Do you wake up some mornings already realizing it’s going to be tough concentrating? Or maybe you are one of those people who does fine in the morning but loses concentration later in the day.
WebMd advises caution as we listen to the buzz about foods and dietary supplements claiming they can do everything from sharpening our focus to enhancing memory, attention span and brain function. After all, as we age, our brain ages with us. Still, the good news is you can improve your chances of maintaining a healthy brain if you add smart foods and drinks to your diet.
Caffeine can make you more alert: There is nothing magic about boosting IQ or making you smarter, but there are certain substances, like caffeine, can energize you and help you concentrate. Found in chocolate, energy drinks and some medications, caffeine gives you an unmistakable wake-up buzz, though the effects are often short term. Warning: more is often less. Overdo it on the caffeine and it can make you jittery and uncomfortable.
Sugar can enhance awareness: Glucose, not table sugar, is your brain’s preferred fuel source, which your body processes from the sugars and carbohydrates you eat. That’s why a glass of something sweet to drink can offer a short-term boost to memory, thinking and mental ability. Too much, however, can impair memory – along with the rest of you. Go easy on the sugar so it can enhance your memory without packing on the pounds.
Eat breakfast to fuel your brain: Do you tend to skip breakfast? Studies have found that eating breakfast may improve short-term memory and attention. Students who eat breakfast tend to perform better than those who don’t. Foods at the top of the researchers’ brain-fuel list include high-fiber whole grains, dairy and fruits. Researchers also found high-calorie breakfasts appear to hinder concentration, so don’t overeat.
Fish really is a brain food: Fish is a protein source linked to a great brain boost. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids key for brain health. These healthy fats have amazing brain power. A diet with higher levels of fish have been linked to lower dementia and stroke risks and slower mental decline; plus, they may play an essential role in enhancing memory, especially as we get older. For brain and heart health, eat two servings of fish weekly.
Add a daily dose of nuts and chocolate: Nuts and seeds are good sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which is linked to less cognitive decline as you age. Dark chocolate also has other powerful antioxidant properties. It also contains natural stimulants like caffeine, which can enhance focus.
Add avocados: Every organ in our body, especially our heart and brain, depends on blood flow. A diet high in whole grains and fruits like avocados can cut the risk of heart disease and lower bad cholesterol. It reduces your risk of plaque buildup and enhances blood flow, offering a simple, tasty way to fire up brain cells. Whole grains, like popcorn and whole wheat, also contribute dietary fiber and vitamin E. Though avocados have fat, it is the good-for-you, monounsaturated fat that helps with healthy blood flow.
Blueberries are super nutritious: Animal research shows that blueberries may help protect the brain from the damage caused by free radicals and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Studies also show diets rich in blueberries improved both the learning and muscle function of aging rates, making them mentally equal to much younger rats.
Benefits of a Healthy Diet: If your diet lacks essential nutrients, it can hurt your ability to concentrate. Eating too much or too little can also interfere with your focus. A heavy meal may make you feel tired, while too few calories can result in distracting hunger pangs. Strive for a well-balanced diet full of a wide variety of healthy foods.
Vitamins, minerals and supplements?
Store shelves are crammed with supplements, claiming to boost health. Although many of the reports on the brain-boosting power of supplements like vitamins B, C, E, beta-carotene and magnesium are promising, a supplement is only useful to people whose diets are lacking in that specific nutrient. Researchers are cautiously optimistic about ginseng, ginko, and vitamin, mineral and herb combinations and their impact on the brain. Check with your doctor.
Prepare for a big day:
Do you want to power up your ability to concentrate? Start with a meal of 100% fruit juice, a whole-grain bagel with salmon, and a cup of coffee. In addition to eating a well-balance meal, experts also offer this advice:
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Stay hydrated
- Exercise to help sharpen thinking
- Meditate to clear thinking and relax
Have a great day!