Boost your Brainpower

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Posted by Abby

I’ve just returned to London after 2 weeks holiday in Italy and despite having only been back at work for 4 days I’m already struggling. My concentration is minimal and my ability to focus on the task at hand seems to have gone AWOL.

Urgent action is needed and I’ve been researching ways to boost my brainpower. I thought I’d share my top 5 with you in case the increasingly wintry days are getting to you too. These tips are also good for kids who’re struggling now the excitement of the new school term has worn off.

1. Eat breakfast
Studies consistently show that having breakfast helps boost our concentration, mental arithmetic and logic skills as well as stabilising our moods. In contrast, an empty tummy can make us feel grumpy and tired.

2. Boost your intake of omega 3 and 6
These fats have a protective and curative role in brain health. Omega 3 fats are found in oily fish and vegetable oils, particularly those made from rapeseed, flax and walnuts. Omega 6 fats are found in most vegetable oils. So, how about a slice of toasted seedy bread topped with peanut butter for breakfast? A big salad with goat’s cheese and toasted walnuts for lunch? Kedgeree for supper?

3. Keep hydrated
Dehydration affects our ability to concentrate. Waiting until you are thirsty means you are already dehydrated so sip water regularly throughout the day.

4. Boost your fruit and vegetable intake
Recently, the media has been full of contradictory stories about whether or not the use of vitamin supplements can boost children’s academic achievements. Avoid the controversy by taking the natural route and make sure you are eating a wide range of fruit and vegetables.

Good brain boosters include:
- blueberries - their rich antioxidant content has been shown to improve coordination, concentration and short-term memory in elderly rats (not that I’m jumping to conclusions about Daily Tiffin readers but I think it’s as good an excuse as any to eat this fabulous fruit!)
- broccoli – this is one of five fruit and vegetables that have been found to contain substances that act in the same way as drugs used to treat degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Potatoes, oranges, apples and radishes are the other four in case you’re interested.
- iron rich food such as eggs, green leafy vegetables and red meat – these will ensure that you don’t experience the drop in energy and concentration associated with low iron levels

5. Get moving
Studies of school children show that those who exercise regularly perform better in exams and tests of mental agility. And if, like me, you’re looking for the low-energy option here, pick up some balls! German scientists found that juggling balls for 60 seconds a day can boost brainpower significantly.

Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This post was written by Abby from eat the right stuff.


Actually, recent studies seem to disagree with point 1 - breakfast might be good for a quick sugar rush, but does not always help concentration or reaction time. (requires subscription, but the article has been repeated on a number of newspaper sites).


October 4, 2007 at 7:25:00 PM GMT+2  

Thanks Meeta for a good write up with info. Though you know, it feels good to read these again to remind us to follow.

Rina said...
October 4, 2007 at 11:22:00 PM GMT+2  

hi rina, joker girl. you're right, i should have put something in about low-gi breakfasts so you are kept going through the morning rather than soaring high and crashing low! i ted to have meusli so the oats carry me through.

Anonymous said...
October 5, 2007 at 10:53:00 AM GMT+2  

Keeping hydrated is so important, when I have a mid afternoon slump I find that a glass or two of water really wakes me up.

If you are feeling sleepy and hungry reach for the water or herbal tea first.

Also stay off the sugar if you can, I am a recent south beach convert and cutting out starches really help me. I am strictly now an eggs and vegetables person for breakfast.

Helen said...
October 5, 2007 at 3:20:00 PM GMT+2  

I find that if I skip my morning muesli I feel really uneasy the whole morning. The worse thing is then reaching for little snacks - which tend to be unhealthy. That drinking part is oh so important and I have to really force myself to remember.

Meeta K. Wolff said...
October 6, 2007 at 2:26:00 PM GMT+2  

I recently attended a talk by a neurologist. He suggested that one of the best ways to boost your brain in the long term was social dancing (any type.) It keeps your brain sharp!

October 17, 2007 at 4:31:00 PM GMT+2  

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