We all know certain foods contribute positively to your physical health, and some foods contribute positively (in inches) to your waistline. But did you know that some foods can support brain function—and maybe even make you a better writer?
Antioxidants, like those found in fruits and vegetables, offer disease- and age-fighting power to keep your creative impulses firing at top speed. Blueberries are said to be especially powerful.
Omega-3 fatty acids (from fish oil and flax) are said to boost your brain’s gray matter. That’s like building muscle in your mind. Prepare to do some heavy mental lifting…or just impress people with your mental calisthenics.
Choline is a nutrient found in egg yolk or milk that can help ward off senility. Choline also keeps your memory going strong, so you can actually remember whether your character was wearing a red shirt twenty pages ago or a blue one!
Folic acid: One study found that adults taking regular folic acid supplements demonstrated better cognitive function, especially in memory and critical thinking. So if you’re really having trouble getting past a problematic plot point, it may be time to supplement!
Chocolate lovers rejoice! According to WebMD: “A study by food scientists found that the antioxidant concentration in a cup of hot cocoa was higher than that found in either red wine or green tea.” Of course, getting your antioxidants from veggies (sans whipped cream, fat, and added sugar) may be a better bet. But next time your spouse gives you “that look” for drinking hot chocolate, you can say “I’m doing it for my brain!”
Green tea is good for your brain. People who drink green tea regularly fare better mentally when it comes to aging. This is happy news for writers—especially if you’re the type who stays up into the wee hours working on a manuscript; your green tea can multitask by keeping you both awake AND young! Plus, moderate amounts of caffeine are said to boost concentration as long as you don’t overdo it.
Sugar. No, we’re not talking about the powdery white dusting on donuts, or the stuff that your grandpa dumps in his coffee until it’s thick as sludge. Nor are we talking about fake sugar substitutes. Your brain may not love what we call “sugar,” but it does love glucose. Glucose is what your body makes out of sugar and carbs. And a little lift in glucose can boost your concentration and alertness. Just be sure that when you reach for sweet, you’re reaching for healthy sweet: blueberries, oranges, etc. Your brain will get its glucose fix and some antioxidants too!
Breakfast. We know you don’t want to admit it, but your mom was right. Breakfast counts. Eat a moderate breakfast with protein and whole grains, and you—like countless human guinea pigs—may find that your concentration gets a boost. Just don’t eat too much or you’ll get sluggish.
Supplements. There’s a lot of back and forth these days about supplements. But research suggests that vitamins B, C, E, magnesium, and beta-carotene may be helpful.
Do we even need to say this? We’re creative writers, not nutritionists. So you should hear yourself saying “What’s up, Doc?” before you alter your diet to power your brain.
Still, common sense doesn’t require a medical degree. So eat right, sleep deeply, and drink plenty of water.
And if you don’t know what it means to eat right, take your cues from Michael Pollan (author of In Defense of Food), who takes all the food advice out there and breaks it down into three simple rules:
1. Eat REAL food (as opposed to “food-like substances”).
2. Not too much.
3. Mostly plants.
A healthy body usually brings about a healthy brain. And that makes for powerful writing!
QUESTION: What is your favorite healthy brain food on this list (or on your table)?
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