By Chelsea Gloeckner OnMilwaukee contributor Published Aug 22, 2018 at 7:01 PM

It’s never too early, Milwaukeeans, to think about your brain and how it will work for the rest of your life.  

If you’re in your 30s, you may want to start thinking about preventing cognitive decline and improving your brain health sooner rather than later. Loss of memory and thinking processes can start decades before symptoms appear. To preserve memory, attention and problem-solving skills as you age, early prevention is key.  

Because cognitive decline is attributed to inflammation and oxidative stress, one specific way to improve brain health is to eat more foods rich in polyphenols, which are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative compounds. Thus, to improve you brain’s health, consider incorporating the following polyphenols and anti-inflammatory foods and spices into your diet.

Luckily, Milwaukee makes it easy to find local products that can boost your brain health.


Berries contain a type of polyphenol known as flavonoids, which are strong protectors of cognition. As we age, foods that contain flavonoids – like berries, tea, citrus fruits, apples, and legumes (beans and lentils) – can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress associated with neurodegenerative diseases.  Farmers markets and local stops like Sendik’s make it easy to find fresh and delicious produce ike blackberries, raspberries and strawberries for great prices. You can even shop online and then pickup at your closest store. Saving time while improving your cognition? I think so!


Cinnamon is another potent spice that helps protect brain neurons. Cinnamon preserves brain health by interrupting the harmful effects of oxidative stress and inflammatory pathways.  

Founded in 1957, The Spice House offers several types of cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is delicate and subtle, making it great for baking, while the most popular Saigon cinnamon is strong, spicy and sweet – a standout in any recipe. The Spice House also offers Korintje cinnamon, which offers a sharp, sweet flavor, as well as several types of cinnamon bark and cinnamon sticks. Get your cinnamon fix at The Spice House, Penzey’s or anywhere fine spices are sold.


Coffee, as well as tea and cacao (dark chocolate), is rich in methylxanthine, a compound that improves brain health and reduces the risk of cognitive decline.  Caffeine, a type of methylxanthine, enables brain cells to live longer and stay active, allowing for sustained cognitive performance. Opportunities abound in Milwaukee to get your caffeine buzz while improving your brain health. Visit Valentine Coffee Roasters, Alderaan, Anodyne, Colectivo or Rochambo Coffee and Teahouse for your caffeine fix.


Curcumin is a polyphenolic compound found in the bright yellow spice turmeric, most frequently found in curry dishes or the currently trending turmeric lattes.  Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties are well-studied, but it can be difficult for your body to absorb it. Pepper is known to enhance your body’s ability to absorb curcumin – and happens to be a powerful protector of neurons as well.  

To adequately absorb and benefit from curcumin, try a quality suplement and/or ZYN, a locally created fruity beverage containing curcumin with a proprietary pepper extract blend. OnMilwaukee’s Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of ZYN, whose flavors include Lemon Ginger, Mixed Berry, Mango Lychee and Pomegranate Cherry. Only 10 calories and two grams of sugar per serving, this super food drink is a nutritious alternative to high sugar sports drinks and soda. You can find ZYN beverages at Sendik’s, Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative, Good Harvest Market and many other locations including online at

There you have it. Eat well, be well. And keep that brain in tip-top condition. Before you shop, if you’re interested in taking a tour of how the mind works, be sure to check out Alzheimer’s Association’s interactive tour inside the brain.

Chelsea Gloeckner OnMilwaukee contributor

Chelsea Gloeckner, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and the founder of VICTAE, a nutrition coaching business helping athletes and professionals reach their dreams and goals through practical and proper fueling.

In her life and here content, Chelsea combines her love of nutrition, science, and food to provide a fresh perspective on how to live a full and vibrant life.