By nutritiontogo, May 19 2015 04:48PM
If you listen to the hype about so-called "super foods", they can help your body to do everything from sharpening focus and enhancing memory, to improving attention span and brain function. But do they really work and which foods truly deserve the "super" title?
While there may not be miracle foods that can transform your mind into the realm of genius over night, there are certainly brain-food nutrients out there that can help with concentration. So, got a big day ahead or an exam looming, why not give the following foods a try?
It is also worth remembering to get a good night's sleep, keep hydrated, stay active and try meditation - all of which can help to calm the mind, enhance focus and support clear thinking.
Eat a smart breakfast
While it may be a bit of a cliche, breakfast is an incredibly important meal of the day.
If you're tempted to skip it, because you're in a rush or feeling stressed, don't! The right breakfast can supply your brain with fuel that is essential for both attention and short-term memory. By contrast, missing breakfast can leave you feeling tired and unable to concentrate. For example, studies have found that students who eat it tend to perform better than those who don’t.
But we aren't just talking about any old breakfast - a slice of buttered toast or poptart just isn't going to cut it. Foods at the top of researchers' breakfast brain-fuel lists include high-fibre whole grains and fruits. Organic whole grain oats, for instance, help to keep your blood sugar levels stable and provide an excellent source of slow-release energy (without leaving you feeling sluggish). Whether cooked into a warming blend of yumminess or blended with fresh fruit in a smoothie, oats provide your body with a wide range of benefits.
But a word of warning - don't overeat! Researchers also found that high-calorie breakfasts can sometimes hinder concentration.
Despite your instincts, avoid caffeine!
When you're feeling tired or in need of a quick boost, it's a natural instinct to reach for a strong cup of coffee, tea or sugary snack to help with energy levels. But, while you might benefit from a short-term "buzz", in the long-term this cycle can leave you feeling even more tired and struggling to concentrate.
According to research from Dr Peter Rogers at Bristol University, it is more likely that this short-term sensation is simply relief from the symptoms of withdrawal - coffee is addictive! Plus, rather than making us feel better and improving concentration, there is evidence to suggest that coffee actually worsens mental performance and has an adverse impact on overall health (not least because its highly acid-forming in the body).
Caffeine is actually known to block the receptors for a brain chemical called adenosine, which is responsible for stopping the release of dopamine and adrenalin (motivating neurotransmitters). With less adenosine activity, levels of dopamine and adrenalin increase, with a corresponding increase in alertness and motivation.
The trouble is, the more caffeine you have, the more your body, and brain in particular, become less sensitive to its own natural stimulants. This is how the vicious cycle is triggered - you then need more and more stimulants just to feel normal and alert.
It's therefore a far better idea to keep your mind and body consistently strong with the help of a nutrient-rich diet and, when you're in need of a little extra support, opt for natural energy-boosters like:
Eggs: egg yolks are naturally rich in B-vitamins, which are responsible for converting food into energy. They are also a great source of protein - a macro nutrient required for almost every process in the body.
Soybeans: High in energising nutrients like B-vitamins, copper and phosphorous, soybeans help to break down carbohydrates into glucose for fuel and help to transport oxygen throughout the body.
Wheatgrass: The broad spectrum and high quantity of vitamins and minerals found in chlorophyll - one of the major constituents of wheatgrass - mean that it is considered to be one of nature's greatest superfoods. There is also a surprising amount of high-quality protein in wheatgrass, making it an excellent energy source.
Nuts: All foods provide some level of energy, but some come packed with energy potential. Nuts tend to have a high number of healthy calories per serving, making them an ideal snack for delivering high energy in a small serving. They are also a great source of the potent antioxidant, vitamin E (linked to a slower rate of cognitive decline as you age).
And whole grain cereal: High-fibre whole grain cereals help to slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream, which ultimately translates into more consistent energy levels throughout the day.
Fish really is brain food
Fish for the brain!
A healthy, lean protein source linked to brain boosting is fish, and oily fish in particular. Why? Well, for one thing, it is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids which are essential for brain health and cognitive function.
A healthy diet for the long-term
Nothing supports energy levels, mental focus and concentration like a healthy body that is in balance. Consistently receiving the broad spectrum of nutrients that it needs for fuel will help your brain to stay sharp and alert. In stark contrast, a diet that is nutrient-poor, filled with "empty" calories and harmful chemicals and toxins can only hurt your ability to concentrate.
Always aim for a well-balanced diet, packed with cleansing, alkalising and protective nutrients from natural whole foods like fruit, vegetables, green leafy plants, seeds, nuts, legumes and whole grains.
Vitamins, minerals and other health supplements
If you want to support your brain and concentration levels, why not supplement with vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients in conjunction with your balanced diet?
Protein shakes, vitamin C, probiotics, B-vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants and Omega oils are all popular additions to the diet for this particular health goal.
TRY : PURE KRILL OIL, VIT C PLUS, ORGANIC SUPERGREENS WITH VITMINS, 8 STRAIN MULTI FLORA, ORGANIC MULTIVITS & SUPERFOODS, FORMULA 1 SHAKE AND FORMULA 2 VITMINS