While we all enjoy a fun filled break from work or university, it's no surprise that after all that hustle and bustle we can be left feeling a little tired and deflated. A new start also brings the prospect of getting back to work, studying for exams and cutting back on the frivolities that we’ve been over indulging in.
With that in mind it can be pretty tricky to battle the urge to hibernate when you’ve got work to do, especially when it's dark, wet and grey outside. However, with the right self-care and diet, you may be able to boost your memory, focus and concentration.
We’ve put together our top nutrition tips and best brain foods for better cognitive function, concentration and memory that could help you work more effectively.
Top 5 brain-boosting foods
Plenty of fish in the sea
Fish is a great source of protein, and contains many vitamins and minerals. Oily fish such as, salmon, mackerel and herring are particularly rich in omega 3 fatty acids including, Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
DHA and EPA are essential for our brain’s development and functionality and help protect the brain’s neurons,reduce cerebral inflammation and help produce the neurotransmitters that tell our cells what to do. As our bodies age, so do our brains, which is why it’s important that we try to maintain a healthy brain by getting the DHA and EPA fatty acids in our diet. Sufficient levels of EPA and DHA are thought to help us manage stress, produce serotonin and reduce the risk of dementia.
Whilst eating plenty of fish may leave a stink in the kitchen, it's certainly going to help your memory and concentration when completing that all important project!
Come grain or shine
Just like the rest of your body, the brain also needs energy to be able to function properly. According to the British Nutrition Foundation, carbohydrates should form the main source of energy in our diet.
The types of carbohydrates you include in your diet can make the difference between feeling full for longer and causing your blood sugar levels to spike. With this in mind, you should opt for complex carbohydrates with a low Glycaemic Index (GI) like wholegrain pasta and wholegrain rice. Whole grains with a low GI release glucose (energy) slowly into the bloodstream, keeping you mentally alert throughout the day.
So instead of binging on crisps and biscuits to get you through the day, go for healthier carbohydrates that power your mind and body.
Berry good for you
Blueberries are more than just 1 of your 5 a day, they’re also great for your brain and make a tasty snack while you work. They’re an excellent source of vitamin C, which helps protect the cells against damage and absorbs iron into our bloodstream.
Blueberries also contain something called anthocyanins, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Research has shown that the anthocyanins in berries change the way neurons in the brain communicate and can improve cognition, motor control, enhance neuroplasticity and even prevent age-related illnesses.
Leafy greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli are a great source of minerals and are rich in nutrients such as vitamin E, vitamin K and folate.
Vitamin E protects the cells from damage and research suggests its is able to prevent or delay age related cognitive diseases. Did you know you can test your DNA to see whether you’re more likely to be deficient in vitamin E?
Vitamin K has also been shown to sharpen the memory, so could help you store information when revising. Folate, which contains folic acid is essential for the brains development. Diets rich in these antioxidants can even help prevent degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia.
Sweet like chocolate
You’re probably wondering what chocolate is doing on this list, but dark chocolate can actually have a positive effect on your mood, memory and help prevent certain diseases.
Dark chocolate increases the production of serotonin in the brain. Increased levels of serotonin can improve your mood and reduce stress levels, making it a lot easier when facing going back to work.
Dark chocolate also contains flavonoids, which help boost memory and blood flow to the brain. This substance helps stimulate the brain, improving your attention span and problem-solving skills at work.
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