By Alane Stieglitz, ND, CNC
Many people suffer from symptoms of brain fog. Helping improve your brain’s focus and energy can be done by discussing brain food and neurotransmitters. Let’s start with cleaning up your diet. Overly processed foods high in chemical fats and sugars are doing more damage than giving your brain an energy boost. I know, when I eat, I want to make sure I nourish my brain and body and feel alert and focused after I eat.
1. Start with ‘Brainberries’– Studies show that blueberries are wonderful brain food. Blueberries boost “concentration and memory” for up to five hours because “the antioxidants in blueberries stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain – and keep the mind fresh.” Blueberries also contain a “cocktail of antioxidants including anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, resveratrol, and tannins,” they have been shown to boost focus and even protect against cancer, heart disease, and dementia. Skip the dairy when eating blueberries; it can inhibit the absorption and effectiveness of all those beautiful antioxidants.
2. Eat Fat– Yes, fat is brain food! Your brain demands healthy fats! People deficient in omega-3’s are more likely to have “poor memory, mood swings, depression, and fatigue.” According to WebMD, “every organ in the body depends on blood flow, especially the heart and brain,” and avocados “[enhance] blood flow, offering a simple, tasty way to fire up brain cells.” Avocados are also “loaded with fiber (11 to 17 grams per avocado), which helps keep hunger pangs at bay.”
Brain food boosting tips: Enjoy blueberries, green tea, avocados, leafy green vegetables, fatty fish, water, dark chocolate, flax seeds, and nuts.
3. Give your brain a blue screen break! Go outside and look at the landscape and take in all the details. Even doing this exercise for 5 minutes can improve your mood and ability to focus. Read a book without the blue light background. Blue light puts stress on our bodies and takes us out of the circadian rhythm. Have a conversation face to face instead of over the phone. Looking at nature and having a good conversation with a friend can be considered brain food too.
4. Get Moving. Exercise increases endorphins and blood flow to your brain. You will have greater focus and more energy and concentration after a morning sweat session. Take a break in the afternoon for a brisk walk to realign your focus. Taking a walk before dinner also improves your digestion and gives you quality time with friends and family. If you are sitting all day long at work, take a brain food break outside and get some exercise. I love to walk my dogs during lunch break. They are happy, and so am I getting out looking at nature and breathing it in. After a brisk walk, I am ready for my afternoon patients.
5. Stop Brain Multitasking. Overloading your brain to do too many things at once can lead to not doing well at anything, plus you can end up super stressed. You can do unconscious tasks such as walking and talk simultaneously, but once it gets more complicated than that, you are sacrificing the efficiency of one job for another. As unrelated as it may seem, lack of mindfulness in the present has been found to promote brain aging by shortening protective end caps on your chromosomes called telomeres. So, another way to have brain food is reducing what we are trying to force our brains to do.
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