Your Guide to Brain Optimization, Part 1: Diet (Plus a Grocery List)

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Maybe you’ve heard people refer to the brain as a muscle––and while that’s not exactly true (it’s an organ), there is some truth to the fact that the brain can be cared for and optimized in the same way your muscles can. Just like you’d eat protein after a tough workout to help your muscles recover, you can eat certain foods to increase mental clarity.

In this post, we’ll cover the basics of brain optimization through diet ––and check back later this week for advice on exercise and stress management for brain health.

The Brain Diet Checklist

First, let’s start with a questionnaire to assess your current brain diet and what adjustments you might make for mental clarity. We’ve split up your brain diet plan into two phases. Phase 1 focuses on eliminating processed foods and adding foods that improve memory and brain power. Once you’re in a comfortable routine, you’ll elevate your brain food diet to Phase 2, which dives deeper into eating patterns, ketosis, and other biochemical functions.

Phase I:

  1. Have you eliminated processed foods to less than 5% of your diet? Those include: sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed seed and nut oils, white flour, processed salt, and milk.
  2. Have you incorporated brain nutrients like omega-3 rich seafood, green leafy vegetables, and cruciferous vegetables 5-7  times a week?
  3. Have you incorporated five out of the ten brain superfoods into your diet?
  4. Have you switched to all organic foods, eliminating agricultural chemicals that are disrupting the endocrine system and wreak havoc on your hormones?
  5. Are you drinking half your bodyweight in ounces of water a day with a quality spring water source?

Phase II:

  1. Intermittent fasting: are you restricting your calorie intake to a 12 hour eating window?
  2. Are you initiating the day with a protein/fat orchestrated meal?
  3. Are you eating according to the Ketoflex 12-3 diet?
  4. Are you deficient in Vitamin B6, B12, D3, K2, or Vitamin A? Are you deficient in choline or salt/minerals?

Best Foods for Brain Health: Your Grocery List and Go-To Recipes

Optimizing your brain doesn’t have to give you a headache. Here, we’ve written out the best foods for brain health. We’ve even shared a couple of our favorite brain health smoothie recipes that you can try at home.


  • Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
  • Radish
  • Beets
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Squash
  • Yams
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet Potato
  • Red/Green/Orange/Yellow Pepper
  • Tomato
  • Broccoli
  • Prebiotics (Jicama, Onions, Leeks, Miso, Pickled vegetables)


  • Eggs: Farm-Raised Pasteurized  
  • S.M.A.S.H. FISH (Sardines, Mackerel, Anchovies, Salmon, Herring)
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Beans: Organic garbanzo beans are best.  Black, kidney, and white beans work, too.
  • Lentils


  • Avocado Oil
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil  
  • Olives
  • Avocado
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Pecans


  • Cloves
  • Dried Peppermint
  • Star Anise  
  • Turmeric (with black pepper for increased absorption)
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Cinnamon
  • Thyme


  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Wild Blueberries  
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries
  • Cranberries
  • Orange
  • Raspberries
  • Kiwi
  • Plum
  • Cherry
  • Pomegranate


  • Red Wine (before 5pm occasionally and in moderation)
  • Green Tea
  • Organic Black Coffee
  • Yerba Mate


  • Cocoa Powder
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Steel-Cut Oatmeal  

Include fiber and protein to help minimize glucose spikes.

  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Nuts/seeds (walnuts, almonds, pumpkin)

Looking for some brain healthy recipes? We’ve outlined a few of our favorite smoothie recipes below.


Brain Health Smoothie Recipes

Wild Blueberry Citrus Smoothie

1 cup almond milk

  • 1 whole orange, sliced
  • ¾ -1 cup wild blueberries
  • ¼ cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup spinach
  • ⅓ cup cauliflower (frozen or fresh)
  • 3-5 ice cubes
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds


  1. Place cashews into a bowl.  Pour milk over cashews and store overnight in the fridge.  
  1. In the morning, add the cashews and milk into a blender along with the orange, spinach, cauliflower, ice cubes, and chia seeds.  
  1. Blend until creamy.  
  1. Enjoy!  

Blueberry-Lemon Smoothie

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 cup spinach
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 green apple
  • ½ cucumber  
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup water or almond milk
  • ½ tsp. honey or 1 stevia packet

Directions: Toss into a blender and enjoy!  

Green Apple Mint Smoothie

  • 1 cup spinach
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 cucumber
  • Mint
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • Ice cubes and water (until water-like consistency)

Directions: Toss into a blender and enjoy!  

Avocado Berry Smoothie bowl

  • 1 whole avocado
  • 1 cup frozen berries
  • 1/2 cup almond milk or water
  • 1/2 cup almond yogurt
  • 1 packet of Stevia
  • 1 cup spinach
  • After blended, top with sliced almonds, cinnamon, pecans, or walnuts.  

Directions: Throw all into a blender.  You might have to adjust the liquid; the goal here is a thick smoothie consistency.