If you’re having difficulty concentrating at work or school, you might want to blame the food you’re eating. Registered dietitian Amy Kimberlain knows how much impact our diet has on our cognitive function and the importance of deciding what foods that help with focus and concentration.
Kimberlain explains, “eating too many processed foods for a long period of time can lead to inflammation and oxidative stress, which can lead to cognitive decline. People who are dealing with memory loss or lack of concentration might find some relief by adding brain-boosting foods to their diet.”
With the right food choices, you’re not forced to live with brain fog forever. You have the power to help your brain by eating foods rich in antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties. Fueling your brain power with these foods will improve your memory and attention span.
By adding some of these foods listed below into your diet, it can help improve your focus and help you concentrate when you are working or studying.
Foods that Improve Your Memory and Concentration
Dark chocolate and cocoa
The natural compound flavanol found in cocoa might enhance brain function and protect the brain from cognitive decline. Kimberlain says, “more research is needed, but researchers found that regularly consuming cocoa was especially beneficial to healthy individuals who were sleep-deprived.”
Other studies show a link between a daily dose of dark chocolate and improved memory and mood. Stick to 1 – 1.5 ounces per day, and make sure the dark chocolate contains at least 70 percent cocoa.
Salmon and tuna
Oily and fatty fish like salmon and tuna have a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which contain anti-inflammatory properties that might protect our brain cells. Our bodies are unable to make omega-3s on their own, so we need to incorporate these essential nutrients into our daily eating habits.
One study found that older adults who ate seafood at least once a week had better performances on cognitive tests than those who ate less seafood. However, this is just one study, and more research is needed in this area. Currently, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that adults eat two 3.5-ounce servings of non-fried oily fish a week.
If you’re wondering what kind of energy-boosting beverages you can drink for concentration, black coffee is your answer! Caffeine can give you an immediate alertness boost as well as improve your mood and reduce cognitive decline.
Skip the added sugars and milk. In general, try to limit your caffeine intake to about 400 mg a day, which is roughly four cups of coffee (depending on how the coffee is made). If you don’t like coffee, you can get the same benefits from green tea.
Nuts and seeds
Brain food snacks like almonds, sesame seeds, and chia seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E. These nutrients can help preserve cognitive function and protect your brain from cell damage.
Your best bet is to eat raw or dry roasted nuts instead of nuts that have added sugar and salt. Have about 1.5 ounces of nuts and seeds throughout the day for an optimal brainpower boost.
Leafy green vegetables
Green vegetables like kale and spinach contain ample doses of vitamins E, K, and folate. Additionally, broccoli is high in choline. Vitamins E and K are fat-soluble, which means they can cross the blood-brain barrier. They also have strong antioxidant capabilities that can help protein brain cells from enduring oxidative stress, which can also help boost your immune system.
Folate is critical for helping our body reduce homocysteine levels. People who have a folate deficiency and high homocysteine levels have been shown to be at an increased risk of developing depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
Our body makes the essential nutrient choline; however, it does not make as much as we need. Getting it through cruciferous vegetables like broccoli can help stave off cognitive decline. Folate and choline perform the same role in several metabolic functions, so having enough of each will help you significantly.
The spice’s characteristic yellow color comes from the active component curcumin. Research suggests that turmeric can be beneficial for people with depression and might be able to boost memory. Sprinkle turmeric onto soups, salad, and avocado toast. Turmeric absorbs best when it’s paired with black pepper.
One study found that adults who did not have dementia had improved memory and attention when they took a 90 mg turmeric supplement. However, make sure to talk to your doctor before you start taking a turmeric supplement, as it can negatively interact with certain medications.
Dark-colored berries, like blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries, are full of flavonols and anthocyanins. Their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties might help decrease cell damage and promote cell repair.
Many studies have demonstrated that berries have protective properties, especially when combined within a heart-healthy fat diet. Berries additionally have been shown to improve mood and reduce the risk of developing depression.
We have a gut-brain connection. So, by eating fermented foods, we can help to improve our gut health, which might enhance our cognitive function.
Some fermented foods include kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, and kombucha. Read the label to ensure that it contains live active cultures.
In addition to being cheap, versatile, and convenient, beans have also been shown to improve brain health. This is because they contain both protein and carbohydrates, which provide our brain with slow and steady fuel. Additionally, beans are loaded with fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals, like magnesium, zinc, and folate.
This tasty fruit is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that promote healthy blood flow in the brain, along with other vital nutrients, like folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, B vitamins (which can help lower stress and keep your brain cells healthy), and copper. In addition, the high amount of potassium found in avocados can help lower blood pressure.
Foods That Can Negatively Affect Brain Function and Concentration
Kimberlain recommends in addition to adding the these healthy foods to your diet you should start eliminating foods that can negatively impact your cognitive function. Some of these foods include alcohol, processed meats, packaged foods, and beverages high in saturated fat, sugar, and sodium. Eliminating or minimizing the intake of these foods will help ensure you’re eating the right foods to help with concentration.
Other Ways to Boost Brain Health
Kimberlain has tons of ideas for brain-boosting snacks that can keep you going throughout the day.
Her almond butter bites are a healthy alternative to sugary energy bars and can be made using only a few ingredients.
If you have a real sweet tooth, try her chocolate discs (mendiants). Use dark chocolate that is at least 60 percent cocoa. The more cocoa, the better!
Eating a well-balanced diet full of anti-inflammatory foods is just one part of the equation. To further improve your concentration and memory, you’ll also need to ensure you get enough sleep at night, drink enough water during the day, and stay active throughout the week.
This website is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Before making any changes to your diet, exercise, or lifestyle habits, always consult your doctor or physician first.