Nutrition: how it can improve focus and concentration
In this modern fast-paced hyper-connected world, we all want to be as efficient as possible. We ask nutritionist Libby Limon, how to boost your brainpower and keep the mental light bulbs on from morning till evening.
Balance your blood sugar
Your brain requires a lot of energy to function. While it is only 2% of the total body weight it requires 20% of your resting metabolic rate calories. For sustained focus it needs a constant supply of energy supplied via the blood, this is most commonly supplied by glucose (sugar) broken down from the foods you eat.
Refined sugars and carbs spike the blood sugar stimulating the body to store rather than circulate the glucose. Instead switch to complex carbs including wholegrains, whole fruits and vegetables, then combine these with lean quality proteins, healthy fats and fibres. This combination will mean that the energy from the food you eat will be slowly broken down and released at a sustained rate so giving your brain (and the rest of your body) energy for hours.
The fats found in oily fish, krill, flax, chia, hemp seeds and walnuts, have been found in numerous studies to enhance cognitive function. In particular, one type of omega 3 called DHA is key in terms of maintaining healthy brain cell membranes, allowing the optimal function of your neurotransmitters, AKA your brain messengers.
Green tea contains 2 compounds caffeine and l-theanine, both of which can positively brain function. Caffeine is a stimulant; making you more alert and l-theanine works on the GABA pathway increasing focus and also making you feel calm. Overall studies have shown that consuming green tea regularly increases memory.
A 2006 study in Neurology showed that people who ate two or more daily servings of vegetables, especially leafy greens, had the mental focus of people five years their junior.
CoQ10 is required for the final steps of energy production in your body. There are Q10 receptors covering your thymus gland, the gland most associated with happy and sad feelings. Q10 is one of the very best nutrients to help improve energy, lighten things up, and feel motivated.
B6, folate and B12
These are good for memory and concentration, as these improve cognitive functioning of the brain and also prevent diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia as they protect the brain from nerve damage from a chemical called homocysteine involved in the development of these diseases. Foods such as fish, meat, whole grains, eggs and nuts are high in B6, leafy greens for folate and eggs, fish, meat, dairy and seaweed are high in B12.