Tuesday, 03 November 2015 12:28

Brain foods that help you concentrate

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Staying focused in today’s world can be challenging. Technology provides myriad of distractions. The constant ping from your cell phone and e-mails —alerting you to the latest social media notification or text message—can cause even the most focused individual to become scattered.

But technology isn’t solely to blame. Constant stress in the form of multi-tasking, worries and rushing also can add to the challenge. Your ability to ignore distractions also declines as you get older. 

What many people may not realize is that diet can influence their ability to focus. Certain foods provide the brain with the necessary nourishment to help you concentrate. Many people are quick to turn to coffee for an energy boost. However, a variety of other alternatives can improve your ability to focus, while also providing an abundance of other health benefits. 

Coconut oil

As far back as 2004, a study published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging determined that coconut oil improved cognitive function among older folks with memory problems and even Alzheimer's disease.Long chain triglycerides contain chains with 14 to 18 carbon atoms. But coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCT) with shorter chains of 5 to 12 carbon atoms, which are easily metabolized by the liver to produce ketone bodies that can replace glucose as metabolic fuel.As we age, the brain's ability to metabolize glucose for energy wanes, especially for those who have a metabolic disorder or insulin resistance. But coconut oil created ketones can be used as cellular fuel in the brain when glucose is not available.

Walnuts

According to a 2015 research published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, consuming a handful of walnuts per day can lead to cognitive benefits, regardless of age. Walnuts, in comparison to other nuts, contain the highest-level of antioxidants, which help to promote brain function. They also contain alpha-linolenic acid, a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid that is important for brain health and development. Because walnuts are relatively high in fat and calories, no more than an ounce per day is recommended. 

Blueberries

Blueberries are also high in antioxidants, particularly anthocyanin, which has been shown to fight inflammation and improve cognitive brain functions. Blueberries make for the perfect snack since they are low in calories, but high in nutrients such as fiber, manganese, vitamin K, and vitamin C.

Salmon

Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fat that may slow cognitive decline and possibly lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It also helps fight inflammation, which has been associated with a decrease in cognitive function.

Avocados

In addition to salmon, avocados are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and also contain monounsaturated fats, which support brain function and healthy blood flow to the brain. Avocados are also high in vitamin E, a necessary nutrient for optimal brain health that may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is loaded with antioxidants, which have been shown to improve memory and learning deficits that occur as a result of aging and disease. EVOO can also reverse damage in the brain caused by oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals and the body’s antioxidant defenses. Olive oil is great to use as a healthy alternative to processed salad dressings.  

Pumpkin Seeds

Nutrient-rich pumpkin seeds make for a quick and easy snack while providing proper nutrition to help promote focus and concentration. High in antioxidants and omega-3s, pumpkin seeds are also a rich source of zinc, an essential mineral that promotes brain function and helps prevent neurological diseases.    

Leafy Greens

A 2015 study by researchers at Rush University found dark, leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and collards, might help slow cognitive decline. Over a five-year span, they examined diet and cognitive abilities in older adults. They saw a significant decrease in the rate of cognitive decline in those who consumed larger amounts of dark, leafy greens. In fact, those who had one to two daily servings were found to have the cognitive abilities of a person 11 years younger. Researchers also found that the nutrients, vitamin K and folate were most likely responsible for keeping the brain healthy and preserving functioning.

Eggs

Eggs are a good source of protein, are rich in omega-3s, and contain choline, a vital nutrient for brain development. A 2011 study published in The American Journal of Clinic Nutrition found a high-level intake of choline improved cognitive performance. Eggs also contain B12, a vitamin that keeps the brain and nervous system healthy. So beat, scramble, poach, and flip to eat those eggs and reap the rewards.

Oatmeal

Whole grains provide energy. Oatmeal—slow-cooked whole oats, not the ready-cook kind from a packet—not only makes for a healthy breakfast, it also leaves you feeling full, which is important as hunger can diminish mental focus. For maximum clarity, try a bowl of oatmeal topped with walnuts and blueberries. 

Dark Chocolate

Chocolate, which is a stimulant, can provide you with an energy boost similar to a cup of coffee. A 2015 study by researchers at Northern Arizona University found participants who consumed 60 percent cacao content chocolate to be more alert and attentive. Chocolate is also high in antioxidants accounting for many of its health benefits. Just remember to choose dark chocolate over a milk chocolate candy bar filled with sugar.

Peppermint Tea

The herb peppermint may improve cognitive performance and increase alertness as well as calmness, according to a 2012 study by researchers at Northumbria University in the UK. Enjoy the health benefits by brewing a hot cup of peppermint tea or by simply smelling the herb.

Add five drops of peppermint essential oil to your bath or rub it lightly into your skin.

Read 9616 times Last modified on Tuesday, 03 November 2015 12:41
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