What’s your definition of a “study break?” I know myself, and when I need to take a step back from a task, the first place I roam to is the kitchen, as if a handful of rice cereal or, OK, maybe an Oreo or two, is going to spark my creativity and help me bang out the last bit of my work. Now, I know damn well I am not the only person who leans on food when their brain’s foggy or just plain bored, but there really are
foods that help you concentrate when you’re in a rut. (Hint: They, unfortunately, do not include a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s.) What I’m trying to say is, you can take mindless eating and make it more mindful; it all starts with your grocery list.
Personally, I don’t like to label foods as “good” or “bad” for you, but there’s no denying some foods have more health benefits than others, and not just in terms of your physical well being, either. Food is fuel that nourishes the body, as well as stimulates the mind, so mosey on over to your fridge, kitchen cabinets, and assess your staples. If you have a draw or Tupperware container dedicated to sweets, for example, you might want to steer clear of that.
Processed foods with a ton of
added sugar and high salt content aren't exactly the best snacking option when you have a ton of work to get done. Trust me, I understand the onset of a chocolate craving when you're overwhelmed with school assignments and office presentations, but keep in mind these are just temporary fixes. A handful of greasy french fries here, and a bite of a Hostess cupcake there might satisfy a five-second craving, but they'll only make concentrating that much worse.
In order to change your mind, you have to switch up your menu. Here are a few brain-boosting foods that will help you concentrate the next time you're stuck.
Keep eating that avocado toast for brekkie, millennials, because each pretty green slice is loaded with monounsaturated fat, aka an essential for brain power.
It all comes back to one of my favorite food groups: healthy fats. You see, our brains are actually made of 60 percent fat, which is why we need things like avo in our lives to keep our minds thriving.
According to Greatist,
healthy fats stimulate ketosis, the natural process that burns stored fat for energy. Monounsaturated fat found in avocados attributes to this, as well as encourages production of something called acetylochline, a neurotransmitter that controls how we learn and store memories. Organic Black Beans, $1.39 Thrive Market
What's good for your heart, is generally good for your brain, and that's the case for black beans.
These little nuggets of protein and fiber stimulate blood flow to the heart, as well as blood flow to the brain.
Healthy blood flow ensures that oxygen levels stay leveled, so our noggin isn't under distress, or loosing cells.
In my book, broccoli is a superfood. These little tree-looking veggies have a huge impact on the brain because they contain essential nutrients that keep our minds fresh.
broccoli contains vitamin K, which helps us processes information, and choline, an essential nutrient that improves our ability to make and store memories. What's more, one half of a cup of broccoli alone is high in folic acid, a strain of vitamin B that has been said to help ward off Alzheimer's disease.
love eggs. Eggs for breakfast, eggs for lunch, eggs for dinner; I pretty much eat the stuff at least once every, if not every other, day. Which, clearly, must be the reason why I'm so sharp. Just kidding! Well, kind of.
I know a lot of
people are iffy on egg yolks, but here's the facts: The orange-yellow middle of your over-easy order is swarming with choline, protein, and amino acids, which all stimulate the production of neurotransmitters. Brain Dust, $38 Moon Juice
If by some small change you haven't heard of adaptogens yet, you might want to take a second look at your Instagram feed.
Adaptogens are herbal substances and super trendy right now for good reason: they work.
The idea behind adaptogens is that, holistically, you can relax the brain, reduce stress, and improve your mental health/capabilities.
Moon Juice's Brain Dust, for example, is made with popular adaptogens like lion's mane, maca, and ashwagandha that, together, stimulate mental stamina, clarity, and boost your mood. Bonafide Provisions Sampler, $33.95 Wise Choice Market
Got brain fog? Bone broth can help.
Whatever's going on in your body affects your brain, and vice-versa. For example, let's say your immune system is lacking, and your memory isn't so sharp as a result. You would first need to heal your gut health in order for your brain to follow suit. That's where bone broth comes in.
Dr. Josh Axe writes on his website that he frequently prescribes a bowl to his patients as it "helps heal your body from the inside out." It's
loaded with collagen, which works to repair a leaky gut, strengthen your immunity, and help improve memory. Instead of depending on coffee to get you through an afternoon meeting, you might want to consider sipping on a thermos of bone broth, instead.
Berries in general are one of the best kinds of fruits you can have, but did you know blueberries, specifically, have been nicknamed the "
In the long run, regularly adding blueberries to your meals will keep your brain healthier as you age because their high antioxidant levels have the power to keep memory fresh. In the short-term, Medical Daily reports a study released in 2009 showed those who
ate blueberries in the morning had improved concentration and memory well into the afternoon. If that isn't incentive to add a handful to your breakfast smoothie, I don't know what is. Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil Non-Dairy Butter Flavor, $8.99 GNC
Circling back to healthy fats, let's talk about coconut oil. Coconut oil, if you've never witnessed it's benefits first-hand, really does it all, from promoting healthy skin to improving brain health.
Granted, coconut oil is controversial at the moment because it does contain a lot of saturated fat (12 grams per tablespoon, to be exact). Despite this tidbit, however, I, personally, love cooking with the stuff because it adds a rich taste to my meals and even has some secret brain-boosting elements.
Eat This, Not That! reports that, according to a 2015 study, it was found that
coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides, aka fatty acids that are broken down and used to fuel brain cells. Ergo, you might not want to write off this superfood just yet. Add a bit to smoothies, matcha lattes, roasted veggies and more to reap these brain-loving benefits.
Haven't you ever heard the phrase seafood is brain food? It's true!
Fish that are high in
omega-3 fatty acids and oils like sardines, tuna, salmon, and trout strengthen brain functionality and reduce the risk of memory loss. So go ahead, splurge for slices of lox with your everything bagel with cream cheese. Your brain (and stomach) deserves it. Justin's Classic Almond Butter, $11.99 Thrive Market
As much as I love peanut butter, almond butter takes the cake in terms of brain boosting properties.
naturally high in vitamin E, but according to SHAPE, one serving contains three times as much vitamin E as peanut butter. In other words, making the swap from PB&J to AB&J can provide you with a higher serving of the essential vitamin that lowers the risk of forgetting information easily.