This is a guest post by Helen Sanders, chief editor at Health Ambition.
We are all well aware of how important it is to consume a nutritious and well balanced diet.
It plays an important role in maintaining your physical health, but it was only during my research on the benefits of fasting that I realized how much impact it could also have on your mental health.
Perhaps you’re studying for an important test or the day has arrived for that life-changing exam. There’s so much information out there with suggestions on how to boost your brain power it can be somewhat mind boggling to say the least.
So can a good diet really keep you focused and ready for success? I thought I would do some mind training myself to see if this one is a no brainer.
There are many contributing factors to a lack of concentration, but a poor diet can be one of them.
We’ve all been there. The clock arrives at the dreaded hour of 3pm, the afternoon lull sets in and you’re finding it a struggle to keep your eyes on the monitor. You become restless and morale hits rock bottom.
In today’s fast paced world, many people’s diets are filled with TV dinners or fast food purely because of convenience. These processed foods are notorious for being high in trans fats without much nutritional value.
So let’s see if boosting your diet could slow down the brain drain.
The “Brain Diet”
The brain needs nutrients to function, just like any other part of the body. Just as you fuel your body for energy, you also fuel the brain. But which nutrients are most important and how exactly do they benefit you?
Fatty acids, in particular the polyunsaturated variety like those from omega 3s, promote brain health and improve memory.
The brain converts the foods (with the help of insulin) we eat into glucose, which is then used as its main energy source to allow the brain to work at its best and stay alert.
Some food sources are converted more quickly than others which can lead to a rush of energy followed by a total downward spiral. This is where the phrase “crash and burn” takes its meaning.
Certain amino acids, namely those found in protein, are the building blocks for neurotransmitters in the brain which are renowned for their controlling effects on mood, motivation, anxiety, learning and memory (source).
These powerful little guys are famous for their fight against free radicals in the body. Free radicals are created when glucose is processed into energy.
This is a natural and important process, however, too high a number of free radicals can be harmful to cells and can cause numerous diseases including cancer.
Do These Nutrients Really Keep You Focused?
Keeping your Brain Alert
By eating the right kind of brain foods, your energy levels should be working at the optimum levels so your mind will be as sharp as a razor when it comes to that quick fire question and answer session.
It’s not just what you eat, but also when you eat that could improve energy levels and performance.
Breakfast is known for being the most important meal of the day, but the harsh reality is that up to 30% of the population skip it. Research suggests that breakfast consumption may improve cognitive function related to memory, test grades, and for children even school attendance (source).
Which Foods Are The Best For Brain Boost?
- Fish – Salmon in particular has massive brain boost potential. It’s packed full of omega 3 essential fatty acids and is also a good source of vitamin B12 which is vital for a healthy mind
- Eggs – Eggs are full of protein and the amino acid called tryptophan which helps make serotonin – the happy mood enhancer. Eggs also contain vitamin B12 which is important for memory and concentration.
- Blueberries – Rich in powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory constituents, blueberries are beneficial to memory and learning. Labelled as one of nature’s superfoods, blueberries not only taste great but can protect the brain from stress and damage.
- Leafy greens – Kale, spinach and friends are packed full of nutrient dense stress relieving B vitamins and folic acid which is said to fend off memory loss.
Eating the right foods can have so many potential benefits when it comes to a healthy mind, I have no doubt it’s an important piece of the cranium jigsaw puzzle.
Either way, leading a happier, healthier lifestyle is definitely food for thought.