Woman enjoying a salad while working on her laptop

11 Superfoods That Will Boost Your Brainpower

As you might have already known, your brain is in charge of everything.

It is like a conductor of a big and complicated orchestra.

Now, imagine if the conductor was feeling a bit woozy because they haven’t eaten anything? Without the necessary cues, the trombone flips, the violin storms off the stage, and the piano simply crashes.

If you want a healthy and happy body, you need to have a healthy and happy mind. And one way you can ensure that is by providing proper nourishment.

Food for Thought

Many of us don’t even think about the food we eat on a daily basis. However, food is what gives our body energy, food is what gives it health and helps it develop.

But it is often that we forget this fact and choose something that is fast and easy.

If you want to truly boost your brainpower for a longer period of time, you should definitely try to encompass at least some of these foods on a regular basis.

No, we don’t mean every day.

However, it is definitely also recommended that you talk to a nutritionist before making any large dietary changes.

1)   Coffee

Yes, yes, we decided to start with coffee, since it’s something that most of us like.

But, we are not talking about a tall latte with caramel drizzle (even though we would definitely like it, this is not the healthiest choice). We are talking about the essence of coffee.

There are truly numerous benefits of coffee, but the ones we are most concerned with have to do with the brain.

Woman's hands holding a small cup of coffee

Now, if you’ve ever had to study under pressure (and you most certainly have, otherwise you’ve missed on an adventure!), you know that coffee is simply divine when your bed is calling your name.

We all know that coffee works wonders for alertness and focus. In fact, caffeine in coffee blocks adenosine, which can make you feel sleepy.

However, there is yet another benefit to coffee – it increases your brain’s capacity to process information. Some recent studies have found that caffeine increases the brain’s entropy.

Another good thing about coffee is that it can actually support your brain health as you get older. Longer consumption of coffee reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and even Alzheimer’s disease.

However, always be mindful that too much coffee can lead to other health issues, so it is advisable not to drink more than 3-4 cups a day. If used excessively, it can even trigger a migraine. And then you can kiss all your brainpower goodbye.

2)   Dark Chocolate

Yes, you’ve guessed it, we’re hittin’ you with the good stuff so you don’t hate us too much afterwards.

And no, milk chocolate doesn’t count.

Yeah, as we said – don’t hate us.

Cocoa contains flavonoids that actually improve blood flow to the brain. You know what that means – improved memory and focus. Cocoa can also prevent mental decline linked to old age.

Dark chocolate is full of organic compounds that function as antioxidants, which means that it’s also incredibly healthy in many other ways.

And we don’t even need to mention what chocolate (yes, even dark chocolate) does to your mood.

However, even though dark chocolate is healthier than its milkier version, it also has more calories. So, don’t eat too much of it, just enough to get that brainpower started.

3)   Olives and Olive Oil

For a long time now, researchers have been pointing to the health benefits of olive oil. There are so many, that we can’t even name them all.

The bottom line is this – olive oil=health galore!

Olive oil on wooden table

Now, some studies have even shown that regular consumption of olives and olive oil leads to less brain deterioration over time because of the mono-unsaturated fat that olives have. This is the healthy fat which actually increases the transportation of oxygen to the brain.

Olives can be eaten as snacks, you can put them in salads and even on pizza! Also, you can use olive oil for cooking (although it loses some of its healthy vibe when cooked), marinades and many salad dressings.

Truly, olives and olive oil are so versatile that they can be incorporated at least once a week in your regular diet.

4)   Fish

No, tuna’s not gonna cut it.

You need the good kind of fish, that is, fatty fish, which includes:

  • Trout
  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Salmon
  • Kippers
  • Sardines

Yeah, not the nicest-smelling bunch in the b(r)ook, but hey, your brain’s going to be really grateful for your nose’s sacrifice.

These types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. And guess what your brain’s made of? (Well, not entirely, but to a great extent.)

This means that eating these types of fish not only boosts your brainpower, but it also helps protect your brain against mental decline. Some studies have found that not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids is linked with depression and even learning impairments.

So, it’s a good idea to incorporate fish into your diet. Try to eat it at least twice a week. That is, if you’re not allergic to fish, since it’s a common enough food allergen.

Which brings us to our next superfood.

5)   Nuts

Nuts are great in all sorts of ways. You can have them in salads, as a snack on the go, you can even put them in cakes.

Talk about versatility!

Now, don’t go nuts here. While they are truly healthy, they are also packed (and we mean packed) with calories. So, if you’re on a restrictive diet, you might want to use them sparingly.

Cup of mixed nuts

Most experts recommend a handful a day (to keep the doctor away) to get the most benefits without ingesting too much. 

You might have heard that nuts are in general great for you heart. But did you know that eating nuts on a regular basis can reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases and improve cognition significantly?

Nuts are full of healthy fats and antioxidants. They are also rich in vitamin E, which shields cell membranes from free radical damage. This, in turn, slows down mental decline.

When it comes to the type of nuts you should eat – walnuts take the cake! They are full of fatty acids, copper, iron, calcium, manganese, folic acid, antioxidants, etc. Walnuts are the rulers of nuts everywhere.

However, nut allergy is truly widespread so, if you aren’t sure whether you have it, consult your doctor before you start eating  of the aforementioned kinds on a regular basis.

6)   Wholegrain Foods

Yeah, we told you you’d hate us.

We know, we know, nobody particularly enjoys eating wholegrain food. But have you ever wondered why the sudden popularity, then?

Because it is incredibly, incredibly healthy.

We kid you not.

Aside being great for digestion, whole grains are also a source of vitamin E, which, as we’ve mentioned, slows down mental decline by preventing free radicals from damaging cell membranes.

There are numerous ways you can incorporate wholegrain food into your diet. You can eat oatmeal, or wholegrain bread, or even use wholegrain pasta (which, we have to admit, does not actually taste that bad).

Why are whole grains good for the brain?

Well, the body works more to break them down, thus releasing energy in the form of glucose, into the body at a slower pace. This, in turn, extends your energy levels, increases your mood and concentration.

And, another perk is that you’ll feel full for longer.

So, instead of cramming down bacon or pancakes for breakfast, try a nice oatmeal or wholegrain toast. That will raise your energy levels and improve your concentration just when you need it most!

7)   Pumpkin Seeds

Just like nuts, pumpkin seeds are also great as a snack, filling you up for a longer period of time. Again, you can use them in salads or eat them just without anything.

Just. Like. That.

However, they’re also great if you want to put them in your wholegrain bread. This is an awesome way to combine several things that are great for brainpower.

You might not have thought about them, but pumpkin seeds are truly beneficial to your overall health.

But why are they good for your brain?

They also have a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, which, as we’ve mentioned, support brain function. But, they also have magnesium (which is essential for learning and memory), B vitamins and tryptophan (which is a precursor for serotonin, improving good mood). Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, as well, which enhances memory and critical thinking, according to certain studies.

So, next time you’re thinking what healthy, brainpower-boosting snack to try out, the choice is simple!

But, again, not more than a handful.

8)   Berries

Strawberries cherries and an angel’s kiss in spring

My summer wine is really made from all these things.

Nancy Sinatra knew what she was singing about.

And she knew how to use it to her benefit.

The song notwithstanding, berries are really a wondrous gift from the earth. Many of them contain flavonoid antioxidants, which can improve communication between brain cells, boost learning and memory, and reduce cognitive decline.

Assorted bowls of berries

When it comes to the type of berries you should be munching on, these include, as Nancy sang, strawberries, of course, but also mulberries, blackberries, blueberries and black currants. These are all great for brainpower, and great for your immune system in general.

And they are certainly versatile when it comes to incorporating them in your diet. You can literally do anything with them, and they’ll still taste good.

Making fresh juice? Great!

Putting them in pie? Awesome!

Making a ham glaze? Why not?

There’s no reason why you should deprive your brain (and your body) from the gloriousness that are berries.

As the saying (that we’ve made up) goes, a new day, a new berry.

9)   Leafy Greens

Tastes differ, but many people apparently share a distaste for this particular type of food.

Ever since we were little kids, our parents had to make us eat spinach, kale, broccoli, etc.

The monsters!

It’s like they wanted us to be healthy or something!

But all jokes aside, the health benefits of leafy greens are well-known and we are now (a little) less reluctant to eat them.

They are simply overflowing with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants good for your entire body. But when it comes to the brain, they have a lot of iron, which improves attention, learning and memory, as well as vitamin K, which increases cognitive function.

Basically, your parents were right.

You should eat your veggies.   

10)    Avocados

Avocado is also great for a number of reasons.

Yes, it’s a bit on the high-calorie side.

Okay, a bit more on the high-calorie side.

However, it is a great source of unsaturated fat. This type of fat reduces blood pressure, which is linked with cognitive decline. They are rich in omega-2 fatty acids, which improve blood flow to the brain.

Woman presenting avocado

Now, if you’re not certain how to incorporate avocados into your regular diet, we have one word for you – guacamole!

11)    Eggs

Eggs are great for a number of reasons. Those reasons mostly include a vast array of ways to prepare them.

But, as it turns out, they also include some health reasons, as well.

Eggs are, in fact, a good source of some nutrients that have been linked with improved brain health – vitamins B6, B12, as well as folate and choline.

B vitamins can delay cognitive decline, while their deficiency has been linked to depression. As some research has shown, folate deficiency is common in the elderly suffering from dementia.

But choline is the star when it comes to eggs. Eggs are some of the richest sources of choline we can get. Choline is particularly important for the development of the memory center. The body uses choline to create acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and memory.

An average egg yolk has about 200 mg of choline, but that doesn’t meet our daily needs. Women need 425 mg per day, while men need 550 mg.

Drinking tea on the couch, with socks on

How to Create a Self-Care Routine that Actually Works

As many of us who have ever had social media (i.e. everyone) know, 2019 is all about self-care. And even though many try to disregard its importance, in this day and age, we truly need some time for ourselves, to take care of our physical, emotional and mental health.

We often go about our days just letting the stress accumulate without any regard for how it may impact our lives. When in fact, stress can have a major impact on both the body and the spirit.

That’s precisely where self-care comes in.

However, a lot of people struggle with implementing self-care into their daily lives. Rushing here and there, it remains forgotten among duties of the day. But, fear not, there are ways you can make sure you stick to your self-care routine.

What is Self-Care?

Most people find it tricky to truly take care of themselves. When we truly think about it, not many of us can find too many things that we do in that regard.

How long has it been since you dedicated a day, or even an evening, to yourself?

If you can’t remember, then it’s clear you’re in dire need of self-care.

Self-care includes activities that we do that help our physical, mental and emotional help. Its main purpose is to improve our mood and to reduce anxiety and the accumulated stress of the day. It is also the basis of a healthy relationship towards one’s self and even others.

It’s not selfish, as some may think. Self-care is extremely important if we are to help ourselves get through the stress of our day-to-day lives.

So don’t think you’re selfish if you’re dedicating your time to your well-being. It seems that we’re not doing enough of that as it is. Focus on yourself from time to time and this will lead to a much fuller, happier life.

It doesn’t have to be anything complicated – it can include a good book, reveling in the joy of bath bombs, or even playing music. But it is incredibly important to have that time devoted to doing what will make you feel better. 

There are various benefits to self-care, which are, frankly, too precious to count. Here’s what you can expect when you dedicate yourself to yourself:

  • Lowered stress
  • Improved wellbeing
  • Increase in productivity
  • Higher self-esteem and self-awareness
  • Improved health

So how do you create a reasonable self-care routine?

Many of us decide one day that we’ll start treating ourselves better, and that we’ll start our self-care routine this very day.

However, many of us also don’t follow through. Various commitments get in the way and we simply give up on what’s the easiest.

But, with these few tips, you can create your own self-care routine that you won’t abandon when the obstacles arise.

Do the Things You Love

One of the possibly worst things you can do when you’re trying to stick to your self-care routine is to do something you’ve heard is the best, but doesn’t quite cut it for you.

Yeah, yeah, we all know that yoga’s great (and it really is), but if you find that it doesn’t suit you, and you don’t feel too relaxed when you’re doing it, then that’s not something that should find its way into your routine.

Remember, everyone’s different. What works for someone else may not work for you.

And in that case, it’s most likely that you won’t commit to it.

Try to think of a few activities that you love, and some that bring you joy. For instance, you may feel happy when you’re playing the flute, or when you’re building a table. Make a list of activities that make you feel good.

If you’re not sure what you truly love, try a few different things. You may even find something that you’re good at. Why not? Try a dance or a cooking class, or listening to some podcasts, see what interests you and, more importantly, what leaves you feeling a little more content and a little less stressed.

Friends cooking together

Choose activities that are beneficial in various ways

There are truly plenty of self-care routines, but a lot of them do fall into some dimension of wellness. There are six dimensions of wellness: intellectual, spiritual, emotional, physical, social and occupational.

So, if you’re choosing to take care of yourself, choose activities that will be good for you in various ways.

For instance, if you enter a volleyball team, you get the bonus of physical and social wellness. On the other hand, if you join a book club, you’re getting both intellectual and social part of your being taken care of.

Of course, don’t go against yourself. If you feel like the social factor of the activity would not benefit you, choose something else. You can even read a book while you run on a treadmill, there’s nothing stopping you.

The important thing is to choose activities which will satisfy more needs, but that will also suit you.

Keep It Simple

One of the reasons why our self-care routines don’t always work is that they’re too complicated. And it’s not likely that we’ll stick to something too complicated.

In fact, we might just chuck it in the bin right on the first day precisely because of that, believing we can’t keep up with that.

And it’s true, if you go on thinking that it’s just another obligation, it’s probably not going to work. With so many other obligations pertaining to work, and our family/friends, we tend to put our needs on the backburner.

Self-care doesn’t have to be anything lengthy and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. The main point here is to fit it into your lifestyle, while also getting to the point where you’re recharged and relaxed.

Create A Plan

Now, when we say plan, we don’t mean a regimen that you simply have to stick to. This is about simply making the time for self-care.

You can start off easy, with 15 minutes in the morning or the evening scheduled for exercise, or reading.

Make sure that you let your family and friends know you’re unavailable at that time.

If you prefer it that way, write a faux timetable and put it on your wall. Sometimes, when you plan ahead, it simply becomes much easier to fit it into your days, especially if you generally lead a hectic life. And, in general, some people simply like planning.

Unknown woman writing in her journal

A good way of doing that is making a plan a day in advance. We’re not often sure what our whole weeks will look like. That is why it is perhaps best to sit down in the evening and map out the next day. That way, there’ll be less chance of something changing and putting a wrench in your plan.

Know When to Be Flexible

Another thing that it’s important is that, while we all lead pretty organized lives, there are times when our routine changes and something unexpected pops up.

Things get in the way, that’s a given.

But the important thing is not to let your plan go completely.

However, you should remember that every day is a fresh start. If you were unable to do your self-care routine one day, do it the next. If you’re unable to do it in the morning, do it in the evening.

After all, this is about you and what you can do at that time. If you choose to do just one thing from your routine because you simply don’t have the time, well, then, you did that one thing. And that’s great. The important thing is not to give up. You can’t always do everything that you’ve envisioned, but you can do at least something.

No two days are the same, so it’s best if you try to adapt. Work around your schedule to see what works best at that particular day or moment.

Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself

A self-care routine will certainly take time to become a way of life. And, more importantly, it’s a process of trial and error.

But it’s okay if your first attempt was not that successful. Through trial and error, you will find what works best.

Another thing to look out for is not to set goals that are too hard. Be realistic when you’re making your plan.

Let’s face it, none of us can go from zero to sixty, so to speak, in a week. Unattainable goals are not what self-care is about. It’s about finding the perfect routine for you and devoting yourself to it. If you want your routine to turn into a habit, being realistic is the best way to start.

Find a Buddy

If you have someone who can fulfil the role, you should find someone who will “hold you accountable,” so to speak. A friend, a family member or even a coworker who will check in from time to time to see how you’re doing.

Also, they can be the person you turn to when you feel like you can’t devote yourself to the routine.

Couple cycling together in the park

When we’re on our own, it’s sometimes too easy to let self-care fall to the background (and in that case, be forgotten), but if you have someone to help you along the way, it will be easier to stick to the commitment you made.

If your self-care routine includes making your diet more healthy, maybe some of your friends need encouragement for the same thing, as well. See if you can be each other’s helpers along this way to mutual wellbeing.

Get Back to Basics

Sometimes the simplest things will help you stick to your self-care routine. There are things that are so simple, yet do so much for our health, that we usually disregard. Here are some of the tips on how to get back to the basics for a much healthier day.

  • Get enough sleep. How often do you get enough hours of sleep? Sleep is incredibly beneficial, but because of our jobs and other reasons, we seem to disregard it as unimportant. But that is simply not true. Our bodies fill up on energy during sleep and they need it like the air we breathe. Even a power nap during the day can help you feel more rejuvenated and more alert. But it is important that you get at least seven hours a sleep a day to be able to go about your day.
  • Maintain a proper eating schedule. As with our sleeping schedule, there are various things that happen to our bodies when we mess up our eating schedule. Make sure to eat three meals and two small snacks every day. This will help stabilize your body, preparing it for the world. You can even implement food into your self-care routine. If you have an affinity for cooking, use that as me-time.
  • Use the free time you have the way you enjoy it. For instance, if you have 15 minutes in the morning before you have to go to work, why not solve a crossword puzzle? Or go to the store on foot. Use those fifteen minutes for something relaxing. If you have the weekend off, try to do some activity that you know will make you feel good – finish that show that you wanted to watch, ride a bike or just meet up with an old friend. It’s essential that your free time is spent the way you will enjoy it the most.
  • Focus on here and now. Many times, when we are doing one thing, our mind wanders, completely disconnecting us from the present. We think about the obligations that we have, or even something that we are planning to do in the distant future. However, self-care flies right out of the window if we do this. For it to work, we need to stay connected to the moment. The more we practice that, the less we will think about unrelated things. And the more mindful we are, the more we will actually enjoy the present and the more effect the self-care routine will have.