The ability to create and communicate effectively can strengthen your professional platform and network.1 This may be hard to do if you can’t focus and your body lacks energy. When balancing a career, classwork, and personal life, adding in exercise and brain foods to your daily routine may help boost your energy levels and improve your concentration.1
What Are “Brain Foods”?
Foods high in vitamin E – walnuts, cashews, almonds, and seeds – are recognized as brain foods and may promote brain function, prevent the decline in cognitive skills, and improve heart health. Other vitamin E rich foods include eggs and cooked vegetables. Egg yolks are also rich in choline, which is an essential nutrient, and eating them may better manage memory and communication among brain cells.2
Blueberries, often called a “superfood,” and strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries, are high in antioxidants and are linked to improved memory and coordination.1, 2 Additionally, berries are a great source of glucose and have a low glycemic index. Therefore, eating them can help regulate your body’s sugar levels.1
To support your brain’s function and health, consider adding these foods to your diet as you balance your college studies, personal life, and your job. A busy schedule can take a toll on the body, so you may want to equip yourself with the right tools to combat fatigue and brain fog.
What Do You Eat For Breakfast?
We’ve all heard the expression: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Health experts have long discussed the value of eating a healthy breakfast, and scientific research has shown a link between diet and brain function.1, 3 Eating breakfast regularly enables us to pay attention, work better, and retain information. Start your day with foods containing carbohydrates and protein to feel full until your next meal and to supply your body and brain with the energy needed to get you through the day. 3
Health coaches also recommend eating whole-grains, fresh fruits, and veggies for carbs. Low-fat dairy, such as milk, yogurt, or cottage cheese, and nuts or legumes, offer protein.3 But avoid sugar-filled foods such as donuts, breakfast bars, muffins, some cereals, and pre-mixed oatmeal. These options are high in sugar and carbs but are low in fiber. Eating them can actually cause your blood sugar to rise, and then quickly drop, thus resulting in cravings, moodiness, and a lack of energy.4 The last thing you want to happen is to have your energy levels and concentration hit rock bottom when you’re striving to bring your A-game on an exam or work project, and you need to stay energized and focused.
When you’re craving something sweet, consider adding berries to a bowl of steel-cut oats or plain Greek yogurt. Berries can give you the sweetness your taste buds crave without causing a mid-morning sugar crash. If you lack time to prepare a meal, a hard-boiled egg or a bag of nuts are options that can be easily transported and eaten during your work commute. Nuts are also a convenient, mess-free snack to eat while engaging online with classmates, studying, or completing course assignments.
Caffeine and the Brain
According to recent research, Americans consumes over 400 million cups of coffee each day.5 Caffeine is a brain stimulant and has been noted to improve cognitive performance, such as verbal memory and short-term memory.2, 5 Yet despite the research conducted, scientists are still working to determine whether or not caffeine consumption is beneficial in the long run.5
Just like eating sweets or drinking alcohol, caffeine may be best if consumed in moderation. Furthermore, experiencing a case of the jitters may not be the most effective way to get through the day and could distract you from any tasks at hand, whether at work or online for school. When you do get a cup of coffee or other caffeinated drink, be aware of the amount of sugar or syrup added and opt for the smaller size.
Is Drinking Water Important?
Yes! Since the brain is composed of over 80% water, even a minor loss can cause brain fog, sleepiness, dizziness, or confusion. Loss of water can even cause shrinking of the brain.1
How is dehydration prevented? Drink more water. Try to keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day. You may be more likely to drink water if it’s easily accessible.
Does Exercise Reduce Memory Loss?
Exercising can positively change your brain in ways that protect your memory and thinking skills. One study by the University of British Columbia concluded that daily aerobic exercise might increase the size of the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain linked to verbal memory and learning. Exercise can also enhance your mood, improve your sleep, and decrease stress and anxiety.6
During your lunch break, take a walk outside to stretch your body and clear your mind. If you aren’t one to work out alone, ask a coworker to join you. Or consider taking an exercise class before work or in the evening. A class community can help to boost your motivation and maintain your accountability.
Make a Plan and Stick With It
If you’re motivated to change your diet or add exercise to your daily routine, encourage yourself by writing down your goals. Similar to studying, consider scheduling time to work out or plan your meals ahead of time. Seeing your intentions written down may help you push forward and achieve your desired success. However, before making any lifestyle changes, speak with your doctor. A licensed medical professional can answer your questions and recommend options best suited for you.
1. “The Top 5 Brain-Boosting Foods You Should Be Eating.” Forbes. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jesscording/2018/03/12/top-brain-foods/#5f63b13a3a9d (Visited 11/06/2018).
2. “The 9 Best Foods to Eat to Boost Your Brain Health.” Reader’s Digest. Retrieved from: https://www.rd.com/health/conditions/best-brain-food (Visited 11/06/2018).
3. “The Benefits of Eating Breakfast.”WebMD. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/many-benefits-breakfast#1 (Visited 11/06/2018).
4. “15 Breakfast Foods You Really Need to Stop Eating.” Reader’s Digest. Retrieved from: https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/think-twice-breakfast-foods/ (Visited 11/06/2018).
5. “Three Things Caffeine Does In Your Brain.” Forbes. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2018/06/29/three-things-caffeine-does-in-your-brain/#5bd3ebca1876 (Visited 11/06/2018).
6. “Regular exercise changes the brain to improve memory, thinking skills.” Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-201404097110 (Visited 11/06/2018).
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