The Top 5 Foods That Boost Your Brain (and clear brain fog)

Written by Sue Mosebar

5 Brain Foods Help Clear Brain Fog

How do you feel in the mornings, afternoons, and throughout your busy days? Energetic, motivated, and ready to take on the next challenge? Or, dreading yet another day where you hit the ground running—albeit reluctantly and feeling fatigued—and keep running, despite feeling slow, cloudy, and unmotivated… Like you’re trudging through mud with the windows fogged up?

If the second description sounds more like your days, then you, like so many, are likely struggling with some degree of “brain fog,” uncomfortable feelings of lack of mental clarity and inability to concentrate. And sadly, it can interfere with your health and happiness by leading to forgetfulness along with difficulty focusing, thinking, and even communicating. It can leave you feeling fatigued, irritability, and even anxious. Yuck! Who could possibly be motivated and productive feeling like that?!

Before you decide to just give up and head back to bed for the rest of the week, there are some simple lifestyle solutions (one of which is most certainly getting enough quality sleep) to combat brain fog. Of course, diet plays a tremendous role, and what you do and don’t eat can either help clear the fog or contribute to making the it more dense. To help you get back to feeling human again, here are 5 brain foods that have been shown to support health and mental acuity—with motivation and energy to spare.

The Top 5 Brain Foods

1. Salmon: Salmon is high in taste, essential fatty acids (especially the brain-healthy omega-3 called docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA), protein, and vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin B12 and potassium), making it a powerful brain-boosting food. Believe it or not, the human brain is made up of nearly 60% fat, and DHA is the predominant type of fat found in the brain. Simply put, when it comes to brain health, DHA is “king,” and studies have shown that increasing consumption of DHA (through fatty fish or supplements) can improve memory, reaction time, and cognitive function.

Look for wild varieties and try to include salmon or other fatty fish into your nutrition plan at least twice a week. In addition to salmon, other good DHA-rich brain food choices are anchovies, herring, sardines, and trout.

2. Nuts & Seeds: Convenient, delicious, and nutritious, nuts and seeds provide healthy fats (including omega-3s), fiber (which supports healthy blood sugar, a key to banishing brain fog), numerous vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin E, manganese, and copper), amino acids, and polyphenols (which slow down the aging process in the brain by combating free radicals)—all shown to help support cognitive function.

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Walnuts may be particularly friendly brain foods. One study found that cognitive function was consistently better in folks who regularly consumed walnuts. What’s more, walnuts are a natural source of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone that plays an intricate role regulating circadian rhythms. Interestingly, during sleep, the brain clears out potentially “neurotoxic” waste that builds up during the day. Enjoy an ounce of your favorite nuts or seeds, like walnuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or flaxseeds every day for the potential brain benefits.

3. Blueberries: Low in calories and super high in nutrients, blueberries make the list because they’re also wildly wonderful and delicious. They’re convenient and provide fiber, vitamins (especially C and K), and manganese.

Perhaps most impressive are the exceptionally high levels of antioxidants and flavonoids found in blueberries, which may directly lead to their suggested benefits for the brain. In fact, blueberries repeatedly rank as having one of the highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices, and seasonings. In one six-year study, 16,010 participants who regularly consumed berries (specifically blueberries and strawberries), enjoyed cognitive aging delays by as much as 2.5 years.

In his book The Brain Diet, Dr. Alan Logan refers to blueberries as the “WD40® of the nerve cells” due their capacity to improve communication between cells of the nervous system. Fresh or frozen, enjoying a handful of blueberries daily is delicious and may help your brain function at its best.

4. Green Leafy Veggies: Rich in antioxidants and carotenoids (which give vegetables their wide array of colors) including lutein, leafy greens such as spinach, Swiss chard, kale, and even mustard greens are known for providing high amounts of folate and Vitamin K, nutrients that may help improve focus, memory, and overall brain power.

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While lutein is commonly recognized for its eye health benefits, it (along with zeaxanthin) also accumulates in the brain, and recent studies show that this powerful carotenoid plays a key role in brain health and cognitive function. Folate is also a very important brain nutrient, and it helps protect the brain by aiding in the elimination of potentially toxic compounds that contribute to brain fog. One study demonstrated that folks who enjoyed one or two servings of leafy greens per day enjoyed the thinking ability of folks who were up to 11 years younger.

Go ahead and indulge with that “big salad” every day (topped with some of #5 of course).

5. Avocados: Commonly regarded as a fantastic source of healthy fats (namely oleic acid), avocados are also very high in a variety of other nutrients—they provide 7 grams of fiber, have more potassium than bananas, and also provide plenty of vitamins (such as K, C, E, and folate) and antioxidants as well as small amounts of minerals (including magnesium, iron, and zinc).

When it comes to brain foods, avocados score well because they provide monounsaturated fats, which support healthy blood flow to the brain. One study showed that these healthy fats help protect nerve cells known as “astrocytes,” which carry information throughout the nervous system.

Feel free to dip into some guacamole or add a quarter of an avocado to your salad daily.

Best Brain Fog Foods

Eating the above brain foods alone won’t completely eliminate brain fog. It’s also important to ensure you’re getting enough quality sleep, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and reducing simple carbs and sugars, which contribute to brain fog. But these delicious foods will help fill your nutritional toolbox with the nutrients your brain needs to function optimally—helping to banish brain fog and leading you closer to the motivated, productive, and energetic mind you long for.

5 Memory-Killing Foods:

Did you know there are certain foods that can actually DAMAGE your brain and your memory?  You may even be SHOCKED to learn that this list of Memory-Killing Foods contains several vegetables and even certain protein sources.

In the end, these foods can cause memory loss, “brain fog”, lapses in concentration, and numerous other negative brain symptoms.
 
Fortunately, we just wrote a brand new report that shows you exactly which foods you MUST avoid if you care about the health of your brain.  Download your free copy in just a couple seconds here:

==>5 Memory-Killing Foods to NEVER Eat

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  • Jerry Bruton

    Thanks for the article.
    I’m on a ketogenic diet. Salmon, Nuts & Seeds and avocados are part of my diet. The ketogenic diet is beneficial in reducing brain fog. The brain functions well on ketones.
    I eat a lot of green vegetables. One point you made I have a question about folate. You state it eliminates potentially toxic compounds that contribute to brain fog. You do not disclose the names of these potentially toxic compounds that contribute to brain fog. Can you provide a reference for the names? I’m skeptical of articles claiming the elimination of toxic compounds and not telling their names.

    • Hi Jerry,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read this article and share your feedback. We’re glad that you found it helpful!

      You’re absolutely right about the ketogenic diet. It can definitely be helpful in boosting brain health and function. We even wrote about those benefits in the following article and free report, which you may be interested in checking out:

      A Beginner’s Guide to the Ketogenic Diet

      Top 14 Foods on the Ketogenic Diet

      As far as your question, which I greatly appreciate, the potentially toxic compound that we’re referring to in the article is homocysteine.

      Specifically, folate plays a critical role in the process of methylation, which involves converting homocysteine to methionine. High homocysteine levels are tied to declining heart health, cognitive function, mental health, and metabolic function. For instance, homocysteine is known to possess neurotoxic effects that contribute to brain fog. [Source]

      I’ll be happy to elaborate on this if you have any further questions. Keep up the great work, Jerry!

  • Joan

    This article is to the point, unlike the previous articles which show long videos!!

    • Cristina

      Hi Joan. Online feedback is precious to us and we are thankful you took the time to share your opinion.

      We are pleased to hear you found this article to be enjoyable, and we hope you give us the opportunity to connect with you again.

  • Humanitarian

    It would be appreciated Re: Avocados, how should one buy this, hard, soft, light brownish or simply soft. I found after two days on counter-top, its is spoled with fowl smell. Should this be refrigerated? Cut ones become darkened in refrigerator.

    • Cristina

      Greetings, Humanitarian. Excellent question!

      In addition to boosting your brain, avocados are one of the best flab-fighting fats, but it’s unlikely that you’ll eat an entire avocado in one sitting. So how do you keep that leftover avocado from turning brown, you ask?

      Well, first let’s talk about why avocados turn brown. Like apples or potatoes, they oxidize when exposed to air. Once you cut into an avocado, you’ll never be able to completely stop the oxidation process, but you can dramatically slow it with a few quick tips and tricks:

      1. Cut the avocado with a ceramic or plastic knife. Metal actually accelerates the oxidation process.

      2. Try lemon or lime juice. Citric acid is a powerful antioxidant; rub a little juice around the exposed flesh and you’ll significantly delay the browning effect.

      3. No lemon or lime? Use oil. Oil is another great buffer to oxygen. Use in place of lemon or lime juice when you don’t have any handy.

      4. Store as air-tight as possible. Again, avocados turn brown due to oxidation and exposure to air, so storing in an air-tight container only makes sense.

      5. Water. Huh? That’s right! This one works exceptionally well for guacamole. Place your leftover guac in a plastic container and press down to remove any air pockets. Add a half inch of water on top and seal with an air-tight lid. The water creates a barrier between the avocado and the air, keeping your guacamole fresh and 100% green for 24 hours or more! When ready to eat some more, just drain the excess water and enjoy. Works like a charm!

      Now as far as selecting the perfect avocado, this is my method:

      Step 1 – Check the outer skin of the avocado for any large indentations as this may be a sign that the fruit has been bruised. Depending on whether I am using the avocado right away or not for a day or two, this will determine the color I look for. The darker the skin, the more ripe the avocado is.
      Step 2 – Place the avocado in the palm of your hand.
      Step 3 – Gently squeeze without applying your fingertips as this can cause bruising and feel.

      *If the avocado yields to firm gentle pressure you know it’s ripe and ready-to-eat.

      • Humanitarian

        Kristina, your answers helped me understand. Since I am vegetarian and getting used to avacados and found difficult to eat the whole once cut. Thanks for the doable tips.

        • Cristina

          I am happy to hear that I was able to provide you with some helpful information about avocados, Humanitarian. Getting feedback that was exactly what you were looking for makes me beyond excited.

          Have a great week!