Feeling constantly sleepy, slow, and mentally drained at work? Maybe your brain is trying to tell something about your diet.
We can all agree that our jobs aren’t just physically challenging – it’s mentally exhausting too. Our cognitive skills are heavily used daily to keep up with the demands of our jobs. Our mind is running non-stop. That said, eating to boost your brain power is as important as eating to boost your physical strength.
Your everyday pick me up caffeine-and-sugar fix can only do so little if you lack the proper nutrition your brain needs.
Aside from a taking mandatory breaks, keeping a healthy diet, no matter how busy you are, is crucial for a productive workday. Eating well, in general, is good for your brain. However, there are certain foods that offer optimum benefits for the brain power, improving your memory, mood, and concentration, and keeping you focused at work.
Here are 8 brain power foods to sneak into your busy work day to stay mentally sharp and productive.
Not all fishes are created equal. Salmon is topping the charts in terms of the best sources of these healthy fatty acids your brain needs.
Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid or DHA help improve memory in young adults. Higher levels of DHA, which is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain, can increase brain efficiency. Aside from salmon, you can try other fatty fishes like mackerel, tuna, sardines, and herring.
The fix: Skip your everyday fried chicken with salmon dishes. Opt for fish fillet burgers instead of classic beef patties.
It’s recommended to consume salmon or other oily fishes at least thrice a week. Enjoy fishes broiled, baked, or smoked instead of having them fried. You can also get your daily dose of omega-3 from fish oil supplements.
Who says healthy can’t be delicious? Blueberries are rich in anthocyanins and other flavonoids that help improve the function of the nervous system and brain health.
Many studies claim that these sweet and tangy fruits help improve the memory. Additionally, they help slow down or postpone the onset of age-related cognitive decline and neurogenerative disorders. Aside from blueberries, you may also snack on other dark-colored berries like blackberries, cherries, and strawberries.
The fix: Include one serving (1 cup) of blueberries on your daily fruit servings. Frozen berries, dried berries, or blueberry cheesecake – they don’t necessarily spoil the benefits. However, nothing compares to berries when enjoyed fresh.
It’s no accident that the shape of a walnut resembles the shape of the human brain – they’re considered as powerful brain foods.
Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fats, vitamin E, melatonin, folate, and antioxidant properties, which are neuroprotective compounds that trap free radicals that may damage the brain cells and enhance your cognitive function as you age.
The fix: Craving something crunchy? Skip chips and grab a handful of walnuts.
4. Pumpkin Seeds
Wanna know why cracking pumpkin seeds itself can reduce your boredom and improve your mood? These seeds contain magnesium, B vitamins, and tryptophan, which stimulate the production of serotonin, your body’s good mood chemical.
But this isn’t the best part: these small crunchies also contain hefty nutrients like zinc which are vital for boosting thinking skills and memory.
The fix: Put a jar of seeds on your desk – you’ll need some to help you think about your next task.
Eggs are essential for your nervous system and cognitive activity. The champion here is the round and bright egg yolks that contain choline, a nutrient that serves multiple integral brain functions.
The fix: Now you know why eggs are always present in the breakfast. Before checking your e-mails, start your day with an egg-packed meal. Pair it with your favorite cup of coffee for added boost.
6. Whole Grains
Yes, we know – loading on carbs can make you sleepy in the afternoon. But entirely skipping carbs can drain you too. That said, fill up with healthy carbs: whole grains.
Your ability to concentrate is linked to your brain’s supply of glucose, which is found in whole grains. Opt for “brown” foods like whole wheat bread, rice, and pasta with low Glycemic Index (GI) which release glucose slowly into the bloodstream to keep you mentally sharp.
The fix: Pick whole wheat bread for your quick lunch. Oatmeal cookies and popcorn (with less salt and butter) are also satisfying ways to munch whole grains.
Insert some color into your everyday lunch with veggies. Getting adequate vegetables, especially the cruciferous ones can help improve your memory and make you smarter. These superfoods contain powerful antioxidants that decrease your brain’s vulnerability to oxidative stress, which may damage your brain cells.
The fix: Make sure to include cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, and lettuce in your daily diet to reap optimum benefits. Always prepare a nutrient-packed veggie salad containing these healthy greens. Eat it for lunch or have it on the side.
According to Dr, Ann Kulze, the author of Dr. Ann’s 10-Step Diet: A Simple Plan for Permanent Weight Loss & Lifelong Vitality, avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat, which contributes to healthy blood flow in the brain and lower blood pressure. These healthy fats also help keep the brain cell membrane flexible and work to protect nerve cells in the brain.
The fix: Sneak them inside your sandwich. Make a guacamole dip. Prepare a smoothie or just eat them with milk and sugar.
Mina Corpuz is a creative writer for HR Dept Australia, a provider of affordable and pragmatic HR services and employment law advice in Australia. Writing about helpful career management solutions for both employees and employers is her cup of tea.