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Strength Train Your Brain

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Brain Food

Eat Smart

Food is the fuel that keeps your brain running, but noshing on the right stuff is key. "You need a huge variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for maximum brain health," says Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, PhD, a professor of neurosurgery and physiological science at UCLA. That means piling your plate with as many different fruits and vegetables as you can every day, including "berries and apples, because they contain a lot of vitamin C and flavonoids, both of which are powerful antioxidants that keep your brain cells in prime condition," Gomez-Pinilla says. Broccoli and spinach have more vitamins A, C, and E than most other veggies do. And fish is crucial because it's chock-full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which keep the membranes of brain cells strong. Be sure to eat every few hours to regulate your blood sugar. If it gets too low, you won't be able to think straight.

Hungry? Try our sample day's menu below -- it will help make you sharper by bedtime.

Power Meal: Breakfast

1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1 sprinkle crunchy whole-grain cereal like Grape-Nuts or Kashi GoLean

1 big handful blueberries

1 cup coffee

Rev-It-Up Results

Greek yogurt is high in protein, which provides a steady supply of energy, helping your brain stay charged all morning. Protein also increases levels of epinephrine and dopamine, two chemicals that make you more alert. The carbs in the cereal give you a dose of glucose, which gets you going. Blueberries are potent antioxidants that have been shown to spur brain-cell production and help improve memory. Caffeine, a stimulant, speeds up your brain and can boost memory and reasoning, research shows.

Power Meal: Lunch

Baby spinach

1 ounce walnuts (about 14 halves)

Fruits and vegetables such as red grapes and yellow peppers


1 cup green tea

Rev-It-Up Results

Spinach is loaded with vitamin E, which helps neutralize the free radicals in your body that damage brain cells, and the oil in the vinaigrette aids in the absorption of the vitamin. Walnuts are a top source of omega-3s, which reduce inflammation in the brain and allow it to function properly. Colorful fruits and vegetables contain an array of brain-boosting antioxidants and nutrients, and green tea is rich in flavonoids, which improve mental performance.

Power Meal: Dinner

1/2 cup fortified whole wheat pasta

Tomato sauce

4 ounces salmon

1 cup broccoli or brussels sprouts

Rev-It-Up Results

Fortified pasta is enriched with folic acid, a nutrient that may improve brain function, according to a study. Tomato sauce is loaded with antioxidants that help prevent inflammation. Fish such as salmon and mackerel are packed with omega-3s. Broccoli and brussels sprouts contain vitamin E.

Smart Snack

For a quick boost, combine 1 cup green tea + 1/2 cup strawberries + 1/2 cup grapes or Concord grape juice + 1/2 cup blueberries + 1 cup ice + 1 tablespoon agave syrup in a juicer or blender. Process until smooth.

Recipe from Dave Grotto, RD, a FITNESS advisory board member

What do you think of this story?  Leave a Comment.

What do you think? Review this story!
hmjorgensen07 wrote:

wow I really like this article. I'm a college student and am currently under stress studying and finishing papers for school. This emphasizes why it's so important for me to fit in a workout! Thanks!

11/9/2009 11:43:52 AM Report Abuse
realitycheck0910 wrote:

I will use the gym at my school before I take tests. 30 min brisk walk before hand will work I hope.

11/6/2009 06:16:19 AM Report Abuse
metermaid47 wrote:

I thought it was a great article. Very informative and inspiring. I am one of those chair potatoes that was referred to in the story but want to change.

11/5/2009 10:29:05 PM Report Abuse

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