Eating Yourself Smarter

By Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Brain health is largely determined by a diet and lifestyle, but it can be supported further with the right supplements. Today we are going to break down some of the top nutrients and supplements for eating yourself smarter!

ALA: Alpha-linolenic acid

ALA is an omega-3 fatty acid, but unlike other popular omega-3s, this one cannot be synthesized in the body, you must get it via diet. ALA is suspected to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is a huge part of how you maintain neurons and increase learning and memory. ALA can be found in olives, avocados, walnuts, and extra virgin olive oil.

Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal has so many benefits I have a whole article on its various uses! Its extreme efficiency for detoxing (it’s used in the ER for overdoses) can prevent toxins from reaching your brain. Activated charcoal works as a sponge to soak up toxins and heavy metals that can mess with brain health in ways such as causing brain fog, depression, and anxiety. 

Activated charcoal soaks up everything, so be sure to take it away from food and other supplements. However, if you’re drinking or eating something that contains anti-nutrients, you can take activated charcoal with your alcohol or meal to help reduce toxic load.

Butyric Acid

Also known as ‘butyrate,’ butyric acid is a fatty acid found in dairy products such as milk, cheese, and butter. Butyric acid inhibits NF-kB gene activation in the colon, which is involved in inflammatory immune responses, thereby acting as an anti-inflammatory and minimizing inflammation of your central nervous system: the brain included. Grass-fed butter is my favorite way to get the benefits of butyric acid!

Click here to schedule a consult with a functional medicine doctor to improve your brain health!

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

CLA is another fatty acid beneficial for brain health. It can improve immune response and can protect brain health, too! It is found in grass fed beef and lamb as well as in grass fed butter.


CoQ10 works as an antioxidant helping to break down free radicals, as a ‘coenzyme’ helping to break down food, and also plays a crucial role in the production of ATP, our cell’s energy currency. In addition to all of this, research has found CoQ10 has the potential to treat mitochondrial disorders and neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s and ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). A 2014 study showed that those with higher levels of CoQ10 were 77% LESS likely to develop dementia. You can get CoQ10 from oily fish, grass fed beef, organ meat, or as a supplement


Curcumin has been used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory agent in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Because of its ability to inhibit inflammation, curcumin has been studied as a treatment for colitis, arthritis, and cancer. Curcumin has the potential to protect against chronic neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. It is the active ingredient in turmeric, which can be used in food or as a tea, or you can take pure curcumin as a supplement!

DHA: Docosahexaenoic acid

This omega-3 fatty acid is well-known as a brain nutrient–the brain is primarily made up of fat, so when you consume foods rich in DHA, you are quite literally consuming brain food! DHA is crucial for brain development in infants, and equally important as an adult to have a healthy, properly functioning brain. DHA deficiency is associated with ADHD, fetal alcohol syndrome, depression, aggression, and something called “adrenoleukodystrophy”–the degradation of the myelin sheath that protects nerve cells. Studies have shown DHA improves memory, increases reaction time, and prevents aggression!

You can get DHA in your diet via wild caught seafood like: shrimp, lobster, anchovies, salmon, mackerel, and tuna as well as in grass fed beef and pastured eggs. It is a bit harder to get adequate amounts of DHA on a vegetarian/vegan diet, but there is some degree of bioavailable DHA in spirulina and chlorella.


Glutathione, known as the ‘master antioxidant,’ plays a vital part of protecting your cells from oxidation and helping to get rid of toxins from your body. Glutathione helps regenerate other antioxidants and restore them back to their active state.

You must consume adequate protein to produce glutathione (between 0.5-0.8 grams per pound of body weight). You can enhance your body’s production of glutathione by consuming foods which contain the precursor to glutathione, like milk thistle, whey protein, arugula, broccoli, and cauliflower, and foods that support methylation including avocados, liver, grass-fed beef, and spinach. You can also supplement with glutathione–I recommend sublingual or liposomal forms which have proven to be the most bioavailable.


Remember: there is more than one piece of the health puzzle. You can’t take supplements and eat fast food and expect them to do all the work for you! Brain-boosting foods are the same foods that create whole body health. Pastured eggs, grass fed beef, healthy fats, and lots of green leafy vegetables are a huge part of eating yourself healthier and smarter. When you are implementing healthy diet and lifestyle choices, supplements are a great way to further support a healthy brain and body.

Click here to schedule a consult with a functional medicine doctor to improve your brain health!


Healthy Eating Diet But Still Can’t Lose Weight? – Podcast #56

Dr. Justin Marchegiani and Evan Brand discuss about exercise and diet including the stress hormones and the thyroid connection. They talk about sleep and how it can affect blood sugar and insulin. Find out what are the things you need to get dialed in to get the results you want for fat loss and weight reduction.

weight lossDiscover how functional medicine lab tests and blood sugar markers play an important role for burning fat in his podcast. Also find out why  Dr. Justin recommends getting reverse osmosis countertop filters as part of his water filtration system to get rid of fluoride.

In this episode, topics include:

13:15   About cortisol and insulin

18:05   Functional medicine labs/Blood sugar markers

20:37   Metabolism damage

22:26   All about fluoride

26:27   HCG diet








Podcast: Play in New Window|Download

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Hey there, it’s Dr. Justin Marchegiani and welcome to Beyond Wellness Radio.  Feel free and head over to where you can access our full podcast transcriptions.  While you’re there, you can also sign up for our Thyroid and Female Hormone video series.  This series goes into the root cause of why your hormones are out of balance.  While you’re there, you can also schedule a functional medicine consult with Dr. Justin, myself, where we’ll dig deeper into the root cause of your health challenges.  Feel free and think of sharing this podcast with at least one person.  This podcast grows by people sharing it.  Sharing is caring.  If you can think of one person that can benefit from this information, please feel free and share it.  If you’re enjoying the podcast, make sure you subscribe on iTunes.  You can also click below the video or podcast where you’ll see the iTunes review button and leave us a review.  You can also sign up for the newsletter at where you’ll updates before anyone else.  Thank you so much and enjoy the show.

Hello, ladies and germs.  This is Dr. J here.  I’m with Evan Brand, the one and only.  Evan, what’s going on, man?

Evan Brand:  Hey, not much.  Did you just say ladies and germs?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  I did.  I’m sorry.  It’s Friday.  I’m actually heading out to Vegas tomorrow, so I’m feeling pretty good.

Evan Brand:  Awesome.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Feeling loose.

Evan Brand:  Awesome.  You gonna have some fun down there?  What are you gonna do?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Actually, when I go to Vegas, I like to eat really good rib eye steaks.  I don’t gamble.  I don’t stay out late.  I go see really good shows and like sleep 10 hours a night.

Evan Brand:  That’s awesome.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  That’s super boring.

Evan Brand:  You know I used to live there, right?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  I know, you did.  So Evan, today we’re gonna talk about diets and we’re gonna talk about people that have finally, you know, got themselves on a really healthy diet but they’re not losing weight.  And again, I see this a lot more in my female patients.  What’s your take?

Evan Brand:  Oh, yeah.  It’s very common.  Yeah, men don’t seem to have as much of an issue which may be we get into why that’s the case.  But it’s always the women, whether it’s a patience issue.  Not patients as in people, but patience with C-E at the end.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yup.

Evan Brand:  Or it’s some hormonal stuff.  I mean, there’s so many–there’s so many that, well, you know, we get to break down some of those today.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah, I get a lot of patients that come on, you know, come under care and they’re going on Paleo or they’re going autoimmune Paleo or GAPs or SCD, and they don’t quite lose weight off the bat and the question is why?  And what I find is that–great quote from Dr. Diana Schwarzbein in her book, The Schwarzbein Principle 1, 2–but she talks about you don’t lose weight to get healthy, you get healthy to lose weight.  You get healthy then you lose weight.  And that lag time between getting healthy and losing weight can vary a lot from person to person, especially if there’s a history of excessive exercise, starvation, lots of food allergies, chronic infections, it could be months or it could potentially even be years because of the damage to the metabolism via the thyroid, via the adrenals, and there can be a lot of delay or time gap in how that responds to you going on this new diet and to that weight actually coming off.

Evan Brand:  Yeah and actually, you know, I’ve actually had some people at the other end of the spectrum where they started losing weight in the very beginning and actually have one lady right now who I’m trying to help train for a triathlon and it’s really tough for me as a coach to–to support that type of exercise wondering what her hormone test look, you know.  It’s hard for me to say, “That’s okay for you to train that many miles,” and now she’s hit this weight loss plateau and it’s like, well, you cannot have cake and eat it, too.  We kinda have to make a compromise together here if you wanna get results.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Exactly.  So some of the big things off the bat, I can see patients–we get our patients literally lose weight off the bat and we get some that do great, and then we have some that flounder a little bit.  I had one patient just the other day.  She was about 2 months or a month and a half into her parasite-killing program.  She–blasto–H. pylori and a month and a half, they’ve lost almost 20 pounds.  So we see that time to time, could be inflammation thing–when we see it all just stress hormones, cortisol–resistance–with the cortisol levels, if it drops–the thyroid issues, all these things can be made issues from a hormonal perspective and just because you changed the diet, it doesn’t mean the hormones go right–if it were that way but if we do specific programs that push the adrenals and support the adrenals, support the HPA axis, and support the thyroid, we can promote healing fast.  So that’s the goal of these.

Evan Brand:  Yeah, and there–there is some variability with the speed, you know–one here, well, what the number–few weeks, how many months does it gonna take for me to lose those 20 pounds?  My answer is always, it depends.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Absolutely.  And I see some people actually gain weight until FYI, I did my blood sugar during the show, that was due–today I’m at 93, so pretty good.  You know, under a hundred.  I can feel adrenalin go through and I’m about ready to eat lunch–just a bit–5 hours from last meal so right on that blood sugar throw there.  And blood sugar is probably the talk that we should go into, we did a whole podcast on it recently into weight loss.  So we know blood sugar is really important because the higher our blood sugar is, the more insulin we make, and we know insulin primarily a fat-storing hormone, and when we make insulin, we also typically pump out leptin, too.  So if we have something known as insulin resistance, we typically also have leptin resistance, and that can basically allow us to store more of our calories into fat and it can also keep us hungry.  Keep from feeling satiated so we overeat.

Evan Brand:  Yeah, and then kind of the–I don’t know if you’d call it the ozing hormone so to speak but then you have ghrelin, your hunger hormone.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Evan Brand:  And if you look at studies in people’s leptin and ghrelin levels when they have sleep deprivation, ghrelin is elevated significantly.  So think of ghrelin as growling, like your stomach–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah, that’s ghrelin.

Evan Brand:  And you’re gonna have, I mean, and I–I totally feel this, man, the nights that I try to–if I stay up too late for some reason.  I–I usually never do but if I do, I regret it because the next day, I’m starving and no matter what I eat, I just can’t cure my appetite, you know.  And so, I say cure it like appetite’s a disease or something, but–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah, I know what you mean.

Evan Brand:  I can’t satiate myself.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right, and we see that a lot with sleep, right?  You also have blood sugar issues with sleep.  You actually become more insulin resistant.  They took college students and they had them stay up, I think only sleep 4 hours a night for 2 weeks and within a couple of days, they were pre-diabetic regarding their blood sugar.

Evan Brand:  Oh.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  So if we do that, right?  Sleep, that’s also gonna cause us to be more insulin-resistant, meaning we’re gonna store especially our carbohydrates more efficiently to fat and then number two, we’re gonna be over hungry which when we’re over hungry, what are the food we typically reach for?

Evan Brand:  Probably the carbs, the quick–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  The carbs?

Evan Brand:  Burst of glucose.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah, probably the carbs.  So insulin-resistance, leptin, ghrelin, those are really key things.  I don’t focus too much on the leptin because I find that like the first domino that knocks over is gonna be insulin resistance.  So if you focus on the insulin resistance, it typically gets the leptin resistance dialed in.  And simple thing like I’m doing right now, you can see on video, blood sugar test your fasting blood sugar.  Test 1, 2, 3 hours post meals.  See how your body’s dealing with sugar, also get a fasting insulin in the morning.  Ideally, less than 7 should be where you be, ideally under 5 but less than 7.  That means that your body doesn’t need that much insulin to soak up that sugar.  Less insulin means less ability to store as fat and more ability to burn fuel and burn fat for fuel.  Because insulin automatically blocks fat from being burned.  So just kinda keep that in mind.  High insulin means you’re a sugar burner, lower insulin’s gonna mean you’re a fat burner.

Evan Brand:  Yeah, and I want to kinda repeat that in a different way just so people really get that through because I have to go through this explanation and if we can refer someone to this podcast instead of spending 20 minutes on a topic explaining it to a patient–you cannot burn fat when insulin levels are peaked.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Evan Brand:  If your tank of insulin is full, fat loss is not going to happen until that insulin gets in check.  I wish I could say it like 3 other ways or something–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Evan Brand:  But I think that’s hopefully helpful for people, is that if insulin’s high, if you%

The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Justin Marchegiani unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Justin and his community. Dr. Justin encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Marchegiani’s products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using any products.