There are two ways to approach eating for focus: focus in the moment and focus as you age. Eating for focus in the moment is all about being properly fueled to boost your concentration, while eating for focus as you age is about protecting your brain health by reducing inflammation and promoting blood flow.
The single most important thing you can do to fuel your focus is to eat a nourishing meal. This means making sure your plate has a carbohydrate source (like fruits, whole grains, or beans), a protein source (dairy, meat, or tofu), and a fat source (olive oil, nuts, or avocados). Also pay attention to how full you feel as you eat this meal. If you eat too little, you’ll be too hungry to concentrate, but if you eat too much, you may feel sluggish and sleepy.
To improve your focus, learn which foods make you feel foggy and which foods make you feel sharp. Whether you’re feeling particularly sluggish or on top of your game, think about what in your meal could have contributed to that feeling. Logging your meals on MyFitnessPal is an easy way to keep track of your diet to see if you can notice a pattern. For example, some people may find that whole grains boost their ability to concentrate, while gluten-sensitive people will feel foggy.
Brain health declines with age due to a number of factors, including decreased blood flow to the brain and increased inflammation. To protect your brain and maintain focus as you age, start now! Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, especially brightly-colored ones like berries, leafy greens, and citrus fruits.
Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries provide flavonoids to support brain health. Flavonoids slow cognitive decline with age by reducing inflammation. If berries aren’t in season, or if you live in an area where it’s hard to get fresh fruit, frozen berries have the same flavonoid content as fresh.
Green, leafy vegetables improve brain health with age by providing folate and vitamin K. Folate promotes healthy cell division, which is necessary for optimum brain health. Vitamin K reduces cell death by protecting your nerves, helping to decrease how quickly your brain ages.
Omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in walnuts, fish, avocados, and flaxseed, have been linked to slowing the onset of memory loss as well the decline of overall brain function. There’s more research to be done, but Omega-3s bring other benefits too (like heart health), so we’re all for them!
CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR IF YOU STILL CAN’T FOCUS
These six tips aside, remember your brain is complex, and nutrition is not the only factor that influences how well it works. Sleep, exercise, stress, screen time, smoking, and lots of other factors can impact focus. If you’re having trouble focusing and you’re not sure why, please reach out to your doctor, as cognitive issues might also point to a larger medical problem.
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