7 Ways to Boost Your Mood Naturally

Take advantage of mother nature’s mood boosters.

You’d love a little boost of serenity, joy, and happiness, but you’d love to get it naturally. Whether you’re pregnant or are worried about the slippery slope of dependency that can occur with prescription drugs, there are countless reasons to seek out natural remedies.

Natural alternatives to prescription drugs have become increasingly important in recent years. An April 2016 report revealed prescriptions written for benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium tripled between 1996 and 2013. More troubling: Overdoses quadrupled during this same time period. Another popular class of drugs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Zoloft and Lexapro, aren’t as dangerous when it comes to potential for addiction or overdose; however, some patients do experience unpleasant side effects, even on these.

The good news: Recent studies have shown many natural alternatives to not only be effective, but also come with very few side effects. Plus, many options can work alongside existing treatments for those with mental illnesses that do require medication. As always, talk to your prescriber to make sure any natural treatment is safe for you.

1 | Take a high-EPA, low-DHA omega-3 supplement.

EPA and DHA are the two main types of fatty acids, but they each serve different purposes. EPA is your “feel better” omega-3 and it competes for space with DHA, your “think better” omega-3.

Most omega-3 supplements have roughly equal amounts of both, but that won’t boost your mood as powerfully as a high-EPA formula. In fact, an August 2011 study found an omega-3 supplement high in EPA was as effective as prescription antidepressants in treating major depressive disorder. Meanwhile, another study looked at stressed out medical students and found this formula reduced anxiety by 20 percent.

The clinically-effective ratio to look for is 7 to 1 EPA to DHA. In the depression study, the daily dose was a formula containing around 1,000 mg of EPA and about 150 mg of DHA. For the anxiety study, it was double that amount: around 2,000 mg of EPA and about 300 mg of DHA.

Omega-3 supplements are safe for most people, but check with your doctor before taking a supplement because fish oil can have a blood-thinning effect and might not be right for people with bleeding concerns who are already taking a blood thinner, anti-platelet drugs, or ginkgo.

2 | Try light box therapy.

While light boxes have traditionally been used for people with seasonal affective disorder, they’ve been shown to help with non-seasonal dips in mood, as well. Past studies have shown exposure to bright, artificial light can naturally lift levels of the mood-boosting hormone serotonin. In fact, one carefully designed, randomized trial showed that light boxes may even be as powerful as prescription antidepressants. Additionally, light boxes also normalize your melatonin production, which promotes more restful sleep and in turn can benefit your mood, according to a January 2011 study.

Look for a box that has at least 7,500 lux of full-spectrum light, which is necessary to deliver the power and type of light that has these beneficial effects. Use it in the morning for 20 to 60 minutes, but avoid exposure if you’re bipolar, because light boxes can trigger manic episodes.

3 | Practice yogic breathing.

Yogic breathing, also called pranayama, is nearly as effective as prescription antidepressants. In fact, it’s so effective that researchers in a landmark study deemed it an alternative “first line treatment” for acute mental illness. Older studies have found that breath practice can reduce stress hormone levels after just a single session. Yogic breathing even works in the most serious cases of drained brains. One study found that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) – one of the “heaviest hitters” in treating severe mental illness – was only slightly more effective than pranayama for treating patients hospitalized with a mood disorder.

One of the easiest yogic breathing practices is called “diaphragmatic breathing,” which engages your diaphragm at the base of your lungs and the abdominal muscles to empty the lungs powerfully. It may be a little difficult at first, but over time, as the muscle strengthens, the practice will become easier. For beginners, try this lying down with a pillow under your head and one under your knees. Work your way up to employing the same technique while sitting in a chair or standing.

Try yogic breathing: Place one hand on your upper chest and the other hand below your rib cage, over your belly. Inhale through your nose, breathing into the belly so it moves out toward your lower hand. Keep the hand on your chest still. Exhale through your mouth, contracting your abdominal muscles to push all the air out. The hand on the belly should now move toward your body as the lungs fully empty. Repeat with slow and steady inhales and exhales. Practice this for several minutes, a few times a day. As you become stronger, try the advanced version by lying down with a heavy book over your stomach, which will help strengthen the muscles.

This can also be a tool to check in with your mood. When you begin to feel stressed in your daily life, check in with your breath by placing one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Which hand is moving? If it’s the one on your chest, this is a clue that the sympathetic nervous system — your stress response — has become dominant. You can use the diaphragmatic breathing to gently correct this.

4 | Drink turmeric.

An April 2014 study found turmeric — an ancient healing spice that’s the main ingredient in curry — was as effective as prescription antidepressants in treating depression.

Try a turmeric wellness shot daily: Combine half a teaspoon of turmeric and black pepper with an ounce of cold water. For an extra eye-opening boost, toss these two ingredients in a blender with fresh lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and/or ginger.

5 | Eat foods with folate.

Folate, also known as vitamin B9, plays such a large role in mood regulation that it’s now available as a prescription to treat depression. Folate is the B vitamin that helps your brain convert the dietary amino acid tryptophan into the chemical 5-HTP, which is then converted into calming, feel-good serotonin. Knowing that, it’s no wonder low folate has been associated with dips in mood. Folate also supports healthy adrenal function to help you deal with stress.

Instead of taking a pill, get your folate fix by eating a wide variety of vegetables and beans. You may be familiar with folic acid, the synthetic form of folate found in fortified products like cereals and other grains — but most Americans eat far too many carbohydrates, which can drain your brain and cause blood sugar spikes. Meanwhile, the naturally-occurring folate found in vegetables is more effective and better for you. Get more folate from spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale, romaine, mushrooms, asparagus, bananas, melons, lemons, Swiss chard, broccoli, lentils, black beans, kidney beans, and black-eyed peas.

6 | Sip on saffron.

Studies have found the red spice to be as effective as prescription antidepressants in treating mild depression.

Try a bedtime latte: Warm one cup of your favorite type of milk and add half a teaspoon of cinnamon and five threads of saffron.

7 | Work out for 10 minutes.

A November 2015 study found people who were physically fit released a whopping 42 percent less cortisol — aka the stress hormone — throughout the day when compared to people who were unfit, and less stress means a better mood and energy levels.

Lack of time is one of the most common reasons for not exercising regularly, but one method, sprint interval training (SIT), provides the same benefits in just 10 minutes as traditional interval training workouts at 50 minutes. In fact, an April 2016 study found sprint interval training three times a week for 12 weeks afforded sedentary people similar improvements in cardiovascular and metabolic health as those who did traditional interval training.

Specifically, the SIT format involved two minutes of warming up to start and three minutes of cooling down at the end. In the middle were three repetitions of 20 seconds of an “all out” sprint followed by two minutes of light activity.

There’s only one total minute of intense work here — those three 20-second bursts — within the short, 10-minute workout. The research from this study also proves how tiny bursts throughout your day — like taking the stairs after lunch — can have a real effect on your overall health.

28-Day Plan to Stop Cravings

Find out how to stop those pesky cravings with Dr. Mike Dow’s foolproof plan.

Cravings can be your worst enemy when you’re trying to lose weight. And what a lot of people don’t know is that certain foods can fuel cravings even more, making it harder to resist them. Luckily Dr. Mike Dow has a 28-day plan to stop you from craving the foods that make you gain weight. His plan uses techniques that help retrain your brain to desire foods that fill you up and keep you healthy, rather than empty foods that won’t satiate your hunger.

Week One: Swap Out Salt

Salt is one of the worst craving offenders. It plays tricks on your taste buds, raises blood pressure, and generally triggers cravings for unhealthy, sodium-rich foods. Instead of using salt as a seasoning, try any of these other kinds of seasonings as a healthier alternative: black pepper, basil, cilantro, curry, ginger, oregano, paprika, rosemary, sage, or turmeric.

Week Two: Pair “Booster” Snacks With “Pitfall” Snacks

Pitfall snacks are the kinds of foods you can’t get enough of, like chips and chocolate; everyone’s pitfalls are different, so be sure to focus on the foods that make you go overboard. To help wean your brain off of these addictive foods, make sure to have a booster food handy to pair with something you love. This will begin the association between the two, and help make the booster food more palatable. If you start doing this just twice a day, by alternating bites of your pitfall snacks with booster foods, your brain will start to crave the healthy booster foods, too. For a list of booster foods, click here.

Week Three: Replace 3 Pitfall Foods with 3 Booster Foods

Kick the swapping up a notch by moving from snacks to full meals. If you replace pitfall foods, like fried chicken or thick cream sauces, with booster foods, like grilled chicken and sautéed broccoli, your body will become even more used to the booster foods as you work toward eliminating pitfall foods entirely. Try to replace at least one pitfall meal and two pitfall snacks a day.

Week Four: Eat All Booster Meals

This might be the hardest week, as you’ll replace all your meals with booster meals. You can still indulge in one or two pitfalls snacks a day, but chances are the first three weeks of training won’t have you craving the same unhealthy foods you used to love. If you can make it through your final week almost eliminating all pitfall foods, you’ve successfully retrained your brain to crave all things healthy!

5 Natural Ways To Prevent Early Onset Dementia

Research shows your brain starts to noticeably slow down as early as your 40’s, particularly if you do nothing to combat it.

he Brain Fog Fix is about taking better care of your brain to help fight anxiety, depression, brain fog, scatterbrain, and other conditions that are becoming the scary status quo in our country. But it’s also about using simple strategies to help make your life easier, happier, and more fulfilling. It’s all connected: if your brain is in bad shape, chances are the rest of your life is, too.

Here is a clip of me on the Today Show sharing tips on how to cut your chances of dementia by 50%

What Is Brain Fog?

We haze, daze, and wire our brains with caffeine, sugar, starches, electronics, distractions, and unnecessary stress—a recipe virtually guaranteed to disrupt our brain chemistry. And then we rely on short-term Band-Aids like excessive caffeine, antidepressants, sleep aids, and social isolation that ultimately exacerbate our problems.

The good news is that you can reverse these trends and take charge of your brain health without too much difficulty at all. I’ll show you how.

The conventional response to these problems is actually creating even bigger problems. Insomnia makes us tired, so we turn to caffeine and energy drinks, which keep us from sleeping, which in turn lead us to seek over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids. The sleeping pills produce residual drowsiness, so we awaken feeling listless and unfocused and inevitably drink even more caffeine.

Over time, our mood worsens and our brain fogs, so we seek out antidepressants and perhaps some Adderall and yet more caffeine to help improve our focus. Then we need antianxiety meds and that extra glass of wine to calm ourselves down after all the stimulants we’ve ingested. All of these medications create side effects of their own, including weight gain, lowered sex drive, and, in some cases, chemical dependence.

Far too many of us are eating blood sugar–spiking carbohydrates and high omega-6 proteins and fats at every snack and meal, both of which can affect mood and intelligence and even set us up for dementia, which generally first surfaces as brain fog or scatterbrain—problems that we might’ve avoided simply by taking better care of our brains and bodies.

Senior Moments Or Dementia

All sorts of related terms—age-associated memory impairment, subjective cognitive impairment, or, my personal favorite, “senior moments”—refer to that gray area between normal functioning and dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

As baby boomers get older and our life spans lengthen (and as we eat more processed carbs, move less, and gain weight), mild cognitive impairment has seemed to take on epidemic proportions.

Up to 17 percent of people over 65 may have some form of mild cognitive impairment, but what exactly is it? Signs of mild cognitive impairment include difficulty in these areas:

  • Remembering names
  • Finding the correct word
  • Remembering where objects are located
  • Concentrating

Many of these symptoms might not seem all that serious at first glance, so if you’re of a certain age and have had any of these problems, you might be thinking, Well, that doesn’t sound so bad. And even if it is bad, it’s not as if I can do anything about it.

Wrong on both counts.

If you are diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, you are by no means doomed to an eventual Alzheimer’s diagnosis. On the contrary, take it as all the more reason to go on the offensive.

There are so many things you can do to prevent and even reverse age-related types of cognitive decline.

If your memory is going, you can fight to get it back.

We can employ neurogenesis-boosting strategies that keep the hippocampus fit, and potentially even reverse decline that’s already occurring.

Very few cases of Alzheimer’s—only about 10 percent—are inherited.

Take Charge Of Your Aging Brain

In The Brain Fog Fix I explain how we can actually grow new brain cells with some very specific strategies. By targeting two primary brain structures, both of which are involved in learning as well as short- and long-term memory: the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, we can go a long way toward fighting senior moments.

We can also physically increase the thickness of the prefrontal cortex through meditation. This is especially important as the prefrontal cortex begins to shrink in middle adulthood while simultaneously losing dopamine.


1. Never Stop Learning:

The most reliable way to keep your brain sharp is to make learning a lifelong pursuit. Learn when you’re young, and once you’re done with school and in your chosen career, keep on learning. Learning is especially important as you get older, especially after retirement.

Learning is one of the best tools to protect the brain from cognitive decline and senior moments. It’s why people with higher levels of education have fewer senior moments, and why people who speak only one language show symptoms of dementia four years before bilinguals.

So head over to the Learning Annex, or your local library. Download a lecture online. Take up astronomy, or gardening, or any other subject that strikes your fancy.

2. Have Fun:

In addition to learning, staying engaged in leisure activities helps you stimulate your brain. One famous study looked at almost 500 elderly people to examine the relationship between leisure activities and cognitive decline. Reading, playing board games and musical instruments, and dancing all reduced subjects’ risk of cognitive decline. Another study found traveling, gardening, and knitting also have protective effects. Yet another identified activities like reading and playing board games as protective against senior moments. But notably, there was one activity that significantly increased the risk of cognitive decline: watching TV.

While reading reduced the risk of cognitive impairment by about 5 percent, watching TV increased the risk by 20 percent.

So if you want to curtail senior moments, start by watching less TV and doing more gardening, card playing, or traveling.

3. Get Moving:

Exercise is another fun activity that can protect your brain against cognitive decline. Aerobic activity has been shown to promote neurogenesis in the hippocampus. Just the simple act of walking every day might cut the risk of dementia in elderly people in half.

Exercise is also important because it helps reduce belly fat, and carrying excess belly weight can spell bad news for the brain. In one study, people with the most belly fat were three times more likely to develop dementia than those with the least. Even those subjects who did not have excess belly fat but were overweight had an 80 percent increased risk of developing dementia.

Exercise is also an extremely effective natural antidepressant, which becomes doubly important as people get older, since prescription antidepressants can impair cognition. And since older people are more likely to be on other medications—many of which are vital to their health—they should be all the more proactive about employing natural strategies to decrease the total number of pills they take for all conditions.

4. Do the N-Back Task:

The other miracle memory treatment is something called the n-back task which is available in full in The Brain Fog Fix If you’ve ever played the childhood game Concentration, you’ve used a version of this. Most brain training systems and apps like Lumosity and BrainHQ use a version of this as well. But the good news is you don’t need a subscription to use my version.

Unlike strategies that target crystallized intelligence, the knowledge and skills you acquire through life experience (such as expanding your vocabulary through crossword puzzles), the n-back targets your working memory, which tends to decline as you get older.

5. Eat Smart:

Decreasing blood-sugar spikes, shifting from omega-6 to omega-3 proteins and fats, moving from soybean to olive oil, and eating lots of vegetables and legumes high in B vitamins, including folate—will work wonders to prevent senior moments and other forms of cognitive decline.

The Brain Fog Fix Program is, generally speaking, an amped-up version of the Mediterranean diet, which has been associated with a lower risk of mild cognitive impairment. For people who already have mild cognitive impairment, this diet will help prevent a transition from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Build your diet around Mediterranean basics like fish and olive oil.
  • Cut back on processed carbs, choose organic and pasture-raised meats and dairy.
  • Eat a record-breaking seven servings of vegetables and fruits every day.

Let’s Focus On Three: Berries, Fish and Turmeric.


Berries are truly a miracle food for your brain— high in flavonoids as well as fiber, which manages blood-sugar spikes—not to mention being delicious. Eating berries regularly has been shown to slow the progression of cognitive decline by up to 2½ years. Blueberries in particular might even help people overcome genetic predispositions for Alzheimer’s disease. Berries may have the power to reverse age-related decline.

Breakfast Swap: Ditch the orange juice and toast and reach for the slow-burning carbs in blueberries and raspberries. Mix in them in protein shakes with organic milk or unsweetened almond milk, or eat them with stevia and plain Greek yogurt.


We’ve already seen how the omega-3s in fish, DHA and EPA, can improve the functioning of our brain, and this becomes particularly important as we age. One recent study with adults aged 50 to 75 found that verbal fluency, visual tasks, and reading ability all improved with a fish oil supplement. Eating omega-3 superfoods will help ensure that you’re getting enough EPA and DHA.

Dinner Swap: Replace any grain fed meat with wild salmon, farmed rainbow trout or albacore tuna


And then there’s the most miraculous brain-restoring ingredient of all, turmeric. The effects of this miracle spice are quite evident in rural India, where fewer than 1 percent of seniors aged 65 and over have Alzheimer’s disease, compared to about 13 percent in the United States. The reason for this discrepancy is shockingly simple and incredibly inexpensive: it’s because Indians eat a lot of turmeric, a spice used in curry that contains curcumin, which has major anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Turmeric can also enhance neurogenesis in the brain while fighting Alzheimer’s disease–causing plaques. And in addition to making you think better, turmeric will make you feel better, too, possibly increasing serotonin in the brain.

Try to get a little of this magical spice regularly, and eat it with black pepper as the Indians do in curry. That makes it even more powerful because this combo makes the turmeric bioavailable.


1 ounce cold water
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
*While you can just mix the ingredients in a glass, I make this shot in my blender and add fresh ginger, cayenne pepper, and ice to the ingredients.

Making some remarkably simple changes will allow you to rebalance your brain chemistry and tap into your inner reserves of power, joy, and purpose.

Dr. Mike Dow’s Booster Food List

Retrain your brain to stop craving unhealthy foods by incorporating the foods on this list into your diet. Everything on this list is a booster food, hand picked by Dr. Dow to help you on your 28-day journey to stop craving the foods that hinder your weight loss.

Prepare for Dr. Mike Dow’s 28 Day Plan to Stop Cravings by making sure you have this list with you next time you go grocery shopping. Click here for a printable version of this list.

Dr. Mike Dow: Rehab Your Diet in 5 Simple Steps

Addiction expert Dr. Mike Dow, author of “Diet Rehab,” host of TLC’s “Freaky Eaters” and co-host of VH1’s “Couples Therapy,” offers these five steps for getting your diet back on track.

Watch how Dr. Mike Dow’s 28-day “Diet Rehab” plan helped one former plus-size model bring down her weight:

Step 1:  Ask yourself: What am I truly missing in my life? The answer to this question will help you understand what your brain is really hungry for and if you’re low on serotonin, dopamine, or both. If you need more serenity, stability, or happiness in your relationship or job, you may be low on serotonin. If you need less boredom, more adventure, or to feel like you’re living and not just existing, it’s dopamine you need. Sugar and processed carbohydrates provide short-term boosts of serotonin, and high fat foods provide short-term boosts of dopamine. But using soda, pizza, and fries to try and feel better right now will prevent you from getting the serotonin and dopamine you’re craving in the long-run.

Take the full serotonin and dopamine quizzes HERE: 

Step 2:  When you’re craving an unhealthy food today, try adding a serotonin or dopamine booster activity. The serenity of a 10 minute walk in the middle of a busy work day will give you a sustainable boost of serotonin you would have gotten from that candy bar or soda. And the vitality you’ll get from reconnecting with an old friend will give you the same boost of dopamine you would have gotten from those potato chips or fries.

Other serotonin booster activities could include cuddling with your significant other or a pet, joining a support group, listening to classical music, doing errands on foot, or looking into someone’s eyes when you’re talking to them. Dopamine booster activities include asking a special someone on a date, cooking something you’ve never made before, getting eight hours of sleep tonight, attending a bootcamp-style fitness class, or hitting the playground with the kids. Come up with your own booster activities to start to change your brain chemistry here and now.

Step 3:  Eat more food to lose more weight! Now that you realize what you’re adding to your life is more important than what you’re taking away, eat more booster foods today. Booster foods are healthy foods that give your brain a slow, steady release of serotonin or dopamine while staying in your stomach about twice as long as those unhealthy pitfall foods. You’ll feel fuller, longer. This makes it easier to choose even more booster foods throughout the day.

Serotonin booster foods like high fiber cereal, whole fruit, or high fiber pasta and veggies in marinara sauce give you this chemical associated with happiness and peace in a healthy way. Dopamine booster foods like green tea, grilled chicken, or Greek yogurt give you a steady boost of this feel-good chemical associated with motivation, productivity, and vigor.

Step 4:  Start cutting down on the number of pitfall foods you eat every day. The best way to do this is using booster food swaps. Here are some of my favorite swaps: Vitamin Water Zero instead of diet soda, coffee with skim milk instead of a latte, whole oranges instead of orange juice, soda water instead of tonic water, balsamic vinegar and olive oil instead of Caesar dressing, Szechuan chicken instead of orange chicken, sashimi and edamame instead of a spicy tuna roll, salsa instead of guacamole, hummus instead of peanut butter, pepper instead of salt, mustard instead of mayonnaise, or a 6? turkey sub on whole wheat instead of the roast beef on white. You’ll find even more booster food swaps in Diet Rehab. Long-term, sustainable weight loss is not about depriving yourself. It’s about getting what you need in the long-run. Weight loss is not a sprint. It’s a marathon, and the race is only with yourself.

Step 5:  Keep your momentum going by maintaining these new rituals. Diet Rehab is a 28-day program because it takes about a month for a habit to form in the human brain. When you are adding healthier booster foods and activities every day for 28 days, these choices start to require less conscious effort. If you’ve ever found yourself driving home when you meant to stop at the store on the way home from work, you understand the unconscious principle that will now help you to make these healthier rituals an easy part of your daily life. Set yourself up for success by surrounding yourself with people who support you in these rituals, not keeping pitfall foods in the house, and building your day around the booster activities that help you to feel good and look great.

How to beat midlife brain fog

It’s a cruel scientific fact that our brains start to slow down past 40. But a brilliant new book reveals how to beat the inevitable slump

  • It can be frightening to accept that ageing means a decline in brainpower
  • Lots of stress and not exercising can negatively affect brain chemicals
  • Dr Mike Dow advises on how best to keep your brain sharp and alert

Whether your first bit of brain fog appears as a ditsy episode of forgetfulness, or a few ‘senior moments’ when you can’t quite put a finger on a friend’s name, it can be frightening to accept that an element of mental decline is largely inevitable with age.

Research shows our brains start to noticeably slow by the time we reach 40, and up to 17 per cent of people over 65 will end up with some form of mild cognitive impairment, such as occasional difficulties concentrating, finding the correct word, focusing, or remembering where on earth we’ve put the car keys.

Episodes of feeling grumpy, miserable or anxious are extremely common in middle age, too, and the truth is that between 6 and 15 per cent of patients who meet the criteria for ‘mild cognitive impairment’ will go on to develop full dementia. But this doesn’t have to happen. New research suggests that brain fog – that huge grey area between normal functioning and the dreaded dementia or Alzheimer’s disease – may, in fact, be reversible.

As a psychotherapist, I have studied the complexities of the brain for years, and I am convinced the way we eat, sleep, work and live has a profound effect.

The brain relies on a complex symphony of chemicals to keep mood in check and to function properly, but if you disturb that balance you can very swiftly become depressed, unable to sleep and too worked-up to concentrate properly.

If you are eating the wrong foods, getting insufficient exercise or sleep, overindulging in social media and TV, having too much stress and too little downtime, you will almost certainly be destabilising the levels of three crucial brain chemicals.

They are serotonin (which helps you feel calm, serene, optimistic and self-confident), dopamine (responsible for making you feel excited, motivated, and energised) and the stress hormone, cortisol (which revs you up into a high gear when you need it).

Also, I can’t emphasise enough the importance of omega-3s. They are the best fats for your brain because they prevent inflammation – the key, we now know, to cognitive function and warding off depression, stress and anxiety
But you really can reverse these trends and take charge of your brain health in as little as two weeks if you remove the blocks that keep you stuck and give your brain the materials it needs to operate effectively.

Here’s how…


A good supply of healthy fats in your diet can help you feel, and think, better.

Enjoy plenty of olive oil (packed with anti-inflammatory compounds, found in some studies to prevent Alzheimer’s and depression) and oily fish, and choose organic meat if you can.

  • Choose organic: factory-farmed meats tend to be higher in omega-6 fats (which can feed the harmful brain-dulling inflammatory process in our bodies) whereas organic meat and dairy tends to be naturally higher in anti-inflammatory, brain-healthy omega-3s.
  • Think of fish as prevention and treatment for your addled brain. Studies show just six months of fish-oil supplements is enough to improve verbal fluency.
  • Pick extra virgin olive oil for salad dressings and plain olive oil for cooking – virgin olive oil isn’t stable at high temperatures.
  • Avoid soyabean oil – it’s packed with unhelpful omega-6 fats.


Artificial sweeteners might be saving you a few calories but they cannot give your brain the nutrients it needs for optimal performance. Your brain needs a readily available supply of blood sugar to keep it running, and sweeteners deprive it of this.

Worse, sweeteners have been shown to disrupt the levels of good bacteria in the gut, so disrupting production of the happy-hormone serotonin (much of which is manufactured in the gut).


Scaling down social media use and electronics will boost your ability to focus and concentrate.

Facebook likes, Twitter retweets, Snapchat pics and Instagram followers exert an addictive pull – all those lights, dings and ads scrolling across the screen give our brains a tiny hit of dopamine – just as it would for a compulsive gambler sitting in front of a slot machine.

  • Turn off your phone or its ringer as often as possible and don’t leave it charging in your bedroom so it doesn’t disturb your sleep (even subconsciously). Aim to have one full day of the weekend completely phone free.
  • Dump the Kindle at night and read books instead.
  • Cut back on multi-tasking – focus on doing one thing at a time and give that all your attention. This can be a powerful antidote to the barrage of distractions of social media.


Engaging in leisure activities helps stimulate the brain: studies show that reading, playing board games and musical instruments, dancing, travelling, knitting and gardening all reduce risk of cognitive decline and protect you against senior moments.

But TV does the opposite – studies show watching TV increases your risk of cognitive impairment by 20 per cent (whereas reading reduces it by 5 per cent).


One alcoholic drink per day (two for men) may help keep toxins out of the brain, reducing your risk of dementia by as much as 23 per cent. The benefits hold for all types of alcohol, but studies show wine, particularly red wine, works best.

The red grape skin is rich in a potent antioxidant called resveratrol, and among red wines, pinot noir has very high levels.
If you prefer a lighter drink, try champagne – research suggests the phenolic acid it contains may prove a powerful weapon to help you think better.

A glass of red wine with dinner may lessen blood-sugar spikes by preventing intestinal glucose absorption and reducing your liver’s production of glucose. Red wine appears to be more effective in this regard than white

But don’t go crazy: heavy drinking (defined as more than three to four drinks per day) is associated with increased risk of dementia.

“One alcoholic drink per day (two for men) may help keep toxins out of the brain, reducing your risk of dementia by as much as 23 per cent”


Turmeric contains a plant compound called curcumin, which has major anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and increases levels of a protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotropic factor) which has been dubbed ‘Miracle Gro’ for the brain.

And in addition to making you think better, turmeric will make you feel better, too, possibly increasing serotonin in the brain.

Studies show that for fighting Alzheimer’s disease, low doses of turmeric over a long period of time are more effective than very high doses.

So rather than relying on an occasional Indian takeaway for your turmeric fix, aim to eat one food containing turmeric with a grind of fresh black pepper (which makes the turmeric more easily absorbed by the body) every day. Just add a teaspoon of turmeric to soups, stews and salad dressings.

Saffron, another common ingredient in curry, can also inhibit Alzheimer’s disease and the carnosic acid in the common herb rosemary may also boost your brain health (the scent alone can improve memory) while sage has been shown to improve word recall.


You may be slipping unconsciously into negative thought patterns. Spot which ones you engage in the most – simply identifying the pitfall is a step in the right direction – and aim to reduce the following mental blocks that could be dulling your brain:

  • Personalisation: Assuming that something is happening because of you. (‘I didn’t get that job because I’m not smart enough.’)
  • Pervasiveness: Allowing a problem to invade all parts of your life. (‘I have a headache – might as well call in sick to work today.’)
  • Paralysis-analysis: Getting stuck in your own thoughts. (‘Why couldn’t I remember where I put my keys last night? What does it mean? What will I do if this keeps happening?’)
  • Pessimism: Always believing the worst about everything. (‘I felt foggy this morning – I must be getting dementia.’)
  • Polarisation: Seeing everything as either/or, black/white, yes/no. (‘My boss didn’t respond well to my presentation, I might as well quit.’)
  • Psychic: Feeling sure you know what another person is thinking. (‘I know she’s never liked me anyway.’)
  • Permanence: Using the past or present to judge the future. (‘I’m never going to get over this divorce.’)

Instead, aim to do something new each day that gives you a sense of pleasure, productivity, power, pride, passion, peace or purpose.


Studies suggest an ageing brain is more thoughtful and more social


As well as boosting learning, mood and creativity, sleep acts as the brain’s ‘self-cleaning’ cycle to prevent brain fog and get rid of the plaques between nerve cells that cause Alzheimer’s.

A good night’s sleep can improve alertness and strengthen the brain’s connections, helping you consolidate the memories you encoded during the day.

Poor sleep, however, leads to raised levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, and lowers dopamine levels, leaving you unhappy, unmotivated and unfocused.

Do whatever you can to get eight hours of restful sleep per night and keep it constant:

  • Go to bed by 11pm and wake by 7am to maximise your natural light exposure.
  • Aim to eat seafood as often as possible – the omega-3 fats it contains support the production of the hormone melatonin, which promotes restful sleep.
  • Grab a nap mid-afternoon if you need to – set aside 40 minutes (as it may take 20 minutes to fall asleep).
  • Re-set your natural rhythms by exposing your eyes to bright light as soon as you wake up. Draw the curtains, turn on the lights or go outside immediately.


Consider coffee (without sugar or milk) a health food that can help protect against cognitive decline and prevent dementia and depression.

Try espresso macchiato (black coffee with a little foamed milk) or espresso over ice with a splash of soya milk. Both under 50 calories with no spike to blood-sugar levels. Enjoy three cups per day.

Extracted by Louise Atkinson from The Brain Fog Fix, by Dr Mike Dow, published by Hay House, price £12.99. Offer price £10.39 (20 pc discount), until October 19.

Order at www.mailbookshop.co.uk, P&P is free on orders over £12.


The ideal brain-fog-clearing diet keeps junk food and carbohydrate intake low.

Blood-sugar rushes and crashes can leave us feeling foggy, listless, anxious and depressed.

Worse, a high-carb diet can lead to a condition called insulin resistance (where your cells don’t respond as they should to the metabolic demands of the hormone insulin) which has been linked to memory problems and dementia.

So replace high-sugar, quick-release carbs with ‘complex’ slow-burn carbohydrates such as whole grains and vegetables that contain mood-boosting amino acids.

Here are some simple swaps . ..

  • Opt for an ‘open sandwich’ with plenty of nutritious filling piled on just one slice of wholemeal bread, not two.
  • At the sandwich shop, ask for your bread roll to be hollowed out to cut your carb intake in half.
  • When ordering pizza, choose thin crust rather than carb-heavy deep dish, share one pizza with friends and fill-up on a large salad first.
  • Eat veg raw or lightly cooked to maximise the fibre’s blood-sugar-blocking capabilities
  • n enjoy wholemeal pasta (occasionally) but only undercooked – eaten ‘al dente’ it takes longer to digest and keeps your blood sugar levels stable.
  • Drink black tea with your lunch (it reduces the amount of glucose that is absorbed into the gut).
  • Use large crisp lettuce leaves in place of bread for sandwiches and wraps.
  • Mash a tin of butter beans (packed with fibre and nutrients) instead of quick-release potato.
  • Switch white bread, rolls, pitta and wraps for wholemeal which can provide more naturally occurring fibre.
  • Swap spaghetti for courgetti (spiralised courgette – or just use a vegetable peeler to create thick ribbons), or change to no-carb noodles.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon (which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties) in your coffee instead of sugar.