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The Quick 10: 10 Ways to Boost Your Brain

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Everyone knows that sleeping well, exercise and playing sudoku can keep your brain in shape. But there are lots of ways you can flex your cerebral cortex, and these ten are pretty easy.

rainbow1. Chase the rainbow. Eating foods with naturally high color intensity (an indication of high antioxidant content) can inhibit the progression of age-related cognitive disorders in addition to lowering blood sugar, which also improves brain function. Common recommendations include blueberries, cranberries, red wine, and foods containing turmeric, like curry dishes.

2. Go hungry—at least for a day. Research has shown that routine fasting (one day a month) activates a unique form of glucose that helps the brain efficiently transmit information.

3. Read mental_floss. Gathering facts on a regular basis keeps your brain in shape by building new circuits and strengthening neural pathways. See, you did it just then. Don't you just love the _floss?

4. Ask Jeeves. Language, reading, and visual interpretation control centers show increased function during simple web searches in Internet-users aged 55-76. In those with more online experience, decision-making and complex-reasoning activity also experienced a boost.

snl5. Play along. Whether it's Cash Cab, Jeopardy!, or Don't Forget the Lyrics, recalling information you don't normally use improves long-term memory, recall and reasoning skills, so shout the answers out if you know them. (I do this; everyone hates it, but I rock at Trivial Pursuit.)

6. Brush the wrong way. Doing any routine activity with the non-dominant hand triggers parts of the brain responsible for learning, memorization, and motor control. You can make your brain smarter by switching up your tooth-brushing technique or practicing your penmanship with the wrong hand.

7. Turn up the Top 40. It isn't just classical music that can relieve stress hormones and ramp up production of feel-good serotonin (both of which improve your brain's ability to process and store information), so listen to whatever you like and know that your brain is benefiting.

8. Ooooohhhmm. Studies of meditating monks' brains show massive gamma wave activity (the signature of brain circuit connections being created); the study also showed increased activity in the left prefrontal cortex, the area associated with compassion, altruism and generosity.

dark9. Put some clothes on"¦ in the dark; use your hands to choose your clothes without looking. Using a different sense (touch instead of sight) as your primary source of information amps up your synaptic activity, which helps you think faster. (Dress via FredFlare)

10. Get jiggy with it. Sensory integration is paramount to brain development, and no activity uses all the senses quite like sex does. As an added bonus, you'll get a boost in serotonin, which relieves stress, increases feelings of happiness and well-being, and confidence—all of which increase brain efficiency.

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Food
Let Alexa Help You Brine a Turkey This Thanksgiving
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There’s a reason most of us only cook turkey once a year: The bird is notoriously easy to overcook. You could rely on gravy and cranberry sauce to salvage your dried-out turkey this Thanksgiving, or you could follow cooking advice from the experts.

Brining a turkey is the best way to guarantee it retains its moisture after hours in the oven. The process is also time-consuming, so do yourself a favor this year and let Alexa be your sous chef.

“Morton Brine Time” is a new skill from the cloud-based home assistant. If you own an Amazon Echo you can download it for free by going online or by asking Alexa to enable it. Once it’s set up, start asking Alexa for brining tips and step-by-step recipes customized to the size of your turkey. Two recipes were developed by Richard Blais, the celebrity chef and restaurateur best known for his Top Chef win and Food Network appearances.

Whether you go for a wet brine (soaking your turkey in water, salt, sugar, and spices) or a dry one (just salt and spices), the process isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. And the knowledge that your bird will come out succulent and juicy will definitely take some stress out of the holiday.

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Big Questions
Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?
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Because it's tradition! But how did this tradition begin?

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team started in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings.

HOW 'BOUT THEM COWBOYS?


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The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.

WHAT'S WITH THE NIGHT GAME?


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In 2006, because 6-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the Washington Redskins will welcome the New York Giants.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.

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