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Brain Food – Eat For Productivity

Brain Food – Eat For Productivity
increase brain power with food

    The brain is a hungry organ, it’s cells requiring two times the amount of energy than that of other cells in the body. To work well and efficiently throughout the day, this energy level must be kept high enough so not to cause mental stress and exhaustion.

    So we’ll look at simple ways to keep your brain working effectively throughout your day so your work doesn’t suffer. When the brain doesn’t become stressed it can work continuously so not to sabotage your daily workflow. For this discussion we will assume you work most of the day, morning to evening.

    Breakfast

    It’s no secret this is the most important meal of the day. We all know it, but how many of us take it to heart. We’re too busy right? It’s OK, there are shortcuts.

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    Coffee in the morning sounds like a good idea. The boost is fairly instantaneous for a few reasons. Firstly, the caffeine. Caffeine does increase the capacity for mental and physical labor. However, this is short lived, with a demanding drop of energy caused not long after. Do you drink a few cups before the morning’s end?

    Sugar also plays a part in the morning coffee. However, this sugar is part of the simple carbohydrates family which does fuel the brain, but only for a short period of time. What we want to get early in the morning is some complex carbohydrates.

    Fruit is an excellent source. Instead of a short burst of energy these carbohydrates have long chains of sugar molecules that the body breaks down gradually, releasing glucose to fuel the brain over time.

    If you’re strapped for time in the morning, as we all tend to be, a bowl of fruit is a much better energy source that will start the brain working. Mental exercise drains glucose, so feeding your glucose level throughout the day, with fruit, is a great way to keep energy levels up all day. Watery and crunchy fruits are low in calories and can be eaten all day, any time. Berries and citruses are highest in complex carbohydrates and also antioxidents which reduce the risk of cognitive impairment.

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    Later on in the morning something with more protein, a cereal, will do the same to keep energy in the brain all day. A piece of toast or sandwich does the same, directly improving memory and attention.

    A cereal with fruit is a very quick and easy breakfast to kick start your day. With productivity in mind, we want to spend little time preparing food at the beginning of our day, so we can enter work-mode as soon as possible.

    Lunch

    As mentioned earlier, breads and fruits do well. Vegetables do much of the same good as fruit. Glucose levels alter during cooking so sticking to a salad may be better. Think about adding an egg to the mix. Egg yolk is a leading source for choline, a nutrient that, recently, has been proven to boost brainpower by speeding up the sending of signals to nerve cells in the brain.

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    If possible, a larger lunch is better than a big dinner; use your time after work to rest and eat lightly. Although you could prepare for the next 6-8 hours of fasting – otherwise known as sleep – by stocking up on food, this can disrupt your sleep. A lighter meal before bed will lead to an easier and deeper sleep. Stick to a good breakfast and lunch to get keep you fed.

    Fish is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which builds gray matter and cell membranes. Reportedly, these fats can also help emotional balance and a positive attitude throughout life. And you already know, stay away from junk food.
    Ending lunch with a yogurt helps produce neurotransmitters, improving signals amongst neurons. Complementing this with nuts [particularly walnuts] balance omega-3 acids with omega-6’s while neutralizing blood sugar levels.

    Drink

    While eating food for the brain, it is important to keep hydrated. At least 80 ounces of water every day reduce stress hormones. Drinking non-caffeinated tea, like green tea, relaxes the brain and induces mental alertness. A juice, such as grapefruit juice, has the same affects for the brain as fruits and vegetables along with the hydration benefits.

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    While softdrinks provide that quick boost of sugar, it won’t last and will lead to a noticeable decline in brain energy later in the day. After drinking [or eating] something high in sugar, your pancreas starts to secrete insulin which triggers cells throughout your body to pull the excess glucose out of your bloodstream and store it. This sucks glucose from the brain which leaves it without energy, known as hypoglycemia. As a result your ability to focus decreases, leaving you weak and confused, unable to think properly.

    Moderate alcohol consumption enhances blood and oxygen flow to the brain. This isn’t an immediate improvement, so don’t try and convince your boss drinking before work will improve your workflow. However, at the end of the day, a glass or two can relax the brain and ease yourself into the end of the day. Gradually, and most importantly, moderately, alcohol consumption has various mental benefits.

    Above All

    Moderation is the key. They say nothing is bad for you if done in moderation, so there isn’t a need for a huge change in your diet. What you may realize is your diet lacks many foods that stimulate mental growth and productivity. If you’re sluggish in the morning, there is definitely room for improvement.

    Enhance brain power with a an increase in these foods that keep your brain running on high, and slow down on the others. Fruit’s cheap, put a bowl next to the mouse.

    More by this author

    Craig Childs

    Craig is an editor and web developer who writes about happiness and motivation at Lifehack

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    Last Updated on July 23, 2019

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

    Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

    How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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    • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
    • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
    • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
    • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
    • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
    • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

    When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

    1. Realize You’re Not Alone

    Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

    2. Find What Inspires You

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    Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

    On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

    3. Give Yourself a Break

    When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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    Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

    4. Shake up Your Routines

    Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

    Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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    When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

    5. Start with a Small Step

    Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

    Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

    More to Help You Stay Motivated

    Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

    Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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