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Food is the fuel that regulates your energy and mood, both of which can significantly affect your focus. Just as you shouldn’t put olive oil into your car to make it run, you shouldn’t put chocolate syrup into your body to make you run.1 Food has the incredible ability to affect your mental clarity, mood, memory, and ability to focus, so if you’re looking to boost your focus, one of the places you should start with is what you’re eating. Below are 9 foods that will help you improve your focus.
Studies show that 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”.2 Blueberries also contain a “cocktail of anti-oxidants including anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, resveratrol and tannins”, and while I’m not going to even pretend I know what those are, they have been shown to boost focus, and even protect against cancer, heart disease, and dimensia.3
Green tea helps you focus for two reasons: one, it contains caffeine, and two, it contains l’theanine. There is no doubt that caffeine helps you focus and improves your alertness. Good. That’s covered. Well, what the hell is l’theanine? It’s an ingredient that’s been shown to “increase alpha-wave activity”, which increases tranquility and releases caffeine more slowly, instead of all at once, which can lead to you crashing.4 The two ingredients also combine to “produce a better ability to focus attention, with improvement of both speed and accuracy”.5 If you’re able to handle the caffeine content, introducing green tea into your diet is pretty much a no-brainer.
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”.6 Avocados are also “loaded with fiber (11 to 17 grams per avocado), which helps keep hunger pangs at bay”.7
Leafy green vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are full of antioxidants and carotenoids, which boost your brain power, and help protect your brain.8 (A good, general tip: the greener a leaf vegetable is, the better.) Leafy green vegetables are also full of B-vitamins, which are “proven to help your memory, focus, and overall brain health and power”. They also contain folic acid, which improves your mental clarity.9
Fatty/oily fish contains omega-3 fatty acids which “aid memory, mental performance and behavioral function”. People who are deficient in omega-3’s are more likely to have “poor memory, mood swings, depression and fatigue”.10 Fish has also been proven to improve your concentration and mood. The main sources of fatty fish are “salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards and kipper”.11
If you want to improve your focus, you need to drink enough water. Water “gives the brain the electrical energy for all brain functions, including thought and memory processes”, and it has been proven to help you “think faster, be more focused, and experience greater clarity and creativity”.12 Every single function of your body depends on water, so it is critically important that you get enough of it.
Dark chocolate (dark chocolate, not the sugary, milky kind) can help you focus for a number of reasons. First, it contains a small amount of caffeine, which has been proven to heighten mental alertness. Dark chocolate contains magnesium, which helps you de-stress, and it also stimulates the release of endorphins and serotonin, which make you feel good and heighten your mood. This doesn’t mean you should eat a huge brick of chocolate every day, like the delicious-looking one on the right, but it does mean that dark chocolate in smaller doses can significantly boost your focus.13
Like a few of the foods listed already, flax seeds are high in magnesium, B-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber, all of which aid with mental clarity, weight loss, and ultimately, focus.14 Flax is no doubt a super food. Just make sure you grind them after you buy them (so your body can digest them). Unlike the other items on this list, flax seeds can’t be eaten alone, but they’re great sprinkled on cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, salad, and more.
Nuts are great for your body in the long-term. “Nuts and seeds are good sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which is associated with less cognitive decline as you age”, and you just need an ounce of them a day to get this benefit. They’re also rich with essential oils and amino acids that aid your focus.15