Food as Medicine: 5 Nutrients to Feed Your Inner Genius

Omega-3's: Omega-3 fatty acids are used in the brain to build nerve cells, maintain connections, and support blood flow in the brain. More specifically, the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, found primarily in fish oil, are essential for normal brain function and development. Omega-3- fatty acids are associated with increased blood flow to the brain, which supports memory and decreases the risk of cognitive decline.

Foods sources: tuna, salmon, walnuts, chia seeds, and avocados

Pro tip: Supplementing your diet with fish oil will provide a consistent source of this essential, brain-boosting nutrient. Contact me for more info!

Folate: Facilitates the creation of DNA and RNA, responsible for cell regeneration, especially for neurotransmitters. Maintaining good folate levels protects the brain and can help slow cognitive decline.

Foods sources: kale, spinach, broccoli, collards, and fortified grains (as tolerated)

Pro tip: Before supplementing with folate, discuss medication interactions with your health care provider and dietitian.

L-theanine: While L-theanine is a non-essential amino acid, it may affect level of brain chemicals, serotonin, and dopamine. Maintaining the proper balance of serotonin and dopamine is essential for managing stress levels while supporting a healthy mood, sleep, and overall emotional well-being. L-theanine is also associated with improved attention and mental focus which may result in enhanced mental performance.

Food sources: green tea and black tea as well as some types of mushrooms

Pro tip: L-theanine is classified “generally recognized as safe,” meaning it is believed to be safe when used as a supplement. However, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use L-theanine.

Vitamin K: This fat-soluble vitamin protects the nervous system by participating in the breakdown of fats in the brain cell membranes. Vitamin K plays an important role in the anti-aging process and emerging research shows it may be powerful in preventing Alzheimers.

Food sources: leafy green and cruciferous vegetables such as Brussel sprouts and broccoli

Pro Tip: Eat your greens! One cup of raw spinach or 1/2 cup broccoli a day will help you meet the minimum requirements for vitamin K.

Water: Water is an essential nutrient for all body functions, including the brain. Being dehydrated decreases blood flow to the brain impairs brain function, and can result in a 10 percent cognitive decline. On the other hand, being hydrated results in better concentration, enhanced short-term memory, improved focus, and decreased mental fatigue. If you are looking for a quick boost in clarity and focus, drink more water!

Food sources: water along with fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, oranges, strawberries, lettuce, cucumbers, and more

Pro tip: For optimal brain function, drink water throughout the day—don't wait until you become thirsty.

Brain foods are nutrient-dense foods that supply many of the micronutrients that the average Western diet lacks. Health care research indicates that the most vital strategy to preserve the brain is to ensure your diet consists of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Choose plant protein and fish more often than red meat. Consume fats from plant sources such as olive oil, nuts, and seeds and limit intake of saturated fats.

Featured Recipe
Breakfast Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

  • 2 large sweet potatoes 

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil 

  • ¼ cup red bell pepper, diced

  • ¼ cup red onion, diced 

  • 4 eggs 

  • ½ tsp seasoning blend 

  • 1 cup fresh spinach 

  • Salt and pepper to taste  

  • 2 Tbsp goat cheese crumbles 

  • 2 Tbsp harissa chili paste 

  • Chives for garnish 


Heat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Sweet Potatoes: Wash and dry the sweet potatoes. Then rub with a small amount of olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and carefully pierce the skin several times with a sharp knife or fork.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before slicing open lengthwise and adding the scrambled egg mixture.

Egg Stuffing: During the last 10 minutes of baking the sweet potatoes, prepare your bell pepper and onion by dicing them into small pieces. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat with the remaining olive oil.

Add the bell pepper and onion to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes. While the veggies are cooking, crack the eggs into a small dish, add your seasoning blend, and whisk.

Pour the egg mixture over the bell pepper and onion, then add the fresh spinach. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the eggs are fully cooked and the spinach is wilted and evenly mixed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the baked sweet potatoes to a plate. Carefully stuff the scrambled egg mixture into the opening of the baked sweet potato. Top with goat cheese crumbles, harissa, and chopped chives, if using. Serve hot! 

Makes 2 servings. 

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 390 calories, 21 grams fat, 5.5 grams saturated fat, 2.5 grams polyunsaturated fat, 9 grams monounsaturated fat, 400 mg sodium, 33 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 400 mg sodium,  17 grams protein 

Recipe reproduced from Louisiana Egg Commission 

Be Inspired
Beyond Food--Other Lifestyle Practices to Enhance Brain Health

Neuroscientists have recently observed the protective neurological effects of engagement in frequent meditation, silence, music, prayer, and self-reflection. Researchers have linked a positive correlation between brain health and religious or spiritual practices.

  • Specific prayer-based practices—such as praying the rosary, reciting mantras, or chanting—provokes positive emotional responses and increase functional connectivity between brain regions. Regular prayer may be associated with improvements in anxiety and depression symptoms.

  • Musical therapy helps release stress by facilitating self-expression. Learning to play a musical instrument is ideal for preventing the aging of the mind. It improves learning and understanding of language as well as overall focus.

  • Exercise is as good for your brain as it is for your muscles. Engaging in physical activity helps release endorphins, which are your body's natural brain-boosting chemicals. Find what exercise suits your interest, whether you prefer running, tennis, or swimming, to help you stay active and increase your mind's long-term health.

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