In fact, Google searches for how to achieve better brain focus has increased by over 300% since the beginning of the pandemic. Insights from cognitive science suggest a correlation between negative emotions and stress and cognitive deficits in mental tasks. 

While this neurobiological response is normal and reversible, there are nutritional strategies to help us enhance our brain function on a day to day basis.  
Check out these four easy ways to boost your focus and concentration:

1) Balance your blood sugar 
When we are stressed or have trouble concentrating, many of us reach for empty carbohydrates abundant in added sugars or white flour for a quick boost. Research shows carbohydrate cravings have a tendency to be marked by a decline in mood, concentration and serotonin levels.  But, these refined, processed carbohydrates also tend to cause blood sugar spikes that often lead to greater brain fog after levels quickly drop. Instead, look to consume low-glycemic snacks and balanced meals composed of lean proteins, vegetables and slow burning, complex carbohydrates, which take longer for the body to digest and absorb—resulting in a slow and steady release of glucose into the bloodstream. 

2) Consume foods rich in B-vitamins 
This family of 8 vitamins, known as B-complex vitamins, is vitally important for metabolism and the conversion of food into energy for the body and brain, as well as the synthesis of key neurotransmitters. Studies show B-vitamins, especially B1, B6, B9 and B12, exert neuroprotective effects that help improve mental clarity, focus, memory and intellectual performance.  There is even evidence B-vitamins can help alleviate depression symptoms.  To meet the daily recommendations, make sure to incorporate a variety of healthy foods into meals and snacks, such as salmon, green leafy vegetables, legumes, eggs, nuts and seeds and whole grains.

3) Get more magnesium 
Since green leafy vegetables are a great source of magnesium, it is not surprising why approximately 68 percent of Americans fall short on daily intakes.  To add insult to injury, magnesium is utilized and depleted during times of stress. This critical mineral is involved in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate a vast number of critical biochemical reactions and body system functions. Research studies found that magnesium is key in regulating receptors in the brain necessary for learning and memory function, and that magnesium helped clear up brain fog. Magnesium also supports the brain’s ongoing ability to adapt, heal and create new synaptic pathways. Green leafy vegetables (think spinach), legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, are good sources. In general, plant foods containing dietary fiber provide magnesium. Magnesium is also added to some breakfast cereals.  

4) Drink more plain water
 Hydration status plays a major role in our attentiveness, focus and the ability to process information efficiently. Studies show that even mild dehydration, defined as an approximately 1.5 percent loss in water volume in the body, can influence mood, energy levels and the ability to think clearly. But don’t rely on your thirst to tell you when or how much to drink. By the time your thirst mechanism kicks in the body has already reached a 1 to 2 percent water loss, and some of us have faulty thirst centers resulting in a reduced sense of thirst. While there are some general guidelines on how much water we need daily (about 8 glasses), one of the best ways to assess your hydration status is by monitoring your urine color.  Urine should be almost clear with a pale yellow color.  

 

These materials are provided to you by Blythedale Children’s Hospital and Kohl’s
Eat Well, Be Well Nutrition Outreach Program.
For more tips and information, please visit eat Eat Well, Be Well.
 


Kohl's Eat Well, Be Well Program

Blythedale Children's Hospital, through the generosity of Kohl’s Department Stores, is proud to offer Blythedale and Kohl's Eat Well, Be Well, an innovative outreach program designed to bring health and nutrition education to schools throughout Westchester and Putnam counties. Through this program, Blythedale staff members teach healthy eating habits to children by providing curricula, training and educational tools to school districts throughout the area. The program provides general nutrition guidelines to students, parents and school faculty. Blythedale Children's Hospital offers experts in nutrition and health-education to speak with local parenting groups, PTAs and school personnel.

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