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10 Super Foods that Will Sharpen Your Focus and Memory

10 Super Foods that Will Sharpen Your Focus and Memory

Womans Hands Holding Roasted Coffee Beans

    Have you ever tried to focus on something so hard that it hurt? You may have tried a series of different strategies such as deactivating your Facebook account, turning off the computer, or even ear-plugs, to no avail. The truth is that even though it may seem that many of the factors hindering our focus and memory are external, many of them are actually more internal than we may think… literally! The next time you’re feeling sluggish, hazy and lethargic, think about the last meal you had, because believe it or not, what you put into your body has a direct affect in what you’re mentally able to achieve! The foods we eat have a direct impact on the blood (and oxygen) to our brains, as well as our energy levels and how quickly that energy is depleted. Because of this, our diet choices affect not only our energy levels but also how long we’re able to stay focused, as well as how our memory works. It’s important to understand that even though it may seem like it, you’re not helpless in your battle with your mind to concentrate and focus. You control your body by what you put into it! Even though many of us don’t usually associate delicious meals with healthy foods, the following list of the top 10 brain-boosting foods will show you that this does not have to be the case. Each food is accompanied by mouthwatering recipes that are as healthy as they are delicious!

    1. Blueberries

    Blueberries are one of the healthiest berries. They are not only an absolute joy to eat but are also antioxidant-packed foods with high levels of vitamins C and K, as well as essential minerals such as potassium.  The high gallic acid levels in blueberries also means that they are particularly helpful at protecting our brain cells from the negative effects of stress and anxiety, aiding the communication between neurons and improving our cognitive functions. Suggested Dishes: Blueberries can be used in a variety of both sweet and savoury dishes, from blueberry tarts with walnut crusts to chicken blueberry pasta salad

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    2. Avocados

    Don’t be put of by the high fat content in avocados – they contain monosaturated fats, which are actually good for you! High levels of vitamins C, K and B, as well as folate, mean that avocados can help you prevent blood clots in your brain by improving the flow of oxygen to it – thereby increasing your concentration span! Suggested Dishes: While most of us associate avocados with guacamole and various salads, avocados are actually incredibly diverse fruits! Broaden your taste bud horizons and give these healthy avocado fries a try. Or, if you’re feeling less experimental, this recipe for fried egg and avocado toast can be a great way to start the morning!

    3. Fatty Fish

    Trout, mackerel, tuna, and especially salmon, are the most popular fatty fish out there. Filled with DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acids) and omega-3 fatty acids, it is no wonder that these fish are recommended to anyone wishing to improve their memory, brain power, and concentration. Suggested Dishes: Try out this trout-in-a-pouch with fresh herbs and garlic recipe. If you’re more of a salmon kind of person, this salmon and arugula salad is absolutely fantastic!

    4. Flax Seeds

    These seeds are the best source of ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid), which is a healthy fat that works wonders for your cerebral cortex, keeping it healthy and fully functional. The function of the cerebral cortex is to process sensory information (sight, taste, touch, etc.), so it is an integral part of your being able to properly focus on, and understand, information. Flax seeds also contain zinc, which is a mineral that is great for sharpening your memory. Suggested Dishes: Flax seeds have a relatively subtle taste and can be added to almost any dish, such as these healthy breakfast bars, or these cranberry-nut mini loaves.

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    5. Nuts

    Almonds and walnuts in particular are especially great for helping you sharpen your memory and focus. They are high in ALA, antioxidants, as well as vitamins B6 and E, which keep the nervous system fully functional and shield brain cells from potential damage that could lead to poor focus, memory and concentration. Suggested Dishes: Whether you’re more into desserts or savoury snacks, nuts are versatile enough to be used in a variety of dishes to suit different preferences. Try out this almond orange crusted chicken and this walnut and sultana bread.

    6. Beets

    Beets contain natural nitrates that open up the blood vessels in your body, and in doing so they improve the flow of blood (and oxygen) to your brain – needless to say, this will significantly improve your mental performance and memory. They are also full of antioxidants that help reduce the toxins in your blood! Suggested Dishes: While many of us may have childhood memories involving unpleasant meals with beetroot, when cooked the right way, they can add an incredibly unique taste to many different meals. Beetroot brownies and this amazing raw beetroot salad  can be great ways to introduce beetroot into your diet!

    7. Coconut Oil

    Coconut oil is rich in MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) which have been associated with improved memory and concentration, and have been shown in clinical trials to improve memory in older, memory-impaired adults. This oil is also full of anti-inflammatory agents that also work to improve your cognitive functionality. Suggested Dishes: These seeded coconut oil crackers are incredibly quick and easy to make, and so is this delicious coconut-maple granola!

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    8. Turmeric

    Curcumin is the special agent found in turmeric that makes this spice surprisingly healthy! Turmeric is full of anti-inflammatory agents that help to boost antioxidant activity in our bodies, and improve the oxygen flow to our brains, leaving us alert and focused, and our memory capacity significantly improved! Suggested Dishes: This healthy turmeric tea will help prepare you for productive hours of work, as will this scrumptious turmeric omelette.

    9. Rosemary

    Rosemary is full of carnosic acid; this helps to protect the brain from various negative factors that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Rosemary also helps to slow down the natural processes through which our brains age, helping us stay focused on even the most complicated of tasks! Suggested Dishes: These rosemary chicken sandwiches and rosemary roasted almonds are quick to make and are great packed-lunch options!

    10. Dark Chocolate

    Dark chocolate is full of nutrients and minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc and potassium. As well as being a great source of antioxidants, it also improves the blood flow to your brain, boosting your concentration and keeping you alert! Remember, this applies to dark chocolate, and not to most of the highly processed milk chocolate bars we are oh-so-familiar with! Suggested Dishes: If you’re not a fan of eating plain dark chocolate, you can use it as the main ingredient to several mouthwatering, yet guilt-free dishes, such as these dark chocolate pistachio apricots and this chocolate-salted caramel tart! We often make calculated life decisions about many aspects of our lives, so why not about our diets that are so crucial to our everyday productivity and mental functions? Make your diet choices a part of the strategic path to achieving your goals in life and marvel at the instant results!

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    Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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    Kirstin O´Donovan

    Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

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    Last Updated on November 11, 2019

    How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

    How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

    Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

    To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

    Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

    1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

    Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

    Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

    To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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    2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

    Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

    If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

    Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

    3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

    Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

    Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

    4. Feed Your Brain

    Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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    This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

    Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

    Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

    5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

    According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

    Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

    Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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    6. Write it Down

    If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

    It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

    You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

    7. Listen to Music

    Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

    8. Visual Concepts

    In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

    Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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    Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

    9. Teach Someone Else

    Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

    Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

    10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

    Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

    So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

    Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

    More About Boosting Memory

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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