Ultimate guide

How to Get Rid of Brain Fog

If you’ve ever experienced the sensation of walking into a room and forgetting why and how you got there, then you’ve experienced brain fog. Brain fog is defined as impaired cognitive function that may cause symptoms of forgetfulness, mental sluggishness, the inability to mentally process at a normal rate, forgetting words while speaking, and an overall feeling of not being able to fully grasp what is going on around you.

This phenomenon is usually recurring and can be triggered by extreme fatigue and lack of sleep, stress, standing for long periods of time, or it may seem to affect you out of nowhere. Sometimes, brain fog is a symptom of bigger issues brewing beneath the surface. (Source, Source)

At WellTheory, we specialize in helping individuals overcome brain fog and regain mental clarity. Our tailored and expert guidance can empower you to reclaim your cognitive abilities and thrive. Take the first step towards a sharper mind and improved cognitive function. Learn more about our membership and start your journey to clarity today.

Causes of Brain Fog

Talk of what brain health is and how to achieve it has been on the rise in recent years, especially since COVID-19 swept through the nation. A common symptom among long COVID sufferers has been the complaint of lack of normal brain function after being sick. COVID-19 has been shown to cause brain inflammation and change how some brain cells act and respond. Data is sticky here considering it is still genuinely fresh, but it cannot be denied that many who have long-term side effects from COVID-19 list brain fog as a top complaint.

Who Is Affected By Brain Fog?

Besides COVID-19, brain fog may also also affect those with:

  • postural tachycardia sundrome (POTS)
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • lupus
  • autism disorders
  • fibromyalgia
  • mastocytosis

Ultimately, anyone who may have poor, chronic lifestyle habits that could ultimately lead to disease developing, could be at risk of triggering symptoms of brain fog. (Source, Source, Source)

What Are Lifestyle Habits And How Do They Affect Brain Fog?

Lifestyle habits are those repetitive rituals we do that evolve into a routine over time. Think of brushing your teeth, showering, and going to work, all repetitive acts we do without giving much thought. Considering how lifestyle habits affect our overall wellness, we can expand further into the broader topics of hydration, movement, and stress, as these habits largely impact our inflammatory status. Research has shown that unhealthy daily life habits have the ability to cause a neuroinflammatory response that may result in brain fog symptoms as we continue the ongoing negative patterns day after day. Breaking negative habits and establishing healthy, daily routines can clear up a whole slew of issues with consistent diligence. (Source, Source)

Is Brain Fog a Mental Illness?

The condition of neuroinflammation itself is not a mental illness, but systemic chronic inflammation is a risk factor that increases the chance of developing a chronic disease later on in life. The leading cause of disability and death worldwide is caused by chronic inflammatory diseases, some of which may have been prevented by healthy lifestyle habits. Research shows that your environment impacts your state of health, and small changes to such can make big impacts on your health status overtime. Reduce systemic inflammation by consciously making healthy choices each day. (Source, Source)

Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Brain Fog

Protecting your brain from cognitive dysfunction and decline is possible by adding in healthy and sustainable habits to your daily routine little by little. Inflammation can be helpful for healing purposes if you have sustained a traumatic event or injury, but long-term chronic inflammation can be quite damaging to your function and well-being. Read on for 7 healthy habits to prevent and get rid of brain fog. (Source)

01 Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Food affects how we think, feel, and exist. The more intuitive and in tune with your body you are, the more likely you are to make healthier choices. Food is a powerful weapon that maybe used one of two ways: as a form of medicine, or as a very slow poison. The positive effects of a nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory diet such as the AIP diet are endless and may include healthy gut bacteria, balanced hormones, halting unhealthy gene expression and activity, and of course reducing systemic chronic inflammation that drives brain fog.

Steer clear of foods that cause inflammation, which include:

  • Refined carbohydrates and gluten: white bread, pasta, baked goods, etc.
  • Fried foods
  • Fake sugars and sweeteners found in sodas, juices, teas, and other beverages
  • Any foods you are aware of that cause you to react in a way that reflects food intolerance or sensitivity

Include foods in your diet to fight brain fog symptoms such as:

  • Healthy fats: ghee, coconut oil, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, almonds, and walnuts
  • Leafy green veggies: spinach, kale, collard greens
  • A variety of colorful fruits and veggies

(Source, Source, Source)

02 Balance Blood Sugar

Keeping a close eye on blood sugar isn’t just for diabetics. Studies have shown that regulation of blood sugar impacts how our brain functions in response to glucose levels. The brain relies on glucose as its main energy source, so any sort of disturbance, such as dysregulated blood sugar going too high or too low on a consistent basis, may be cause for impaired brain function.Include balanced meals on a consistent basis each day that include whole foods with high quality sources of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, as well as phytonutrients.

Next Steps to Balance Your Blood Sugar:

  • Healthy and balanced sources of carbohydrates and phytonutrients include a wide range of diverse and colorful fruits and vegetables
  • Limit processed and packaged foods and refined sugars and carbohydrates. Paying close attention to not only what you are eating but also how often, will help keep your blood sugar stabilized.
  • If you struggle in this area, ask your health care provider about using a continuous glucose monitor to get first-hand information on how food may be affecting you.

(Source, Source)

03 Stay Hydrated

Drinking water is important to support the function of your body and sustain the health of all your organs. Your brain is a pretty crucial organ you want to keep in good health, and it requires hydration for optimal cognition, quality of sleep, and mood. Research has shown that the effects of dehydration on your beautiful 3-pound brain may be a cause of decreased cognitive ability.More specifically, when you are dehydrated you will need to work harder mentally to achieve simple tasks than when you are hydrated.

If you have a hard time drinking enough water during your busy day, check out our quick tips to help you reach your hydration goals and achieve clear-headedness:

Daily Hydration Tips

  • Leave a glass of water next to your bed at night so it is there for you to drink first thing in the morning, before you even get out of bed.
  • Have a water bottle handy with time markers on it (like this one) to help you reach your goals every hour.

Modifying how much fluid you drink daily may be necessary depending on your level of movement, stress from infections or illness, or a hot or humid environment. And of course, if you are pregnant or nursing you may need an increased amount of fluids to function well.

(Source, Source, Source)

04 Supplement with Nootropics

Supplementing for brain health in addition to a consistent routine that includes a healthy diet and adequate hydration can go a long way in supporting mental clarity. Nootropics, brain performance enhancers, have been said to improve memory, attention, and learning, especially in those who suffer from brain inflammation. The word nootropic comes from the Greek words noos and tropein which mean to guide thinking. These cognitive enhancers are tolerated well and excite the brain to assist the neurotransmitters in firing more efficiently, resulting in less haziness and more productivity. (Source)

Nootropics encompass a diverse and broad class of medicine that crosses the blood–brain barrier, meaning the effects of these substances quite literally reach the brain. Vitamin B12 and L-theanine are two powerful nutrients that can alter the way you think. (Source)

Supplement with B12

B12 is needed for the proper functioning of the central nervous system and can be found in food sources such as fish, meat, poultry, and eggs. Some may have trouble absorbing this vitamin in the gut from diet alone due to methylation issues, or the process in which your body breaks down and distributes this vitamin. Supplementing with a more easily absorbable sublingual B12 may be helpful. (Source)

Supplement with L-Theanine

L-theanine is a plant compound found in green tea and helps to calm the mind without inducing sleepiness, so you can ride the waves of calm yet still be productive. This plant compound really increases focus and alertness — give it a try and see what you think! (Source)

05 Engage in Daily Movement

No matter your age or what physical limitations you may have, daily movement can benefit your neurological health. Movement should include activities you enjoy that improve muscle strength and balance, increase energy and feel-good hormones, help you sleep more deeply, and feel better overall.Daily movement improves all aspects of your health and fights inflammation on a large scale. As you’re moving, you’re helping the glial cells in the brain release toxins and form new neural pathways that provide protection against neurological disease. Glial cells are a part of the glymphatic system, the central nervous system’s version of the body’s lymphatic system, necessary to clean out the buildup of old debris and waste in the brain. Exercising can include so many varying sports and activities— check out our list of movement options (ranging from low intensity to high intensity) to get your lymphatic system flowing and get some fresh air! (Source, Source, Source)

Movement Options

  • biking
  • swimming
  • dancing
  • skiing
  • yoga
  • pilates
  • tai chi
  • walking
  • jogging
  • rowing
  • tennis
  • soccer
  • gardening

Movement may look different as you fit it to your schedule and needs each day. Even cleaning the house or chasing after your little ones is energy-expending! So give yourself grace and find ways to incorporate enjoyable movement into your day. Simply come up with a plan to make it part of your happy and healthy brain routine!

06 Support Circadian Rhythms

Have you ever noticed feeling not only physically but also mentally unbalanced when you don’t get enough sleep? Your mind never completely shuts off, but it does need to rest and reset daily to function well neurologically and reduce inflammation. We are equipped with our own internal biological clocks, referred to as circadian rhythms, that dictate when we wake, are alert, and sleep in a 24 hour period. There are habits we can develop to support our circadian rhythms, as well as habits that do not. During sleep, our brains flush out toxic waste that has built up while we are awake. This time of mental purging is quite necessary. If you struggle to sleep well at night here are some tips to improve your rest as well as support your circadian rhythm:

  • Keep a consistent daily routine as best you can. This can include eating around the same times each day, a regular bedtime routine, and rising each morning around the same time.
  • Keep a regular bedtime routine that includes turning off electronics, (televisions, computers, phones, anything with artificial blue light) at least an hour before bed as well as keeping your room cool and dark, and finishing meals and snacks at least 2 hours before hitting the hay.
  • Manage how often you’re exposed to artificial blue light by not only turning off electronics before bed but by wearing blue light blocking glasses while on the computer or phone, and turning on the blue light blocker for your phone screen if it has one. Try getting some natural light in your eyes in the morning by going outside for a few moments. Managing to get more natural light in your eyes during the day and less artificial light at night will help reset those rhythms over time.

(Source, Source, Source, Source)

07 Find Productive Ways to Manage Stress

Last but not least, stress management will conclude our list of how to get rid of brain fog. Stress plays an important role in your overall health as the development of stress related disease has continued to rise over the years. The relationship between stress and inflammation is similar to the chicken and egg phenomenon in terms of what came first, and as they both play off of each other. Mild stress can be positive (it even has a name: eustress) and is necessary to promote growth and health in terms of meeting a deadline, exercising, or forcing us to think quickly or run away to stay safe. Chronic stress is when our system is constantly under attack, and inflammation stops being protective and starts being damaging.Managing your stress in today’s world is difficult but necessary to protect brain health. If you’re wondering how you can reduce stress here are some tips and behaviors to adopt:

  • Try breathing exercises. Try the 4-7-8 method that was created by Dr. Andrew Weil. To begin, breathe in through your nose for four counts, hold the breath for 7 counts, and finally exhale out of your mouth for 8 counts. This can be practiced daily to train your body’s response to stress.\
  • Practice yoga. Find a free class online or visit one in person with a friend, and stick with it. Yoga practice incorporates deep breathing techniques as well, so you will be checking off multiple stress reducing tips at once.
  • Stay hydrated. Refer back to #3 on this list of why drinking water is important in neurological function and how to make it a habit.
  • Engage in daily movement. Refer back to #5 on this list of why daily movement is important in neurological function and how to make it a habit.
  • Make time to meditate. Find a quiet spot, get in a comfortable position, chill out with some breathing exercises for a few minutes, and simply be.
  • Get a massage. Find a professional you are comfortable with (or enlist your partner) so you can relax those muscles and make space within to breathe comfortably.
  • Go outside. Refer back to #6 on how to support your circadian rhythms, but also take a few moments to head outside no matter the weather and get some exercise, read a book, or simply play fetch with your pup.

(Source, Source, Source, Source, Source)

The Relationship Between Sleep Deprivation and Brain Fog

We know that sleep is important for whole body health, but it is essential if you have autoimmune disease. Poor sleep, extreme fatigue, and not feeling rested after sleeping for long periods of time are all symptoms associated with an autoimmune diagnosis. However, there is some confusion in knowing if your sleep issues are contributing to your disease or are caused by it. Excessive sleep may not always be restful and restorative, but may instead lead to lack of mental clarity.Fatigue has been linked to excess inflammation, which increases the chance of immune system dysregulation. The lack of restorative rest over time may increase your risk of developing an autoimmune disorder later in life. Protect yourself and keep track of your sleep and wake cycles, supporting your circadian rhythms with the tips mentioned above. If you continue to feel greatly fatigued after full nights of sleep and notice additional indicators of autoimmune disease, do not hesitate to reach out to a practitioner who can help. (Source, Source)

How to Get Rid of Brain Fog for Good

Clear thinking can belong to us all. Mental haziness can be a symptom of one or several underlying system imbalances, but paying close attention to your daily habits can bring this issue to an end as well as protect you from it happening in the future.

We all have off days, but protecting your smartest organ from mental decline is possible by adopting thehealthy lifestyle habits mentioned above:

  • eating an anti-inflammatory diet
  • balancing your blood sugar
  • staying hydrated
  • supplementing with nootropics
  • incorporating movement
  • supporting your circadian rhythms
  • getting good sleep
  • managing stress on a consistent basis

A good first step to getting rid of brain fog may be to follow an anti-inflammatory diet such as the autoimmune protocol. If you have been following this style of eating for some time and made lifestyle changes that have not impacted the status of your brain fog, or if you suspect it is autoimmune in nature, WellTheory’s Care Team can provide you personalized nutrition and lifestyle support that provides relief from brain fog and other autoimmune symptoms you may be experiencing.

Tips & Tricks

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The Ultimate Guide To Phytonutrients

Lycopene is the phytochemical that gives fruits and vegetables their red color. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties that protect the body from oxidative stress. Lycopene has also been found to decrease “bad” low density lipoprotein (LDL) and increase “good” high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

Lycopene may also protect the skin against ultraviolet (UV) damage from the sun. One small study found that participants who added 16milligrams of lycopene to their diet every day had less severe skin reactions to UV light over 10 weeks than a control group without the added lycopene. (Of course, consumption of lycopene-rich foods doesn’t replace sunscreen!)

AIP-Compliant Red Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
Blood Orange
flavonoids, hesperidin, isohesperidin, limonene, limonin, lycopene, naringin, terpenio
anthocyanin, flavonoids, hydro-xycinnamates
anthocyanin, catechins, ellagic acid, hippuric acid, kaempferol, lycopene, triterpenoids, quercetin, quinic acid
beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, polyphenois
anthocyanin, cyanidin, ellagic acid, lycopene
Red Grape
anthocyanin, cyanidin, ellagic acid, flavonols, kaempferol, lycopene, myricetin, peonidin, quercetin, resveratrol
Pink Guava
alkaloids, ellagic acid, lycopene
Red/Pink Grapefruit
beta cryptoxanthin, lycopene, naringin, narirutin, ponciri
Red Onion
copaene, flavonols, lycopene, polysulfides, quercetin, vinyldithiins
Red Beet
betacyanin, flavonoids, lycopene, phenolic acids
Other Red Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
beta-carotene, kaempferol, lycopene, rutin
Red Bell Pepper
anthocyanin, capsaicinoid, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin
beta-carotene, canthaxanthin, lycopene, tocopherols
Red Potato
alpha linoleic acid, anthocyanin, flavonoids, polyphenols, tocopherols
beta-carotene, lycopene, zeaxanthin

Ways to incorporate more red foods into your diet

  • Add red-colored fruits and vegetables to salads.
  • Opt for red pasta sauces made from tomatoes instead of carbonara or Alfredo sauce. Red sauces can also be used as toppings for other dishes!
  • Have salsa as a dip alongside tortilla chips or eggs, or on top of potatoes.
  • Make a juice using lycopene-rich foods.
  • Add some goji berries to your chrysanthemum, chamomile, or any other tea.

Phytonutrients in Orange Foods

Carotenoids are responsible for yellow, orange, and red color in many fruits and vegetables. Research suggests that one carotenoid in particular, beta-carotene, may protect against decline in lung function. A study done in 2017 also suggested that eating fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene ,and beta-cryptoxanth in had protective effects against lung cancer.
Like lycopene, dietary intake of beta-carotene has protective effects against diseases that are mediated by oxidative stress, such as diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. High levels of alpha carotene are associated with longevity — one large U.S. study found that high levels of alpha-carotene in the blood were linked with a reduced risk of death over a 14 year period. Aside from its antioxidant effects, the carotenoid beta-cryptoxanthin may prevent bone loss and may have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties.

AIP-Compliant Orange Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
beta-carotene, lycopene, rutin, tartaric acid
Butternut Squash
alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, phenolic acids, zeaxanthin
beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, gallic acid, kaempferol, lutein, zeaxanthin
alpha-carotene, beta-carotenes, beta-cryptoxanthin, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, lycopene
Mandarin Oranges
alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, flavonoids, lutein, zeaxanthin
beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-glucogallin, ellagicacid, quercetin
beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, flavonoids, hesperidin, isohesperidin, naringin, terpineol, limonene, limonin
beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin
alpha-carotene, anthocyanidins, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, phenolic acids, rutin
beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, catechin, kaempferol, proanthocyanidins, quercetin, triterpenoid
alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, phenolic acids, phytic acid, zeaxanthin
Sea Buckthorn
beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, lycopene, quercetin, zeaxanthin
Sweet potato
alkaloids, anthocyanin, betacarotene, flavonoids, oxalic acid, phenolic acids
alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, tangeritin, zeaxanthin
curcumin, curcumenol, demethoxycurcumin, eugenol, turmerin, turmerones, zingiberene
Winter Squash
alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin
alkaloids, beta-carotene, flavonoids, phenol
Other Orange Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
Orange Lentils
beta-carotene, flavonoids, phytic acid, tocopherols, flavonols
Orange Bell Pepper
beta-carotene, lycopene, capsaicinoid, lycopene, phenols

Ways to incorporate more orange foods into your diet

  • Have a baked sweet potato instead of white potato
  • Add turmeric powder to stir-fries, or make a warm cup of ginger and turmeric tea.
  • Have orange-colored foods as a snack throughout the day, such as tangerines, papaya, or peaches
  • Make a pumpkin, butternut squash, or carrot soup.
  • Make a smoothie out of orange-colored foods

Phytonutrients in Yellow Foods

Lutein and zeaxanthin are also part of the carotenoid family, along with beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only dietary carotenoids that reach the retina, the thin layer of tissue that lines the inside on the back of the eye. They are known to support eye health and have preventative effects against age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that can lead to the loss of vision as we age. However, lutein and zeaxanthin also have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities. Zeaxanthin can also help to recycle glutathione, another important antioxidant in the body. (9, 15)

AIP-Compliant Yellow Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
Yellow Apple
catechin, chlorogenicacid, flavonols, quercetin, rutin
beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, tartaric acid
beta-carotene, lutein, oxalic acid, zeaxanthin
Golden Beet
beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, flavonoids, lutein, phenolic acids, zeaxanthin, flavonoids
Yellow Cauliflower
beta-carotene, polyphenols, protocatechuic acid, quercetin
Yellow Dragon Fruit
betacyanin, betacarotene, flavonoids, lutein, phenolic acid, zeaxanthin, phenolic acid
alpha-carotene, anthocyanin, betacarotene, flavonoids, lutein, polyphenols, zeaxanthin
alkaloids, betacarotene, biolaxantin, gallicacid, neoxanthin, quercetin, terpenoids, zeaxanthin
gingerol, monoterpenes, oxalicacid, quercetin
Golden Kiwi
beta-carotene, betacryptoxanthin, caffeicacid, chlorogenicacid, lutein, phenolics, quinic acid, zeaxanthin
alkaloids, alphacarotene, betacarotene, flavonoids, lignans, lutein, phenolics, terpenoids, zeaxanthin
alkaloids, betacryptoxanthin, flavonoids, phenols, quinines, rutin, terpenoids
anthocyanin, betacarotene, phenols
Yellow Pear
beta-carotenecaffeic acid, pectin, quercetin, tocopherols
anthocyanin, betacryptoxanthin, lutein
Rutabaga/Swedish Turnip
beta-carotene, indole 3-carbinol, lutein, luteolin
Summer Squash
beta-carotene, betacryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin
Star Fruit
alkaloids, flavonoids, phenolics, phytofluene
alkaloids, betacarotene, betacryptoxanthin, chlorogenic acid
beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin
Yellow Watermelon
beta-carotene, betacryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin
Yellow Zucchini
alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin
Other Yellow Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
Yellow Bell Pepper
beta-carotene, capsaicinoid, lutein, phenols, zeaxanthin
anthocyanin, betacarotene, flavonoids, phenolic acids
beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, ferulic acid, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid
Yellow Potatoes
beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, phenols, anthocyanin

Ways to incorporate more yellow foods into your diet

  • Add diced yellow bell peppers and corn to your stir-fry.
  • Make honey and lemon tea.
  • Make stove-top popcorn with healthy fats such as olive oil and coconut oil.
  • Roast, bake, or mash yellow (Yukon) potatoes instead of white potatoes.
  • Use bananas to make banana pancakes and bread.
  • Slide some banana into your oatmeal.
  • Blend frozen pineapple, almond milk, and honey or maple syrup to make pineapple sorbet.

Phytonutrients in Green Foods

Dark green, leafy cruciferous vegetables are a good source of sulfur (isocyanate, sulforaphane, glucosinolate). Our body needs sulfur in order to synthesize certain essential proteins. These sulfur compounds break down into isothiocyanates and indoles in the gut, which are known to have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory effects. (36, 52, 33)

Research suggests that sulforaphane may support heart health by reducing inflammation and lowering blood pressure. It may also have antidiabetic effects. One study found that sulforaphane reduced fasting blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes. (55, 41, 47)

Glucoraphanin, a glucosinolate that’s found in some cruciferous vegetables, has been found to protect the blood–brain barrier in mice with induced experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (used to study MS, which can’t be induced in the same way), suggesting it may reduce the risk of developing MS. (16, 40)

AIP-Compliant Green Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
cynarin, gallic acid, quercetin, rutin, silymarin
glucosinolates,indole-3-carbinol, lutein, sulforaphane, thiocyanates, zeaxanthin
lycopene, rutin, glutathione, quercetin, caffeicacid, kaempferol, ferulic acid
Bitter Gourd
anthraquinones, beta-carotene, glucosinolates, isoflavones, lutein, phenolic acids, sterol,
Bok Choy
beta-carotene, flavonoids, glucosinolates, kaempferol, lutein
alpha-carotene, betacarotene, glucosinolates, kaempferol, lutein, sulforaphane
Brussel Sprouts
indole-3-carbinol, isoflavonoids, isothiocyanate, kaempferol, lutein, zeaxanthin
beta-carotene, chlorogenic acid,indole-3-carbinol,lutein, sulforaphane, tocophero
beta-carotene, lutein,indole-3-carbinol, isothiocyanates, sulforaphane, zeaxanthin
beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin
Gai Lan/Chinese Broccoli/kale
beta-carotene, carbinol, chlorophyll, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, sulforaphane, zeaxanthin
Honeydew Melon
beta-carotene, caffeicacid, ellagic acid,ferulic acid, gallicacid, kaempferol, lutein, terpenes
glucosinolates, lutein, polysulfides, zeaxanthin
beta-carotene, glucosinolates, indole-3-carbinol, kaempferol, lutein, zeaxanthin
anthocyanin, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, flavonoids, lutein
anthocyanin, beta-carotene, glucosinolates, isothiocyanate
allicin, alliin, betacarotene, gallic acid, isothiocyanate, kaempferol, lutein
beta-carotene, chlorophyll, lutein, zeaxanthin
Mustard Greens
glucosinolate, betacarotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, phenolicacids, anthocyanin
beta-carotene, chlorophyll, flavonoids, lutein, phytosterols, zeaxanthin
apigenin, beta-carotene, caffeic acid, citral, dillapiole, elemicin, limonene, luteolin, myristicin
beta-carotenes, lutein, quercetin, zeaxanthin
Swiss Chard
catechin, epicatechin, kaempferol, lutein, myricetin, quercetin, zeaxanthin
beta-carotene, glucosinolates, lutein, zeaxanthin
Other Green Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
apigenin, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, chlorophyll, flavonoids, kaempferol
anthocyanin, betacarotene, chloroform, lutein, phytosterols, violaxanthin

Ways to incorporate more green foods into your diet

  • Add chopped spinach and asparagus to an omelet or frittata.
  • Make a green smoothie using a variety of green vegetables and fruits.
  • Make kale chips using green kale.
  • Use basil or any dark green vegetable of your choice to make a pesto sauce.
  • Dip cucumbers in hummus, or celery in peanut butter.
  • Make wraps using lettuce leaves, cabbage leaves, perilla leaves, or Swiss chard.
  • Saute your choice of green vegetables with garlic, lemon, and olive oil.

Phytonutrients in Blue/Purple/Black Foods

Anthocyanins are phytochemicals that give red, blue, and purple plants their vibrant coloring. Anthocyanins have antioxidant properties that may boost heart health and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular-related and other chronic diseases. (26)

Anthocyanin-rich foods have been linked to reductions in inflammation and reduced blood sugar concentrations, suggesting they may also have antidiabetic effects. Anthocyanins have also been found to protect eye health. One study found that daily supplementation with pharmaceutical anthocyanins improved the visual function of individuals with normal tension glaucoma (where the optic nerve is damaged despite pressure in the eye being normal). (30, 43)

Other phytochemicals called stilbenoids are typically found in grapes and blueberries. Like anthocyanins, stilbenoids have been shown to have a variety of benefits such as protective effects on the heart and brain, as well as antidiabetic, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. (4)

AIP-Compliant Blue/Purple/Black Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
Purple Asparagus
anthocyanin, beta-carotene, ecdysterone, lutein ,zeaxanthin
Purple Basil
anthocyanin, betacarotene, kaempferol, myrcene, phenolicacids, quercetin, rutin, terpinolene
anthocyanin, caffeicacid, chlorogenic acid, kaempferol, myricetin, quercetin, terpenoids
anthocyanin, beta-carotene, lutein, salicylic acid, zeaxanthin
anthocyanin,catechins, ferulic acid, gallic acid, myricetin, phenolic acids, quercetin, stilbenoids
Purple Cabbage
anthocyanin, betacarotene, flavonoids, glucosinolates, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, sulforaphane, zeaxanthin
Purple Cauliflower
anthocyanin,beta-carotene, glucosinolates, iindole-3-carbinol, lutein, sulforaphane, zeaxanthin
Purple Carrots
alpha-carotene, anthocyanin, betacarotene, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, lutein, zeaxanthin
Black Currants
anthocyanin, caffeicacid, kaempferol, phenolic acids, lignans, myricetin, quercetin
anthocyanin, flavonoids, polyphenols
anthocyanin, betacarotene, chlorogenicacid, lutein, rutin, zeaxanthin
Purple Grapes
anthocyanin, betacarotene, caffeic acid, catechins, coumaricacid, ellagic acid, ferulicacid, kaempferol, lutein, myricetin, quercetin, stilbenoids, zeaxanthin
Purple kale
anthocyanins, betacarotene, flavonoids, glucosinolates, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, sulforaphane, zeaxanthin
anthocyanin, chlorogenic acid, lutein, phytosterols, sorbitol, terpenoids, zeaxanthin
anthocyanin, ellagicacid, lutein, lycopene, quercetin, zeaxanthin
Other Blue/Purple/Black Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
Chia Seeds
caffeic acid, quercetin, myricetin, phenolic acids, chlorogenic acid
phenolic acids, tocopherols, flavonoids, anthocyanin, phytosterols, phytic acid
anthocyanin, aubergenone, flavonoids, glycoalkaloids, phenolic compounds

Ways to incorporate more blue/purple/black foods into your diet

  • Substitute purple cabbage, carrots, and onions for green cabbage, orange carrots, and white onions.
  • Add blueberries, blackberries, black currants, figs, and plums to yogurt or oatmeal.
  • Have a baked purple sweet potato instead of a white potato, or use them to make sweet potato patties.
  • Make sauerkraut using purple cabbage.
  • Use purple vegetables in salads.
  • Make a cannelloni using eggplant.

Phytonutrientsin White/Tan/Brown Foods

Allicin, a phytochemical produced when garlic is chopped or crushed, has been associated with a lower risk of coronary events in older adults. Research suggests allicin may help reduce LDL and total cholesterol levels when consumed for more than 2 months. (8, 39)

Garlic is well known for its antimicrobial effects and has historically been used to combat infectious diseases. It is also known to be effective against a variety of bacteria, such as Salmonella, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus. (8)

Another phytonutrient that is found in many white, tan, and brown foods is quercetin. Quercetin has anti-inflammatory properties and may be effective against obesity, cancer, viruses, allergies, and high blood pressure. (5)

Serum C-reactive protein (CRP) levels are a biomarker of inflammation in the body. High CRP levels are associated with heart disease, obesity, and lupus. One study done in 2008 found that the intake of foods rich in flavonoids, such as quercetin, is associated with lower serum CRP concentrations. (12)

AIP-Compliant White/Tan/Brown Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
beta-carotene, flavonoids, glucosinolates, indole-3-carbinol,lutein, sulforaphane, zeaxanthin
beta-carotene, flavonoids, lutein, phenolic acids, zeaxanthin
Japanese Turnip
anthocyanins, betacarotene, ferulicacid, glucosinolate, lutein, quercetin, violaxanthin
allicin, allin, caffeicacid, ferulic acid, kaempferol, polysulfides, quercetin, triterpenoid
gingerols, paradols, shogaols, terpenes
Lotus Root
catechins, catechol, gallic acid, phenolic acids
anthocyanidins, catechins, malvidin, quercetin, rutin
catechins, gartanin, mangostin, normagostin, rosin, xanthones
beta-glucans, ergosterol, ganoderic acid, lucidenic acid
hydroxytyrosol, oleuropein
allicin, alliin, caffeicacid, ferulic acid, fumaric acid, phytosterols, quercetin, rutin
alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides, phenols, quercetin, terpenoids
Other White/Tan/Brown Foods and Their Phytonutrient Compounds
catechin, kaempferol, methylquercetin, protocatechuic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, resveratrols, vanillic acid
caffeine, flavonols, quercetin, theobromine
caffeoylquinic acid, gallic acid, kaempferol, myricetin, quercetin
flavonoids, lutein, phenolic acids, tocopherols, zeaxanthin
lignans, phytosterols, sesamin, sesamolin, tocopherols
beta-sitosterol, daidzein, genistein, isoflavone
gallic acid, phenolic acids, phytosterol, proanthocyanidins
Whole Grains
beta-cryptoxanthin, flavonoids, lutein, zeaxanthin
White Potatoes
flavonoids, phenolic acids, beta-carotene, chlorogenic acid
beta-carotene, caffeine, chlorogenic acid, phenolic acids
campesterol, lignans, triterpenes, sitosterol, stigmasterol

Ways to incorporate more white/tan/brown foods into your diet

  • Use dates instead of refined sweeteners to sweeten a dish or drink.
  • Add onions and mushrooms to a stir-fry.
  • Make your own granola or trail mix using whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
  • Stir-fry lotus root with bell peppers and garlic sauce.
  • Add cacao to smoothies, yogurt, or oatmeal.
  • Pickle some Japanese turnip to have as a snack or side dish.

The Bottom Line on Phytonutrients

The thousands of phytochemicals produced by plants for their own protection may also help prevent and treat many of our own medical conditions and diseases. Phytonutrients give fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and other plant foods their variety of colors, so “eat the rainbow” to maximize the health benefits offered by these plentiful chemical compounds.