Many of us wish there was a quick and easy way to boost the performance of our mental function. For work, fitness, and general everyday living. According to the NYU Langone Medical Center, mental function tends to decline under conditions involving stress or fatigue and can be an indicator of age-related cognitive decline or memory impairment.
Stress and tiredness have a huge negative impact on our cognitive abilities as we try to get through the day. Don’t you start feeling sluggish by 2 p.m every day? This only gets worse with age as we tend to forget things. Some people also have ADHD, causing them to focus on other things instead of the task at hand. While medications exist, eating healthy food and consuming natural supplements can be a huge mental boost.
Let’s take a look at some natural supplements which can improve focus and concentration.
Can age affect my concentration and focus?
Those over the age of 40 are the most susceptible to age-related deterioration of mental functions.
Children are also susceptible to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a form of mental disability that affects focus and concentration. This learning disability makes it difficult for children to concentrate or maintain focus on daily activities and can continue through adolescence and into adulthood. However, medication for ADHD is available. These options work by increasing mental alertness and monitoring behavioral levels.
Best foods to boost concentration and focus
As a result of the current trend towards healthier living and organic wellness products, many people are relying on natural alternatives to keep the mind sharp and improve mental agility. So whether you suffer from memory loss, have ADHD, or just want to boost your concentration, these 10 foods will work wonders for you.
Breakfast Foods That Boost Your Focus
1. Hard-boiled Egg
According to Dr. Oz, eating the right kind of breakfast is one of the best ways to boost your focus for the day.
Eating a hard-boiled egg for breakfast can improve your ability to focus during the day. Choline — a B-vitamin found in eggs— has been linked to better performance on verbal and visual memory tests. Studies show that adults with a high-choline diet performed significantly higher than adults with poor choline diets. Having a choline-rich diet also reduced the likelihood of developing signs linked to dementia.
2. Wheat Bran Cereal
This variety of cereal is fantastic for improving your mental function as well as the vitality of your heart. According to SELF, a health and wellness website, a single box of Kellogg’s All-Bran Wheat Flakes contains 33 milligrams of zinc. Zinc is well-known for improving your skin tone, regulating your immunity, and also stabilizing your memory and cognitive function. Some of the best foods that are high in zinc include:
- Dark Cholate
- Whole Grains
Having a cup of coffee in the morning can also enhance your mental agility. Dr. Oz suggests limiting yourself to just one cup of coffee in the morning. This is because the effects of caffeine usually last anywhere between 4 to 6 hours—enough to last you until lunch. Coffee stimulates mental and memory performance because it acts as a mild stimulant to the central nervous system in the brain. One thing to be mindful of, however, is the connection between coffee and sleep. Studies have shown that the stimulant effects of caffeine may affect sleep patterns and evidence suggests there is an association between daily intake of caffeine, sleep quality, and daytime sleepiness. Reducing caffeine intake late in the day may help improve sleep patterns.
Nutrients That Help You Stay Focused
4. Fish and Flaxseed
Flaxseed and fatty fish like salmon and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of nutrient that plays a crucial role in improving overall brain and heart health. A 2013 report published in Advances in Nutrition, indicated that omega-3 fatty acids help fight the aging-related deterioration of cognitive functions. Another article published in Neuropsychopharmacology, found that omega-3 supplements can reduce symptoms of ADHD in children. Other foods that contain omega-3 nutrients include:
- Fish and other seafood (i.e. mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines, and herring)
- Nuts and seeds (i.e. flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts)
- Plant oils (i.e. soybean oil, and canola oil)
- Fortified foods (i.e. eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, soy beverages, and infant formulas)
5. Antioxidant-Rich Foods
Antioxidant nutrients offer protection against age-related decline in cognition (i.e. the set of mental abilities associated with attention, memory, and problem-solving). A 2014 review published on Neural Regeneration Research Journal, found that the antioxidant compounds in berries have many positive effects on the brain, including:
- Improving communication between brain cells
- Reducing inflammation throughout the body
- Helping brain cells form new connections, boosting learning and memory
- Reducing or delaying age-related neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive decline
Previous research on the European Journal of Nutrition also found evidence that antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin C and vitamin E can slow the rate of cognitive decline.
6. Green Tea
As one of the healthiest plants on the planet, green tea is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that have powerful effects on the body. These effects include:
- improved brain function
- Reduced risk of cancer
Studies have also shown that the active ingredients in green tea are potent at improving brain function. Furthermore, a pilot study published in the journal Nutrients in 2014 found that daily green tea intake helped improve cognitive function in a small group of older adults.
You don’t even have to consume peppermint. Inhaling the fragrance of peppermint essential oil can decrease fatigue and improve alertness and energy level in a person. Also, improvement in memory has been noted.
While there hasn’t been any health risk associated with peppermint, you should still consult your doctor before consuming any.
Guarana consists of caffeine and tannin, all associated with energy and concentration. You will find the Guarana extract in many other supplements and energy drinks.
It increases memory, energy, and attention. Athletes have seen a difference in how their body reacts too.
While Guarana is mostly safe, it is suggested that a high intake might lead to anxiety attacks and a rapid heartbeat.
Herbal Supplements That Boost Your Focus
9. Panax Ginseng
As the day progresses, the effects of breakfast foods may diminish. Therefore, it is important to replenish your brain with supplements that can keep your memory and cognitive abilities vibrant throughout the day. Panax Ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for years to calm and ease the body and mind. However, people also use the supplement to improve concentration, thinking, memory, work efficiency, physical stamina, and even athletic endurance. Dr. Oz recommends taking a dosage of 100 mg twice per day to boost focus and concentration.
10. Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba is a tree originating from China as far back as 2,500 years ago. Its leaves are cultivated and used in various forms such as liquid extracts, capsules, and tablets. Ginkgo biloba is one of the top 10 most commonly used natural products in Canada. The plant has many therapeutic properties including improving cardiovascular health, memory problem, eye health, and many more. Some studies even suggest that ginkgo Biloba could treat Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. According to the NYU Langone Medical Center, the plant may also alleviate natural age-related memory loss and enhance mental function in children and teenagers. Ginkgo biloba is one of the top-selling herbal medicines worldwide.
Curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric, is a natural anti-inflammatory compound that some studies say enhances cognitive function. Specifically, curcumin boosts brain-derived neurotrophic factors, linked to improved brain function and a lower risk of brain diseases. Another found that curcumin can improve memory and other cognitive abilities due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties. Besides helping your brain, curcumin also has beneficial effects on several factors related to heart disease. It improves the function of the endothelium and is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and antioxidant.
Rosemary is an herb belonging to the mint family. It’s used as a garnish in many Western and European dishes. But does rosemary actually improve your memory and cognition? Research certainly suggests it does. According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, daily intake of rosemary may boost cognitive performance and sharpen memory. Another theory by the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests that rosemary works to lower anxiety, which in turn, may increase one’s ability to concentrate.
Ayurvedic medicine has used Bacopa for years. It’s known to improve memory and increase the happiness factor in your brain.
Increasing your energy also lets Bacopa alleviate some of the symptoms of depression and anxiety, though it might not cure the disorders.
Sage has proven its effectiveness in improving attention, mood, alertness, and recall in people of all ages. It revitalizes the mental drain you experience throughout the day. In fact, one study shows sage can increase the alertness level of a person by 4 hours.
The major benefits of sage come from all the plant compounds, including rosmarinic acid, quercetin, and luteolin.
What is kratom?
Kratom comes from a tree belonging to the same family as the coffee plant. It is commonly grown in wild, tropical areas in Southeast Asia like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. Traditionally, Kratom was harvested and used by locals for general well-being, such as increasing energy and stamina, as well as relief and sociability. In Canada, Kratom is not indicated or sold for human consumption, it is available solely for research, botanical and aromatic purposes.
Kratom puts you in this relaxed state where you have higher concentration and awareness of your surroundings. Kratom users rave about pain relief, improvement in mood, and bursts of energy and focus.
Pain relief is actually another way to increase your focus, as chronic pain can mess with your concentration.
Whether you want to try Kratom or any other natural supplements, consult your doctor beforehand. Do some tests to check if you are potentially allergic to any of them. Some supplements can be good for one person and have massive side effects for another. Our different body types mean we react differently to medicine and supplements. It’s not smart to consume any new substance without checking your compatibility.