These natural brain foods can boost concentration and performance.
You have a big presentation to give in 15 minutes. But suddenly, you're so tired and unfocused you have a hard time remembering your name, much less your entire speech. Barring illegal substances, there's got to be something to give you a jolt of brain power, but what? Coffee? Sugar? Salmon? (Don't laugh, we'll get to that.) In fact, there are a number of healthy foods to eat for brain power. Some may help in the short term; others, you should include in your diet for long-term aid in boosting alertness, concentration, and performance.
Of course, the best approach is to maintain a healthy diet overall.
"If you're eating poorly and think you'll have a snack and go in and take a test and do well, you're fooling yourself," says Elizabeth Somer, author of 10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman's Diet. "But if you've been feeding your brain [the natural brain foods] it needs for weeks and months, then that light snack and a cup of coffee before you go in to take an exam will be great."
3 Natural Brain Foods for Short-Term Boosts
1. Caffeine, with a Caveat
"Coffee is good in the short term," says Somer. "One or two cups can improve alertness and brain power temporarily.
"But if you keep going back for cup and after cup, you'll be too rattled to think clearly. If you're fueling your day with caffeine, it exacerbates the problems and adds to fatigue. You can go through caffeine withdrawal. It's definitely a double-edged sword."
"It can boost concentration, help you focus, and also provide antioxidants," she says.
2. Quality Carbs for Concentration
"Eating a small carb snack before a test - a whole-wheat English muffin with a little peanut butter and a glass of orange juice, will help boost concentration and brainpower, and is better than going in on an empty stomach," Somer says.
"Quality (complex) carbs, not jelly beans or a Snickers bar, can supply the brain with the fuel it needs to operate optimally."