7 “Brain Foods” and Ways to Boost Your Memory

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on March 18, 2013

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Waking up on Monday mornings can sometimes be… a challenge.

It’s the start of the week, you have to turn your brain “on” for work, and sometimes it can feel like you’re operating in slow motion. And then by Friday, you feel like you need to turn your brain “off,” disconnect, relax because you’ve been on overdrive all week!

It doesn’t help that we spend the majority of our day staring at a screen (Desktop, Laptop, iPad, SmartPhone, etc.) and repeating the same routine every day.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can achieve balance and keep your brain and body energized so that you don’t feel like falling over by the end of the week.

So in the spirit of getting a jump start on your week, here are 7 tips – or “brain foods” to boost your brainpower, energy, and memory.

Tip #1: Eat More Omega 3s! These essential fatty acids found in salmon, flax seeds, walnuts (to name a few) are not only good for your brain; they also help fight inflammation in your body, keep your blood and heart healthy, lower triglycerides, and regulate insulin response and weight. Try this oatmeal recipe to add an omega 3 punch to your breakfast each morning.

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Tip #2: Change things up! The brain grooves on novelty, which makes it work in new ways. Get in the habit of challenging your brain so it doesn’t always rely on its efficient autopilot system. Rearrange the furniture. Comb your hair with your non-dominant hand. Drive home via a different route. Basically, keep things interesting for your brain and you’ll feel the difference.

Tip #3: Eat berries every day. Berries are full of antioxidants which help protect your brain. They are also high in fiber, lower on the glycemic index (so they don’t cause inflammation), and a wonderful healthy snack. Try this easy berry smoothie to work more berries into your diet!

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Tip #4: Sleep well. There’s increasing proof that sleep bolsters memory, not only day to day but over your lifetime. Sleep also has regenerative properties for the whole body – it’s your time to really recharge for the next day – so make sure you are not shortchanging yourself!

Tip #5: Focus on Balance. When you get home from work, actually “unplug” each evening. Set aside time every day for hobbies, spending time with your family, exercise, and other non-screen-time activities. Your brain will thank you!

Tip #6: Learn a new skill and challenge yourself. Your brain is always changing, and thanks to that – you can keep learning new things all throughout your life. Focus on skills that don’t simply build on those you already have but that introduce completely fresh ideas and ways of thinking. If you’re a baker, take up gardening. If you speak three languages, try a math course. Look for things that both interest you and challenge you. It’ll energize your mind in new ways.  

Tip #7: Make time for coffee/tea breaks with a friend. Minimizing stress in any way, such as by taking breaks and relaxing, improves cognition. So does maintaining a meaningful social life. But there’s more brain benefit to that shared cuppa. Caffeinated coffee has also been found to be memory-protective, though researchers aren’t sure whether it’s the caffeine or the antioxidants. Tea, especially green, is also loaded with these protective substances as well.

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This post was created in collaboration with Caring.com.

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Mordechai March 18, 2013 at 9:29 am

Two tips that work for me are:
1. A brief walk. Even one or two minutes walking outdoors wakes me up and refreshes my mind.
2. Power naps. Sometimes just going to a quiet place and closing my eyes for 5 minutes makes me feel like I slept for hours.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 18, 2013 at 6:18 pm

These are great tips!! Exercise + napping are great ways to re-energize. I wish I could do power naps – research has proven that they are hugely helpful if you can fall asleep for just a short amount of time!

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Crystal March 18, 2013 at 10:16 am

What a great post! It’s becoming even more important in our society today to make a consious effort to “unplug”. It’s a hard thing to do in my household. And I’ll definetly try to amp up my omega 3′s and antioxidants!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 18, 2013 at 6:20 pm

I’m so glad you liked this post! I totally agree – it is SO hard to unplug – I feel like there are some days where I’m continuously staring at a screen. It takes a lot of effort to go back to the “basics” like reading a book (not on my kindle :) ) And yes! Omega 3s and Antioxidants are the way to go!

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Anastasia March 18, 2013 at 10:37 am

Those berries are so photogenic! Great post!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 18, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Thank you so much Anastasia! I know – aren’t berries the best? :)

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Scott @ The Healthy Eating Guide March 18, 2013 at 11:59 am

Much needed on a Monday, Anjali. Number 3 is my fave. I try and drink a smoothie every morning, and berries are one of my go-to foods for keeping me sharp during the day. Can’t wait for fresh berry season to hit here in Michigan. Send some of that sunshine our way please!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 18, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Thanks Scott!! I love smoothies too – they’re such a great way to get in your fruits (and veggies) for the day! Berry season is amazingg – one of the many reasons I love spring & summer! Hope you guys get some great sunshine (and berries) soon!!

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USN Products March 19, 2013 at 6:52 am

I love berries and try incorporate them into breakfast every morning. And i love # 7 – just wish I had more time to unwind and relax! My favorite decaffeinated tea is Rooibos or RedBush, a South African tea full of rich antioxidants and tastes delicious.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 21, 2013 at 8:53 am

I love Rooibos tea!! It is delicious :) Incorporating berries into your breakfast is a great idea too!

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Tim March 19, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Great post on keeping the brain healthy! I incorporate berries and omega-3s into my morning smoothies just about every day. I’ve also found that outdoor time is very stimulating for the brain as well, particularly when engaged in some kind of exercise in a park like setting as opposed to a gym. Thanks for the great post, and your very colorful and enjoyable blog!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 21, 2013 at 9:07 am

Thank you so much for your thoughts and your kind words about my blog Tim!! I totally agree with you – exercising outdoors feels so much more energizing than going to the gym. The gym is a great substitute when weather or timing doesn’t cooperate for an outdoor activity though :) Nice work btw on incorporating such healthy foods into your breakfast every day!

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Russ March 20, 2013 at 9:39 am

My Grandfather was a herbalist and he had a delicious health drink:
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
1 tsp of honey

Stir, enjoy and have a wonderful start to the day!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 21, 2013 at 9:08 am

I could see that being very tasty, thanks for sharing!

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Ann B March 26, 2013 at 9:56 am

Russ-
My dad had the same “potion”, except he added a shot of whiskey! Anjali-great post-love the berries pic!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 26, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Haha! That’s great Ann :) And thanks so much – so glad you liked this post!

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Debbie April 2, 2013 at 8:27 am

Hi Anjali

Its hard when your stuck at the pc all day to find time to relax as there’s so much to do.

When I can, I like to take my 2 dogs for a walk, does me the world of good and is also
good for me too.

I also juice pineapple and mango each day which also is a good way to boost your memory and your energy.

Off to look at some of your recipes now so have a fab day.

Debbie

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 3, 2013 at 12:05 am

Hi Debbie! That is so true — it really is hard to figure out how to squeeze in relaxing and energizing activities when you’re sitting at a desk all day! But it sounds like you have found some great things that work for you – walking and juicing are both excellent! I can’t wait for you to try some of my recipes – you’ll have to keep me posted on how they turn out for you!

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Michelle April 4, 2013 at 7:29 am

Great post! Isn’t amazing how things that are good for our health in one way, really benefit us in multiple ways? For example, exercise! Exercising regularly is of course good for your body but it also gives you a huge brain boost! Getting all the blood pumping throughout your body is great for your memory. And you mentioned sleep – not only will getting enough sleep help your memory, it will also help you make better food choices. Thanks for some great tips!
Simply well,
Michelle

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 4, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Thank you so much Michelle! And yes! You make a great point – these tips are great for your health and overall well being in addition to having brain-bosting benefits! Thanks again, hope you are well!

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Beverly @ Berries April 14, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Great article! I know that berries have an important amount of antioxidants which help to maintain the youth and help of cells, therefore I think they are very useful to preserve brain health.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 14, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Thanks so much Beverly! That is exactly right!

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Leslie J. April 15, 2013 at 2:39 am

Today is a really hard Monday for me after almost a sleepless night & too much things to do during last weekend. So tomorrow I’m going to start my daily routine keeping in mind your advice! Especially I liked what you said about eating berries every morning! Such a good idea! Thanks for sharing your useful tips!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 16, 2013 at 9:54 am

Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear that Leslie. It’s always difficult when you get a rocky start to the week! I hope these tips help you to feel more energized and rejuvenated for the rest of the week. Take good care of yourself!

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YeeTing_Ch'ng April 17, 2013 at 9:01 am

What’s a great post! It is amazing to have these tips for a student like me. I am totally agreed that the sentence ‘waking up on Monday mornings can sometimes be a challenge’. Waking up in the early morning especially on Monday is a very difficult task for me==”’ That’s why we are saying ‘Monday Blues’! Indeed, it is so hard to ‘UNPLUG’, because there is a lot of assignment to complete in uni!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 17, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Aw thank you so much! I’m so glad you liked this post. And yes, I can completely empathize – when you are a student it seems like the work is endless so it is very hard to unplug (but even more important to do so!) I hope these tips are helpful for you to achieve more balance and better energy in your life! :)

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Richard April 17, 2013 at 7:42 pm

When you choose to eat berries as a snack, pop a bunch of dried cranberries in a zip-loc bag, either by itself or as part of a trail mix. Best thing is that, because they are dried, you won’t have to worry about squishing them and juices leaking out everywhere.

Also, nap, as soon as I get home, I always have a quick 30min nap. Not only am I able to rid myself of any stress I may have gathered throughout the day but I also feel refreshed and active, even if I’m just having a quiet night at home watching the rugby.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 19, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Thanks Richard! Those are great tips! But with the dried cranberries – be careful to make sure they are either freeze dried or dried with zero sugar or oils added. Most dried fruit has added sugar and fat, which makes it more of a dessert than a snack :) So it’s important to read the label to make sure the kind you’re buying just has one ingredient (cranberries)!

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Michelle April 21, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Great post! I eat berries every day. I put them in a smoothie in the morning and then snack on them in the evening. The berries satisfy my sweet tooth. I have to admit I am envious of people who can take power naps during the day, I find that even a 15 minute nap keeps me up at night. To reduce stress I take walks with my 2 German Shepherds.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 24, 2013 at 12:08 am

Thanks so much for sharing what works for you Michelle! I think everything you said makes total sense. I’m like you – I can’t really do naps – I just prefer to go to bed 30 minutes earlier if I’m particularly tired that day. But my husband gets totally rejuvenated by naps – so it really just depends on what works best for each person!

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Emily May 16, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Thanks Anjali…these are such great tips! I particularly love blueberries and I am fortunate enough to be able to grow them where I live, so will focus on those :)

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater May 17, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Oh that is so great!! You get fresh blueberries right from your garden? That is an absolute dream of mine :)

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Gunadevi Chengalaram May 22, 2013 at 7:24 am

This site is very interesting for health-conscious people. It is a user-friendly site; easy to use and to find articles on a particular subject. This post is very interesting and helpful. I’ve been going to bed late for the past few weeks because of assignments and it is quite hard for me to wake up in the morning which consequently turns my brain off I’ll try your tips and we’ll see how it works.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater May 24, 2013 at 10:43 am

Thanks Gunadevi! So glad you find this post helpful. I hope you are able to get more sleep this week! Let me know how it goes!

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