In this modern fast-paced hyper-connected world, we all want to be as efficient as possible. Working better, not longer is a great way to find work-life balance and to feel like you are getting the most out of life. With only a certain number of hours in day finding ways to increase your focus and concentration throughout the working day is a key optimising lifestyle ‘hack’.
Balance your blood sugar – your brain requires a lot of energy to function. While it is only 2% of the total body weight it requires 20% of your resting metabolic rate calories. For sustained focus it needs a constant supply of energy supplied via the blood, this is mostly commonly supplied by glucose (sugar) broken down from the foods you eat. Refined sugars and carbs spike the blood sugar stimulating the body to store rather than circulate the glucose. Instead switch to complex carbs including wholegrains, whole fruits and vegetables, then combine these with lean quality proteins, healthy fats and fibres. This combination will mean that the energy from the food you eat will be slowly broken down and released at sustained rate so giving your brain (and the rest of your body) energy for hours.
Omega 3 – the fats found in oily fish, krill, flax, chia, hemp seeds and walnuts, have been found in numerous studies to enhance cognitive function. In particular one type of omega 3 called DHA is key in terms of maintaining healthy brain cell membranes, allowing optimal function of your neurotransmitter, your brain messengers.
Green Tea – Contains 2 compounds caffeine and l-theanine, both of which can positively brain function. Caffeine is a stimulant; making you more alert and l-theanine works on the GABA pathway increasing focus and also making you feel calm. Overall studies have shown that consuming green tea regularly increases memory.
Leafy Greens - A 2006 study in Neurology showed that people who ate two or more daily servings of vegetables, especially leafy greens, had the mental focus of people five years their junior.
Coenzyme Q10 - is required for the final steps of energy production in your body. There are Q10 receptors covering your thymus gland, the gland most associated with happy and sad feelings. Q10 is one of the very best nutrients to help improve energy, lighten things up, and feel motivated.
B6, folate and B12 - are good for memory and concentration, as these improve cognitive functioning of the brain and also prevent diseases like alzheimers and dementia, as they protect the brain from nerve damage from a chemical called homocysteine involved in the development of these diseases. Foods such as fish, meat, whole grains, eggs and nuts are high in B6, leafy greens for folate and eggs, fish, meat, dairy and seaweed are high in B12.
Libby Limon, nutritionist and yoga teacher, believes in creating optimal health through a diet and lifestyle that fits around your life. Finding balance in all aspects of life relieves discomfort, restores functionality and helps sustain and maintain wellbeing of the body, mind and soul. As health means different things to different people, Libby’s approach is to individually, gently and safely change and develop diet and lifestyle to achieve your goals.