Working involving deep thinking can be hard. At some point or other, all of us who have knowledge work or office jobs are required to concentrate. Sitting down and concentrating for a significant amount of time requires discipline and focus, as well as a degree of energy and enthusiasm – especially in our distraction culture of social media and constant interruption,
Although we may not think so because it doesn’t involve strenuous physical activity – reading, researching, evaluating and writing are all the highest and most advanced types of bodily activity.
If we are to succeed in the area of our deep work or studies, we must treat it more like athletic training for a sporting event. If you are training for a marathon, you become very mindful about the amount of sleep you are getting and what you eat and drink, in order to give yourself the best chance of doing well and preventing yourself from crashing and burning. Similarly, we need to fuel ourselves properly to facilitate effective and efficient periods of study.
Let’s look at some foods that can really help you improve your study skills; particularly memory, retention and concentration.
Your brain requires the most energy of all your body parts and organs and it requires even more when you are studying. It runs exclusively on glucose and depends on the bloodstream to deliver a constant supply of this precious fuel.
Blood glucose is most easily obtained from carbohydrates, so it is vitally important to eat starches and sugars in the form of fruits, vegetables, potatoes and whole grains. Do not fall into the trap of following the latest low-carbohydrate fad diet. It will be disastrous for your studies, as well as causing your weight to yo-yo.
Some great carbohydrate snacks to eat before or during a period of study are bananas, dates or a green smoothie, which delivers some alkalizing minerals to your brain too and is great for overall health, fat loss, clear skin and healing of minor and major illnesses and diseases.
Here’s my easy and delicious ‘Activator’ Green Smoothie Recipe.
2. Blueberries & Grapes
Blueberries and grapes are packed with carbohydrates, so are both great brain fuel but they also specifically help with memory retention. The flavonoids in blueberries help to improve the communication between neurons, improving memory, learning, and all cognitive function, including reasoning, decision making, verbal comprehension, and numerical ability.
A study carried out in the College of Medicine at University of Cincinnati found that people who drank blueberry juice every day for two months significantly improved their performance in learning and memory tests and similar results were seen with grape juice.
3. Whole Grains
It’s great to include grains like brown rice, quinoa, millet, and bulgar wheat into your daily meals and you can buy these from your local, health food shop or online cheaply and in bulk. They are rich in complex carbohydrates, fibre, B vitamins and some omega 3 fatty acids that enhance brain-power and general good blood flow and mood.
Throw some brown rice together with some vegetables like mushrooms, peas, broccoli and red pepper, add a vegetable stock cube and some spices like cumin and turmeric and you’ve got a quick, easy, delicious and brain-boosting meal.
4. Dark Chocolate
Good news if you like chocolate! The flavanols in chocolate can help improve blood vessel function, which in turn improves cognitive function and memory. Dark chocolate also improves mood, can ease pain, and is full of antioxidants, which are great for anti-aging and helping to prevent cancer.
One study of healthy volunteers showed that 5 days of consuming high-flavanol cocoa improved blood flow to the brain significantly.
Bananas are the ultimate fast food. If you’re in a hurry, make sure you grab a banana to eat on the go. Not only are they sweet, tasty, cheap and nutritious but they have also been shown to boost concentration. A 2008 study found that students who ate a banana before an exam did better than those who didn’t. Bananas contain potassium, an essential mineral that plays a key part in keeping your brain, nerves, and heart in great working order.
Spinach is known as brain food because it contains lutein, folate, and beta-carotene, which have been linked with preventing dementia and increasing brain functioning and concentration.
Include spinach in a big leafy green salad with tomatoes, peppers, herbs and a handful of walnuts with a balsamic vinegar dressing. Or you could try my Activator Green Smoothie Recipe (see above link).
It’s not a food but still a vitally important part of your diet. Staying hydrated is often overlooked when we’re busy at work or studying. Keeping your brain hydrated is crucial in making sure you are able to concentrate well.
Cut back on sodas, alcohol and coffee and opt for what your brain needs most – H2O. Make sure you are drinking at the very least, 2 litres of fresh, pure water every day and more when exercising.
Some Great Brain-Boosting Recipes
For a great way of eating and recipes that help to boost brain power, concentration and memory, as well as keeping you lean and energised throughout the day, check out my book, The Alkaline 5 Diet, which shows you how to eat 5 delicious meal types per day that are very affordable and quick and easy to prepare.