I’m a freelance writer, so I constantly need to come up with ideas for posts, bid for work, and write sparkling copy that helps my clients meet their aims. Usually the words come easily. But sometimes it is like wading through sludge. If you also need an occasional brain boost, here are 5 foods to try.
If you’ve ever had to go without your morning coffee, you know that what you eat and drink can affect your ability to think. Skip your daily caffeine dose and you find your thoughts slow down to a crawl. But eat the right foods and you can kick your brain into a new gear, boost your cognitive function, and get those neurons firing again. Let’s take a look at the foods you need if you are stuck on coming up with new ideas.
You’ve probably heard before about the powers of blueberries. These juicy little bites are often touted as a super-food, boosting brain function, fighting cancer, and preventing heart disease. But the effects aren’t limited to blueberries alone. Berries such as strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries also contain flavonoids; powerful antioxidants that have numerous health benefits, including increasing cognitive function. This is great news if you are like me and prefer a bowl of strawberries to a handful of blueberries.
2. Leafy greens
I love spinach, so I am thrilled to find that leafy greens are associated with good cognitive function. They are packed full of nutrients, including folate, lutein, nitrate, and vitamin K. If you aren’t such a fan of spinach, other options include kale, collard greens, and broccoli. Aim for at least one portion of leafy greens a day to keep your brain sharp.
3. Orange juice
Not just deliciously thirst-quenching, orange juice has also been found to prevent poor brain performance. Like berries, oranges contain flavonoids and studies have shown a link between drinking orange juice and increased cognition. Oranges are also famously rich in vitamin C, so they’ll help to prevent you getting sick. We all know how hard it is to feel inspired when you are under the weather. Make sure you choose a juice that contains actual oranges. Or go the whole hog and squeeze your own at home for ultimate benefit.
4. Tea or coffee
If you are anything like me, the first thing you do when you feel stuck is reach for the kettle. Caffeine is known for its ability to pep you up, so many of us use it to awaken our brains. And science supports this; caffeine has been found to enhance cognitive ability. Beware though – it is all a matter of balance. Too much caffeine can take you the other way and actually reduce your ability to concentrate. And, of course, drinking too much can prevent you sleeping well at night, which leads to more groggy days.
Almonds seem to get all the hype when it comes to nut-based super-foods, but the humble walnut has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that have been found to have a beneficial effect on memory and cognition. And there are signs that they may assist in preventing depression, strokes and Parkinson’s Disease too. Plus they are an easy snack to have on hand and nibble on throughout the day.
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Chauhan, A. and V. Chauhan (2020), Beneficial Effects of Walnuts on Cognition and Brain Health, Nutrients 12 (2), page 550, https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12020550
Huntley, A.L. (2009), The health benefits of berry flavonoids for menopausal women: Cardiovascular disease, cancer and cognition, Maturitas 63 (4), pages 297-301, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.maturitas.2009.05.005
Kean, R.J., D.J. Lamport, G.F. Dodd, J.E. Freeman, C.M. Williams, J.A. Ellis, L.T. Butler, and J.P. Spencer (2015), Chronic consumption of flavanone-rich orange juice is associated with cognitive benefits: an 8-wk, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in healthy older adults, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 101(3), pages 506-514, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.114.088518
Morris, M.C., Y. Wang, L.L. Barnes, D.A. Bennett, B. Dawson-Hughes, and S.L. Booth (2018), Nutrients and bioactives in green leafy vegetables and cognitive decline: Prospective study, Neurology 90 (3), pages 214-222, https://doi.org/10.1212/wnl.0000000000004815
Nehlig, A. (2010) Is Caffeine a Cognitive Enhancer? Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 20 (1), pages 85-94, https://doi.org/10.3233/jad-2010-091315