CNBC make it 2024-03-06 02:50:53

5 doctors and nutritionists share the foods they eat every day for better health

A well-rounded diet is one of the keys to a healthy, successful lifestyle, but experts agree there are some foods that stand out for being healthier and more nutrient-dense.

We’ve interviewed Harvard nutritionists, longevity experts and even wellness guru Deepak Chopra over the past few years about the eating habits they stick to for optimal health — and there were many overlaps in their dietary choices.

Here are five types of foods that doctors and nutritionists eat every day for stellar brain health, heart health, longevity and overall wellness.

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5 foods that doctors and nutritionists eat every day for better health

1. Leafy greens

The importance of leafy green vegetables in your daily diet cannot be overstated — experts recommend it over and over again. Eating leafy greens like spinach and kale supports brain health, and foods that are rich in fiber have been associated with a lower chance of developing depression.

They’re also packed with essential nutrients including vitamin A, folate, vitamin C, iron, vitamin K, potassium and calcium. Green leafy vegetables can easily be tossed into a salad with other nutritious vegetables and fruits.

2. Berries

You should aim to eat fruits every day if you can, experts suggest. And of all fruits, one group seems to reign supreme when it comes to the most health benefits: berries.

Blueberries, in particular, are what longevity researcher, Neil Paulvin, refers to as the “holy grail” of longevity foods. The fruit is abundant in vitamins and antioxidants “that protect your body from infection like a suit of armor,” Paulvin says. They’re also great for eye health, muscle recovery, brain health and strengthening your cells, he adds.

All berries get their color from flavonoids which are a group of phytonutrients that have been linked to improvements in brain health and a reduction in cognitive decline. They also have lower sugar content than other fruits like bananas and mangos, nutritionist Mary Ellen Phipps told CNBC Make It in 2022.

3. Fish and other lean proteins

Doctors and nutritionists across the board encourage you to limit your consumption of red meat, and swap it out for healthier options like lean proteins including salmon, eggs, tuna and tofu.

Salmon is popular among experts because it has lots of B vitamins which are wonderful for brain health, according to Dr. Uma Naidoo, a Harvard-trained nutritional psychiatrist and author of “Calm Your Mind with Food.”

Fish and shellfish also have lower levels of cholesterol than red meat and are better choices for a healthy heart, cardiologist Dr. Elizabeth Klodas told CNBC Make It in 2022. She prefers to reach for lean protein options like white-fleshed fish including tilapia, cod, bass and halibut.

4. Legumes

Legumes are the “underrated” longevity food that nutritionist Samantha Heller eats daily to boost her immune system. They’re high in protein, fiber, antioxidants and minerals like magnesium and iron, Heller told CNBC Make It in 2022.

Some legumes that you can consider adding to your meals are:

  • Lentils
  • Black beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Soybeans
  • Edamame
  • Lima beans
  • Kidney beans

The high-fiber content in legumes also makes eating them a great choice for a healthy brain.

5. Nuts and seeds

It can be very easy to overlook nuts and seeds, but the tiny foods are packed with omega-3 fatty acids “which help keep your brain cells healthy and lower inflammation,” according to Harvard-trained neuroscientist Lisa Genova.

Sunflower seeds are also “one of the best plant sources of vitamin B5,” according to Naidoo. Just one ounce of the seeds can get you 20% of the recommended daily value of the vitamin, she notes.

Nuts, especially hazelnuts and pecans, are also rich in polyphenols, Naidoo told CNBC Make It. Foods high in polyphenols “are hugely important,” she says, “because they have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties [and] fiber, plus multiple micronutrients that our bodies need.”

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You could ‘owe huge taxes’ next year if you don’t make this update, says CFP—how to check

We may be in the middle of the 2023 tax season, but it’s not too early to check if you’re setting aside enough for next season’s filing.

That’s because tax withholdings are estimates, which can end up being too much or too little money depending on your income and tax status, which may have changed since you last filed.

If you contribute too little money, you might receive a sizable tax bill you weren’t expecting when you file your taxes next year. If the amount of unpaid taxes is large enough, you might also be subject to an underpayment penalty. That’s because the U.S. tax system is pay-as-you-go, which is why freelancers and self-employed workers are expected to make regular quarterly tax payments throughout the year.

Conversely, if you allow too much money to be withheld, you might be shorting yourself on much-needed cash each month for no real reason, essentially giving the Internal Revenue Service an interest-free loan.

Here’s how you can check your tax withholdings and make adjustments, if needed.

Why your tax withholding might need adjusting

Whether your tax withholding is tabulated by you or an employer through a W-4 form, anything that changes the size of your tax liability, or the amount of taxes you owe, could change the amount of money you owe the IRS.

Aside from changes to your income, this includes a change in your marital status, retirement contributions, tax credits, health-care debt or whether you add a dependent.

“If your marital status has changed, your earnings have changed, or you are contributing quite differently this year to a 401(k) — perhaps to a Roth 401(k) instead of the traditional 401(k) — you need to review your tax withholding rate,” says Michelle Gessner, a certified financial planner based in Houston.

Just one of the changes described above could have a big impact on your taxes. Take adding dependents, for example: They can lower your tax bill by thousands of dollars if you claim credits like the child tax credit, the child and dependent care credit or the earned income tax credit.

Your tax situation could also change if you receive a bonus from your employer. 

“Tax withheld on bonuses and stock compensation is typically — though not always — withheld at a flat 22% for federal taxes,” says Carla Adams, a certified financial planner in Michigan. “For those who are in the 22% marginal federal tax bracket, this is not a problem at all. However, those in a higher tax bracket could owe huge taxes.”

Of course, if you realize you’re overpaying your taxes, you don’t have to make adjustments, especially if it’s not a lot of money. You can just claim the difference as a refund next year. But be aware that you won’t receive any interest on that amount.

How to check if your tax withholding is on track

To check if you’re under- or overpaying your 2024 taxes, you first need to determine your current withholding rate.

To do that, look for “federal income tax withholding” or “fed tax” amounts in a recent pay stub, for both the last pay period and for the year to date. You can also contact your employer’s human resources department to confirm those tax withholding amounts.

From there, you can input those amounts into the IRS’ tax withholding estimator. For workers with employers that withhold their taxes, the tool provides a year-end estimate of the taxes you’ll owe, and will tell you if you’re currently overpaying or underpaying taxes for the 2024 tax year.

Based on these calculations, the IRS tool then provides an updated Form W-4 with the relevant tax adjustment amount already added, whether that’s an increase or a decrease. You can download that form and submit it to your employer, who will make the adjustment on your behalf.

Note that employers typically only handle tax withholding for the income that they pay you. They aren’t responsible for freelance or self-employed income, or windfalls like lottery winnings.

If you are self-employed, filing your tax return can be a bit more complicated. Tax software will provide estimates for your expected quarterly tax payments, or you can also use Form 1040-ES, which has a worksheet to help you calculate how much tax you’ll owe. You can pay your estimated quarterly taxes on the IRS payments page.

Ultimately, your employer “is not responsible” for making the “appropriate withholding,” says Chris Mankoff, a CFP in Texas. “A best practice is to calculate your expected tax liability throughout the year and adjust accordingly.”

He recommends W-4 tax filers check their withholding at least once every three months, either through the IRS withholding tool or a tax professional. If you’re self-employed, he recommends tax software or consulting with a tax professional.

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay. CNBC Make It readers can save 25% with discount code 25OFF.

Plus, sign up for CNBC Make It’s newsletter to get tips and tricks for success at work, with money and in life.

Etsy seller whose side hustle brings in $169,000 a year: No. 1 tip for making money during inflation

This story is part of CNBC Make It’s Six-Figure Side Hustle series, where people with lucrative side hustles break down the routines and habits they’ve used to make money on top of their full-time jobs. Got a story to tell? Let us know! Email us at

Six months ago, Tim Riegel bent over his computer, reviewed his monthly earnings statement and saw that his highly lucrative side hustle was making less money.

He was shocked — until he realized just how much inflation was impacting his business.

Riegel’s side hustle, Mozark Fire Pit Studio, was successful immediately upon launching in 2021. He started by sourcing, welding and selling 275-pound steel fire pits to his neighbors in Lamar, Missouri, a rural town of 4,000 people two hours south of Kansas City. Within six months, freight trucks were delivering his products to Etsy buyers across the U.S. and Canada.

The business brought in $50,000 in sales in just five months on the platform, according to documents reviewed by CNBC Make It.

Staring at his screen, Riegel, 60, noticed that his volume of orders was still high. But his profit margins were shrinking, because the cost of recyclable steel, gas and packaging supplies were climbing.

He’s far from alone. Between April 2021 and April 2023, everyday essentials like groceries, utilities and gas cost Americans 20%, according to a CNBC Make It analysis of consumer price index data.

While keeping an eye on his competitors, Riegel raised his prices to get his margins back into the 35% to 40% range, he says. He added new features to his products — more color and customization options — to help justify the price increases for consumers.

Today, his fire pits cost an average of $950, up from $650 since fall 2022 — and in the last 12 months, Mozark has brought in $169,000 in sales.

If he’d waited any longer, the price jumps would have been higher, and customers could have bolted, Riegel says. His No. 1 lesson: Reevaluate your prices on a monthly basis, so you can gradually raise them instead of jolting your customers with larger, more sporadic increases.

Here, Riegel discusses his pricing strategy, the skills you need to start a side hustle like his and how he balances the time-consuming gig with his full-time job and personal life.

CNBC Make It: How do you decide on your side hustle’s pricing? Were you worried that raising your prices would scare away customers?  

Riegel: In today’s climate, you have to really watch the costs — of everything from fuel to your supplies — to make sure paying yourself what you need to pay yourself.

It can get away from you, and the next thing you know, you’re watching your margins dwindle. If you’re not making a profit, it’s not worth spending the extra 40 hours per week.

I didn’t want to price myself out of the market, either. I’m constantly looking at my competitors — not just on Etsy, but throughout the U.S. — to see who’s making similar types of pits, and their pricing. I make sure to stay within that ballpark.

As for consumers, I’ve been able to keep prices steadier by reducing my freight costs, which I’m able to do now that my volume is so much higher.

Do you need cash or specific skills to start a fire pit side hustle?  

You need cash, at least to start trying. I’m sure people can replicate it, if they have similar skills — like welding, creativity and the know-how to source the steel.

I use Facebook Marketplace to get a lot of supplies. Some things would be harder to copy: I have nearly two decades of welding experience, and not everybody can do patina, color or add the customizations that I can do design-wise.

If someone places an order on Esty, they might say, “Hey, I want a fourth handle,” or “I want my lid to look like this,” I can adjust accordingly to meet their needs.

Knock on wood, but I’ve never gotten less than a five-star review on Etsy. I think that’s also because I spend three hours per week talking to my customers via text. I send them photos of their fire pits before I ship it, and I contact them after they’ve received it to make sure they’re happy.  

You said this side hustle adds at least 40 hours to your full-time workweek. How do you balance that with your personal life?

In the last year, I started working at as a general manager in a sheltered workshop called Lamar Enterprises. That, combined with my past experience restoring cars and working for a furniture company, has helped me get really good at predicting lead times.

My side hustle production schedule is more or less scheduled around my private life. I know how long it’s going to source everything and make it, no matter what variations the person adds. I can be flexible, and as I schedule my pits, I also schedule date nights with my wife.

It helps to have a good partner or a spouse that understands. It’s a lot of work. But the thing that keeps me going is I just really like doing it.

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Take your business to the next level: Register for CNBC’s free Small Business Playbook virtual event on August 2 at 1 p.m. ET to learn from premier experts and entrepreneurs how you can beat inflation, hire top talent and get access to capital.

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I’ve spent 25 years studying the brain—I never do these 4 things that destroy our memory as we age

As a neuroscientist, I’ve spent the last 25 years researching the science of memory. A funny question I get a lot from people is: “Am I just getting dumber the older I get?”

I don’t blame anyone for wondering this. Many of us find ourselves forgetting important things with increasing frequency over time.

But the good news is that you can prevent those “senior moments” by avoiding four common habits that destroy our memory as we age:

1. Multitasking too much

We rely on an area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex to pay attention to the world around us. Unfortunately, prefrontal function and our ability to focus often declines over time.

Don’t miss: Brain expert shares his 7 ‘hard rules’ for boosting memory and fighting off dementia

Multitasking makes it worse. It impairs memory and taxes the function of the prefrontal cortex, sapping the resources that would normally help us form strong memories.

How to improve your memory: Put your phone on focus mode and block out time in your schedule for specific tasks.

Include breaks for meditation, daydreaming, a walk outside, or whatever it is that will recharge you. Just don’t try to do it all at once.

2. Not prioritizing quality sleep

The amount and quality of sleep we get often decreases with age, for a variety of reasons. The problem can be compounded by medications, alcohol and stress.

But when you sleep, your brain is hard at work. It flushes out metabolic waste that accumulates during the day. Memories are also activated and connections are made between the different events we have experienced.

How to improve your memory: Sleep deprivation is devastating for the prefrontal cortex and leads fragmented memories. Try to avoid screen time, heavy meals, caffeine and alcohol right before bedtime.

If you have severe snoring problems, consider an assessment for sleep apnea treatment. If you have a bad night of sleep, a daytime nap can help, too.

3. Monotonous activities

We remember events by tying together information about what happened, when it happened, and where it happened. This is called episodic memory.

A cue that’s uniquely linked to a specific place and time, like a song that you hadn’t heard since high school, or the smell of a dish that your grandmother used to cook can conjure a vivid episodic memory.

This only works if you have experiences that are associated with relatively distinct contexts — not so much with monotonous experiences.

How to improve your memory: You can find yourself with very few memories of a week that was almost entirely spent at a desk alternating between emails and TikTok videos. So consider diversifying your routines.

Take a walk instead of hanging out in the lunchroom. Spending time with a diverse range of people, going to different places, and trying out new experiences will all provide opportunities to build lasting memories.

4. Being overconfident in your ability to remember things

I’ve had moments where I meet someone and feel certain that I’ve committed their name to memory, only to be flummoxed later by my inability to recall it.

If you’re trying to do something that involves memorization, like when you are introduced to a group of people or trying to learn a foreign language, start by accepting that you are likely to overestimate how much you’ll retain.

The second step is to give yourself the opportunity to get it wrong.

How to improve your memory: Rather than rote memorization, the most effective learning happens under circumstances where we struggle to recall a memory and then get the answer we are looking for.

For instance, a few minutes after you learn something, try testing yourself on it. Then do it again an hour later. The more you space out these attempts, the better.

Charan Ranganath is a professor at the Center for Neuroscience and Department of Psychology and director of the Dynamic Memory Lab at the University of California at Davis. He is the author of the new book ”Why We Remember: Unlocking Memory’s Power to Hold on to What Matters.”

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.

29-year-old makes $125,000 working in tech without a bachelor’s degree—here’s how

This story is part of CNBC Make It’s Ditching the Degree series, where women who have built six-figure careers without a bachelor’s degree reveal the secrets of their success. Got a story to tell? Let us know! Email us at

Ayana Dunlap had her dream job picked out before she even graduated high school. 

She would spend her adult life somewhere exotic behind the front desk of a hotel in a designer suit helping guests, just like the polished women she met on vacation with her mom.

For a while, Dunlap lived out her childhood fantasy. She landed her first front desk job when she was 18 at a small hotel near Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, right before graduating high school, and continued to work at hotels well into her 20s. 

“I thought I found my forever career,” she tells CNBC Make It

In college, she chose to pursue an associate’s degree in business administration, thinking the concentration — and the shorter timeline to graduation, compared to a bachelor’s degree — would bring her one step closer to becoming a hotel manager. Dunlap graduated from Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania in 2016.

Now, the 29-year-old laughs at the plans she made almost 10 years ago.

Dunlap was one of the millions of hotel and restaurant employees who lost their jobs in 2020 at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and were pushed into new careers as furloughs and lockdowns dragged on.

Even though she doesn’t have the job she wanted as a kid, Dunlap found a different vocation she loves: technology. 

Dunlap has been working in tech since 2020. Currently, she’s the assistant vice president of operations and information technology at the Bank Policy Institute, a public policy, research and advocacy group that represents U.S. banks in Washington, D.C. 

She’s earning about $125,000 in her role, according to financial documents reviewed by CNBC Make It — a salary that Dunlap says would have been “unimaginable” at this point in her career, had she stayed in hospitality. 

Here’s how she pivoted her career and earns six figures without a bachelor’s degree

Getting into IT without experience 

Dunlap jokes that she was working in tech long before it became official, as her older co-workers would come to her for computer help at nearly every job she’s had. 

She moved to the Washington, D.C. area right after college and spent several years working for Widewaters Hotel Group & Magna Hospitality Group on their sales team, out of different hotels in the DMV area. Right before the pandemic started, she worked as a senior sales manager out of the Hilton Garden Inn Tysons Corner.

“I was the youngest person on my team, and always getting pulled to unfreeze computer screens, edit documents and refresh WiFi connections,” she says. “But I didn’t mind it, I always thought it was fun.” 

Dunlap didn’t consider turning her knack for computers into her career until she was laid off from her sales job in June 2020. 

Weeks after losing her job, she remembers sitting cross-legged on her bedroom floor, venting to her friends on FaceTime, feeling “anxious and unsure” about what to do next. 

“I spent years working in the same industry and building up my career, only for the pandemic to put it on an indefinite hold,” she recalls. 

One of her friends mentioned a free online course that she had seen advertised on Google: a 15-week IT support course from Per Scholas, a national tech training non-profit headquartered in New York. 

As part of the course, Dunlap would receive three certifications: A Google IT support certificate, CompTIA Security+ certification and CompTIA Network+ certification. Another benefit: Per Scholas partners with employers across the U.S. to recruit and recommend candidates from their boot camps for open tech roles.

Dunlap started the Per Scholas program in August and graduated in November with an offer for a hybrid job in hand as a tier 2 technical support engineer at designDATA, an IT services and consulting firm headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland. 

While working there, Dunlap was tasked with helping organizations prepare to return to the office, by setting up their desktops, routers and printers on-site. 

One of those organizations, the Bank Policy Institute, would make Dunlap an offer she says she couldn’t refuse. 

Skills worth six figures 

After weeks of helping the Bank Policy Institute prep for their return to the office, its president and CEO, Greg Baer, invited Dunlap to work with them full-time. 

Dunlap was hesitant to leave designDATA, having worked there for just under a year, but those doubts dissipated as soon as she received her offer letter. 

The Bank Policy Institute wanted to give her a better title — Assistant Vice President of Operations and Information Technology — and more money. Dunlap’s starting salary would be $80,000, which was “competitively more” than what she was making at designDATA (she declined to share her exact salary). 

Dunlap started her new role in August 2021. She’s received two raises since joining the Bank Policy Institute, based on job evaluations and taking on more responsibilities. The first, in 2022, bumped her salary to about $98,000. A subsequent raise, effective in January, raised her annual compensation to $125,000.

The IT and AV support skills Dunlap learned in the Per Scholas program — problem-solving, understanding different operating systems and diagnosing software or hardware faults — played a big role in her ability to transition into tech without a bachelor’s degree. But so did the soft skills she picked up while working in hotels, namely communication and customer service.

Customer service, in particular, is a “game-changer” that can help you stand out from other candidates competing for the same tech job, Dunlap adds. 

“I think a lot of people forget that being patient and friendly is so important when you’re helping people with stressful computer issues,” she explains. “I was told, directly, that having that skillset, just by working in hospitality, was a huge bonus.”

Dunlap’s biggest piece of advice for others hoping to land a high-paying job without a bachelor’s degree? Don’t underestimate the value of your transferable skills. 

“Sometimes, society deems people who don’t have a four-year degree as uneducated, but just because you choose not to pursue that doesn’t mean you can’t educate yourself in other ways and bring value to the table. You can read books, take boot camps online, there are so many ways to improve your skills,” she says. “If you take stock of what you’re good at and lean into that, you’ll go far in your career.”

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay. CNBC Make It readers can save 25% with discount code 25OFF.