While your brain may not be a muscle – it is mostly a combination of gray and white matter that contains a little bit of muscle – you should definitely treat it like a muscle. Your brain needs to be properly fueled and exercised in order to function properly. All of the brain’s abilities, from controlling body functionality, memory, and handling the actual process of thinking are dependent on your diet. Your diet is basically fuel for your various organs and the quality of that fuel affects how well they function. This is especially true for your brain.
If you are trying to improve your concentration and focus, improving your diet is an easy way to begin. Your diet will keep your brain physically healthy so that it can function at optimal capacity. It will also stimulate your brain in order to amplify its abilities and make you more alert. It can even help calm your mental state so that you are in a better mood to focus on the situation at hand.
Creating a proper brain-food diet can seem daunting. Planning meals to purposefully affect your health is definitely not easy. But you don’t have to create elaborate meals to properly fuel your brain. The majority of brain food are whole, natural foods that are simple to prepare or can be eaten as is with no preparation. Some of the best brain fuel works best as additions to meals.
Keep reading to learn about some of the best brain foods available that you can easily include in your diet to improve concentration and focus.
The first step to improving your brain’s ability to concentrate and focus is to make sure it is functioning at optimal capacity. Your body needs water in general for your organs to operate, so keeping hydrated is a must. When it comes to your brain, water also serves as the conduit for electrical energy for all brain functionality including the memory and thought process. Staying hydrated will help you think faster, stay focused, and improve clarity and creativity.
2. Oily Fish
Fatty and oily fish are some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient which does wonders for brain functionality and brain health. Omega-s improve the structure of neurons, the brain cells responsible for transmitting information by building cellular membranes. The stronger your neurons, the healthier your brain will be. Essential fatty acids also help with serotonin production which is a hormone that helps to manage stress; it’s considered to be a good mood brain chemical. It is hard to concentrate on anything if you’re in a bad mood. You can’t recollect where you left your wallet, phone or keys if you’re stressed or tired. If you are planning on investing in a smart key finder to track your valuables faster, then hey, that’s a great idea. However, eating omega 3 fatty rich foods can still have an impact on your mood and mental acuity.
So here are some of the best fatty fish choices:
3. Dark Chocolate
No one ever said that eating healthy had to be unenjoyable. Chocolate is one of the best foods that you can eat to improve your brain’s ability to focus and concentrate. Not just any chocolate will do though; you have to make sure you’re eating the dark chocolate variety. Dark chocolate contains caffeine which can raise your mental alertness. It also contains magnesium, a mineral which triggers the release of endorphins and serotonin; two hormones which destresses your brain and regulates your mood. Just because dark chocolate is good for your brain doesn’t mean you should go overboard though. There is too much of a good thing.
Berries do a lot for your brain, mostly because they contain large amounts of antioxidants. They keep your brain healthy, by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress which is caused by free radical damage. Free radicals are necessary for fighting off pathogens that can cause infections, but when there are too many, they can begin to damage fatty tissue and necessary proteins. Since the brain is made primarily of fatty tissue, this is something best avoided. Keeping the free radical count down will increase brain plasticity and reduce cognitive decline.
5. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are probably the second best source for omega-3 fatty acids after fatty fish. They also are amazing sources of vitamin E, a nutrient that protects the brain’s cells from oxidative stress brought upon by a surplus of free radicals. There are a lot of seeds and nuts to choose from so it shouldn’t be a problem to include them in your diet. You can add them to meals like salads and pasta or eat them as snacks. A good jar of trail mix can go a long way in keeping your cognitive abilities sharp.
Some of the best nuts and seeds for vitamin E are:
- Sunflower seeds
6. Whole Grains
Whole grains are a must for improving your ability to concentrate and focus. They are not only a good source of vitamin E, but they also provide your body with carbs and the much needed energy they provide. The brain requires energy to function at optimum capacity; without it you will think slower and be less alert. More importantly, it is easy to include whole grains in your diet.
Some good whole grains include:
- Brown rice
- Whole grain pasta
- Whole grain bread
- Whole grain wheat
Coffee has been the preferred concentration aid for university students and office workers for ages. It has the dual functionality of keeping a person awake and increasing their ability to focus; the perfect solution for a late-night study session. Of course, it isn’t the coffee that does this, it’s the caffeine contained inside the coffee. Caffeine blocks adenosine, a substance in the brain that is responsible for making people feel sleepy, thereby making people feel more alert
Caffeine has also been shown to cause an increase in brain entropy. Brain entropy is a fancy way of referring to complex and variable brain activity. When a person’s brain entropy is high, their brain will be able to process more information effectively. The only drawback to coffee is that taking too much or taking it at the wrong time of day can affect a person’s sleep. Coffee itself flushes out of your system relatively quickly, but caffeine has a half-life of 5-6 hours. That means every 5-6 hours, the caffeine in your system is reduced by half. So, try not to overdo it or drink caffeine too late at night, lest it begin to affect your sleep schedule. That would be counterproductive to improving your focusing and concentration abilities.
Believe it or not, avocados are also a top tier brain food option. They are filled with unsaturated fats and oils that support the brain. Monounsaturated fats, like those found in avocados are great for reducing blood pressure. This indirectly improves your brain’s functionality because high blood pressure has been associated with cognitive decline. Avocados are also great supplementary sources of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re not as potent as fatty fish, but you can definitely benefit from their content. This is especially true for people who have to maintain a meat restricted diet for whichever reason.
The best thing about avocadoes besides their effect on the brain is their versatility. Not only can you eat this interesting fruit on its own, but there are a wide variety of avocado dishes to choose from. Everything from Avocado milkshake, ice cream, to guacamole, to avocado and toast is at your disposal.
As a general rule of thumb, green vegetables are considered to be the best veggies to eat for your brain. But that’s only a general rule. In actuality, lots of veggies play a crucial role in keeping your cognitive abilities up to snuff. Tomato is one of the best vegetables (or fruits) to eat for your brain because they contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Lycopene kills free radicals that can cause oxidative stress if left unchecked.
Tomatoes are also quite versatile, so you can include them in quite a few different dishes. They also make great standalone snacks or appetizers. Sun dried tomatoes with olive oil is one of this world’s most delectable snacks. It’s to the point that the tomato’s brain boosting abilities are only the second reason why you should eat them
Eggs are some of the best sources of protein around, which is important because your brain needs protein like any other part of your body. But eggs are more than just really great protein choices. They also contain lutein and choline, two essential nutrients that your brain needs to develop and function properly.
Lutein is a carotenoid that improves eye health, but also improves cognitive functionality in adults. Choline plays a key role in fetal brain development, but you will need it throughout the remainder of your life, as it also helps to improve brain functionality. Unfortunately, many adults fail to get enough choline in their system. Senior citizens consume less than half their daily requirement of choline on a regular basis. Including an egg everyday in diet would help overcome this deficit.
Broccoli, the king of cruciferous vegetables is exactly what the brain doctor ordered – if he didn’t, he really should have. This big green vegetable is a wonderful source of dietary fiber and compounds known as glucosinolates. When the body breaks down glucosinolates it produces compound known as isothiocyanantes. These compounds play a role in reducing oxidative stress and lowering the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases, so your brain can focus and concentrate at maximum capacity.
If broccoli really isn’t your thing, you can still get all the glucosinolates you need from other cruciferous type vegetables:
- Bok choy
- Brussels sprouts
Leafy green vegetables like kale are some of the best foods you can eat for your brain. Kale contains glucosinolates like broccoli, but it also has a full gambit of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. Leafy green veggies are gigantic nutrient powerhouse; many of them are considered to be a superfood.
They are a great source of B vitamins in particular. Vitamin B have been proven to improve the brain’s ability to focus, increase brain power, and even improve memory. Kale also contains folic acid, a compound shown to improve mental clarity which makes it easier to concentrate.
13. Soy Products
Most people already think of soybean products as health food, so it’s no surprise that it plays a role in brain health. Soy products are rich in a certain group of antioxidants known as polyphenols. These antioxidants help to reduce the effects of age-related cognitive degeneration and cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. They also improve your cognitive abilities as you age.
The best reason to invest in soy products though, is that they are extremely versatile. Tofu can be used in a variety of meals and comes in a large range of flavors and textures.
14. Green Tea
Green tea improves your ability to concentrate and focus in a couple ways. Firstly, it contains caffeine which improves your alertness and helps to grant mental clarity. Secondly, it contains L’theanine, an ingredient that plays a role in increasing alpha wave activity. Your alpha waves increase tranquility and cause caffeine to be released at a slower rate. These two compounds work together to improve focus and concentration.
Turmeric is a top tier spice for many reasons, but mostly because it tastes amazing and has sensational health benefits. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric helps to reduce inflammation which can make it hard to focus. It also has the ability to directly enter brain cells and even help new cells grow. Now, it’s time to make that turmeric latte a regular in your menu!
All of the foods listed above benefit your concentration and memory in some way. It is important to remember though that the most important thing for eating to improve cognitive abilities is to maintain a balanced diet. Your brain requires a lot of different nutrients and a lot of personal care. Treat these foods as brain improvement supplements and ensure you don’t make them your entire diet.