Memory problems are not just something experienced by older people, and concentration problems are not just a phenomenon in children who can’t sit still. For a variety of reasons, we can all suffer lowered concentration levels or memory problems, which vary in severity, regardless of our age. To combat such problems, the brain needs physical exercise and regular social activities. However, diet can also be an important factor. Here are 8 ways to use your diet to maximise your brain functioning.
1) Eat breakfast
As we have heard time and time again, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We don’t know exactly how true this is, but we do know that to function best and to avoid concentration lapses mid-morning, the brain needs nutrition and energy (provided by slow releasing carbohydrates) in order to keep going. Go for whole grain cereals and avoid added sugars, chocolate spreads and jams. Fried foods or sausages are not recommended either, as they are too fatty.
2) For lunch
Certain foods are assimilated so rapidly by the body that they don’t keep you going or help you to stay focused throughout the afternoon. Go for protein (fish, meat, etc.) and vegetables at lunch time. But avoid refined carbohydrates like the plague (white bread, white rice, pasta, semolina, potatoes, etc.) and sweet desserts.
3) For dinner
Keep refined carbs for your evening meal, because they are quickly assimilated by the body, meaning the body can relax sooner after them. We know how important rest is for the brain to function optimally, and to promote learning and memory.
4) Don’t eat very large meals
Eat light meals and watch your calorie intake. To manage this without going hungry, have healthy snacks in the mid morning or afternoon. For example, try some dried fruits or low sugar dairy products. If you are not hungry after your lunch, then maybe skip dessert, or eat it later on in the afternoon as long as it won’t spoil your dinner!
5) Omega 3
It is recommended that you eat omega 3 foods three times a week. This could come from oily fish (mackerel, sardines, salmon, etc.) or certain nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, colza oil or walnut oil). We find the same fatty acids in these foods as are found in the neuronal membrane, and that is why omega 3 is so important for good brain functioning.
6) Fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, which play a protective role in terms of cerebral functioning.
7) Consume iron
Iron helps transport oxygen to the brain, meaning it is important to consume enough of it (especially for women, who are often lacking in iron). We find iron in many foods such as red meat, offal and black pudding, as well as in molluscs, cereals, legumes and green vegetables.
Drinking plenty of water prevents dehydration, which can lead to concentration problems.