Believe it or not, your eating habits can have a significant impact on your ability to focus and concentrate throughout the day. Let’s jump into what the heck we mean by Concentration Food and how you can start harnessing the power of a healthy diet for brain health!
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How Does Food Play a Role in Concentration?
Your brain uses between 300-500 calories a day. While your brain makes up only about 2% of your body mass, it makes up 20% of you daily energy expenditure.
Hungry Brain Cells
Essentially, this means all food is brain food. Taking in a sufficient amount of calories, protein and other essential nutrients is paramount to overall brain health.
However, research suggests that eating certain brain boosting foods can:
- Balance brain chemicals
- Improve cognitive function
- Reduce brain fog
- Improve energy levels
- Increase attention span
Eating a brain friendly diet can even protects cells from free radical damage and prevent cognitive decline as we age!
The Brain – Gut Connection
In addition to ensuring your brain has the building blocks it needs for optimal cognitive performance, it’s worth also thinking about the brain – gut connection.
Recent research suggests that the connection between the central nervous system and the enteric nervous system means that a happy tummy can contribute to a happy brain and greatly influence both mood and cognitive ability.
Neuroplasticity and Brain Function
Even more fascinating, there is evidence that neurological regulators of Neuroplasticity are impacted by food intake.
Neuroplasticity is an amazing feature of our brains – it refers to the ability of our brains to be flexible and rewire itself in a way that allows for changing perspectives and attitudes, the development of new habits and ways of thinking, improved mood, increased mental clarity, and reduced cognitive decline.
Read More about Neuroplasticity
The book The Power of Neuroplasticity by Shad Helmstedder provides powerful evidence of why Neuroplasticity is important and breaks down how “the thoughts we think physically rewire and reshape our brains and change our lives.”
The Right Foods for Optimal Brain Health
Let’s dive in and learn about foods that support brain health by providing the nutrients needed for mental performance and keep both our gut and our brain healthy.
Green tea is made from unoxidized tea leaves which means it contains more antioxidants and beneficial polyphenols than any other tea.
Polyphenols are organic chemical compounds that act in a protective and regenerative way in our bodies and are known to have health benefits for both our brain and our gut.
There has been loads of research in recent years on green tea and its potential positive effects on a number of health conditions. Research has investigated:
the prevention of cancer
impact on cardiovascular disease
- antioxidative, antibacterial, antiviral and neuroprotective powers
Green tea contains caffeine. Caffeine consumption is associated with improved focused attention and the ability to concentrate on one take at a time.
Green tea also includes l-theanine. L theanine helps increase alpha-wave activity in the brain which research has confirmed relaxed focus by reducing anxiety without causing drowsiness. Coupled with a lower caffeine content than regular tea or coffee, green tea is the perfect brain food for those who want to concentrate without getting overly activated or anxious.
This lemon grass and spearmint is as delicious as it is healthy!
To get the full benefit of increased alpha wave activity, pair your green tea with a concentrated l-theanine supplement.
Dark chocolate is a delicious treat and can support concentration, improve short term memory, and help keep you going when you feel tired.
Dark chocolate contains caffeine, which helps to improve mental concentration. It also contains tryptophan, a precursor to Serotonin, which improves mood and feelings of positivity, and magnesium which can help relieve stress and promote endorphins.
A positive mood decreases emotional distractions and helps your brain focus on the task at hand.
Beneficial gut bacteria are also a big fan of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate provides fuel for these bacteria improving your overall gut health. So, stock up on Dark Chocolate!
Leafy Green Vegetables
Leaf greens are high in antioxidants that protect cells and boost brain power. Green leafy vegetables are also rich in Vitamin B – a key component to healthy brain function, and folic acid which can improve mental clarity.
Leafy greens are also a good source of dietary fiber which can reduce hunger pangs that can sabotage our ability to focus.
Sufficient dietary fibre is a key component of optimal gut health. Research also suggests that leafy greens contain a specific type of sugar that provides fuel for beneficial gut bacteria.
If you have trouble incorporating leafy green vegetables into your daily diet, try adding Greens powder to your morning smoothie or to a glass of almond milk or juice with one of your meals.
Fatty fish are one of the better known brain foods. Fatty fish are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids which are known to improve memory and cognitive performance.
Omega 3 deficiency is associated with cognitive decline, decreased memory and depression. Fishing helps you relax and improve your mood. Omega 3 fatty acids have also been found to increase the diversity of gut bacteria!
Fish that contain the most Omega-3’s include Mackerel, Salmon, Herring, Oysters, Sardines, Anchovies, and Caviar.
For a vegan alternative to increasing your Omega-3 fatty acid intake include tree nuts in your diet and consider adding a supplement to your daily routine. Your brain cells will thank you! Here are a couple nice options.
Blueberries are a well known probiotic, improving healthy digestion, reducing inflammation, and improving gut bacteria.
Blueberries also increase concentration and memory by stimulating blood flow to the brain. The anti-inflammatory properties of blueberries are good for the brain, reducing the risks associated with brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders.
Avocados – in addition to being delicious – are a good source of unsaturated fats (aka healthy fats). Unsaturated fats are thought to play a role in decreasing blood pressure, which can in turn decrease risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological diseases that cause cognitive decline.
Research published in The Journal of Nutrition found eating avocados to be associated with microbiol diversity. More microbial diversity – happier, healthier gut!
Eggs – contains choline which helps reduce inflammation – this is a good thing for both your brain and your gut! Inflammation is No Beuno! Similar to dark chocolate, eating eggs boosts the levels of tryptophan in the brain, which helps us create Serotonin.
75% of your brain mass is made up of water. Getting enough water helps your brain cells function properly by increasing blow pressure and oxygen flow to the brain. Even slight dehydration can negatively impact brain function.
When it comes to gut health, people who drink more water have been found to have more good bacteria in their gut and less bad bacteria.
So, seriously, stay hydrated! 🙂
Eat for Concentration, Transform your Health
Turns out, eating foods that improve memory and concentration can also improve your overall health! This makes sense considering the connection between food, your enteric nervous system, your central nervous system and brain function.
A diet rich in the foods listed above (in addition to other brain friendly foods such as coffee, whole grains, pumpkin seeds, and olive oil) offer nearly endless health benefits including:
reduced risk of heart disease
increased energy levels
less cognitive decline
decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other Neurodegenerative diseases
Foods that keep your brain and gut happy are easy to incorporate into your diet. Buy yourself some dark chocolate and make yourself a salad topped with blueberries, pumpkin seeds, avocado and an olive oil dressing and you are already well on your way!
When your brain and body are working with you, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish!