By Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D. Associate Nutrition Editor for EatingWell Magazine
If you think cognitive decline isn’t something that starts to happen until after age 60, think again. A new study from the British Medical Journal showed that cognitive decline -- a decrease in memory and reasoning capacity -- can start to affect our brains as early as 45! Give yourself a mental boost now with these four foods.
A 2006 study in Neurology showed that people who ate two or more daily servings of vegetables, especially leafy greens, had the mental focus of people five years their junior. Have a big salad for lunch; serve some sauteed spinach at dinner. More from EatingWell: 7 Anti-Aging Superfoods to Keep You Feeling Young The Healthiest Foods You Should Be Eating (But Probably Aren't) What To Eat For A Healthy Heart And Mind Flickr photo by koishikawagirl
Studies show that eating a breakfast of whole grains helps sustain mental focus better than a morning meal of refined carbohydrates or no breakfast at all. Two to try: whole-grain cereal with milk or eggs with whole-wheat toast.
It might come as no surprise that coffee can help your mind feel sharper (Goodbye, morning brain fog!), but did you know that coffee affects men and women differently? Men actually feel more alert more quickly than women do after drinking a caffeinated beverage, according to research from the University of Barcelona. In the study, men reported feeling less drowsy after only 10 minutes and sustained the mental boost for a half hour. Women got a kick from the espresso, too, but rated it weaker than the men did. But women, it turns out, are more influenced by the placebo effect when it comes to caffeine. Just anticipating the stimulating effects of caffeine may be enough to feel them. When the same researchers had participants drink decaf, women reported feeling significantly more alert than men, who reported just a slight boost. Flickr photo by chichacha
It's not technically a food, but a 2011 study found that people who chewed gum during a stressful task were more alert afterwards than when they did the task without gum. More from EatingWell: 7 Anti-Aging Superfoods to Keep You Feeling Young The Healthiest Foods You Should Be Eating (But Probably Aren't) What To Eat For A Healthy Heart And Mind
What do you eat or drink for a mental boost?
By Kerri-Ann Jennings
Kerri-Ann, a registered dietitian, is the associate editor of nutrition for EatingWell magazine, where she puts her master's degree in nutrition from Columbia University to work writing and editing news about nutrition, health and food trends. In her free time, Kerri-Ann likes to practice yoga, hike, bake and paint.
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