By Chef K.T. Murphy
Your body is like a machine with many parts working together to make that machine run smoothly.
Your brain is the central part of your machine. It’s only 2% of your body weight, but it uses over 20% of your body’s energy.
While it may carry out millions of tasks each day to keep your body running smoothly, if you don’t take care of it, it can reach a point where it starts to slow down and affect your memory and focus.
Luckily, all your brain needs is a few simple fixes that come in the form of sleep, relaxation and eating the right amounts of the right types of foods. Just as you wouldn’t put just anything in your car and expect it to run, your brain also needs the right types of foods to work efficiently.
We all know by now that processed foods are bad for your health. They increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. But did you also know that eating foods high in sugar, salt and saturated fats can also have a negative impact on your energy and concentration levels?
The Negative Effects Of Diet On Nutrition
This can be due to a diet that’s low-fat because the brain requires certain essential fatty acids to work properly. And on the other side of the spectrum, diets high in fat also reduce memory and concentration levels.
It can also be due to eating foods high in sugar in its sucrose form and simple carbs, as white rice and flour, as they result in sugar crashes that greatly reduce concentration levels. In addition, if your diet is lacking in essential minerals and vitamins, especially vitamin B group and vitamin D, your ability to focus will get worse with time.
The reason we get cranky when we’re hungry is that blood sugar levels drop, so does our energy levels. And when we don’t have enough energy, we feel sluggish, and hence, are unable to focus on the task at hand.
While it may sound crazy that caffeine causes lack of focus, it’s true for all of us, especially for those who drink more than 2 cups per day. Over time, your body gets used to the large amounts of caffeine coursing through it and decreases its production of neurotransmitters which are responsible for concentration and attention.
People don’t realize how crucial water is to your concentration levels. Even 1% drop in normal hydration levels can have a negative impact on how well you concentrate. Dehydration can also bring on headaches, low moods and fatigue.
Just as there are factors that diminish focus, there are many factors that improve focus levels, such as:
A good diet
Those who eat a well-balanced breakfast tend to have improved short-term memory than those who didn’t pay much attention to it or skipped it altogether.
A nutritional diet should include minerals and vitamins as:
Magnesium which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and soothing effect on the brain
Zinc is important for the healthy production and performance of neurons; brain cells.
B vitamins are all known for maintaining good brain health. Thiamine (B1) especially helps boost mental strength and short-term memory. Vitamin B6 is crucial for keeping up focus levels. Vitamin B9 (folate) sustains memory and healthy brain function. If your body is lacking in vitamin B12, it can cause brain fog, confusion and memory loss.
Vitamin D could b a helping factor because it aids in the production of serotonin, one of the ‘feel-good’ hormones that help keep you focused and calm.
Vitamin E keeps up the brain’s energy and strength.
Protein is also very good for concentration because it’s considered the building blocks of the brain. Research shows that a high-protein diet, which includes lean meat, beans, omega-3 fatty acids, beans and nuts, can help improve concentration and focus.
While supplements aren’t substitutes for real food, they can come in handy, especially when your body is lacking in certain minerals and vitamins, and you’re unable to provide them through your daily diet.
Drink lots of water
Your brain is 85% water. It can’t function without it. The formula for water intake is you weught divided by 2. Example 300 pound ÷ 2 = 150 oz a day. Neurotransmitters and hormones produced by the brain rely on water. This is why when you drink plentiful amounts of water, you’ll be able to stay focused and alert for longer.
Knowing what to eat throughout the day can have such an immense effect on your ability to focus and concentrate. It can also greatly impact both your short-term and long-term mental health which can lead to an increase in productivity and efficiency.
All the best