We used to be a lot smarter. That’s according to an international study which found we’ve lost 14 IQ points over the last couple hundred years. Researchers say it’s because we’re doing things every day that dull our brainpower. For instance:

  • We Google constantly. A Columbia University study found that search engines make us forgetful. That’s because instead of trying to remember things, like the name of the new restaurant, we automatically turn to the Internet. But you can exercise your brain and boost your recall by either writing down what you want to remember or repeating it out loud. It works because you’re drawing on different parts of the brain. So when you go to recall the information later, you’re more likely to remember it because you’ve used two different neural pathways to store the information.

  • Another thing that hurts our brain: Being a couch potato. We’ve said it a million times: Exercise boosts brainpower. That’s because exercise stimulates proteins in the brain that help new cells form. The good news is a year of regular aerobic exercise can increase the size of an adult's hippocampus by two percent.  

  • Every time you choose fries over salad you’re hurting your brain. Carnegie Mellon University researchers say that obese people often have high blood pressure and inflammation, which messes with the brain's communication networks, making it more difficult to send and receive messages. 

  • And the final thing we do that’s bad for our brain: Staying cooped up in our offices all day. Because we’re literally sitting there turning oxygen into carbon dioxide as we exhale all day. But a new study found that as the levels of carbon dioxide increase, our ability to strategize and focus drops. The fix? Get some plants, like peace lilies and lady palms. They’ve been found to purify the air, according to research from NASA. But the best option is fresh air; 15 minutes or so can help recharge your brain.