Are you forever losing your keys? Join the club. Sometimes I feel like I’m moving a million miles a minute and my brain is left in the dust.
But it shouldn’t be that way.
In fact, it can’t be that way. I have too many important things to do for my brain to feel foggy.
I’ve got to be on my game all the time. There are papers to read, emails to answer and kids (four of them!) who need help with homework.
I’ve always known how important eating healthfully is for my physical health. But I also know that eating well is just as good for my brain health.
So I’ve done some research to see which foods can help keep my grey matter happy.
Here are my five favorite foods to nourish my (and your) noggin.
Deep-water fatty fish, such as salmon, are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids. These include EPA and DHA, which bolster communication among brain cells and help regulate neurotransmitters responsible for mental focus. In healthy adults, a higher intake of dietary omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to boost the so-called “executive functions” – that’s science speak for more focus, faster decision-making and sharper memory – especially as we get older.1
To avoid consuming excess mercury, keep it to two servings per week. And never eat fish like shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish or other long-living predator fish, which the FDA warns are high in mercury.
Of course if you want to ensure you get enough omega-3 fatty acids in the form of EPA and DHA without having to worry about any impurities… you can always check out our very own omega-3 fatty acid supplement (I am biased, but I think it is the best out there).
Berries are rich in flavonoids, especially anthocyanins, which help keep your mental muscles flexed.2 You’ll find these phytonutrients in the purple-red color group. Think: blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, cranberries, elderberries and raspberries.
Eggs, more specifically the yolks, are a rich source of choline, a chemical cousin to the B vitamins. Choline must be present in the body in order to create the brain chemical acetylcholine, which is thought to play a central role in learning and memory.
To keep your cholesterol intake in check, keep it to no more than one egg a day. Or eat lean meat, fish, poultry or soybeans, which are also good sources of choline.
Black-eyed peas are rich in phenylalanine, an important precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Rising levels of dopamine give you enthusiasm, drive and pleasure. Falling levels are linked to a sense of emptiness, sadness, irritation and boredom.
If black-eyed peas aren’t your thing, try edamame or almonds, which are also good sources of phenylalanine.
Kale is a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin. Eating foods rich in these two tongue twisters is associated with better cognition as we age.3
Not a fan of kale? Try spinach or Swiss chard. Both are equally impressive sources of these phytonutrients that can help keep you at the top of your mental game.
So, do you like my list of brain-building foods? I’m feeling more intelligent already. If you try any of these foods, I’d love to know what you think.
Steve Sisskind, M.D.
Hi, I'm Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer & Founder at RealDose Nutrition.
As a young physician, I struggled because my patients came to me with serious health issues, but I didn't have the right tools to help them. Medical school taught me how to put "band aids" on their symptoms with drugs and surgery, but not how to address the root causes of their problems.
Years later I discovered a better approach... based on the fundamental idea that the power of nutrition can transform your health and vitality. But there's a lot of confusion... What foods should I eat? Which supplements should I take? What does the science say?
I have dedicated my life to answering these questions... And I share this knowledge with you every day here at RealDose Nutrition.
I invite you to connect with me by joining my free private community. I've helped thousands of people and I know I can help you too!
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1. Witte AV, Kerti L, Hermannstädter HM, Fiebach JB, et al. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids improve brain function and structure in older adults. Cereb Cortex. 2013 Jun 24. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 23796946.
2. Devore EE, Kang JH, Breteler MM, Grodstein F. Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Ann Neurol. 2012;72(1):135-143. PMID: 22535616.
3. Johnson EJ, Vishwanathan R, Johnson MA, et al. Relationship between serum and brain carotenoids, α-tocopherol, and retinol concentrations and cognitive performance in the oldest old from the Georgia Centenarian Study. J Aging Res. 2013 Jun 9 [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 23840953.