9 Brain Boosters to Jumpstart Your Brain
We would all love to take a supplement that instantly enhances our brain power. However, supplements and vitamins, as helpful as they can be, cannot replace a proper diet.
To focus better, improve your memory, and protect your brain, you need to know what to eat and what might be better off avoiding (or eating sparingly — no one is perfect).
Luckily, we researched for you. Your curated list of Brain Boosters and Busters awaits below!
1. Kale — A Superfood Worth the Hype
I know there are lots of “superfoods” that get more praise than they deserve, but kale is worth it.
Kale is an excellent source of Vitamin K, which you need for verbal memory, as well as B vitamins, which are crucial to protecting against memory loss and neurodegeneration (a fancy term for your brain aging and not working well) (1, 2).
Kale gives you tyrosine, amino acid precursor to neurotransmitters crucial for motivation, alertness, and drive (aka — helps you focus) (3).
2.Cold Water, Fatty Fish
The best source of Omega 3’s there is. Omega 3’s are so crucial that we made a blog post just for them. But I’ll simplify here:
The Omega 3 DHA makes up 97% of the fatty acids in the brain (4), and fatty acids are vital to keeping your brain in good health and working well (5).
Higher DHA levels in middle-aged adults were associated with better performance on mental tests(6). Meanwhile, studies linked insufficient DHA cognitive decline, lower brain volume, and neurodegeneration (Alzheimer’s, dementia) (7, 8, 9)
Omega-3s are also strongly anti-inflammatory (10).
However, plants like walnuts, chia, or flax don’t cut it for your O3 intake. They don’t provide any DHA or EPA, and the conversion rate of ALA (plant O3) to DHA/EPA is astoundingly low. So if you don’t eat fish, consider an algal oil supplement to get your necessary DHA and EPA.
Aim for 2-3 servings of wild-caught, cold-water, low mercury, fatty fish (mackerel, sardines, herring, salmon) per week to satisfy your Omega 3 need.
3. Avocados — The Friendly Fat for Focus
If you get shamed for loving avocado toast or paying extra for guac, mention that avocados boost blood flow to your brain and protect it too (11).
Avocados are high in vitamins C, E, K and B vitamins, as well as amino acids like tyrosine, so they can help keep you alert and driven.
Top your salads with avocado to better absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in your veggies — many brain boosts in one!
4. Berries — the Berry Best Fruit for Learning, Memory, and Youth
Berries are a veteran health food and a fantastic brain boost.
They’re are antioxidant-rich, so they fight chronic inflammation; chronic inflammation negatively impacts energy production in brain cells, which can cause problems like brain fog and worsen symptoms of anxiety, depression, and ADHD (12).
They’re an exceptional source of resveratrol, a compound called “the fountain of youth.”
A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that resveratrol increased memory, cognitive function, and brain connectivity in older people (13).
Berries provide brain-protecting flavonoids that improve cognitive function and blood flow in the brain (14).
To keep your brain sharp and increase your learning power, include berries in your regular diet.
5. Sea Veggies — An Underrated Superfood
Seaweed is incredibly nutrient dense and packed with fiber, iodine, magnesium, vitamin K, manganese, calcium, zinc, and iron.
Sea veggies supply tyrosine (remember kale) and taurine — an amino acid that helps release GABA, a neurotransmitter that combats high stress, and iodine; iodine is crucial for maintaining your health, focus, memory, energy levels.
Furthermore, spirulina has (forms of seaweed) contain all of the essential amino acids.
Seaweed may also improve your gut — animal studies found that taking seaweed increased the number of beneficial bacteria and decreased the number of unhealthy bacteria in the gut.
Try roasted nori sheets, seaweed salad, or crush a tablespoon of dulse over your salad and you won’t taste it (I promise).
6. Beets — Encouraging Blood Flow and Improving Memory
Beets are incredibly anti-inflammatory and reduce oxidative stress.
One study showed that beets improve blood flow to the frontal lobe of the brain (the area that deals with working memory, decision making, and higher thinking).
If you think they taste like dirt, try roasting, juicing, or baking them because they are one superfood your brain wants.
7. Extra Virgin Olive Oil — A Healthier Way to Go Greek (Mediterranean)
As for oils, EVOO is one of the best. Monounsaturated fats can boost cognitive functioning and memory, and EVOO is full of them.
EVOO is a potent source of antioxidants and free radical scavengers that help fight inflammation. One of these compounds, oleocanthal, helps dispel the proteins associated with Alzheimer’s.
Additionally, EVOO raises BDNF levels or brain-derived neurotrophic factor; BDNF helps create and protect neurons, boosts neuroplasticity (how well your brain adapts and grows, aka learns), and works in the brain area responsible for long-term memory and higher thinking.
BE CAREFUL THOUGH — a TON of olive oil is fake or cut with inflammatory oils like canola oil. If it doesn’t say “Extra Virgin,” don’t buy it.
8. Turmeric — A Bright Brain Boost
Turmeric is trendy and deserves to be. It has over 100 known compounds, many of which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective characteristics. One compound, curcumin, boosts levels of BDNF.
Seniors in India who regularly eat turmeric have the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s in the world.
Be sure to use turmeric with black pepper, cooked with oil or boiled to increase availability, as you don’t absorb much on its own.
9. Water — The Easiest Brain Boosting Supplement Ever
75% of Americans don’t get enough water so that probably means you. It matters because dehydration can shrink your brains significantly Only 2% dehydration lowers memory, attention, and other cognitive skills.
And you can lose a lot more than 2% after a vigorous workout, so get chugging (but still work out — that’s important too). If you want a fast focus fix, get a reusable water bottle and USE IT.
If you want to improve your brain and want easy brain boosters, start incorporating these foods, fruits, and vegetables in your diet. They will supply you with nutrients your brain needs to get it going.