- 9 brain foods that will improve your focus and concentration
- Green tea
- Leafy green vegetables
- Fatty fish
- Dark chocolate
- Flax seeds
- Foods linked to better brainpower
- 4. Tomatoes
- 7. Pumpkin seeds
- 9. Sage
- Brainpower supplements
- Enjoyed this? Now try…
- 10 Foods That Boost Concentration
- 12 Foods to Help You Focus
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Leafy Greens
- Dark Chocolate
- Peppermint Tea
- Eating your way to focus and concentration
- Water boosts focus
- Blueberries enhance focus and concentration
- Avocados improve your focus and concentration
- Leafy greens help with focus and concentration
- Foods we should avoid in order to keep our minds sharp!
- Fruit juice
- Cured Meats
- A step-by-step guide to building a full day of focus & concentration
- Having Trouble Focusing? Add These 7 Foods to Your Diet
- 1. Blueberries
- 2. Avocado
- 3. Eggs
- 4. Peppermint tea
- 5. Salmon
- 6. Beets
- 7. Dark chocolate
- How to improve concentration: Focus Foods
- 5 ways to stay focused throughout the day
- 2. Try new ways to stay hydrated
- 3. The caffeine conundrum
- 4. Stay on top of your blood sugar
- 5. Eat more oily fish
- Feeling energised?
- Ingredients in energy drinks
- Do energy drinks increase concentration?
- Energy drinks for focus
- Do energy drinks keep you awake?
- Energy drinks and cognitive performance
- Do energy drinks help your memory?
- Can energy drinks help me concentrate while studying?
- Can energy drinks help me concentrate while driving?
- Can energy drinks help me on my graveyard shift?
- Can energy drinks help with my ADHD?
- Can I drink energy drinks on a daily basis?
- Does Red Bull make you focus?
- Other drinks with caffeine to help with concentration
- Best energy drinks for concentration (in no particular order)
- Dark chocolate
- Acai Berries
- What’s Wrong With Artificial Energy Drinks
- The 5 Best Natural Energy Drinks
- The Ultimate Natural Energy Drink Recipes
- Water: The Original Natural Energy Drink
9 brain foods that will improve your focus and concentration
Takeaway: To boost your ability to focus, eat/drink more: Blueberries, green tea, avocados, leafy green vegetables, fatty fish, water, dark chocolate, flax seeds, and nuts.
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes, 46s. But it’s very skimmable.
Food is the fuel that regulates your energy and mood, both of which can significantly affect your focus. Just as you shouldn’t put olive oil into your car to make it run, you shouldn’t put chocolate syrup into your body to make you run.1 Food has the incredible ability to affect your mental clarity, mood, memory, and ability to focus, so if you’re looking to boost your focus, one of the places you should start with is what you’re eating. Below are 9 foods that will help you improve your focus.
Studies show that blueberries boost “concentration and memory” for up to five hours because “the antioxidants in blueberries stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen to brain – and keep the mind fresh”.2 Blueberries also contain a “cocktail of anti-oxidants including anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, resveratrol and tannins”, and while I’m not going to even pretend I know what those are, they have been shown to boost focus, and even protect against cancer, heart disease, and dimensia.3
Green tea helps you focus for two reasons: one, it contains caffeine, and two, it contains l’theanine. There is no doubt that caffeine helps you focus and improves your alertness. Good. That’s covered. Well, what the hell is l’theanine? It’s an ingredient that’s been shown to “increase alpha-wave activity”, which increases tranquility and releases caffeine more slowly, instead of all at once, which can lead to you crashing.4 The two ingredients also combine to “produce a better ability to focus attention, with improvement of both speed and accuracy”.5 If you’re able to handle the caffeine content, introducing green tea into your diet is pretty much a no-brainer.
According to WebMD, “every organ in the body depends on blood flow, especially the heart and brain”, and avocados “ blood flow, offering a simple, tasty way to fire up brain cells”.6 Avocados are also “loaded with fiber (11 to 17 grams per avocado), which helps keep hunger pangs at bay”.7
Leafy green vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are full of antioxidants and carotenoids, which boost your brain power, and help protect your brain.8 (A good, general tip: the greener a leaf vegetable is, the better.) Leafy green vegetables are also full of B-vitamins, which are “proven to help your memory, focus, and overall brain health and power”. They also contain folic acid, which improves your mental clarity.9
Fatty/oily fish contains omega-3 fatty acids which “aid memory, mental performance and behavioral function”. People who are deficient in omega-3’s are more likely to have “poor memory, mood swings, depression and fatigue”.10 Fish has also been proven to improve your concentration and mood. The main sources of fatty fish are “salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards and kipper”.11
If you want to improve your focus, you need to drink enough water. Water “gives the brain the electrical energy for all brain functions, including thought and memory processes”, and it has been proven to help you “think faster, be more focused, and experience greater clarity and creativity”.12 Every single function of your body depends on water, so it is critically important that you get enough of it.
Dark chocolate (dark chocolate, not the sugary, milky kind) can help you focus for a number of reasons. First, it contains a small amount of caffeine, which has been proven to heighten mental alertness. Dark chocolate contains magnesium, which helps you de-stress, and it also stimulates the release of endorphins and serotonin, which make you feel good and heighten your mood. This doesn’t mean you should eat a huge brick of chocolate every day, like the delicious-looking one on the right, but it does mean that dark chocolate in smaller doses can significantly boost your focus.13
Like a few of the foods listed already, flax seeds are high in magnesium, B-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber, all of which aid with mental clarity, weight loss, and ultimately, focus.14 Flax is no doubt a super food. Just make sure you grind them after you buy them (so your body can digest them). Unlike the other items on this list, flax seeds can’t be eaten alone, but they’re great sprinkled on cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, salad, and more.
Nuts are great for your body in the long-term. “Nuts and seeds are good sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which is associated with less cognitive decline as you age”, and you just need an ounce of them a day to get this benefit. They’re also rich with essential oils and amino acids that aid your focus.15
This post is a part of (the wonderful) Focus Week on A Year of Productivity.
Just as there is no magic pill to prevent cognitive decline, no single almighty brain food can ensure a sharp brain as you age. Nutritionists emphasize that the most important strategy is to follow a healthy dietary pattern that includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Try to get protein from plant sources and fish and choose healthy fats, such as olive oil or canola, rather than saturated fats.
That said, certain foods in this overall scheme are particularly rich in healthful components like omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and antioxidants, which are known to support brain health and often referred to as foods. Incorporating many of these foods into a healthy diet on a regular basis can improve the health of your brain, which could translate into better mental function.
Research shows that the best brain foods are the same ones that protect your heart and blood vessels, including the following:
- Green, leafy vegetables. Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli are rich in brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene. Research suggests these plant-based foods may help slow cognitive decline.
- Fatty fish. Fatty fish are abundant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, healthy unsaturated fats that have been linked to lower blood levels of beta-amyloid—the protein that forms damaging clumps in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Try to eat fish at least twice a week, but choose varieties that are low in mercury, such as salmon, cod, canned light tuna, and pollack. If you’re not a fan of fish, ask your doctor about taking an omega-3 supplement, or choose terrestrial omega-3 sources such as flaxseeds, avocados, and walnuts.
- Berries. Flavonoids, the natural plant pigments that give berries their brilliant hues, also help improve memory, research shows. In a 2012 study published in Annals of Neurology, researchers at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that women who consumed two or more servings of strawberries and blueberries each week delayed memory decline by up to two-and-a-half years.
- Tea and coffee. The caffeine in your morning cup of coffee or tea might offer more than just a short-term concentration boost. In a 2014 study published in The Journal of Nutrition, participants with higher caffeine consumption scored better on tests of mental function. Caffeine might also help solidify new memories, according to other research. Investigators at Johns Hopkins University asked participants to study a series of images and then take either a placebo or a 200-milligram caffeine tablet. More members of the caffeine group were able to correctly identify the images on the following day.
- Walnuts. Nuts are excellent sources of protein and healthy fats, and one type of nut in particular might also improve memory. A 2015 study from UCLA linked higher walnut consumption to improved cognitive test scores. Walnuts are high in a type of omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which helps lower blood pressure and protects arteries. That’s good for both the heart and brain.
For more on staying sharp as you age, read A Guide to Cognitive Fitness, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Whether you want to optimise your nutrition during exam season or stay sharp in your next work meeting, paying attention to your diet can really pay off. Although there’s no single ‘brain food’ to protect against age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, thinking carefully about what you eat gives you the best chance of getting the nutrients you need for cognitive health and mood.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes these 10 everyday brain-boosting foods may help to keep your memory, concentration and focus as sharp as can be.
May improve concentration and focus
Like everything else in your body, the brain cannot work without energy. The ability to concentrate and focus comes from an adequate, steady supply of energy (in the form of glucose) in our blood, to the brain. Achieve this by choosing wholegrains which have a low-GI, which means they release their energy slowly into the bloodstream, keeping you mentally alert throughout the day. Eating too few healthy carbs, like wholegrains, may lead to brain fog and irritability. Opt for ‘brown’ wholegrain cereals, granary bread, rice and pasta.
Find our favourite healthy pasta and healthy rice recipes.
2. Oily fish
May promote healthy brain function
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) can’t be made by the body which means they must be obtained through food. The most effective omega-3 fats occur naturally in oily fish in the form of EPA and DHA. Good plant sources include flaxseed, soya beans, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and their oils. These fats are important for healthy brain function, the heart, joints and our general well-being. Although studies are at an early stage there is some suggestion that adequate amounts of omega-3 fats in your diet may help to relieve depression.
What makes oily fish so good is that they contain these active fats in a ready-made form, which means the body can use it easily. The main sources of oily fish include salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, pilchards and kippers.
Low DHA levels may be linked to an increased risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss, whilst having sufficient levels of both EPA and DHA is thought to help us manage stress and make the good mood brain chemical, serotonin.
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you may wish to add seeds like flaxseed, hemp and chia to your diet, or consider a plant-based omega-3 supplement from micro-algae. If you are considering taking a supplement speak to your GP first. It’s worth remembering that vegetarian or vegan mums-to-be, or those who are breastfeeding, should consider a supplement because of the important role omega-3 fats play in the development of the central nervous system of your baby.
Learn more about the health benefits of salmon.
May boost short-term memory
Evidence accumulated at Tufts University in the United States suggests that the consumption of blueberries may be effective in improving or delaying short-term memory loss. They’re widely available, but you can also achieve the same effect with other dark red and purple fruits, like blackberries, and veg, like red cabbage. These contain the same protective compounds called anthocyanins.
Read more about the health benefits of blueberries.
May prevent free radical damage
There is good evidence to suggest that lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes, could help protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells that occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s. Favour cooked tomatoes and enjoy with a little olive oil to optimise your body’s absorption and use. Other foods supplying this, and similar protective phyto-nutrients, include papaya, watermelon and pink grapefruit.
Discover more: Which foods should you eat raw or cooked?
May delay brain shrinkage
Certain B vitamins – B6, B12 and folic acid – are known to reduce levels of a compound called homocysteine in the blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with increased risk of stroke, cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. A study of a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment found that after two years of intervention with high doses of B6, B12 and folic acid there was significantly less brain shrinkage compared to a subset given placebo treatment.
Other B vitamins including vitamins B1, B3 and choline play an important part in regulating normal brain function. Choline, which is rich in egg yolk, is essential for the memory-boosting brain chemical, acetylcholine.
Opt for B-rich foods like eggs, chicken, fish, leafy greens and dairy. If you’re vegan, look to fortified foods, including plant milks and breakfast cereals, for vitamin B12 or consider a supplement. Other useful vegan sources of B vitamins, including B6, include nutritional yeast, avocado, soya, nuts and seeds.
Learn more about vitamin B12, and discover the health benefits of eggs.
May reduce anxiety and stress
Vitamin C has long been thought to have the power to increase mental agility, and some research suggests that a deficiency may be a risk factor for age-related brain degeneration including dementia and Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, interesting studies demonstrate that vitamin C may be useful in managing anxiety and stress. One of the best sources of this vital vitamin are blackcurrants. Others include red peppers, citrus fruits such as oranges and broccoli.
Discover more about why we need vitamins.
7. Pumpkin seeds
May enhance memory and boost mood
Richer in zinc than many other seeds, pumpkin seeds supply this valuable mineral which is vital for enhancing memory and thinking skills. They’re also full of stress-busting magnesium, B vitamins and tryptophan, the precursor to the good mood chemical serotonin. Other useful food sources include beef, oysters, chickpeas and nuts including cashews and almonds.
Read more about the health benefits of pumpkin seeds.
May improve brainpower
Broccoli is great source of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower. Researchers have reported that because broccoli is high in compounds called glucosinolates, it can slow the breakdown of the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which we need for the central nervous system to perform properly and keep our brains and memories sharp. Low levels of acetylcholine are associated with Alzheimer’s. Other cruciferous veg rich in glucosinolates include cauliflower, kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, whilst you can obtain vitamin K from liver, hard cheeses and prunes.
Discover more about the health benefits of broccoli.
May boost memory and concentration
Sage has long had a reputation for improving memory and concentration. Although most studies focus on sage as an essential oil, it could be worth adding fresh sage to your diet too. Add at the end of cooking to protect the beneficial oils.
Put sage to good use in our healthy recipes, including butternut soup with crispy sage, pearl barley & sage risotto and veal escalopes wrapped with proscuitto, sage & lemon.
May help protect healthy brain function
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that an adequate intake of vitamin E might help to prevent cognitive decline, particularly in the elderly. Nuts are a great source of vitamin E along with leafy green vegetables, asparagus, olives, seeds, eggs, brown rice and wholegrains.
Learn more about the health benefits of nuts.
The importance of exercise
Don’t forget that as well as a healthy diet, exercise helps to keep our brains sharp. Research suggests that regular exercise improves cognitive function, slows down the mental aging process and helps us process information more effectively.
Get inspired with our guides to how to workout at home and how to exercise for free.
Although research linking diet and dementia is still in its infancy, there are a few important relationships between nutrients and brain health that are worth exploring. Having a nourishing, well rounded diet gives our brain the best chance of avoiding disease. If your diet is unbalanced for whatever reason, you may want to consider a multivitamin and mineral complex and an omega-3 fatty acid supplement to help make up a few of the essentials. If you are considering taking a supplement it is best to discuss this with your GP or qualified healthcare professional.
Download a printable PDF of the top 10 brain-boosting foods.
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Foods that improve memory
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More health & nutrition tips
This article was last reviewed on 21 January 2020 by Kerry Torrens.
Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT is a Registered Nutritionist with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.
Jo Lewin works as a Community Nutritionist and private consultant. She is a Registered Nutritionist (Public Health) registered with the UKVRN. Visit her website at www.nutrijo.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @nutri_jo.
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.
10 Foods That Boost Concentration
Ready to hit the sheets once the clock strikes 3PM? We’ve all been there.
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Sure, that morning brew guarantees a much-needed jolt to kick off any day of the week, but it seems like one giant mug alone can’t fight off drowsiness for hours on end. And if you’re struggling to stay alert, it may be time to start thinking about what you’ve been putting into your body lately.
“What you don’t reach for is as important as what you do,” says New York City-based nutritionist Cindy Moustafa. “Energy drinks are often loaded with sugar and way more caffeine than coffee, which can cause jitters and heart racing. Even if it says sugar-free, it’s loaded with chemicals and it’s in no way beneficial to your health…I would advise staying away from them as much as possible.”
Sadly, there is no quick fix for staying focused during the day, aside from the no-brainer (hint: getting sufficient zzzs at night), but fortunately, there are healthy foods that can optimize your concentration and increase energy levels.
If you’re in dire need of boosting your productivity during the day, check out these 10 foods that will deliver results:
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and with good reason. Not only does it give you the first boost of energy to start your day, but studies have also shown breakfast eaters are at lower risk for obesity, hypertension and diabetes, in comparison to those who prefer to skip it.
While it might be tempting to savor sugary cereal or a doughnut, it’s crucial to start your day on the right note so you can stay focused, fight hunger, and avoid packing on the pounds easily. Experts recommend eating oatmeal, which is low in calories and will help you feel fuller longer. To jazz up your meal, load up on fresh fruit for a touch of sweetness or cinnamon for some spice.
Need to perk up in the AM? Enjoy some feel-good dark cocoa rather than coffee. “Dark chocolate boosts serotonin and endorphin levels, which are associated with greater concentration,” says Natalie Stephens, clinical dietician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “It’s also a source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, such as potassium, copper, and magnesium, which can work with a healthy diet to control blood pressure. It’s also lower in fat and sugar than milk or white chocolate, which is better for diabetics and really anyone interested in cutting back on sugar intake.”
A 2013 study even concluded that those who drank two cups of cocoa every day for a month had improved blood flow to the brain, performing better on memory tests. But just like with any treat, be mindful of the calorie count and always aim for the highest quality. Experts say one square of dark chocolate during the afternoon slump should be sufficient.
Seriously, sometimes all you really need is a glass of refreshing water to kick off the day, especially if you had a rough night. “Thirst and dehydration can cause fatigue,” says Moustafa. “If you reach for a cup of coffee or an energy drink, it will actually dehydrate you further, causing you to feel worse later. So before you do anything, drink a tall 10-ounce glass of water. Squeeze some fresh lemon in it for a little extra kick.”
Not only are blueberries wonderfully tasty and rich in antioxidants, but they’ve also been said to be a memory booster. A 2010 report published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry revealed those who drank blueberry juice every day for two months significantly improved their performance on learning and memory tests. Whenever those snack cravings kick in, consider enjoying some fresh, ripe blueberries over sugary sweets any day.
“Salmon is a concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help rebuild brain cells, slow cognitive decline, and also strengthen the synapses in your brain related to memory,” says professional health coach Lori Shemek. “The protein in salmon contains amino acids, which are essential for keeping your brain focused and sharp. Look to add salmon where you can to maximize your brain power.”
Need to jazz up your eggs for breakfast? Shemek recommends pairing them with some salmon for a satisfying meal to start your day.
If you’re feeling drained by mid-day, think twice before grabbing that extra cup of coffee. With those extra sugar additions, it can easily rack up your calorie intake during the day and cause unnecessary jitters. Also, too much consumption of caffeine can cause headaches, which will only hurt your concentration. While green tea has always been hailed as a coffee alternative, no two brands are created equal. Some may have less caffeine than a regular cup of coffee, which can actually be a good thing.
“Green tea does contain a more modest amount of caffeine balanced by the amino acid theanine,” says celebrity nutritionist JJ Virgin. “Studies show theanine improves mental alertness and focus. If you need that afternoon pick-me-up, green tea is your ticket.”
“This dark red root may be the new kid on the block for promoting better memory, focused concentration and overall cognition,” says Shemek. “Beets contain nitrates that can dilate blood vessels, increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain, thereby improving mental performance. Add beets to salads, roast them or add to juices for optimal brain health.”
If you’re in a hurry, make sure to grab a banana to consume while on the go. Not only are they sweet and delish, but they can also help boost your concentration. A 2008 study found that students who ate the golden fruit before an exam actually did better than those who didn’t. Bananas highlight potassium, an essential mineral crucial for keeping your brain, nerves, and heart in tip-top shape.
You could have crunchy, nutritious kale as a salad for lunch, but if you’re looking to change things up, consider trying another dark leafy green whenever the mood strikes. Spinach is known as brain food and there’s a reason why.
“Spinach is loaded with lutein, folate, and beta-carotene,” Florida-based dietitian Tara Gidus tells Real Simple. “These nutrients have been linked with preventing dementia. I know neurologists who recommend eating spinach at least three times a week.”
You may be tempted to ditch the yolk when preparing eggs, but some experts actually insist on keeping it. “Whole eggs, yolk included, are a dense source of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA,” says Shemek. “Research has shown that adequate omega-3 intake has a favorable effect upon memory and mood. Eggs also contain choline, a compound that can help maintain healthy brain cell membranes.” To save time, Shemek recommends boiling a batch of eggs for the week ahead to have them on hand.
This article originally appeared on Fox News Magazine
12 Foods to Help You Focus
Staying focused in today’s world can be a challenge. Technology presents countless distractions. The constant ping from your smartphone—alerting you to the latest social media notification or text message—can cause even the most focused individual to become scattered.
But technology isn’t solely to blame. Stress can add to the challenge. Aging can also play a role as your ability to ignore distractions can decline as you get older.
What many people may not realize is that diet can influence their ability to focus. Certain foods provide the brain with the necessary nourishment to help you concentrate. Many people are quick to turn to coffee for a cognitive boost. However, a variety of other options can enhance your ability to focus, while also providing a wealth of other health benefits.
A 2015 study conducted by researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA found a positive association between walnut consumption and cognitive functioning in adults, including the ability to concentrate. According to the findings published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, consuming a handful of walnuts per day can lead to cognitive benefits, regardless of age. Walnuts, in comparison to other nuts, contain the highest-level of antioxidants, which help to promote brain function. They also contain alpha-linolenic acid, a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid that is important for brain health and development. Because walnuts are relatively high in fat and calories, no more than an ounce per day is recommended.
Blueberries are also high in antioxidants, particularly anthocyanin, which has been shown to fight inflammation and improve cognitive brain functions. Blueberries make for the perfect snack since they are low in calories, but high in nutrients such as fiber, manganese, vitamin K, and vitamin C. When they aren’t in season, opt for dried or frozen blueberries.
Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fat that may slow cognitive decline and possibly lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a 2005 study conducted by Rush University in Chicago. It also helps fight inflammation, which has been associated with a decrease in cognitive function.
In addition to salmon, avocados are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and also contain monounsaturated fats, which support brain function and healthy blood flow to the brain. Avocados are also high in vitamin E, a necessary nutrient for optimal brain health that may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, studies show. Like walnuts, avocados are fatty and contain a lot of calories. The recommended serving is about 1/5 of a regular-sized avocado (or 1 oz.).
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is loaded with antioxidants, which have been shown in mice to improve memory and learning deficits that occur as a result of aging and disease. EVOO can also reverse damage in the brain caused by oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals and the body’s antioxidant defenses, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. EVOO is great to use as a healthy alternative to processed salad dressings.
Nutrient-rich pumpkin seeds make for a quick and easy snack while providing proper nutrition to help promote focus and concentration. High in antioxidants and omega-3s, pumpkin seeds are also a rich source of zinc, an essential mineral that promotes brain function and helps prevent neurological diseases, according to research conducted in 2001 by the University of Shizuoka in Japan.
A 2015 study by researchers at Rush University found dark, leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and collards, might help slow cognitive decline. Over a five-year span, they examined diet and cognitive abilities in older adults. They saw a significant decrease in the rate of cognitive decline in those who consumed larger amounts of dark, leafy greens. In fact, those who had one to two daily servings were found to have the cognitive abilities of a person 11 years younger. Researchers also found that the nutrients, vitamin K and folate were most likely responsible for keeping the brain healthy and preserving functioning.
Eggs are a good source of protein, are rich in omega-3s, and contain choline, a vital nutrient for brain development. A 2011 study published in The American Journal of Clinic Nutrition found a high-level intake of choline improved cognitive performance. Eggs also contain B12, a vitamin that keeps the brain and nervous system healthy. So beat, scramble, poach, and flip to eat those eggs and reap the rewards.
Yogurt contains probiotics, often referred to as the “good” bacteria that help promote digestive health, which can lead to a healthier brain. A 2013 UCLA study found that women who regularly ate yogurt exhibited improved brain function while at rest or in response to completing a task. Yogurt is also high in B12 and magnesium, two essential nutrients for brain health.
Whole grains provide energy. Oatmeal—slow-cooked whole oats, not the ready-cook kind from a packet—not only makes for a healthy breakfast, it also leaves you feeling full, which is important as hunger can diminish mental focus. For maximum clarity, try a bowl of oatmeal topped with walnuts and blueberries.
Chocolate, which is a stimulant, can provide you with an energy boost similar to a cup of coffee. A 2015 study by researchers at Northern Arizona University found participants who consumed 60 percent cacao content chocolate to be more alert and attentive. Chocolate is also high in antioxidants accounting for many of its health benefits. Just remember to choose dark chocolate over a milk chocolate candy bar filled with sugar.
The herb peppermint may improve cognitive performance and increase alertness as well as calmness, according to a 2012 study by researchers at Northumbria University in the UK. Enjoy the health benefits by brewing a hot cup of peppermint tea or by simply smelling the herb.
Add five drops of peppermint essential oil to a warm bath or rub it lightly into your skin.
Eating your way to focus and concentration
Maintaining focus and concentration throughout your day is imperative to your productivity. There are many ways to help maintain your concentration (e.g. through becoming more mindful, creating your own focus formula, start including short naps throughout your day, etc.) but we often forget that food is a major contributor to how we feel throughout the day. The brain comprises only 2% of an adult’s weight, but it uses 20% of the energy produced by the body. If you don’t fuel your brain with the proper nutrients, you will start to feel a variety of symptoms, including memory problems, fatigue and concentration problems.
As an entrepreneur, your days are packed full and you can’t afford to hit low energy periods. Emerging research suggests that there are certain foods that when consumed on a regular basis will deliver the proper nutrients needed to help you maintain your ability to concentrate.
In this post, we are going to go over the science and reasoning behind why you need certain foods in your life for optimal focus and concentration and why you need to leave others behind. This information is all based off of established academic research. Our team of psychology and neuroscience PhDs have sifted through hundreds of papers, selecting only the ones of highest quality. You have the fullest confidence in all our recommendations.
Water boosts focus
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Let’s start with one of the most obvious ones out there but unfortunately one that is probably overlooked the most. Water. It goes without saying that drinking water and brain function are integrally linked. But did you know that a lack of water to the brain can cause a variety of symptoms?
- Problems with focus and attention
- Brain fatigue
- Brain fog
- Sleep disturbances
The brain comprises of 85% water. All brain function depends on water to provide it with the necessary electrical energy. The brain uses two times more energy than other cells making up the body and water is the most efficient source of this energy than any other substance. The production of neurotransmitters (such as dopamine and norepinephrine – responsible for better executive functioning) and hormones within the brain also depend on water. Therefore, when you’re giving your body the adequate amount of water, you will be able to think faster by 14%, stay focused for longer and be more creative!
How to get enough water throughout your day
You may have heard that you should aim to drink eight glasses of water per day. However, how much water you should be drinking is actually more individualized than you may think. According to the Institute of Medicine, your recommended intake is based on factors such as sex, age, activity level etc. In a general sense, for people over the ages of 19, the overall fluid intake per day (including anything you eat and drink) is 3.7 litres for men and 2.7 litres for women. So, this is around 13 cups of beverages for men and 9 cups for women.
This recommendation generally seems like a lot for someone who is first starting out but the results are worth it. Here are some tips to help you overcome this challenge.
Set a goal
Set goals your brain likes! If drinking all that water seems like a daunting task right now, try making the goal more attainable to start out and then work your way up!
Start out by making sure you’re drinking at least 1 glass of water around every meal. That’s only three glasses. This will make it much easier to get into the swing of things.
A habit is easier to build when you can visibly see your progress! Try using apps (such as Drink Water Reminder for Android or Daily Water for iPhone) to keep track of your water intake.
Have it accessible and convenient
Have you ever heard of out of sight, out of mind? This definitely applies here. Make sure your water is visible and make sure you have enough that you aren’t having to fill up often. Try using a litre bottle filling it only a few times throughout your day. Always on the go? Drinking water while hopping from meeting to meeting can be much easier if you bring along a bottle that’s easy to carry around. Try using a flask-style or a bottle that easily fits into your bag.
Link with other habits
If you have been working through creating your own focus formula, this one will look familiar. Developing a new habit is easier when we link it up with other habits. This will make it easier to follow through or remember to practice your new habit.
You could have a glass of water when:
- You get up in the morning or before going to bed
- Before/with a meal
- When you brush your teeth
- When you go to a meeting
A couple other habit changes:
- Whenever you leave your desk, always bring your water with you and leave your coffee at your desk
- Another way to limit coffee and drink more water is to place both your water and you coffee on the same side of your computer but place your water bottle in front of your coffee. The first thing you’ll grab is your water or your will have to physically move it out of the way to get to your coffee.
- If you’re a smoker, bring your water out with you when you take your break.
Blueberries enhance focus and concentration
source – medicalnewstoday.com
Including blueberries into your morning routine can help you to overcome the afternoon energy dip. Research has shown that eating blueberries can boost concentration and memory for 5 hours after consumption! The study had volunteers drink a blueberry smoothie in the morning and measured their ability to perform mental tasks mid afternoon. They found that those who drank the blueberry smoothie demonstrated better performance on mental tasks at 5 hours compared to those who consumed the control drink. In fact, those who did not consume the blueberry drink saw their performance drop 15-20%!
Why do blueberries enhance our cognition? Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin E and most importantly, they’re high in flavonoids. When flavonoids are consumed, they activate an enzyme that stimulates the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain – helping with our memory as well as our ability to focus and learn new information.
Tips for getting more blueberries in your diet
- Throw them into a smoothie
- Top them on cereal, oatmeal, granola
- Bake with them
- Need some recipe ideas? Here are 56 ways to eat more blueberries
Don’t like blueberries? There are some other foods that are high in flavonoids: green tea, wine, grapes and cocoa.
Avocados improve your focus and concentration
source – australianavocados.com.au
This is one powerful fruit! Although they have been deemed as “too fatty”, avocados are powerhouses that are packed with good fats and are actually a goldmine for nutrients that improve brain health. Certain nutrients can improve cognitive functioning in the brain such as concentration and memory. Avocados are high in several nutrients improving many aspects of brain function.
Unlike most fruits which are mostly carbohydrates, avocados are 75% monounsaturated fats (the healthy fat found in olive oil). Monounsaturated fats aid in the production of acetylcholine which is the chemical in the brain responsible for memory and learning.
As if that isn’t impressive enough but avocados are also high in tyrosine-amino acid precursor to dopamine. This is the feel-good neurotransmitter in our brains that keeps us motivated and focused.
Vitamin K and Folate
Both of these have neuroprotective properties protecting you from blood clots (while also protecting you from stroke) and these vitamins are especially good at keeping your attention focused and memory on point.
Keep you level
To top it all off, avocados not only have the highest protein and lowest sugar content of any fruit, but they will also keep your blood sugar level throughout the day.
Tips for finding a ripe avocado
source – loveonetoday.com
- Use the chart above to pick a ripe avocado
- Use your sense of touch to determine if it’s ready
- Firm – Does not yield to a small amount of pressure/ feels very firm within the hands
- Almost ripe – These will have a softer feel but will still seem quite firm to the touch
- Ripe – These will feel soft to the touch but not mushy
- Overripe – These will feel quite mushy to the touch, may have indentations throughout and have a smell similar to pumpkin or squash
Tip: If you need to ripen an avocado in a hurry, place it in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana. This will quicken the process by releasing ethylene gas. Check your avocado in 1-3 days and it should be ready!
Leafy greens help with focus and concentration
source – huffingtonpost.ca
If you’re not a fan of kale, spinach and other leafy greens, hopefully we’re going to convince you of why you should try to start becoming one. First and foremost, a study in Neurology (with 3,718 subjects) demonstrated that people who ate two daily servings of vegetables exhibited the mental focus of people 5 years their junior. Leafy green vegetables such as spinach contain potassium which accelerate the connections between neurons, making your brain more responsive.
Additionally, leafy vegetables – spinach and kale – contain high levels of lutein. Lutein contains a carotenoid or pigment found in fruits and vegetables and was primarily known as a nutrient which promotes good eye health. However, research has shown that it is also a key player in enhancing learning, memory and maintaining brain function. A study published in Ageing Neuroscience, found that those who had higher levels of lutein exhibited ‘younger’ brains than their counterparts – in other words, they had neural responses that were more on par with younger adults. Let’s take a closer look at these two powerhouses.
Spinach is loaded with iron, helping keep our energy levels up throughout the day. It also contains vitamin B which helps optimize brain function and Vitamin E which promotes brain health by blocking free radicals and optimizing blood flow.
Kale is an absolute nutrition bomb! Containing almost as much vitamin C as an orange and a great source of vitamin B can not only ward of stress, improve mood and can act as an antidepressant, but it can also halt memory loss and slow down ageing effects in the brain.
Let’s go through a couple ways to add more of these greens throughout every part of your day:
- Breakfast: Add to smoothies or add to eggs in the morning
- Lunch: Add to sandwiches (better yet, swap large leaves for bread), mix into salads
- Dinner: Get creative by swapping high-fat cream based sauces for green, nutrient packed sauces
- Snacks: Kale chips and green juices
Foods we should avoid in order to keep our minds sharp!
So far we’ve given you plenty of options of great foods to help you keep focused throughout your day. Now, let’s tackle why some of our go to daily eats might be the culprit of that mid-day crash.
source – taste.com.au
We’re all guilty of running to muffins when we’ve forgotten to eat breakfast or even bring them into a meeting to share, but indulging in muffins can zap your focus and lead to cognitive issues down the road! A study published in Physiology & Behavior found that consuming saturated fats and refined carbohydrates can negatively impact our cognitive functioning and is associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Replace with blueberries! Need some complex carbohydrates to get you through the morning? Try having oatmeal topped with blueberries to keep you in the zone!
source – sunvending.com
Another one we’ve all been guilty of. At lunch, we opt for the ‘healthier’ fruit juice rather than a sugary soda drink. However, fruit juices are just as big of a culprit towards our sugar intake. In fact, a study published in Neuroscience shows that high-sugar diets are associated with a decline in short and long-term memory, cognitive flexibility, and the ability to problem solve. It’s also important to note that not only are these deficits caused by ingesting high-sugar diets but it’s also due to the microbial changes in gut health stemming from these diets. So next time you reach for juice or soda, be good to your gut and brain, instead opt for sparkling water or a low sugar tea.
source – finedininglovers.com
This is one of the go-to toppings for sandwiches but eating cured meats such as prosciutto, bacon, pastrami, ham and capicola too often can leave your brain foggy. When you’re feeding your body high salt and protein-rich foods, the body has to increase the amount of water needed to flush out the nitrogen found in these foods. This can leave you feeling dehydrated and as we covered at the beginning of this article, this leads to more difficulty concentrating.
Not only that but processed meats have also been associated with general cognitive decline. You can replace these high-salt meats with avocado to keep you going and your body balanced.
A step-by-step guide to building a full day of focus & concentration
In this article we’ve covered some ways you can have a positive impact on your focus and attention throughout the day through the small act of making some dietary changes. Adding these changes to your daily habits can have large and lasting positive effects on your brain health. Let’s go over what we’ve learned:
- Drink more water!
- Some of your concentration problems can come from dehydration. So drink up!
- Eat more blueberries
- These powerhouses are loaded with the nutrients and antioxidants needed to keep you from that mid-day slump in productivity
- Don’t forget about the avocados
- These fruits are so amazing. Your brain will be sure to thank you for adding these to your diet. Their creamy texture and light flavour allows you to add them to a number of dishes throughout the day.
- Eat your leafy green!
- Spinach and kale are will help your neurons communicate better and fire more efficiently. Need I say more?
We also went into a couple common foods we should try to avoid
- Saturated fats and refined carbohydrates are a no no for long-term brain health and can lead to that low energy period in the middle of your day.
- Fruit juices
- These high sugar drinks can lead to a multitude of cognitive issues.
- Cured meats
- Not only can these negatively affect our needed cognitive functioning, but they can also lead to dehydration, leading to brain fog.
Being more mindful with our food choices throughout the day can have a huge effect on our short-term focus and long-term cognitive health.
We’ve gone over only a couple of nutrient dense foods that can lead you on a road to better focus. Try them out while avoiding some of the common culprits and watch your productivity increase.
Having Trouble Focusing? Add These 7 Foods to Your Diet
If you go through your workday staring out the window, fidgeting with your desk accessories, or walking around the office more than you’re actually working, then it may be time to refocus. You could be eating a healthy breakfast that’s great for keeping you filled until lunch, but if your attention span is still waning, an adjustment to your diet may be the answer. Certain foods are particularly nourishing for brain function, and they’ll help improve focus long after you’ve eaten them. Check out these seven foods that will help better your brain and keep you focused all day.
Blueberries will help you concentrate. | iStock.com
This superfood isn’t just delicious — it’s the perfect afternoon snack to help you stay concentrated. Daily Mail Online explains researchers found those who snacked on blueberries were able to boost their concentration and memory for up to five hours after consumption. Even those who drank blueberry smoothies in the morning were focused and better at performing mental tasks than those who started their day with another meal.
Researchers think antioxidants in blueberries are what stimulate the brain here, bringing in more oxygen and blood. If you have a tough exam approaching or need to nail a presentation, try eating a handful of blueberries a few hours ahead of time.
Avocado gives your brain a boost. | iStock.com
This buttery, savory fruit is good for more than your heart — it’s also great for the brain. Greatist explains the monounsaturated fats found in avocados are great for improving blood flow to the brain, which improves function. The vitamin K and folate found in avocado is particularly helpful for memory and concentration as well. Adding avocado to your diet is easy, too — try throwing half a fruit into a smoothie for a thicker texture, or spread some over a hearty piece of toast.
The yolks in the eggs are really what help. | iStock.com
Whether you prefer your eggs for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this refrigerator staple is perfect for improving your focus and concentration. The yolk in the eggs contains lutein, says Woman’s Day, an antioxidant that can help keep your brain healthy. While lutein is typically known for boosting eyesight, it’s also crucial for maintaining brain function
Eggs also provide choline, which is a B vitamin that helps the brain cells maintain their structure. The protein and heart-healthy fats found in eggs are also particularly excellent for keeping you focused. And don’t fear the cholesterol — studies show eating eggs doesn’t increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
4. Peppermint tea
Even just the smell of peppermint is useful. | iStock.com
We have good news for those who love the taste, or even just the smell, of peppermint. One study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience found the smell of peppermint can boost memory and alertness. To make tea, try bringing a pot of water to a boil, adding peppermint, and covering. You can either sip it or simply let the aroma do its thing.
Salmon can really help your brain. | iStock.com
This fish is consistently touted as being a seafood gem to add to your diet thanks to its ability to help your heart, and you can add improved focus to the list of benefits. Scienceline states the brain is primarily made of an omega-3 fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that keeps your brain functioning properly throughout the day. Oily fish like salmon contain DHA, which helps to feed brain cells and protect them from injury and inflammation.
You can’t produce more DHA as you age, and the levels in your brain decline with time, which can cause memory loss and a lack of focus. Salmon can refuel your DHA depletion, so it truly is brain food.
Add some beet juice into your smoothies. | iStock.com
For older adults who are looking for effective, natural ways to fight memory loss, beets and beet juice may be the ticket. WebMD explains drinking the juice from beets has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, which may help combat dementia. The root of the beet has a high concentration of nitrates — a naturally occurring chemical compound that turn into nitrites in our bodies. It’s the nitrites that really help to increase blood flow and oxygen throughout the body and brain. MRI scans have shown that in older adults who eat a diet high in nitrates, there is more blood flow to the frontal lobes.
7. Dark chocolate
There’s good news for chocolate lovers. | iStock.com
Welcome dessert back into your life in the form of dark chocolate. This powerful food is delicious and excellent for boosting your brain health and concentration. According to Health, this sweet treat increases serotonin and endorphins, which may result in better concentration. Chocolate also boasts loads of antioxidants. Just make sure you stick with a small portion.
How to improve concentration: Focus Foods
If you’ve got a busy day of work ahead, it’s important to stay focused.
Of course, this is often easier said than done. We’re all familiar with that pesky mid-afternoon energy crash!
However, by paying more attention to what you eat and drink during the day, you could improve your concentration levels and keep your brain at the top of its game.
While you won’t be able to change all your habits overnight, you can certainly learn how to improve concentration and start working the below advice into your daily routine.
5 ways to stay focused throughout the day
You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so you need to make the most of it.
That means dodging sugary cereal or nutritionally-empty white toast and choosing a breakfast that releases energy slowly throughout the day.
This will help your blood sugar level increase steadily, instead of spiking and crashing, and you’ll find it easier to stay focused.
Porridge oats or wholegrain muesli are both excellent ways to do this, or you could try our delicious homemade pancake recipes. These are quick and easy to prepare, so there’s really no reason not to give them a go.
One thing you absolutely mustn’t do is skip breakfast. Not only will this mean you’re low on energy and more likely to reach for an unhealthy snack before lunch, it’ll also cause a spike in adrenaline that’s likely to make you feel stressed. The fact that you can’t focus will now seem even more worrying.
If you weren’t making time for a healthy breakfast before, now you know why people are always going on about it!
2. Try new ways to stay hydrated
Good nutrition isn’t all about food. If you’re dehydrated, you’ll feel tired and your brain will struggle to keep up with the day’s events.
Water helps transport nutrients to your brain, which is why you need to rehydrate regularly.
Although water has it’s benefits, it isn’t the most interesting drink in the world. If it were, there’d be no demand for the vast amount of soft drinks and sugary fruit juices available in shops.
Don’t be tempted by them, as they’ll cause a huge spike in your blood sugar levels that will cause an energy crash later in the day.
If you’re looking for a tasty alternative to plain old H2O, try coconut water. Its high electrolyte levels will ensure you stay well hydrated, while it also has very minimal sugar content.
Oh, and as we’re talking about drinks…
3. The caffeine conundrum
Some people regard tea and coffee as the saviour of their working day, offering a sweet caffeine hit that helps them keep their eyes open until it’s time to go home.
Others see caffeine as the work of the devil himself.
The truth, as usual, lies somewhere in the middle. Too much of anything can be bad for you, and caffeine is no exception.
Different people have different tolerances, but studies have shown that too much caffeine can cause insomnia or poor sleep, which will make it harder for you to focus during the day. Some people also find it makes them anxious.
Additionally, as caffeine is a diuretic, drinking lots of it might mean you need to take more frequent bathroom breaks, which in itself could be enough to break your concentration.
However, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that drinking tea and coffee in moderation is absolutely fine. Caffeine is a stimulant and will increase your alertness and focus, which can be very useful in the short term. In fact, it can have a positive effect on your concentration levels and overall mood.
4. Stay on top of your blood sugar
If your blood sugar drops, you’ll know about it. You can experience symptoms such as dizziness, headaches and reduced focus.
The key to staying alert and maintaining concentration throughout the day is to control your blood sugar levels.
A good tip is to try and eat smaller meals more regularly. Take your usual lunch and separate it into two smaller portions, then space them out across the early afternoon.
It might take a while to get used to smaller portions, but the rewards will be worth it.
For those of you who like a snack, leave the crisps and chocolate alone. Not only will they cause a sugar crash, they’ll also make you fat as well as tired!
A serving of low-fat yoghurt topped with cinnamon and almonds is a healthier option that can help satisfy your cravings before the mid-afternoon crash hits.
Cinnamon has been shown to regulate blood sugar levels, while almonds are rich in vitamin E, which slows the ageing of your brain cells.
Alternatively, our healthy homemade snacks will give you the boost you need.
5. Eat more oily fish
Omega-3 fatty acids are widely believed to have a significant effect on brain health. They’ve been linked to slower mental decline and improved long and short term memory.
Frustratingly, your body doesn’t make omega-3 on its own, so you’ll need to find it from outside sources.
Your best bet is to get more oily fish in your diet. Salmon, mackerel, tuna (fresh, not tinned) and sardines are just some of the fish that are high in omega-3.
Of course, having these for lunch at work isn’t always practical – no one wants to be the person who makes the whole office smell of fish!
Instead, you can eat them at home as part of a balanced diet, and get your midday omega-3 fix from other sources such as walnuts and pecans.
Applying this knowledge to your daily routine should help you stay alert and focused all day long, without falling away as the afternoon progresses.
If you’ve found your own way to keep yourself at the top of your game, why not let us know in the comments below?
On the other hand, if you’re regularly finding yourself low on energy and unable to concentrate on things, talking to a doctor can help you get to the root of the problem.
Find out how you can see a doctor online in minutes and get practical advice that you’ll use today.
Find out more
I think we can agree that caffeine and concentration are synonymous with one another.
You might be a college student or a working adult needing a quick fix to boost your concentration. Or perhaps you’re lacking sleep or just need a pick-me-up to hit a deadline. If that’s you, you’re in the right place.
Energy drinks are fantastic for physical energy and mental alertness.
Now, let’s hope you can concentrate until the end of this post to find the perfect energy drink for your concentration needs.
Let’s get started…
Ingredients in energy drinks
The main energy-boosting ingredient in energy drinks is (surprise, surprise) caffeine!
The way caffeine works in energy drinks is by stimulating your brain to become more alert, which often results in better concentration.
The sugar in some energy drinks also helps boost your energy levels, enabling you to have better concentration for the task at hand.
However, these days there is a growing trend toward sugar-free products, including energy drinks. There are plenty of great sugar-free energy drinks available too.
Guarana can also be found in some energy drinks. It helps to provide an extra caffeine boost, to give you better alertness and concentration.
However, be aware that if you consume too much caffeine or sugar, your concentration levels will probably last for an hour or two and then you might find yourself crashing once the high wears off.
Therefore, consume caffeine and sugar in a moderation in order to be better energized and maintain your concentration for longer.
Some of the best energy drinks to help you concentrate.
Do energy drinks increase concentration?
Yes, energy drinks can be fantastic at helping you increase your concentration.
If you read on, you’ll find a more thorough discussion on this, and at the end, I’ll recommend a few energy drinks that you might want to try for yourself.
Energy drinks for focus
Caffeine helps to wake you up and allows you to stay focused, which is why many people like to have a cup of coffee as soon as they wake up.
Energy drinks do much the same thing, as they contain ingredients like caffeine and sugar among other things to promote alertness and help you better concentrate.
Personally, I usually need my caffeine fix twice a day. Once in the morning and again after lunch. I find that I get a perfect energy boost from my favorite energy drink – REIZE.
I’ve tried a lot of other brands of energy drinks, but I find those with more than 100mg of caffeine actually make me lose focus and hinders my concentration.
REIZE Energy Drink only has 50mg of caffeine, which is a sensible amount. In fact, I would call it ideal.
It’s important not to overdo it when it comes to caffeine. I’ve got no interest in consuming some of the strongest energy drinks if I want to concentrate on something important.
Excessive caffeine intake may cause you to suffer from:
• stomach ache
If you are experiencing any negative side effects, cut down your caffeine intake or consult a doctor if anything becomes severe.
Do energy drinks keep you awake?
Yes they do.
Energy drinks can improve brain function that relates to memory, concentration and also reduce mental fatigue.
This is why energy drinks keep you up – it’s primarily due to the caffeine content, but the other ingredients also play a role.
Caffeine is an amazing thing, it’s truly fantastic for making you feel more alert.
While you are affected by caffeine and being kept awake, your concentration levels will likely be elevated as you go through your day.
Energy drinks and cognitive performance
Energy drinks are helpful for improving cognitive performance.
Cognitive performance includes perception, attention, memory, motor skills, language as well as visual and spatial processing.
If we lack concentration, I think it would be pretty difficult to carry out any of our cognitive performance tasks on a daily basis. This is because we are heavily dependent on cognitive performance to carry out our tasks.
With a lack of concentration, we might not be able to focus on carrying out any of these tasks to the best of our ability.
Studies have proven that energy drinks significantly improve a person’s cognitive performance.
Do energy drinks help your memory?
Yes, energy drinks can help to improve your memory.
With lack of concentration, we tend not to remember things.
New research suggests that energy drinks can actually help with memory.
It makes logical sense to me that, when we are alert, we are paying more attention to details that would then be etched into our memories.
Can energy drinks help me concentrate while studying?
Yes, energy drinks can help you concentrate while studying by improving your focus.
Energy drinks contain caffeine that can boost your energy levels and improve your mental performance.
Studies have shown that energy drinks allow students to generate more brain function in a shorter period of time.
If you’re a student looking for something to accompany you while you study for your exam, energy drinks can help you to concentrate and absorb all the information you are studying.
But, you should also understand that energy drinks are not miracle potions to help you ace an exam.
You need to be aware of your body condition and mental state before you proceed to drink energy drinks to help with your studying.
As much as energy drinks can help to improve your concentration, a good nights’ rest is also key.
Only have your energy drinks on those days that you really need that extra energy boost and never skip getting plenty of sleep (easier said than done).
Grab an energy drink to be your driving companion for concentrating on long drives.
Can energy drinks help me concentrate while driving?
Yes, energy drinks can help you concentrate as you navigate your way through traffic.
Driving requires your utmost concentration because it’s not only your life at stake, but the lives of many other road users too.
Did you know that nearly 1.25 million people die every year due to traffic accidents? That’s an astonishing number. While there are many causes for these crashes, lack of concentration while driving is a leading cause.
Being focused while you drive and getting to your destination safely should be your primary goal whenever you’re behind the wheel. However, it’s undeniable that we can lose focus while driving, especially if we’re driving long distances or it’s after a tiring day at work.
If you’re feeling sleepy and don’t think you’ll be able to concentrate on the road, pull over somewhere safe (maybe at a gas station) and take a power nap. While you’re at a gas station, maybe also grab yourself an energy drink.
Energy drinks can help you concentrate while driving, by giving you the extra alertness you need in order to get you and your passengers safely to your destination.
Can energy drinks help me on my graveyard shift?
Not everyone has a 9-5 work schedule. If you’re someone that works graveyard shifts, you might need something that can help you concentrate well on the job.
Caffeinated energy drinks provide you with an energy boost to keep you awake and alert. Therefore, you will then be able to concentrate and do your job properly.
Can energy drinks help with my ADHD?
If you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, you probably find that you often lack concentration and focus. If you didn’t already know, energy drinks do actually help you with your ADHD.
The caffeine content in energy drinks acts as a stimulant to keep you calm and focused, thus improving your concentration.
However, if you are on medication for your ADHD, you should consult your doctor to see if it’s wise to combine medication with the caffeine in energy drinks.
I’ve previously written about the best energy drinks for ADHD, if you would like a detailed discovery, hop on over there.
Can I drink energy drinks on a daily basis?
If you’re a healthy adult, yes you can drink energy drinks on a daily basis. You’ll probably also find that they help you to concentrate.
However, you should be mindful of other things that you’re consuming throughout the day. It’s good to make sure that you don’t exceed the recommended daily caffeine intake of 400mg per day. Depending on which energy drinks you are planning to consume, 1 or 2 cans a day should be fine.
If you find yourself becoming addicted to caffeine, you might want to check out my previous post to help you get over it. It’s no laughing matter and it’s important that you approach your recovery process the right way.
If you’re drinking energy drinks that aren’t sugar-free, you might also want to be mindful of your sugar intake.
We all know that sugar is bad for you. Hence, why not opt for sugar-free energy drinks? There are tons of different great energy drinks on the market nowadays, including lots of healthier options.
Red Bull is the most popular energy drink on the planet, selling around 7 billion cans per year. Did you know that it was once banned in France
Does Red Bull make you focus?
The world-famous Red Bull Energy Drink contains a decent amount of caffeine – 80mg.
With 80mg of caffeine, Red Bull is great for increasing your focus in the short term. The caffeine level is plenty to get benefit from, but not enough to cause most people any adverse effects, or inability to think clearly.
I like this moderate amount of caffeine to help me to focus. Any more than that and I find that I sometimes experience problems concentrating and sleeping at night.
Of course, that leads to a vicious cycle of lack of sleep, then lack of focus the next day. Then, I would need to depend on energy drinks to get me through the day again… you get the drill.
I also don’t think dependency on caffeine is healthy. A good rest to recharge your brain and body is still the best option if you’re feeling lethargic.
Moving on, Red Bull also has quite a lot of sugar, 27g.
But 110 calories per serving?
That would mean extra time at the gym!
However, I still think that Red Bull is a good choice for improving focus and concentration, but I usually prefer the sugar-free version.
Check the price on Amazon.
All smiles with this Starbucks coffee, which is a great way to get your daily caffeine fix.
Other drinks with caffeine to help with concentration
A cup of joe anyone?
Every day, all over the world, billions of people turn to caffeine to help improve their alertness, focus and concentration.
For some people that means energy drinks, for many others it means tea or coffee.
In case you didn’t already know, tea is also caffeinated. But, the amount of caffeine in tea is lower than coffee, with only about 26mg in a 8 fl.oz cup. If your caffeine tolerance is on the low end, then a cup of tea might be the ideal amount of caffeine for you.
Personally, I prefer a cup of green tea if I need a little dash of caffeine late in the night without compromising my sleep quality.
For getting my caffeine fix in the day, I still love my energy drinks and the occasional coffee.
What can I say, I guess I’m a caffeine aficionado.
Here are some great energy drinks that I recommend you check out to help with your concentration:
Best energy drinks for concentration (in no particular order)
Personally, I’m always on the lookout for an energy drink that has a sensible caffeine content, is sugar-free and has less calories.
Most importantly, it needs to also have an affordable price tag.
Because, let’s face it, why pay more when you can get a pretty similar item for less cash?
XS Energy Drink
XS Energy Drink is an Amway product
XS energy is a sugar free option with the same amount of caffeine as Red Bull – 80mg.
With only 10 calories per 8.4 fl.oz can, this drink will save you the trip to the gym.
The price is a concern though. An 8.4 fl.oz can costs a whopping $3 – $4. That’s a bit above my budget, but maybe not above yours. There’s no harm in trying it to see if it works for you if you’ve got the cash.
Check the current price on Amazon.
Guru Energy Drink
Guru Energy Drink claims to have 100mg of naturally occurring caffeine. They market their caffeine content to be derived from guarana seed extract and green tea leaf extract.
Other than that, Guru Energy Drink is supposedly on the healthier end of the spectrum as far as energy drinks go, with echinacea flower extract and panax ginseng root extract.
However, it does also contain 21g of sugar, which they claim is derived from cane syrup and white grape juice concentrate. But, sugar is still sugar.
Guru energy is a good option to improve your concentration, even if it does come with a bit of added sugar.
However, be warned, the price is often on the expensive side, so be prepared to part with a few extra dollars.
Check the current price on Amazon.
NOS Energy Drink
Climbing up the caffeine ladder, NOS Energy Drink has 160mg and a massive 53g of sugar.
Be ready for an effective surge of energy to bolster your concentration and focus. In all seriousness though, this much caffeine and sugar won’t work for everyone. A lot of people will find this too be too powerful and it will leave them unable to think clearly – which defeats the purpose of drinking an energy drink to improve your concentration.
It’s usually cheaper than the above two brands though, so that’s a plus.
If you need some extra energy boost for your day, NOS might work for you.
Check the price of NOS on Amazon.
REIZE Energy Drink (my personal favorite)
REIZE is home delivered for your convenience.
Where do I begin?
First and foremost, it’s by far the most affordable option among the energy drinks that I’ve recommended in this article, priced at about $1 per drink (including shipping to your door).
Also, with 50mg of caffeine, I find it’s just the right amount of boost to help me focus and concentrate for longer.
The combination of caffeine, taurine, ginseng and B group vitamins all work together to give you a perfect and long lasting energy boost. Not too little, but not so much that it affects your ability to think clearly.
Not to mention, REIZE Energy Drink is also zero-sugar, thus you don’t have to be worried about a sugar-crash afterwards.
Choose between monthly deliveries (set and forget) or one-time purchases to suit your needs – talk about convenience.
Give REIZE Energy Drink a try today and you might just find that it’s the best energy drink for concentration, focus and clear thinking.
Kudos if you managed to stay concentrated and read this right to the end!
Last Updated on November 16, 2019
To really succeed at work or study, you should give yourself the best chance of doing so. If you were training for a marathon, you’d be keeping an eye on your diet and hydration and ensuring you got enough sleep. For work and study, the same principles apply, with our brain and body needing the best possible fuel to make sure we can work effectively. So here we’ve found some great drinks to help to give your brainpower that much-needed boost!
Beets are a nutritional powerhouse—and so is their juice. It increases levels of nitric oxide, a blood gas that improves blood flow. How does that help your brain? Your brain needs good blood flow to function optimally. You can buy ready-made beetroot juice at health-food stores, although it’s much less expensive to make your own with fresh beetroot (include the root and greens, which are nutritious as well). Add some apple juice to thin the juice and enhance the natural sweetness of the beetroot.
Good news if you like chocolate! The flavanols in chocolate can help improve blood vessel function, which in turn improves cognitive function and memory. Dark chocolate also improves mood, can ease pain and is full of antioxidants, which are great for anti-ageing and help to prevent cancer.
One study of healthy volunteers showed that five days of consuming high-flavanol cocoa improved blood flow to the brain significantly.
Bananas are the ultimate fast food. If you’re in a hurry, make sure you grab a banana to eat on the go. Not only are they sweet, tasty, cheap and nutritious but they have also been shown to boost concentration. Bananas contain potassium, an essential mineral that plays a key part in keeping your brain, nerves, and heart in great working order. They are super easy to store, just keep some chopped banana in the freezer and blend with juice or milk for an instant power smoothie.
Acai, a South American fruit that reduces inflammation, is ranked near the top of brain-healthy foods because it dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow. The juice has a pleasant taste—something like a cross between raspberry and cocoa—but it’s very expensive. Try blending some everyday frozen berries that have been shown to boost brain health—raspberries, blueberries and strawberries, for example—along with a little acai juice to make an easy, delicious smoothie.
Spinach is known as brain food because it contains lutein, folate, and beta-carotene, which have been linked with preventing dementia and increasing brain function and concentration. Blending two cups of spinach with half a cup of cubed melon, half a cup of Greek yoghurt and a few tablespoons of water is an easy way to create an energising smoothie to keep you going. You can add some ice cubes if preferred, and sweetener.
Blueberries, also known as “brain berries”, are a great choice for creating a super smoothie. Blueberries are full of antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals and prevent them from damaging cells in both the body and brain. Blueberries also contain flavonoids that are capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier. They are said to be capable of improving learning and memory by enhancing communication among brain cells, and may even stimulate the growth of new brain cells.
Make sure you get all the essential nutrients by blending your own drink or smoothie. You can find some great blenders and juicers at Spotlight to help you prepare your brainpower boost. Keep your smoothie fresh by using an insulated flask too, so it is ready to hand when you need it during the day.
Natural energy drinks like tea, coffee, and yerba mate have a history of safely boosting focus and productivity, and offer other mental health benefits too.
What You’ll Learn Here
Billions of dollars are spent every year on beverages that claim to increase physical energy and boost brainpower.
Collectively known as energy drinks, these drinks are popular among those looking to feel more energetic, alert, focused, creative, and productive.
But these manufactured energy drinks have some huge downsides that can leave you feeling worse.
Fortunately, you don’t have to resort to something in a can or bottle that says “energy drink” on the label to get the benefits you’re looking for.
People have been drinking natural beverages for energy and mental clarity for thousands of years!
What’s Wrong With Artificial Energy Drinks
There are hundreds of brands of energy drinks on the market, making this a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry.
Energy drinks now rival Starbucks in annual sales. (1, 2)
Energy drinks claim to increase both physical energy and mental alertness.
Some are marketed to help you stay up all night, although skipping sleep is never a good idea for your brain.
There’s a growing health concern about the safety of these drinks.
Commonly reported side effects include insomnia, headache, heart palpitations, irritability, chest pain, and digestive upset — mainly due to excessive amounts of caffeine. (3)
Energy drinks are responsible for tens of thousands of visits to hospital emergency rooms each year, and sadly, a handful of deaths. (4, 5)
The main ingredients in energy drinks are caffeine and sugar.
They also contain additives like B vitamins, taurine, l-carnitine, guarana, ginseng, and yohimbine.
While these nutrients can be helpful in the right form or in sufficient amounts, they are included in energy drinks mainly to look impressive on the label.
According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, any performance enhancement from energy drinks comes from sugar and caffeine, NOT from other additives. (6)
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Most energy drinks like Monster and Red Bull contain amounts of caffeine similar to coffee — around 10 mg of caffeine per ounce — but this can really add up if you chug these drinks all day long.
And energy shots are a different story completely.
5-Hour Energy Shot, for example, contains a jaw-dropping 100 mg of caffeine per ounce!
Common side effects of excess caffeine include anxiety, panic attacks, irritability, racing heart, heart palpitations, and insomnia. (7)
Also, be aware that there is nothing natural about the caffeine in energy drinks.
It is not extracted from natural sources but is man-made, usually in China.
The other stimulating ingredient in energy drinks is sugar.
Some energy drinks contain a staggering 20 teaspoons of sugar per serving.
More than half contain more sugar per serving than Coca-Cola. (8)
Sugar will give you a temporary energy kick but at a great cost.
Here are a few ways too much sugar will affect your brain, mood, and ability to think:
- Sugar hijacks your brain’s reward center and may be as addictive as heroin and cocaine. (9)
- It contributes to depression by increasing brain inflammation. (10)
- It increase output of the stress hormone cortisol. (11)
- It leads to wild swings in blood sugar level which can make you jittery and irritable when it’s low and lead to diabetes and possibly Alzheimer’s when it’s chronically high. (12)
- It wreaks havoc with your attention span, short-term memory, ability to learn, and mood. (13)
- It changes brainwave patterns, making it hard to think clearly.
Some energy drinks use artificial sweeteners like sucralose or acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), but these are no better for you than sugar.
They also negatively impact your mood and ability to think.
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The 5 Best Natural Energy Drinks
The idea of energy drinks is not new.
People have been drinking coffee, tea, and other beverages for more mental energy and clarity for thousands of years.
Unlike commercially manufactured energy drinks that are fraught with side effects, these natural versions, when consumed in moderation, actually help you build a better, healthier brain as a “side benefit”:
- They boost neurotransmitter levels to improve mood and motivation.
- They contain phytonutrients that increase brain cell production and blood flow to the brain.
- They offset the effects of aging and protect the brain from free radical damage and degenerative diseases.
These are inexpensive, easy to make, readily available, safe, and delicious.
Billions of people around the world could not imagine starting the day without their favorite “natural energy drink,” myself included!
The natural energy drinks discussed below vary in taste, caffeine content, and additional health benefits.
I suggest trying them all to see which one delivers the mental clarity and smooth energy boost you’re looking for.
1. Green Tea
If you live in a coffee-drinking country with a coffee shop on every corner, you may be surprised to learn that tea is the #1 beverage in the world. (14)
Green tea especially is known as a healthy drink that is beneficial for the most pressing health concerns, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, inflammation, and Alzheimer’s. (15)
It has notable mood-boosting effects as well.
It has the unique ability to increase attention while instilling a sense of calm without making you feel drowsy.
Most of its health benefits are attributed to two compounds found almost exclusively in green tea, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) and l-theanine.
EGCG is beneficial for learning, memory, and mood. (16)
It can alleviate anxiety and strengthen resilience to stress. (17)
EGCG works synergistically with the caffeine found in green tea to elevate mood and improve focus and alertness. (18, 19)
L-theanine promotes the formation of neurotransmitters linked to memory recall, learning, and positive mood. (20, 21)
It also reduces the effects of both psychological and physiological stress. (22)
L-theanine puts the brain into the alpha wave state which is associated with relaxation and attention. (23, 24)
This is similar to the state achieved during meditation.
Green tea’s smaller amount of caffeine, along with the presence of calming compounds, assures that you will be mildly energized but not wired.
2. Matcha Tea
Matcha green tea is considered the “champagne of green teas.”
It’s the tea used in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
Matcha starts with the highest quality tea leaves which are dried and then ground into a fine powder.
It has all the benefits of green tea, but even more so since you’re actually consuming the entire leaf.
Matcha tea is an antioxidant powerhouse and can contain up to 137 times more EGCG than regular green teas. (25)
Besides drinking matcha tea straight, you can easily add the powder to smoothies, lattes, soups, or sauces.
You’ll find basic matcha recipes at MatchaSource.com.
If you like experimenting in the kitchen, LetsDrinkTea.com has 102 imaginative matcha recipes.
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Here in the United States, coffee is definitely the king of natural energy drinks.
Eighty-three percent of us drink it every day. (26)
It’s not an exaggeration to say that the country runs on coffee.
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Coffee is known for giving a boost in energy while optimizing memory, focus, alertness, mood, and attention. (27, 28)
Coffee is a potent antioxidant that shields the brain from free radical damage.
Surprisingly, coffee is the #1 source of antioxidants in the Western diet. (29)
Coffee drinkers have a significantly reduced risk for Alzheimer’s, so it may help keep you mentally sharp for the long haul, too. (30)
4. Yerba Mate
Yerba mate is a traditional South American tea brewed from a member of the holly plant family.
It’s been said to offer the “strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate” all in one beverage.
Yerba mate is so loaded with nutrients, it’s been said that it includes practically all the vitamins needed to sustain life. (31)
Related on Be Brain Fit —
10 Ways Yerba Maté Tea Is Better Than Coffee for Your Health
It also contains up to 100 times more antioxidants and polyphenols than artificial energy drinks. (32)
Yerba mate fans report increased mental energy, clarity and focus, but without the caffeine jitters sometimes experienced with coffee.
At 85 mg caffeine per 8 ounces, it contains more caffeine than tea but less than coffee.
5. Turmeric Tea
Turmeric tea is the first natural energy drink on this list with no caffeine.
Turmeric is a spice that’s been used for both cooking and healing for thousands of years.
It’s an important herb in Ayurveda, India’s 5,000-year-old natural healing system.
The people of Okinawa, Japan are among the longest-lived in the world and happen to drink large amounts of turmeric tea. (33)
Turmeric is well studied and has been found to exhibit potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and anticancer properties. (34)
The main active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, a compound known to aid memory and concentration.
Curcumin increases blood flow to the brain as effectively as physical exercise. (35)
It raises levels of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters essential for happiness and productivity. (36)
In fact, curcumin has been found to be an excellent natural antidepressant that’s more potent than Prozac. (37)
You can buy turmeric tea bags or simply simmer 1/4 teaspoon powdered or grated fresh turmeric in a cup of water for 10 minutes.
The Ultimate Natural Energy Drink Recipes
Two pioneering biohackers, Tim Ferriss and Dave Asprey, admit they’ve tried everything to improve their mental performance, including brain-enhancing drugs.
But ultimately they found their favorite brain enhancers to be new twists on old standbys — coffee and tea.
Each has created his own favorite recipe for optimal mental performance.
Tim’s all-round favorite brew is yerba mate.
Instead of coffee, he starts each day with a blend of yerba mate and various teas mixed with coconut oil, ginger, and turmeric.
He calls this drink “titanium tea” and likens it to “rocket fuel for the brain.”
He has also developed a protocol using yerba mate to maximize creativity.
He starts with yerba mate, strategically followed by red wine and a little dark chocolate.
His finds that the perfect ratio of yerba mate to red wine is 3 to 1.
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Dave, on the other hand, has built an entire industry around his “bulletproof coffee” concept.
Making coffee bulletproof means adding grass-fed butter and MCT oil to it.
Putting butter in coffee is not as weird as it sounds.
The people of Tibet traditionally add yak butter to their tea, which is where he got his idea.
And when you think about it, adding butter is not much different than adding cream, since butter is simply cream that’s been beaten or churned.
Dave and his many followers report steady energy, better mood, reduced feelings of hunger, and enhanced mental clarity and physical performance from bulletproof coffee.
Here’s a short video of Dave showing how he makes his natural energy drink.
Water: The Original Natural Energy Drink
I know this is not very exciting, but drinking plenty of water is one of the most effective ways to keep your energy and brainpower up.
Your muscles and your brain are roughly three-quarters water, so even mild dehydration results in reduced energy and loss of brain function. (38, 39)
It takes only 2% dehydration to negatively affect your attention, memory and other cognitive skills. (40)
The effects of dehydration can be so pronounced that they can be mistaken for dementia!
The common advice to drink 8 glasses of water per day is overly simplistic.
A better rule of thumb to determine the quantity of water you need is to divide your weight in pounds by two. (41)
That gives you a baseline for the number of ounces of water you need per day if you are sedentary.
However, if you exercise, which hopefully you do, you’ll need more.
Camelbak.com has an online hydration calculator that takes into account your weight, age, activity level, type of exercise, and even the outdoor temperature and cloud cover.
A good hydration calculator takes into account many factors.
This will tell you how much additional water you need while you’re exercising.
And of course, there are hydration apps.
Here’s a list of a few apps that can help you stay hydrated.
Natural Energy Drinks: Take the Next Step
Staying hydrated is an important, fundamental way to improve mental function and productivity.
Manufactured energy drinks in bottles and cans are not necessarily safe and are certainly not natural.
Traditional drinks like green tea, coffee, yerba mate, matcha, and turmeric tea are much smarter choices.
They have been consumed for improved mental energy and performance for thousands of years.
They are excellent sources of nutrients and antioxidants that nourish and protect your brain, increasing overall physical and mental health and vitality.
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