Disrupted Sleep

Studies on hamsters have shown that disruption to sleep patterns can affect our circadian rhythm  – our day and night energy patterns. The effects can last for up to a month and can affect learning and cognitive function. Perhaps this is why so many new parents find it hard to concentrate!

Failing to get a good night’s sleep can have other negative health effects, including increased comfort eating and higher stress levels. Sticking to a regular routine can help to improve learning and cognitive function as well as general health.

6. Being stressed

Having an over-busy schedule and feeling stressed out all the time can have a negative effect on overall health and brain function. When we are stressed, our body is flooded with hormones that affect our ability to think clearly.

Brendan Kelley, MD, a neurologist at The Ohio State University warns that: “High stress levels are not only associated with poorer brain functioning but may even link to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Stress reduction techniques such as exercise and meditation have been shown to help reduce stress and its negative effects.

7. Eating too much sugar

A study at UCLA  showed that steady sugar consumption for as little as six weeks “slows the brain, hampering memory and learning.” High sugar diets were found to affect brain cell functioning and cognitive ability. Allen Towfigh, MD also explains that “Diabetics have higher incidences of dementia.”

And before you think that just cutting down on fizzy drinks will do the trick, bear in mind that fruit is also a source of sugar. The UCLA study used fructose, a simple sugar found in fruits, honey and vegetables.

This doesn’t mean that eating fruit and veg is bad for you, of course, but just that high sugar foods need to be eaten in moderation and as part of a healthy, balanced diet. In addition, eating omega 3 fatty acids, found in flaxseed oil and oily fish such as mackerel and trout, can protect your brain against damage.

8. Smoking

Smoking, of course, has many harmful effects on the body. However, you may not be aware that it can also affect IQ. And it’s not just a problem if you smoke yourself. Ingesting secondhand smoke is harmful, too.

Children exposed to second-hand smoke could end up with a lower IQ score according to work done by researchers at Central Michigan University. So avoid being around anyone when they are smoking to protect your brain from its harmful effects.

With so many things that can potentially lower IQ, it makes sense to keep an eye on them and take what action you can to keep your brain healthy and smart.

References:

  1. http://www.businessinsider.com
  2. https://www.prevention.com
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About the Author:

Kirstie works as a writer, blogger and storyteller and lives in London with her family of people, dogs and cats. She is a lover of reading, writing, being in nature, fairy lights, candles, firesides and afternoon tea. Kirstie has trouble sitting still which is why she created www.notmeditating.com to share techniques and practices for tuning out the busy mind. She is also the author of Not Meditating: Finding Peace, Love and Happiness Without Sitting Still.

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