Hungry? When you need to take a break from your online studies for a snack or a meal, there are several foods that you should avoid and a few healthy foods and snacks that may actually improve your focus, mental alertness, and concentration.
First, a short list of foods to avoid: sugar. While you may experience a very short burst of energy from a candy bar, cookie or cola, it soon passes and leaves you tired and sluggish. The brief but rapid spike in blood sugar that caused the burst of energy also causes a spike in insulin release which then rapidly lowers your blood sugar causing you to “crash”. Instead of candy, cookies and the like, reach for these foods for your study diet:
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. Snack on almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, or add a few slices of avocado to a sandwich or salad. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help improve concentration and brain function and also have anti-inflammatory properties that reduce tissue and brain swelling, increase the ability to focus and are being used to treat chronic depression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Foods high in antioxidants. Fresh fruits, many types of berries and tomatoes have been shown to increase blood flow to the brain. Increased blood flow means an increased oxygen supply to brain cells allowing optimal brain function. Additionally, antioxidants found in fruit, berries and tomatoes protect the brain from oxidative stress and may also decrease the effects of age-related degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s. Studies with fresh blueberries have shown improved learning capacity and motor skills. Fruit is always a healthy choice, and adding berries to a serving of oatmeal or a cup of yogurt may have benefits beyond a simple snack.
Have a banana. Bananas, especially ripe ones with brown spots, are high in dopamine – a brain chemical known to increase concentration. Bananas are a healthy portable snack to provide relief from hunger while providing your brain an extra boost. Be careful not to overdo it though as bananas also contain tryptophan, the same amino acid that puts you to sleep when you overeat.
Foods high in B vitamins. Vitamins B6, B12, and Folic Acid improve memory, concentration and can also prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia. While most often found in lean meats, dairy, and eggs, vegetarian sources of these beneficial B Vitamins include sunflower seeds, pistachios, dried fruits (prunes, raisins, and apricots), green leafy vegetables, oranges, wheat germ and whole grain cereals.
Next time you’re hungry and need a simple snack or meal, try a combination of these healthy foods to help improve your mental alertness, concentration, and overall brain function.