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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 March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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