Written by Dr. Inez Van Roy on
November 10, 2021
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Dr. Inez Van Roy on:

We are what we eat. This is why foods and drinks can have a tremendously positive or negative effect on our mental clarity.

These brain foods help us to feel physically healthy and improve mental performance. Usually, they are natural, unprocessed foods that fit well within a complete Mediterranean diet. 

A poor diet can cause mental fatigue. If you want to know more about what are the best foods to eat for improved cognition then keep reading. 

What are the best foods for mental clarity?

Some foods and drinks will give you a mental clarity boost. Some of the best brain foods contain caffeine, while others don’t. If you feel tired and can’t concentrate then eating these foods can be the first step to support your body and brain to work how you want to.

Turmeric

Turmeric is shown to have anti-inflammatory properties which make it a great food for mental clarity.

It can also give your brain an antioxidant boost, helping you to fight off free radicals that damage the many small blood vessels in the body and brain. 

Salmon

Salmon is one of the best fatty fish that support mental function. No matter if it’s raw, steamed, or broiled, this a very tasty way to support brain and nerve cells.

It contains omega 3s essential to the body and brain. Fish oil supplements are not as effective because they do not contain the cofactors that allow the body to absorb them effectively.

Avocado

Avocado is a healthy fat ideal for improved cognition. It can help to balance out blood sugar levels. Avocado also contains oleic acid which has been shown to improve memory and make you more alert. 

You will be more likely to crash after a meal if you eat foods with high glycemic indexes. Adding some avocado to your meal can prevent such a crash.

Broccoli

Broccoli has a high content of folic acid. It is effective in improving memory problems and slowing down brain aging. It also contains vitamin K.

Vitamin K helps with brain-boosting foods because it protects the neurons in your brain from damage by free radicals. 

Cauliflower

Cauliflower contains sulforaphane, which helps the liver to clean out toxins and carcinogens. Research also shows this has neuroprotective properties, basically protecting us against brain diseases.

Kale

Kale has high levels of vitamin K, which is a brain-boosting food because it protects the neurons from damage by free radicals.

It also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytonutrients that promote eye health. 

Sage

Sage is good for mental clarity. It’s also a herb that has been used since ancient times for a variety of health issues. It has antioxidant effects and is shown to have cognitive-enhancing effects. It could possibly protect against neurodegeneration.

Whole Grains

Whole grains are a source of dietary fiber and starchy carbohydrates. The main source of energy for the brain (and body). Whole grains also contain important nutrients that support cognitive health. 

Foods that are high in fiber help to slow the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. Preventing big sugar crashes and a loss of concentration in the meanwhile. Examples of healthy whole grains are quinoa, brown rice, and oats.

Walnuts

Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and other nutrients. These protect the brain from damage. This also has been shown to improve memory. 

Peanuts

Those not allergic to peanuts can offer you healthy fats and a lot of nutrients.  Peanuts could have great brain boosting benefits. They contain resveratrol and other antioxidants that help to protect the brain cells from free radicals.

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are superfoods that contain vitamin E,  which has antioxidant properties. 

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are similar to sunflower seeds as they pack a big punch in a small package. They contain a whole lot of minerals, antioxidants, and other healthy nutrients. Adding these seeds could improve mental clarity and your overall health.

Purple Sweet Potatoes

Purple sweet potatoes are shown to support brain health in many ways. It is supposed to suppress inflammation in the brain and ameliorate cognitive deficits. Research shows that it might also support memory and spatial learning.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal has a low glycemic index and it keeps you full for longer.  It also contains fiber. This slows down the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream. Preventing big sugar crashes and a loss of concentration and a drop in your mood in the meanwhile.

Blueberries

Blueberries contain high levels of antioxidants and phytonutrients. They protect your brain cells from damage. Blueberries may also promote the growth of new brain cells. Studies show that they might even fight memory decline. 

Dark Chocolate 

Studies show that dark chocolate contains nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants. These nutrients are important for maintaining healthy blood flow to the brain. 

Yogurt

Drinking yogurt can improve brain function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Research suggests that probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids (like yogurt) help to improve mood and brain function in old age.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes strengthen and repair the brain and nervous system. They contain healthy antioxidants that help to reduce inflammation and prevent neurodegeneration.

Eggs

Eggs could improve your cognition. Mostly egg yolk in comparison to egg whites seems to have a positive influence on your overall brain health.

Egg yolk also increases your cholesterol. While that isn’t ideal, it is mostly the HDL that is heightened. This is a good type of cholesterol, a form of healthy fats.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna are great foods to keep your brain healthy. They contain omega-3 fatty acids that protect the brain cells from damage.

This also has been shown to support memory and cognitive function. If you are not big on eating fish, you can try a fish oil supplement.

Foods Rich in Choline

Foods high in choline like eggs and beef liver, help to improve your memory and encourage a healthy brain. Choline boosts brain function like memory and learning. It even helps you to concentrate better than before.

Other Leafy Green Vegetables

Leafy greens contain a ton of vitamin B. Vitamin B is essential for your mental functioning. Salad or kale or other leafy greens can help increase concentration by keeping up these nutritional needs.  

Other Colorful Fruits

Eat the rainbow. Eating foods of different colors will provide you with lots of healthy nutrients. These foods provide you with a complete diet with all the vitamins needed.

Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries are foods to support mental function. They are packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients. These protect the brain cells from damage while fighting inflammation in your brain.

What can I drink for healthy brain cells?

Dehydration is a common cause of brain fog. The best way to hydrate is to drink enough water. Hydration can happen in so many forms. It is also a very easy intervention to improve your mental clarity and concentration.

Green Tea

Green tea contains polyphenols that have antioxidant properties. It also increases the production of alpha brain waves that are associated with relaxation. 

Bone Broth

Bone broth contains glycine. This amino acid has been shown to promote mental alertness, memory and reduce stress levels.

Fresh Vegetable Juice

Fresh vegetable juice is packed with nutrients that support brain health. You can pick your favorite combination of vegetables or choose ones that are high in antioxidants to get the best support for your brain health.

Coffee

Drinking caffeine can help you to stay sharp. It boosts energy levels and your ability to focus on the task at hand. 

But caffeine intake should be limited, the recommended daily amount is 400mg. That is about three to six eight-ounce cups of coffee.

More than 400mg of caffeine per day is considered dangerous for your health because of adverse effects on your heart rate and sleep patterns. 

Beet Juice

Drinking beet juice is supposed to increase blood flow to your brain. Drinking this red juice can be an easy intervention to support your overall brain health, specifically for older adults.

Water

The brain is made up of 80% water by weight. It is essential to drink enough water throughout the day because it will keep your mind clear and sharp all day long.

Best Brain Food Supplements for Your Brain Function

Many foods are nutrient-dense foods, but they still lack some important nutrients. Also, not everyone eats a complete diet.

People with food sensitivities, or those who scrap food groups could lack certain vitamins. Supplements can give you an extra boost if that is the case.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil)

Vegetarians, vegans, or those who don’t eat fish could supplement fish oil if needed.  Omega-3 fatty acids improve brain function.

Vitamin Bs

Those with food sensitivities or who don’t eat foods high in vitamin B can supplement foods rich in important vitamins.

In this case, it is important to take the complex. Vitamin B is responsible for creating neurotransmitters that support mental clarity and concentration.

If you eat enough grains, yogurt, green vegetables, or our above recommendations then your vitamin B levels should be complete.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is known as an antioxidant and it helps fight off free radicals. It also improves blood flow to the brain. Supplements of Vitamin E can help with mental clarity, memory, and concentration problems.

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba is derived from a Japanese tree. The herbal supplement is famous for increasing blood flow to the brain and improving memory and cognitive functions.

Amino Acids

A variety of essential amino acids can improve concentration and cognitive flexibility. It also supports psychosocial functioning and is used to prevent cognitive decline.

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa is an Ayurvedic herb that has been used for centuries to enhance memory. People believe it is a memory enhancer and neural tonic. Some say it is even a neuroprotector.

In short, it sure sounds like an interesting supplement to add to your diet if you experience brain fog.

Carotenoids

Carotenoids are the yellow-red-orange pigments that give our carrots, bananas, or peppers. They are associated with better cognition and some have hope that they can support aging. Research on aging is not clear yet.

Creatine

Research is hopeful that creatine can support mental sharpness and memory. However, as with many supplements, there is still no full guarantee that it will prevent decline.

Resveratrol

Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in foods like blue grapes and red wine. Research believes that it could be a great way to support you against cognitive decline.

Just eating some grapes however will not have enough impact on your mental health. You will need to take a supplement to get enough of the effects.

Why do I feel mentally clear when fasting?

Some people report that fasting can improve their concentration. Intermittent fasting is also a very popular technique to manage weight today.

Research in animals shows that fasting can support brain function and brain structure. The fasting animals showed improved memory and were learning faster.

Research in humans is still going on, however, results are not conclusive yet. Some studies do support that fasting can help your mental clarity, while others don’t find the effect. 

Concluding Thoughts on Foods for Mental Clarity

These brain foods slow cognitive decline and support proper brain function. Eating the rainbow and hydrating is the best way to support your overall brain health. That could be a healthy diet with a variety of leafy greens, blue grapes, carrots, and healthy fats.

However, if you do experience mental fog or lack of concentration then supplements can help as well. We suggest that you talk to your doctor before starting with any supplementation because they can have side effects too.

Some might interact with your pre-existing conditions and the medication you are taking. A doctor can provide medical advice when the problems can’t be solved with these lifestyle changes.

If you want to know more about supplements or mental clarity then let us know below or check out these educational resources here

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