The most important meal of the day—for preventing dementia

In my new online learning protocol, the Complete Alzheimer’s Cure, I discuss the top, science-backed natural approaches you can take for better brain health.

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Of course, that includes your diet. And now, new research shows that foods we typically associate with breakfast may be among your best defenses against dementia and cognitive decline.

In fact, it appears two popular breakfast beverages—and one food that should be more popular—can not only give you a great start on your day, but also put you well on your way to long-lasting brain health.

3 cups of coffee a day can help keep you mentally sharp

I’ve reported before about how many studies show a link between caffeine and brain health. And now, a large new study provides even more evidence.

Researchers looked at the coffee consumption of more than 6,000 older women who participated in the influential Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study.1

Back in the mid-1980s, I helped organize the original Women’s Health Initiative, initially to study breast cancer.

Through my work at the National Cancer Institute, I recruited scientists at a dozen clinical research centers around the country. Then, I added researchers from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to study heart disease, and the National Institutes of Aging to study osteoporosis and other diseases. Real clinical researchers “outside the Beltway” were anxious to participate.

It was obvious to me that we could save the taxpayers a lot of money by sharing research resources among the bureaucracies of the National Institutes of Health. And we could begin to overcome a persistent lack of scientific data about women’s health (talk about a real “war on women”).

But I quickly learned I had stepped on too many careerists’ toes by actually showing some cost efficiency and scientific leadership among these self-interested political-science bureaucrats.

They abruptly cut back on my efforts to create new, efficient research collaborations—but not before they glommed onto my idea of a national Women’s Health Initiative to study overall health among women, rather than just individual diseases.

That initiative has been a long-lasting contributor to new information about women’s health—including the new caffeine and dementia study.

Researchers analyzed the caffeine consumption of 6,467 women, ages 65 and older, for up to 10 years. During that time, 388 of those women were diagnosed with probable dementia.

But the researchers discovered that the study participants who consumed an above-average amount of caffeine (261 mg per day) were 25% less likely to develop dementia…or any cognitive impairment.

So how much is 261 mg of caffeine? Well, a cup of coffee has an average of 95 mg, so three cups a day would give you the same protection as the women in the study. This dovetails with other research showing that three to four cups of coffee a day offers both short-term and long-term support of brain health, and protection against dementia.

What a simple—and completely natural—solution for the Alzheimer’s epidemic. Just two cups of coffee a day with breakfast, and another when you start to flag in the afternoon, and you’ve lowered your risk of dementia by 25%.

Give your brain some juice

While the caffeine study showed brain benefits in women, another study found that orange juice boosts brain health in men.2

The study involved 24 healthy men, ages 30 to 65. The men were divided into two groups. One group drank 8 ounces of orange juice a day for two days, while the other group drank a placebo beverage.

The men’s cognitive function was measured both before and after they drank the juice or placebo. The researchers discovered that the juice drinkers had significant improvements in their attention span, task-management skills, memory, and visual-motor coordination.

And the amazing part is that these benefits were apparent up to six hours after the men drank a glass of OJ.

Orange juice (and other citrus juices) contains plant compounds called flavanones. The researchers believe these compounds may increase blood flow to the brain, which helps improve mental function.

The flavanones found in coffee and cocoa can also produce the same effects. And anthocyanins, which are chemical cousins of flavanones, may have even more impressive brain-health benefits.

Blueberries and grapes are rich in anthocyanins. Of course, grapes are the primary ingredients in red wine, which has been shown to have brain benefits when consumed in moderation. And, as I’ve written many times before, there’s plenty of evidence that a handful of blueberries may be the most potent brain-booster of all.

In season, eat a handful of blueberries every day. Year-round, you can add powdered, water-soluble blueberry extracts to your OJ.

There’s nothing fishy about brain-healthy seafood for breakfast

A new Chinese study shows that the omega-3 DHA, which is found in fish oil, can prevent cognitive impairment—and even increase IQ—in older adults.3

The study involved 240 people, ages 65 or older, with mild cognitive impairment. They were divided into two groups. One group received 2 grams per day of a DHA supplement, while the other took a corn oil placebo supplement.

After six months, the DHA group had a 10% improvement in their IQ. And they had a significant increase in their long- and short-term memory.

You can get DHA from high-quality fish oil supplements. Or you can go straight to the food source.

One of the traditional breakfast foods in many countries is cold-water fish like whitefish and salmon, or “kippers” or herring in the U.K. and North Sea countries.

These fish provide a delicious way to get your daily DHA and essential fatty acids. And the salmon and whitefish are typically consumed with lettuce, tomato, onions, chives, or capers, which provide other health benefits.

Make the smart breakfast choice

It sounds like you can’t miss with the right breakfast. You can start with a couple cups of coffee or cocoa (dark, no sugar added). Add a glass of orange or grapefruit juice. (You can mix in your daily dose of liquid vitamin D3, and blueberry extract, for even more brain benefits.)

Of course, combining some of the natural acids in coffee and in orange juice may not be ideal for your gastric system. That’s why it’s important to avoid a completely liquid breakfast.

But by adding some whitefish or salmon to multigrain toast or a bagel with cream cheese, tomato, onion, and chives, you will neutralize those stomach acids while getting the all-important DHA you need for brain health. Throw in a handful of blueberries for even more benefits for your body and brain.

If you are not hungry enough for a real balanced meal early in the morning, wait until you are hungry and have a healthy mid-morning brunch, or even an early lunch.

Bottom line: The right way to start your day is also the natural way to prevent dementia and support brain health.


1“Relationships Between Caffeine Intake and Risk for Probable Dementia or Global Cognitive Impairment: The Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study.” J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2016 Dec;71(12):1596-1602.

2“Flavonoid-rich orange juice is associated with acute improvements in cognitive function in healthy middle-aged males.” Eur J Nutr (2016) 55: 2021.

3Effects of DHA Supplementation on Hippocampal Volume and Cognitive Function in Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment: A 12-Month Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” J Alzheimers Dis. 2016 Oct 1.