We all have trouble focusing and giving our full attention in situations at times, but if you find this happening more and more, it could be your brain isn’t getting all the brain food it needs to perform at its best. We often expect that our cognitive faculties aren’t going to be quite as sharp as we get older, but according to research reported in the British Medical Journalwe can start showing reduced memory and the capacity to reason as young as 45. Our brains use a majority of the nutrients we eat and use a great percentage of our energy. Even though the brain in an adult is only about 2% of our body weight, it uses around 20 to 25% of our energy and that’s just when it’s at rest. According to the CDC Second Nutrition Report In 2012 American adults and children are severely lacking in the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and other nutrients that the brain needs to function. For a healthy brain that will support focus, attention, concentration and memory here are a few brain foods that can help.
Seeds and Nuts
Nuts and seeds in general are rich in vitamin E that can help keep you sharp as you get older and have the amino acids and essential oils that help you be able to focus better. Almonds in particular make a great brain food snack as they give you vitamin E and magnesium that can help give you a boost in energy and concentration when you are feeling drained. Adding flaxseeds to your cereals, salads and yogurt is a good way to get some extra magnesium, B-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and fiber for a brain boost. All these nutrients help the brain stay mentally sharp and able to focus clearly. AFA bluegreen algae is another good source for the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that the brain craves including the perfect ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids. This form of AFA with the cell wall removed allows the nutrients to cross the blood brain barrier more easily.
You probably know that blueberries are high in antioxidants which are good for brain health because they fight off damage from free radicals which the brain is particularly susceptible to. But did you know that the anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, resveratrol and tannins antioxidants all found in blueberries are reported to keep your brain sharp and focused by helping get more blood and oxygen to the brain. In fact some research has found eating blueberries can boost concentration and memory for as long as 5 hours. For an added bonus they also help with protection against heart disease, dementia and cancers.
Wholefood Algae Booster
When you really need to be focused, sharp and able to concentrate, here’s a winning combination – the wholefood nutrition of organic wild bluegreen algae, eleuthero, Ginkgo biloba, Lion’s Mane, bee pollen, wheatgrass juice, and noni. Ginkgo biloba has long been used to enhance memory, bee pollen has a high amino acid content for stimulating memory and concentration, and wheatgrass juice has been reported to have nutrients that support brain health and clearer thinking. All these along with the wholefood nutrition of AFA bluegreen algae are available in this algae supplement. For a super easy way to get a wide variety of nutrition for body and brain, this blend of marine and freshwater algae, tonic mushrooms, and sprouted grasses and grains, give you some of the most nourishing foods on the planet; combined with probiotics and digestive enzymes.
You probably know how important staying hydrated is for your body and that the body can go for much longer periods of time without food than it can water. But do you know how important drinking water is for your brain? All your thought, memory processes, and brain functions depend on the energy production for which water is vital. Research shows drinking water can help your focus, mental clarity, and help you think faster.
Orexin neurons are cells in the brain that keep you awake and protein can stimulate these. You can give your brain a protein boost with lean meats, dairy, eggs and fish. For an extra brain boost go with fatty fish like salmon as research has shown that the DHA essential fatty acids have a positive effect on memory and can protect against disease that affect cognitive abilities such as dementia. A deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to mood swings, depression, lack of energy and poor memory and your fatty fish being full of this fatty acid makes it a great brain food.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Another category of great foods for antioxidant protection as well as carotenoids is leafy green vegetables. One study done in 2006 reported findings in Neurology showing that eating a minimum of 2 servings a day of leafy green vegetables can increase mental focus to that of someone 5 years younger than your current age. They also are a good source for B vitamins that are good for memory and focus and have folic acid for mental clarity.
While on the subject of antioxidants that protect the brain, green tea deserves a mention. It can also be a pick-me-up and give you improved focus and attention because it has caffeine and l’theanine that helps release that caffeine slowly instead of in a single burst that leaves you spiking then crashing later.
When looking for a healthy treat, you can satisfy your taste buds and give your brain a boost with dark chocolate. It has some caffeine to wake you up and has antioxidants for protecting from free radical damage. But the extra brain boost comes from the magnesium you get from the chocolate that helps fight off effects of stress and helps trigger endorphins and serotonin, the feel good hormones. The flavonols it contains also improve circulation which means help getting more blood to the brain. You won’t get the same results from regular milk chocolate candy bars that are full of sugar though. Those just give you a short lived rise in blood sugar that wears off quickly leaving you worse off than before. Look for dark chocolate with a minimum of 70% cocoa. As long as you are getting the real cocoa, you don’t have to stick with bars either. A study from Northumbria University in England used cocoa in shakes with students and reported findings of better performance on math tests after drinking these shakes.
Avocados are a good brain food for several reasons. One, it is a good source of healthy fat and the brain needs lots of good fats to function properly. Two, they support blood flow to the brain and three, they have fiber that can help you from getting distracted by feeling hungry.
You depend on your brain and all its functions for so much. Make sure it can depend on you in return to give it the nourishment it needs to work at its best. You and your brain can make a great team and as long as you give it what it needs, your brain will help you by keeping you alert, attentive, focused, sharp and able to depend on it to remember all you have to remember.
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Bruno, Jeffrey PhD, Eat Light and Feel Bright