We all know eating healthy is always good for us, but what other foods can we indulge with that can serve as a brain stimulant?
Food can not only help us maintain a well-being and a certain desired weight, but it also affects our brain, therefore our productivity at work and our everyday errands and mood swings too. The ingredients that enter our brains through our blood stream have the power to either make us focus better or lose focus.
When we're busy at work, food may not be the first thing in our “to do” list - but it should be. Skipping meals is a false economy that will quickly lead to decreased energy and productivity. Without a regular supply of nutritious foods throughout the day, our bodies would not get the vitamins, minerals, and protein that they need. The first step of a productive day should start with a breakfast, now let's talk about what kind of food boosts our brains most.
The first things to eliminate, or reduce as a start, are the popular and easily accessible options that a lot of people reach out for when busy at work, such as ready meals and fast food. Try to avoid carbs at lunch (bread, pasta, potatoes, which includes French fries) and sugary snacks (donuts, candy bars, and even some granola bars). Instead, eat mini snacks throughout the day that include walnuts, almonds, and fruit, fresh, dried or frozen. If it’s dried, make sure sugar has not been added. Something to pay attention to is that when it comes to being more productive at work, we're more likely to look at external factors, like how we plan and organise our work, rather than internal ones, like how we're fuelling our body without bearing in mind that they are strongly related.
Fruits and nuts always hold the number one choice of a healthy snack, and here is why they are stimulating our focus too.
Berries have potent combinations of antioxidants that improve both memory and motor coordination. Neuroscientist James A. Joseph says that the antioxidants in berries counteract oxidative stress and function as anti-inflammatory agents, which are "the evil twins of brain ageing." Researcher Leigh Gibson found that "the brain works best with about 25 grams of glucose circulating in the blood stream — about the amount found in a banana."
Nuts contain protein, high amounts of fiber, and they are rich in beneficial fats. For getting an immediate energy boost that won’t turn into a spike later, you can’t do better than nuts. Nuts also contain plenty of vitamin E, which is essential to cognitive function.
But apart from these healthy and familiar goodness snacks, there are few delicious brain-boosting types of food and beverages that we can allow ourselves to consume guilty-free while enjoying their benefits:
Hummus combines the protein of chickpeas and sesame-based tahini with vitamin-C-packed lemon juice and the essential fatty acids in olive oil. Hummus as a whole contains plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are great for improving intelligence and maintaining a healthy heart. On top of it all, this dish also has iron, vitamin B6, manganese, copper, folic acid, and amino acids. Tryptophan, phenylalanine, and tyrosine are the amino acids found in hummus that can promote good quality sleep and uplift one’s mood.
Sweet potatoes have more Vitamin C, fewer calories, more fiber and fewer carbs than the white potatoes. They are loaded with carotenoids, giving them a rich orange color. Carotenoids are important for the brain because they act as antioxidants, protecting cells from damage. Carotenoids also help form vitamin A, which is important in helping to sprout new neurons and to help neurons find each other to form new connections.
Peanut Butter has healthy fats in the form of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated that your brain and body both need. For years these types of fats were lumped together with saturated fat and labeled bad as part of the low-fat and no-fat dieting strategies. But the more that is discovered about these fats the more it’s seen how essential they are to overall health. You’ll have to get the kind of peanut butter that is made from only peanuts, preferably organic, as you don’t want any of the additional oils that are added to many conventional peanut butter brands.
Honey is made up of equal parts of glucose and fructose and it contains a variety of B-vitamins, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and anti-oxidants – all of which are good for brain health. The fructose in honey fuels the brain, which is the most energy demanding organ in the body. Thus, honey protects the brain from mental exhaustion and keeps the brain perked up.
Chocolate – Dark chocolate contains antioxidant properties that increase the production of endorphins while enhancing focus and concentration, whereas milk chocolate is good for quickening reaction time and improving verbal and visual memory.
Coffee benefits to your brain in addition to providing you with a detectable energy boost (note: it’s not as simple as boosting your brain-power, but it can make you work more effectively). A study from Johns Hopkins University found swallowing the amount of caffeine in one or two cups of coffee boosts a person’s memory for new information by roughly 10 percent. Caffeine helps ramp up the activity of those brain chemicals involved in memory storage. There’s also some evidence that coffee may strengthen the sense-based information your brain collects.
Red Wine - For several years wine has been recommended by doctors for its ability to thin the blood, and prevent heart disease and cancer. The resveratrol it contains has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, but it’s especially unique because it’s able to cross the blood-brain barrier, something most antioxidants and other substances are unable to do. This means that the positive effects of antioxidants are able to reach your brain cells and protect them from damage.
According to the World Health Organization, with the right ingredients, we can boost brain power by as much as 20%. This number is enough to make us brain fit without giving up on the little daily temptations.