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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 January 21, 2020

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

    your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

      Why You Need a Vision

      Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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      How to Create Your Life Vision

      Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

      What Do You Want?

      The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

      It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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      Some tips to guide you:

      • Remember to ask why you want certain things
      • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
      • Give yourself permission to dream.
      • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
      • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

      Some questions to start your exploration:

      • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
      • What would you like to have more of in your life?
      • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
      • What are your secret passions and dreams?
      • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
      • What do you want your relationships to be like?
      • What qualities would you like to develop?
      • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
      • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
      • What would you most like to accomplish?
      • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

      It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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      What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

      Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

      A few prompts to get you started:

      • What will you have accomplished already?
      • How will you feel about yourself?
      • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
      • What does your ideal day look like?
      • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
      • What would you be doing?
      • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
      • How are you dressed?
      • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
      • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
      • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

      It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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      Plan Backwards

      It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

      • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
      • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
      • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
      • What important actions would you have had to take?
      • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
      • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
      • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
      • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
      • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

      Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

      It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

      Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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