In an ideal world we’d all rock up to work everyday feeling switched on, focused and upbeat. You wouldn’t need a double espresso to wake up, you wouldn’t faff about for the first hour or get that mid afternoon dip. In reality however, most of us can’t imagine a morning without coffee and you know for a fact that that 3pm chocolate break is essential to your afternoon’s productivity.
Fortunately there are some changes you can make to your diet that will not only improve your concentration but it will enhance your memory, improve your mood and keep you awake. The best bit? It doesn’t involve cutting out coffee or chocolate.
Lets start with the favourites: Caffeine (the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world) is a stimulant found in both coffee and chocolate. It’s been proven that caffeine can improve concentration, mood, memory and alertness to name a few.
Asides from caffeine, dark chocolate contains some powerful antioxidants that remove potentially damaging oxidizing agents from your body. So, not only can it aid concentration, but it can help prevent diseases – probably the best reason for eating chocolate that I’ve ever heard of.
The problem with consuming too much caffeine is that, like most stimulants, it doesn’t last for ever and too much is bad for your health. The key is in moderation, do you really need a third Cappucino? The chances are, it’s just become force of habit. Try and cut down to no more 3, 8-ounce cups a day and only when you really need that boost.
It goes without saying that chocolate contains fat and sugar, as well as antioxidants and a small amount of caffeine. Stick to about 3 ounces of dark (70 – 80% cocoa) chocolate a day to get your fix and stay on the right side of healthy.
Our bodies need a steady supply of energy to maintain concentration, it goes without saying that when you’re tired it’s virtually impossible to stay focused. Glucose is our primary source of energy and whole grains are a healthy form of carbohydrate that our bodies then convert into glucose. Opting for whole grains such as wheat bran, oats, spelt or quinoa for breakfast is a great way to ensure a long lasting supply of energy and concentration throughout the day.
Try having oats for breakfast with a healthy topping of low fat yoghurt, fruit and nuts. Asides from providing you with slow burning energy, oats are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for boosting concentration.
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts are a great source of vitamin E and well as essential fatty acids which our bodies can’t produce by themselves. Linseed (flaxseed), pumpkin seeds and walnuts are all rich omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain function and concentration.
Nuts and seeds make great food toppings and alternatives to high calorie snacks. A handful of almonds a day for example is also an excellent source of magnesium, protein and fiber – and has a lot less calories, and zero sugar in comparison to a chocolate bar (one ounce of almonds = 160 calories).
Fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines and kippers are also all full of omega 3 fatty acids and are a perfect lunch option to help you stay concentrated in the afternoon.
Blueberries have long ranked one of the most popular superfoods on the market. As one of the most widely available berries out there, they are also one of the most beneficial in terms of vitamins and antioxidants and they’re great for concentration. Research undertaken by Tufts University and the USDA showed that a diet rich in blueberries improved short term memory loss, other studies have shown that they actively aid concentration. Plus they taste great and they’re super low in calories – what’s not to like?
A blueberry smoothie in the morning is a great option for those of you who tend to skip breakfast in the morning. It’s delicious, packed with vitamins and antioxidants and it’ll help maintain your concentration throughout the morning – maybe even without that double espresso..
All dark green vegetables are good for you but out of all the nutritious, delicious green veggies out there, broccoli is the best for aiding concentration. It provides you with brain boosting vitamin K, known to improve cognitive function, and a high amount of potassium, magnesium and calcium – all essential for a healthy diet and immune system.
Be careful not to over-cook broccoli as this gets rid of all those vital vitamins that will aid your concentration. Bring the water to the boil and add your sliced florets until tender – no more than 5 minutes. Once cooked drizzle some olive oil, a splash of lemon juice and some salt and pepper for a quick, easy and delicious side to any meal.
Got any tips or suggestions for more foods for better concentration? Leave your comments below!