8 Foods Proven to Increase AlertnessOctober 16, 2017
Caffeine addicts are going to hate me for this one, but there are MUCH better ways to increase alertness than your daily “fix.”
In fact, after a certain point, caffeine starts to decrease alertness and focus and side-effects start to rule the day. Once you go over the 400mg threshold (the amount in about two energy drinks), your body will start to experience:
- Migraine headaches
- Frequent urination or inability to control urination
- Stomach upset
- Fast heartbeat
- Muscle tremors
Hmmm. I don’t know about YOU, but I certainly can’t concentrate when I’ve got a migraine — or any of those symptoms, for that matter!
This includes your daily dose of coffee that you’ve been using to increase alertness. After four cups, your body starts to experience “insomnia, nervousness and restlessness, stomach upset, nausea and vomiting, increased heart and breathing rate, and other side effects. Consuming large amounts of coffee might also cause headache, anxiety, agitation, ringing in the ears, and irregular heartbeats.” Not to mention the fact that coffee users “may also become ‘dependent’ on coffee to the point that they develop withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop drinking it.” Yikes!!
So what SHOULD you be putting in your body to increase alertness/focus/concentration while working or living your life?
Pretty much everything in your body runs on water, so it’s important you consume enough of it. How much water you drink and how well your brain functions are directly linked.
Water “gives the brain the electrical energy for all brain functions, including thought and memory processes.” It has also been scientifically proven to help you “think faster, be more focused, and experience greater clarity and creativity.”
No matter what else you eat to increase alertness, make sure you ingest enough water. Eating well does nothing without proper hydration — water is essential for delivering nutrients to your brain.
Blueberries are known as a “super food” for a reason. They’re one of the rare foods that contains anti-oxidants — a little bit of natural wonder that stimulates blood flow and oxygen to your brain — which are proven to increase alertness, concentration, and memory after consumption.
In fact, one small handful of blueberries can give you a mental “boost” for up to five hours after you’ve eaten them. Not too shabby!
One of my favorite foods ever! Not only do these green wonders taste absolutely delectable, they also enhance blood flow to your brain by way of their omega-3 fatty acids — which is perfect for when you want to increase alertness!
Another nifty thing about avocados? Despite their delicious creamy texture, they’re actually loaded with fiber. This means that they’ll keep you “regular” (if you know what I mean…) AND prevent you from getting hunger pangs by giving your stomach a nice “full” feeling after you eat them.
4. Fatty Fish
Avocados not your jam? No worries. You can also increase alertness in your brain by eating some fatty fish. Like avocados, fatty fish (like salmon, trout, herring, sardines, etc.) are filled with omega-3 fatty acids that increase blood flow to your brain and give your thought processes an instant boost.
Omega-3 fatty acids not only enhance your concentration, but they also help to stabilize your moods. So if you’re looking to be the even-keel employee or boss that everyone loves, it’s time to start stuffing your face with fatty fishies and avocados!
5. Dark Chocolate
We’re talking DARK chocolate here, NOT the overly-processed milky kind. The darker, the better!
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.” And when you feel good, you can concentrate better!
The trick is to ingest just a small bit of this wonder food. Don’t go overboard. Just a bite will do the trick.
Nuts not only increase alertness in the short-term, they also aid your body in the long-term. In fact, nuts “are good sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which is associated with less cognitive decline as you age.”
In the short-term, the amino acids and essential oils in a single handful of nuts will exponentially increase your focus. I like to keep a can of nuts in my desk drawer while I work!
7. Leafy Green Vegetables
All those vegetables that you turned your nose up to as a kid? Your mom was actually right about them: they’re GREAT for you!
Leafy green vegetables “are full of antioxidants and carotenoids, which boost your brain power, and help protect your brain.” They’re 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.”
I don’t know about you, but improved mental clarity sounds pretty darn yummy to me!
No matter what you decide to eat, breakfast can help increase alertness and focus throughout the rest of your day. (Another thing your mom was right about: it really IS the most important meal of the day!).
This is especially true if you opt for eggs as a part of your first meal of the day. Egg yolks are loaded with choline, which release a chemical into your body that produces hormones related to happiness. And who doesn’t feel more alert when they’re happy, am I right?
Looking for more reading material to improve your eating habits? Check out our article on how eating well leads to thinking well!