Most of us have had those days that no matter what we do, we just can't get ourselves to get the ball rolling and finish the task at hand. You can try taking breaks, going to a coffee shop, or chugging some coffee, but you could also use another tactic and turn to foods that help you stay focused and productive. Although it may not be your first thought to rely on foods for a boost of concentration, certain nutrients can help improve your brain power, focus, and energy, helping you accomplish whatever it is you have to do, the all-natural way.
"The brain’s ability to focus is based on several things, including blood sugar balance, food sensitivities, and the function of the gastrointestinal tract," says Daphne Olivier, RD to Bustle over email. "Blood sugar balance occurs when you have appropriate balance of carbohydrates (healthy carbs preferred), protein, and healthy fats."
Foods high in cell-protecting antioxidants are always your best bet when you're feeling like your brain is a bit hazy or you're just unmotivated. If you're finding yourself easily distracted and in need of productivity boost, consider eating the following seven brain foods that can help improve your focus.
1. Whole Grains
Studies have found that children who ate a high fiber, complex carbohydrate breakfast performed better in school, showing a 20 percent improvement on memory tasks. "Whole grains provide a source of sustained energy and digest more slowly than refined grains," says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN over email. "If possible, go for whole grains like oatmeal that are less processed than wheat bread."
2. Leafy Greens
Research from the Journal of Neurology found that people who ate leafy greens daily showed the same mental focus as someone five years younger than them. Vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collard greens contain a variety of nutrients including vitamin K, a nutrient known to enhance brain function.
3. Green Tea
"Caffeine in green tea can energize you and help you focus," says Harris-Pincus. A study published in the journal Pharmacology found that green tea increases the brain’s effective connectivity, leads to an improvement in cognitive performance and memory. The drink contains an antioxidant called EGCG that fights off degenerative diseases and helps with memory and spatial learning.
"Wild caught salmon is a great source of protein and is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which can balance blood sugar and decrease inflammation in the brain," says Olivier. Research has found that omega-3 fatty acids help improve cognitive and intellectual functioning in the brain.
These particular fruits are high in antioxidants, making them a great source of power and protection for your brain. "Berries (particularly blueberries), can aid in protecting the brain from free radical damage that contributes to diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia," says Harris-Pincus. Studies from Tuft University show that berries may able to enhance motor performance as well as improve cognition.
"Walnuts are a great mix of healthy protein and fat," says Olivier. "They are also full of omega-3 fatty acids." Studies from UCLA show that just a few walnuts a day can improve your memory, concentration, and brain-processing speed.
Avocado is an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, which can help preserve memory and improve brain functioning. "Avocado can be used to create blood sugar balance to add in addition to low glycemic carbohydrates," says Olivier.
In addition to these foods, which can be incorporated throughout the day to keep you on track, it's also important to get good rest, exercise, and load up on water to increase your productivity and focus.
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