Intelligence vs Smart

To many people intelligence and smart are synonyms however, the two terms are different and will be further broken down in this piece.

According to an article “Difference Between Smart and Intelligent” published by the site Empowering Knowledge, Smart is an earned status. When we study and learn, we become smarter in the subject matter. In trying to become smart, either book smart or street smart, a lot of efforts are needed to achieve it. smartness can also be described as having a better understanding and knowledge on some specific areas when compared to the majority. Smart can also be applied to sarcasm. We have ‘smart like’ answers, or we can be ‘smart’ when answering a question or talking in a conversation. We don’t apply intelligent to the idea of being sarcastic

Intelligence, on the other hand, is something innate and can be measured using IQ tests. According to the scientific literature IQ does not change due to the fact that it is a measure of ability to learn. This can apply to terms we mostly associate with intelligence, like math, or it can apply to the ability to learn negotiation of emotional issues. To summarize, it simply comes from our genetic makeup. Many investigations in the past have proven that 75% of the intelligence of a child is actually inherited from the parents.

Practicing certain habits are reported in the scientific literature to may help improve intelligence. That is

Crystallized intelligence. This refers to vocabulary, knowledge, and skills. Crystallized intelligence typically increases as one gets old.

Fluid intelligence. Also known as fluid reasoning, fluid intelligence is people’s   ability to reason and think abstractly

To differentiate a smart student is one who gives a right answer to a problem and the intelligent one can be described as the one that solves the problem or tries to answer the question from a different perspective or by using other means and resources.

Continue following to know more about what science says about improving crystalized intelligence and fluid intelligence

To engage in different things that makes one Smarter

Spending time to do different task during the day and taking breaks in between to help the brain recover. Taking breaks will increase the effectiveness of the brain functions

Time Management

Divide your time wisely by having a priority list and following it. Take short breaks in between. even if not for the fact that it restores brain function research by a French scientist have shown that for people with sedentary life styles, physical activity doesn’t help offset the metabolic changes but it is through taking some short breaks that helps.

Continue learning

The content doesn’t matter, follow the news, listen to podcasts, watch TED talks

attend lectures or workshops, pick up a new hobby, read books on a new subject. Continued learning is important as it requires multiple cognitive functions, including:



working memory

long-term storage memory

abstract reasoning


visual processing of letters

To improve intelligence, one needs to be a student for life





Review Learned Information

Once in a while, review things learned in the past, the brain memory loves repetitions when somethings are repeated, they stay there forever.

Learning a Second Language Can be very challenging but is very helpful to becoming a smart individual. Language acquisition puts the brain into hyperdrive mode.

Get Regular Exercise

Light exercise promotes activity in the hippocampus, which is involved in memory. It also enhances the connection between the hippocampus and other brain regions that regulate memory.

This can be achieved through walking, indoor exercises and going to the gym. Exercise improves blood circulation to the brain

To enjoy the cognitive benefits of exercise, it’s important to do it regularly. The good news is that you don’t have to exercise vigorously to reap the benefits.

Eating Smart

Eating food high in the good fats, like fish or nuts instead of trans fat and Vitamin E rich foods improves brain functions.  Vitamin E rich foods like peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, green leafy vegetables, sunflower seeds for better cognitive function, improve memory and verbal functions. Omega-3 fatty acid rich foods like salmon, cod liver oil, oysters, herring’s sardines etc. Other foods like olive oil, eggs, small amounts dark chocolate, blueberries, and coffee also assist brain activity.


Daily meditation practice is vital for improving concentration, alertness, creativity, and smartness. The evidence that meditation increased brain activity is robust. use meditation apps

listen to guided meditation videos

attend a meditation class

Sleep Enough

s also essential for supporting optimal cognitive function. When you sleep, your brain consolidates memories you created throughout the day. It also enhances your brain’s ability to learn new information when you wake up.


Coffee  caffeine in coffee works by helping in release of substances that give an energy boost. This could help promote learning and mental performance.

It’s best to consume coffee in moderation. Drinking too much caffeine can increase anxiety and make you jittery.

Play an instrument

Playing an instrument is a fun and creative way to boost your intelligence. It involves skills like:

auditory perception

physical coordination


pattern recognition

Risking it sometimes

Leave that comfort zone and take risks and be with people who challenge you in a positive way and ignore the negativity.


Since humans are social creatures, staying social may also enhance your mental fitness. That’s because socialization stimulates the mind and cognitive ability. Be an advocate and always help the people around you to become smarter. Stay away from negativity.


To conclude it is important to note that trying to become smart is a gradual process and what is important is consistency for the brain to adapt with time. It will take time but eventually you will develop the skills to live a happier and successful life.



Difference Between Smart and Intelligent, Empowering Knowledge.

10 Evidence-Backed Ways to Become Smarter.

Suwabe, K., Byun, K., Hyodo, K., Reagh, Z. M., Roberts, J. M., Matsushita, A., Saotome, K., Ochi, G., Fukuie, T., Suzuki, K., Sankai, Y., Yassa, M. A., & Soya, H. (2018). Rapid stimulation of human dentate gyrus function with acute mild exercise. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115(41), 10487–10492.

Brinke, L. F., Bolandzadeh, N., Nagamatsu, L. S., Hsu, C. L., Davis, J. C., Miran-Khan, K., & Liu-Ambrose, T. (2015). Aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume in older women with probable mild cognitive impairment: a 6-month randomised controlled trial. British journal of sports medicine, 49(4), 248–254.

Santisteban JA, Brown TG, Ouimet MC, Gruber R. Cumulative mild partial sleep deprivation negatively impacts working memory capacity but not sustained attention, response inhibition, or decision making: a randomized controlled trial. Sleep Health. 2019;5(1):101-108. doi: 10.1016/j.sleh.2018.09.007



Dr Mariam Jaw Mbowe, MD EFSTH

Postgraduate, Medical Physiology AYBU


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