5 Whole Foods to Fuel Your Brain

plate of spinach
Spinach in a bowl

Lost your train of thought? Keep getting distracted? Maybe your brain needs a boost! Here are five whole foods to fuel your brain and help you stay energized and focused:


Green vegetables like spinach, lettuce, broccoli and bok choy are rich in folate and other B vitamins, which play an important role in the breakdown of food into energy; essential for brain function. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two of the phytochemicals found in spinach, which help keep our eyes healthy and able to focus.


Because the gut and the brain are closely connected, the health of the community of microorganisms that live in our gut affect not only our digestion but also may impact cognitive functions like memory and concentration. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi and yogurt support healthy gut bacteria and in turn, brain function.


The fiber and protein content of whole grains like buckwheat, brown rice and quinoa help slow down digestion, keeping us satisfied and able to focus longer.


Sardines are a powerhouse of nutrients, packed with omega-3 fats, vitamin B12 and selenium, which protect our blood vessels and allow for our blood to flow normally and deliver oxygen and nutrients to all of our tissues, including the brain.


Hydration is key to staying focused. Humans are composed mostly of water. Water is an essential component of our blood, which transports oxygen and nutrients to all of our tissues, including the brain. Bored of drinking plain water? Add some color and flavor to your water by throwing in some fresh herbs like basil or mint or a splash of fresh lemon.

Nourish your mind and body by incorporating some of these brain-boosting whole foods into your day!

— By Megan McLean, MS (’15), Bastyr dietetic intern, and Amy Frasieur, MS, RD, core faculty in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.