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Food For Focus

Do you ever consider how your choice of breakfast can have an impact on your mind and ability to focus? Or more importantly so, your child’s ability to concentrate at school? This article, which I’ve renamed food for focus is an important read for any parent. In fact, even if you’re not a parent, the content is well worth digesting.

Food For Focus

Food For Focus

The sugary cereal gives your children an immediate boost in energy, so don’t be surprised if they are jumping up and down in the back of your car and running around like mad in the playground but then, what you tend not to see, but teachers report, are the carbohydrate crashes your children experience just as they are entering the classroom door – dips in energy caused by the body running out of the quick burn sugary carbohydrates, leaving them feeling irritable, tired, hungry and moody, all considerably affecting their ability to concentrate.

Keeping these sugary cereals away from the breakfast table and replacing with porridge mixed with something like Udo’s Oil, a source of polyunsaturated fats that provide a stable, slow burn source of energy that keeps them feeling fuller for longer and maintains their energy levels in the classroom allowing them to concentrate.

Click here to view the whole article

Now that’s food for focus. I think it’s shocking how there’s so much advertising for really sugary and unhealthy breakfast cereals like Coco pops, Chrunchy Nut Cornflakes, Frosties, Rice Crispies etc, which really don’t do anyone any good. I used to eat those types of cereals as a kid – no wonder I had difficulties concentrating. Having recently taken a keen interest in nutrition, there’s no way I’d dream of eating those type so cereals to start my day. In addition to the detrimental effects on your brain, these ‘fast carbs’ cause blood sugar levels to rise and insulin levels to peak which induces your body to enter starvation mode, meaning your body starts to store fat.

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Exercise And Food For Focus

I thought it was about time to excerpt something useful about exercise and food for focus, and here’s an article combining the two. It is widely known that exercise is beneficial for your brain as well as all for your all other vital organs, as is eating the correct types of food. I believe having a sound knowledge of nutrition is essential in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, both for your brain and for your health as a whole. This is an excerpt from Yeshiva World which at first glance may seem a little behind, but it contains some very useful reminders as to the effects of exercise and nutrition on your brain.

Exercise For Focus Exercise also helps the brain in other ways such as cognitive functions. Children who engage in aerobic exercise score higher on tests, says Dr. Charles H. Hillman at the University of Illinois at Urbana. In addition, he also discovered that aerobic exercise not only increases the levels of serotonin and dopamine, but also actually increases the size of your brain, particularly the hippocampus, which is the part of your brain that controls emotion. Also, it seems that exercise allows the brain to retrieve latent memories.

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Looking at the nutrition side of this equation, we know that just like poor eating can harm normal blood circulation to your heart, the same is true of the brain. The better blood flow is up to your brain, the more oxygen and nutrients are available in order to sustain itself. Therefore, an eating program that is vegetable and fruit dense and low in trans fats and saturated fats, and yet includes monounsaturated healthy fats will help keep your arteries from clogging.

Read the full article here

I named this article exercise and food for focus, to tailor it for this website. There is no mention of focus in the article but ultimately it’s all related. If both exercise and eating the correct types of food are essential for your brain, then we can surely deduce from this article alone, that the right combination of the two will help to focus too. There are plenty of other articles on both subjects on this site under the categories of Exercise For Focus and Food For Focus which support this.

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Groundbreaking Research On New Focus Nutrient

Reports from Harvard University and the Brain Institute of Utah have revealed some groundbreaking research on new focus nutrient, citicoline, brand-named Cognizin®, and its effect on women. According to the research, healthy women who consumed 250mg a day of Cognizin® outperformed those who took a placebo pill on a measure of attentional performance and focus. They made significantly fewer errors and omission each task carried out. This excerpt from The San Fransisco Chronicle explains all.

Cognizin For Focus And AttentionDoes Cognizin® work? GoGungHo® Inc (makers of a focus/energy gel shot), believe it does. They made an agreement for the exclusive rights to distribute Cognizin®, at the proven effective dose of 250mg, within the energy/focus shots and drink category. And GungHo® is going GungHo. They recently broke launch records with the social media release of their product; University studentsgamers and women, love the “smooth focus”said Mason, co-founder. “We asked students what they wanted in an energy drink and they told us they actually wanted focus. Focus to game, study or work without the typical distracting buzz, jitters and crash. They also wanted the convenience of a gel shot with no sugar and all-natural ingredients.” GungHo has a patent-pending on their focus gel shot. “We combined the long-term impact on focus and memory provided by the Cognizin® with the immediate alertness of caffeine – far less than used in typical energy shots – and the smoothness of ashwaganda. Hence folks can get the energy and focus they want without the harsh jitters or crash.” Said Dr Dan Mowry.

Click here to view the whole article

Quite why the groundbreaking research on new focus nutrient was performed only on women, we do not know.  However it does say that Cognizin® could by used by adults of all ages to help them improve their focus, attention and memory. I’m not an advocate for drugs to help with attention and focus but this appears to be a totally natural ingredient, so potentially groundbreaking results indeed. My belief is that all drugs will have some kind of side effect.  Drugs for, say, the treatment of ADHD are fairly new, so no one really knows the long-term effect. I understand that they’re working for kids with ADHD in schools (and adults), but it may just be, that they need something else to help them concentrate as Sir Ken Robinson points out (videos for which you’ll find in the ‘Videos’ section).

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The Best Brain Foods For Your Child

If you’re a parent the chances are that you’ll have taken a vested interest in nutrition.  Here’s a recap of the best brain foods for your child which I highly recommend reading, even if you’re not a parent! We are what we eat after all and unless we educate ourselves, we may just be depriving our bodies and brains of key ingredients.

Brain Food For Your ChildMilk, Yoghurt and Other Dairy Products: Milk and other dairy products are a rich source of Protein, Calcium, Potassium and Vitamin D. All these essential nutrients are a key source to the development of neuromuscular system, neurotransmitters, enzymes and brain tissues. Children and people in the adolescent age group who are in the growing stage also require these nutrients.

All Kinds Of Berries: You might refer to strawberries, cherries, blueberries and blackberries as “Brainberries” as they provide almost all essential brain nutrients. They are an ample source of antioxidants and Vitamin C which help in reducing the oxidative stress. The seeds are a rich source omega-3 fatty acids, one of the most important constituents of the outer membrane of our brain cells.

Eggs and Nuts: Choline, another one of the essential elements for the development of memory stem cells is to be found in abundance in eggs. Nuts also have a fair proportion of this chemical. A Choline rich diet increases the production of memory stem cells in brain. It also minimizes fatigue and improves reaction time. Nuts and seeds are a rich source of Vitamin D. High levels of Vitamin D respond to a less cognitive decline.

Read the full article here

If you read the whole article on the best brain foods for your child you’ll see that salmon is mentioned again.  This is a common theme which for me is unfortunate as my lips swell to three times their normal size. Whilst this might be hilarious for others, it’s not a pleasant feeling. Previous posts on food for focus have advised that fish oil supplements should be taken for those who don’t like fish or who are allergic.  It was interesting to see whole grains mentioned here too. A lot of breakfast cereals that children love don’t include whole grains so what’s the best way to feed your child this key ingredient? Whole grain porridge is a winner with my nieces and nephews.  If you make it with milk and add brain berries that’s three out of these five brain foods covered in one fell swoop!

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5 Ways To Focus By Eating The Right Types Of Food

A key ingredient in being able to focus, is down to your diet. We are what we eat and our brains need feeding properly just as much as the rest of our vital organs do. Here are 5 ways to focus by eating the right types of food, written by Vice President of the Central Iowa District Dietetic Association, Teri Collins.  I’ve excerpted two of the five points, one of which highlights the importance of regular feeding to avoid your body going into starvation mode, which is not only detrimental in keeping off fat, but starves your brain too of its required nutrients.

Manage your macros.

It’s not always about what you eat; it’s also about how you eat. Aim for a balance of carbohydrate, protein and fat (the “macros”) at each meal and have snacks that contain a carbohydrate with either fat or protein. Try to eat every three to four hours, and avoid skipping meals. Ensuring a steady and balanced caloric intake throughout the day is the first step to keeping focused and alert. Try walnuts sprinkled with cinnamon paired with a fresh orange or a rice cake slathered with hummus for snack time munchies.

If it’s white, watch your bite!

“White” foods such as breads, pasta and cereals are generally stripped of their fiber and bran and are associated with the symptoms of “sugar crash,” such as irritability and headaches, which are not redeeming qualities in the workplace! Whole-wheat and whole-grain foods incorporate the whole plant that provides the diet with a valuable fiber source. Meals rich in fiber delay stomach emptying and create a lower rise in blood sugar, in turn eliminating sugar crashes.

Read the full article here

If you read all of the 5 ways to focus by eating the right types of food, you’ll have seen that the topic of margarine was visited.  While Teri Collins advises to keep it to a minimum, I’d go one step further and say avoid them completely unless they are made with olive oil and have no vegetable oil content which is hydrogenated. This is a quote from the No.1 abdominal fitness product on the internet, The Truth About Abs about Hydrogenated oils:

In hydrogenation, the already toxic oils have a metal catalyst added to them and are again treated under high pressure and high temperature, and then steam cleaned and bleached. Now does that sound like something you should put in your body in even small quantities?

Also, coffee is mentioned as a great stimulant which does contain some antioxidants, but why not stick to green tea, for which I’m an absolute advocate.  It not only contains plenty of antioxidants, but is reported to also reduce the rate at which your body absorbs carbohydrates, speed up your metabolism, burn off fat and have many benefits for your brain too! At which point would you not drink that all day long? (Until mid afternoon so it doesn’t affect your sleep.) If you’d like to learn more about green tea, this article from Psychology Today is well worth a read.

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Eating High Fat Foods Causes Inflammation Of Your Brain

If you struggle to focus, it may just be down to your diet.  Not only are fatty foods detrimental to your vital organs and physique, but eating high fat causes inflammation of your brain.  Now I’m not talking about ‘good’ fats –  which your body requires to function, I refer to typical trans fats and fats that are often found in fast foods.  This is an insightful article by Sharon Kirkey for the health section of Canada.com.

Eating High Fat Foods Causes Inflammation Of Your Brain

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When the researchers looked at the animals’ brains, they found higher levels of the stress hormone, corticosterone. They also saw changes in the expression of proteins that help control signalling between neurons in areas of the brain regulating emotions and reward.

Fulton said the type of fat might make a difference. Other research has shown that food high in saturated fat — such as hamburgers, bacon, pork sausages, cheese, butter, ice cream — cause inflammation throughout the body, including the brain, and that this inflammation may be causing changes that can lead to “negative mood states.” But Fulton’s lab has found some evidence that animals consuming the same total amount of fat, but “good fat, like olive oil,” experience less anxiety.

They also reported the following:

“In the short-term high-fat food feels comforting, but in the long-term, and with increasing adiposity (fat mass) it is having negative effects on mood.

“We know that diet is a large contributor to the obesity epidemic throughout the world,” Fulton added. Foods high in saturated fats and sugar are particularly abundant, she said.

In addition to obesity’s well-known associations with high blood pressure, cancer, and Type 2 diabetes, “we really need to consider mental disorders,” she said.

Lau, editor-in-chief of the Canadian Journal of Diabetes and chair of the diabetes and endocrine research group at U of Calgary, said the story is much more complex.

“We still don’t understand why obese people are more depressed — is it related to body image (or other issues)?” he asked.

Read the full article here

The fact that eating high fat foods causes inflammation of your brain and can lead to mental disorders does not surprise me in the slightest because I take a particular interest in nutrition. What does surprise me is the fact that they’re so readily available and that governments where there is a high proportion of obese people, do not take any action.  It doesn’t just surprise me, it infuriates me.   If everyone was required to be educated as to the effects of fast foods and fatty foods, and nutrition as a whole, maybe we could put an end to this obesity epidemic once and for all? Perhaps if fast foods weren’t so cheap and healthy goods weren’t so expensive, that my help too? Tax unhealthy foods and subsidise healthy foods? So obvious, yet will it happen?

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Ways To Focus On The Good Fats

It would appear that eating ‘good’ fats and not eating the ‘bad’ fats, is not only important in fat control (and your health in general), but has recently been reported to be necessary for cognitive reasons and brain health.  Here are some ways to focus on the good fats, written by Amanda L. Chan for the Huffington Post.  She explains how a study of 6,000 women, published by the Annals of Neurology (had to be careful with the spelling there), found that women who consumer ‘good’ fats performed better than those who consumed ‘bad’ fats.  Whether you’re a woman, or not, this is an important read.

Ways To Focus On The Good Fats

Bad fats

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Meanwhile, women who consumed the most “good” fats scored better on cognitive tests during the study.

Saturated fats are commonly found in animal products, like butter and red meat, while monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil, among other foods.

“When looking at changes in cognitive function, what we found is that the total amount of fat intake did not really matter, but the type of fat did,” study researcher Dr. Olivia Okereke, M.D., of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Department of Psychiatry, said in a statement.

The study, published in the journal Annals of Neurology, included data from 6,000 women who were part of the Women’s Health Study. These women, who were all age 45 and older, participated in a cognitive functioning test every two years over a four-year period, and also completed food questionnaires at the start of the study.

“Our findings have significant public health implications,” Okereke said in the statement. “Substituting in the good fat in place of the bad fat is a fairly simple dietary modification that could help prevent decline in memory.”

Read the full article here

I think the last line of these ways to focus on the good fats says it all.  It’s not even worth arguing nor taking a change with.  Trans fats are pure evil, and so are hydrogenated oils which are found in most processed foods, vegetable oils and margarine.  I can’t actually understand why there is not more education out there on nutrition, nor why our governments don’t heavily tax such foods.  In fact, nutrition should be an imperative course in schools and colleges in my opinion as we really are what we eat.  Maybe we could then put an end to this obesity epidemic and protect the brains and health of our future children.  Did I go off on one here? What do you think? Share your comments below!

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Eat Fish And Focus!

You may have read on this site that fish is regarded as an excellent source of brain food.  If it’s an excellent source of brain food, then surely it’s ok to say ‘eat fish and focus?’ Here, Connie Diekman, for University City Patch, explains how it’s the Omega-3 fatty acid content of fish that is reported to be a key ingredient for our brains.

Fish For Focus, Brain FoodSeveral new studies have looked at the health of the brain, as well as memory and learning, and it seems inclusion of fish in your diet is an important component.

Studies have looked at fish intake and its impact on memory, learning and even mood. While the extent of research is still limited, studies do show that those who eat fish more often, many studies indicate at least once a week, have greater brain volume.

Researchers suggest that the impact of fish on the brain is related to the Omega-3 fatty acid content of the fish. Omega-3 fatty acids help increase blood flow, fight inflammation and prevent accumulation of plaque associated with Alzheimer’s.

Click here to view the original source of the article

If you’re allergic to fish (I can relate to that), then maybe it’s wise to ignore the advice to ‘eat fish and focus!’ You can take fish oil/ omega-3 supplements.  For those who are not allergic, it is recommended that you consume 2 portions of fish a week and the fish with highest omega-3 content are:

  • Arctic char — 139 mg/3 ounces
  • Herring — 181 mg/3 ounces
  • Mackerel — 102-157 mg/3 ounces (depends on origin)
  • Opah/Moonfish — 135 mg/3 ounces
  • Salmon — 110-120 mg/3 ounces (depends on origin)
  • Bluefin tuna — 128 mg/3 ounces
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How Sipping Water Can Help You Focus

There are plenty of foods that are proven to significantly improve concentration, focus, memory, and brain power as a whole, as you may have seen on this site from articles such as Foods To Help You Focus or Plant Foods Help You Focus.  Here, Linda Wasmer Andrews, for Psychology Today, describes how sipping water can help you focus.

How Sipping Water Can Help You Focus

Hydrating the brain

One possibility is that drinking water may have a direct physiological impact on cognitive function. Water is essential for every cell, tissue, and organ in the body, and the brain is no exception.

Dousing test anxiety

For worriers, there could be another benefit as well. Sipping water during an exam is sometimes suggested as a strategy for easing test anxiety. By offering a momentary distraction, it can break a chain of anxious thoughts and free the mind to focus on the task, leading to better performance.

Pouring on optimism

Drinking water can also aid concentration the same way a sugar pill can ease pain: by activating the placebo effect. Water has received a lot of good press lately. If people believe that sipping water helps the brain work more efficiently, that expectation alone could be enough to boost brainpower.

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I think people forget how important water is in order for all of our vital organs to function correctly, not just our brains.  Of these 3 explanations on how sipping water can help you focus, the fact that it could have a placebo was an interesting one.  Had I known that during my finals maybe I’d have pulled out a First!

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Exercise And Eat Well In Order To Focus

Have you heard that you need to exercise and eat well in order to focus?  Just in case you’ve missed my umpteen posts on the necessity of exercise for focus, I thought I’d include this article written by David Wilson for the Sydney Morning Herald.  He features some highly respected entrepreneurs, including Sir Richard Branson (heard of him?), Tim Ferris (him too?), and Luke Baylis (founder of SumoSalad). They’re all huge advocates of exercise as you’d expect being successful business men.  Here’s a snippet of what David Wilson writes about Luke Baylis, regarding his experience before and after exercise:

“You didn’t have quite the same level of focus and you didn’t have quite the same level of motivation and the same type of clear head that you do when you’re fit and healthy and you exercise regularly,” the Sydneysider says. Apparently, massive American portion sizes and tasty trappings were his undoing.

And here’s what David Wilson includes about Sydney marketing agency owner, Robert Steers:

Thanks to his workouts, he can then work without needing four cups of coffee to stay on the case. “It does feel like I am more focused,” he says.

So that he avoids experiencing end-of-day, sitting-induced back soreness, Steers also does Pilates.

“I am not normally into the soft and fluffy stuff, but stretching my back out makes me feel really great for days,” he says. Pilates, he reckons, is outstanding – “a great way to unwind, which I have trouble doing otherwise”.

Besides exercising religiously, Steers avoids fast food and junk food “at all costs”. If out at a meeting, he eats sushi or just grabs a sandwich washed down with water, of which he drinks plenty, curbing coffee to two cups a day.

Read the full, original article here

So there we have it, four successful business men and a business woman (if you read the whole article) talking about why they exercise and eat well in order to focus.  If Richard Branson has enough time to exercise, then I think we mere mortals can prioritise 30 minutes a day to exercise.  If we don’t, we’re actually depriving our bodies of a basic and natural requirement, not only for the brain, but for all organs to function properly.  If you’re struggling to focus on your exercise regime, click here.

 

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