Nutrition is something that we all know we should be focusing on, but it’s usually our last priority. Keeping an eye on what you eat is about more than just watching your weight. Your diet can have a huge impact on your energy and concentration levels.
It’s important to get the right balance. Too little food and you’ll be thinking about your next meal, but too much and your brain will be sluggish as blood moves to your stomach.
You don’t need to completely overhaul your diet. We understand that fitting in healthy eating is one of life’s biggest challenges. Diets that are too extreme are hard to maintain. That’s why we’re recommending the mind diet. Boost your brainpower over breakfast.
Get on the mind diet with these healthy foods
Make a few achievable changes to your regular meals and start seeing a difference:
Blueberries are powerful little fruits. You can get 14% of your daily fibre in just one cup and research has suggested that memory loss can actually be reversed with a blueberry-rich diet. The health benefits don’t stop there. Studies have linked eating blueberries with reducing muscle damage after exercise, helping to prevent heart disease and lowering blood pressure. Full of antioxidants, blueberries are also low in calories, so can be a guilt-free addition to your diet. Keep your mind sharp by including just a handful of this fruit with your morning cereal.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, combine it with something healthy.
The humble avocado may not look exciting, but it provides almost 20 different vitamins and minerals. It’s a great source of vitamin B, which helps you to fight off infections. Eating avocado will mean you feel full for longer, so it’s a fantastic way to start the day and stop those mid-morning cravings. This magical fruit can also help the nerves in your brain that carry information to do their job more effectively and improve your concentration. We now understand that not all fat is bad for us. Avocado is known as a good fat, but like everything else, should be eaten in moderation.
There are many options for avocado, including using it in salads, vegetable fritters and even ice cream.
Leafy green vegetables
Vegetables might not be the most appetising thing on your plate, but leafy greens are the heathiest foods you can eat. Incorporate vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage and lettuce into your diet to boost your brainpower. Leafy greens contain antioxidants and they’re also full of vitamins. Lower your cholesterol levels and stop your brain from aging by including vegetables in your diet. Studies have shown that people that eat a diet rich in leafy goodness are mentally 7.5 years younger than people who don’t eat them.
Get your mind diet sorted with these tasty recipes.
A sneaky way to satisfy your chocolate cravings, all in the name of your health, is to eat dark chocolate. It includes caffeine, so will make you more alert and contains minerals including zinc and potassium. Studies have shown the anti-inflammatory effects of eating it and that you’re less likely to have a stroke. Scientists also believe that the ingredients in dark chocolate can help to reduce memory loss. We’re always told that the key to eating well is to not eat too much of one thing, so don’t forget that anything sweet should be an occasional treat.
Research has suggested that eating walnuts can improve your memory and help you to concentrate. Nuts are a source of vitamin D and scientists have discovered that eating even a few a day can be great for your cognitive function. Even better, evidence also suggests that people who eat nuts, live longer. Almonds can reduce your cholesterol, pistachios can prevent brain inflammation and macadamias keep your blood pressure down. Nuts are high in fat and shouldn’t be eaten to excess, but including them in your diet is an easy way to make you more alert.
Try these nut recipes and give yourself a mental boost.
We’re all aware that we should be drinking more water, but did you know the effects on your brain of not drinking enough? Lack of water can make you struggle to focus and also cause mental health problems, such as depression. Our brains need water to work efficiently, so being dehydrated can cause issues including impacting our short-term memory. Research has shown that your brain has to work a lot harder when you haven’t had enough to drink. Although many people believe that there is a set amount we all should be drinking daily, responding to your body when you feel thirsty, is the best way to stay hydrated.
Why we choose junk food
Whilst we might have good intentions with our food, it’s very easy to fall off the waggon after a long day at work. Junk food is hard to resist. It’s so addictive because we enjoy the sensation of eating the food and our body responds to the fat, salt and sugar that it contains. Foods that appear light and fluffy in our mouths, like crisps and popcorn, fool us into thinking they contain less calories, so we eat more of them.
We also don’t get bored of eating junk food, unlike healthier foods, that might not provide us with the variety we crave. Junk food always gives us the sensory experience we want, so it’s difficult to know when to stop eating.
Here are some tips for cutting back on unhealthy food choices:
- Don’t go food shopping when you’re feeling hungry. You’re more likely to pick up sweets and cakes you don’t normally buy.
- If you’re trying to lose weight, don’t starve yourself all day. You’ll binge on food as soon as you get home and end up eating more than if you ate small amounts throughout the day. Healthy snacks are key.
- Realise why you’re craving junk food. If you’re eating because it relieves stress, then try something different like going for a run, or taking up arts and crafts.
Get your mind diet on the go, by replacing unhealthy snacks with something better for your brain. You’ll find it easier to study and you’ll be looking after your health too. Which healthy foods work for you? Let us know.
Discover more about how to eat to make your body happy. Get started with our Nutrition and Healthy Eating course.