There is very little downtime in modern life. We are faced with a barrage of decisions to make daily, and this means that we need to keep our minds active and keen.
Diet can help with this. Certain foods and snacks will promote a sharp and healthy mind, boosting our brains and keeping foggy thinking at bay. Let’s look at some of the most impactful foodstuffs that can keep mental fatigue at bay.
Making fish a regular addition to your diet is key to a healthy brain. There’s just one caveat to this. Ensure that your fish is coated with scales, not breadcrumbs.
Some of the finest examples of fish for the brain are:
The key reason for this at the fats found in fish – most notably Omega-3 fatty acids. Whenever you consume these fats, new membranes are built around every organ in the body. This includes the brain – which means that the neurons found in brain calls are protected.
What’s more, Omega-3 fatty acids promote greater blood flow around the body. Naturally, this means that blood will reach the brain with greater regularity. This improves the ability to think clearly and coherently.
There is no shortage of reasons why you should be snacking on berries. Blueberries, in particular, are packed with goodness. The fact that they also taste sweet and succulent is just a bonus.
The main reason that blueberries contain brain-boosting qualities is the presence of antioxidants. Antioxidants are an essential addition to your body’s natural immune system, going to war against harmful molecules known as free radicals.
Free radicals are electrons in the body that have split apart. As electrons prefer to bond in pairs, free radicals roam the body in the search of a partner – attacking major organs as they go.
The brain is no exception to this. The antioxidants found in blueberries will combat free radicals and boost blood flow to the brain. This will enhance the ability to think clearly and improve memory.
This has both short– and long-term benefits. Not only will you feel sharper and smarter in the moment, but you’ll also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and associated conditions in later life.
Nuts and Seeds
If you like to pick and snack at your desk in the office, nuts and seeds are the way to go. These foods provide a rich source of both antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids. Most nuts are also packed with Vitamin E, which is a natural source of antioxidants. Nuts and seeds are also a natural way to consume protein.
The best ingredients to bringing into your daily routine are:
- Sunflower Seeds
- Pumpkin Seeds
Nuts and seeds also contain a secret weapon in the form of arginine. This is an amino acid that stimulates the pituitary gland in the brain. This gland releases somatotropin (aka Human Growth Hormone).
Somatotropin stimulates health and function of every organ in the body – including the brain. After the age of around 35, production of the hormone slows down substantially. Therefore, it becomes harder to retain memories as we grow older.
By regularly snacking on nuts and seeds, we can compensate for this drop of naturally–produced somatotropin by consuming arginine. Nuts and seeds won’t just make you concentrate in the moment – they’ll help you retain a sharp mind later in life, too.
There are plenty of reasons why you should eat your greens, and brain health is just another. These ingredients are filled with Vitamin K and folate (Vitamin B12).
In addition, leafy greens are high in iron. Iron transports blood effortlessly around the body, which means that it will reach the brain regularly. This will help you concentrate.
Consider building your daily lunch around leafy greens. This is the fast track to a sharp mind throughout the afternoon – and considerably reduced risk of cognitive dysfunction in the future.
Dark chocolate has long been associated with heart health, but the news keeps getting better for those with a sweet tooth.
Cacao, the key ingredient of chocolate, is packed with flavonoids. As flavonoids are a form of antioxidant, this means that enjoying dark chocolate ensures that you’re treating your brain as much as your palate.
This is important to remember – the secret to brain health is cacao. This means that simply munching on a bag of M&Ms will not be doing you any favours.
You’ll need to look for the darkest chocolate possible, with the highest percentage of cacao content. You may need to retrain your taste buds to appreciate these flavours, but you’ll be glad that you did in the longer term.
Dark chocolate is particularly potent when you need to take in new information. Flavonoids gather around the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that retains new data. Tuck into a bar of 85% cacao dark chocolate before attending a meeting or conference and you’ll recall everything that’s discussed.
You may have heard of bulletproof coffee and written it off as just another celebrity-inspired fad. It certainly doesn’t sound appealing on paper to many people.
Bulletproof coffee mixes coffee and milk with unsalted butter and coconut oil. Adding Brain Octane Oil, an over-the-counter supplement, will go even further.
While it’s true that this diet has been popularised by fitness gurus and followers of the ketogenic diet, it was designed to boost the mind more than the body.
The American lifestyle guru Dave Asprey invented bulletproof coffee as a beverage to keep brain fog at bay and ensure that we can concentrate throughout a long working day.
The thinking is simple. The coconut oil and butter found in bulletproof coffee are loaded with medium chain triglycerides, or MCTs. These are fats that promote a healthy brain.
However, do bear in mind that they are still fats. If you are going to bring bulletproof coffee into your life, you’ll need to amend your diet elsewhere. Cut down on carbohydrates to accommodate these excess fats.There is very little downtime in modern life. We are faced with a barrage of decisions to make daily, and this means that we need to keep our minds active and keen.
Written by Bev Walton, BSc Nutritional Science
I achieved a First-Class Honours degree in BSc Nutritional Science, Nutrition Sciences from the University of Reading and now have over 35 years experience in all types of cuisine, dietary plans, recipe development, health and nutrition. I have been writing for over 10 years for magazines and websites as well as ghostwriting for ebooks, Kindle and fully published books. I’m also a proud member of the Guild of Food writers.