Do you get halfway through an absolutely brilliant day, when all of a sudden you cannot seem to focus or concentrate on anything for longer than a few minutes? Don’t worry, you are not alone. When it comes to focus and concentration, there is always room for improvement.

The food that you eat can affect your brain’s ability to focus and concentrate efficiently. But it works two ways and it can also slow down any decline in your brain function.

Here are 5 foods for focus to help boost your concentration and brain function:

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1) Oily fish

Did you know that 60% of your brain is made up of fat and 15-20% alone is actually built from omega-3 fats?

Oily fish is one of the good quality foods for focus. It is rich in essential Omega-3 fats (EFAs). The body cannot make Omega-3 fats, so you have to get it from your diet. A study published in 2012 in the PLoS ONE journal found that the working memory and focus of healthy young adults was enhanced by increasing their Omega-3 fatty acid intake (1).

Another study published in 2015 in the Frontiers in Ageing Neuroscience journal found that in older adults who consumed more Omega-3 fats there was an enhancement in their cognitive function and concentration compared to their peers (2).

Oily fish examples include salmon, herring, sardines, anchovies, trout, tuna and mackerel. It is important to eat oily fish at least twice a week.

2) Coconut oil

Coconut oil is one of the good quality foods for focus. It is a rich source of saturated fats, containing about 66% medium-chain triglycerides (MCT).

These medium-chain fatty acids are metabolized differently; they go directly to the liver, where they are turned into ketones. The ketones are released into your bloodstream from your liver, where they are sent to your brain to be used as an alternative source of energy.

A study published in 2004 in the Neurobiology of Ageing journal found that the eating of medium chain triglycerides brought about an instant improvement in the brain function of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), including concentration and focus (3).

Coconut oil is great for cooking and baking.

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3) Avocados

Avocados are one of the good quality foods for focus. They are rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and other nutrients, including vitamin E, essential for a healthy brain. A study published in 2015 in the Journal of Lipid Research found that vitamin E deficiency can rob brain cells of a substance essential for their structure and contribute to brain disorders, including lack of focus and concentration (4).

4) Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is one of the good quality foods for focus. Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (70% and above) is full of nutrients that are good for your health. It helps to boost your brain function.

A study published in 2006 in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology showed that, in healthy individuals, consuming flavanol-rich cocoa for 5 days increased the blood flow to the brain and improved the brain functions, including focus and concentration (5).

5) Berries

Berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and other berries) are good quality foods for focus. They are rich in antioxidants that help to protect cells from harmful free radical damage.

Berries help to keep the brain healthy. A study published in 2012 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that the consumption of berry fruits may help to reduce age-related degeneration of the brain and changes in cognitive function including concentration (6).

It is important to note that a lower carb and high fat diet lowers the rate at which your brain shrinks and diets high in trans fats, processed foods and sugar negatively affects your brain functions, including your focus and concentration.

To read more from Anne Anyia, visit her Expert Profile.

References:

1) Narendran R, Frankle W G, Mason N S, Muldoon M F, Moghaddam B (2012) Improved Working Memory but No Effect on Striatal Vesicular Monoamine Transporter Type 2 after Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Supplementation. PLoS ONE, 7:10: e46832 DOI

2) Zamroziewicz M K, Paul E J, Rubin R D, Barbey A K (2015) Anterior cingulate cortex mediates the relationship between 03PUFAs and executive functions in APOE e4 carriers. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 21 May 2015 DOI:10.3389/fnagi.2015.00087.

3) Reger M A, Henderson S T, Hale C, Cholerton B, Baker L D, Watson G S, Hyde K, Chapman D, Craft S (2004) Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults. Neurobiological Aging, 25: 311-314.

4) Choi J, Leonard S W, Kasper K, McDougall M, Steven J F, Tanguay R L, Traber M G (2015) Novel function of vitamin E in regulation of zebrafish (Danio rerio) brain lysophospholipids discovered using lipidomics. The Journal of Lipid Research, doi:10.1194/jlr.M058941.

5) Francis S T, Head K, Morris P G, Macdonald I A (2006) The effect of flavanol-rich cocoa on the fMRI response to a cognitive task in healthy young people. Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, 47: S215-220.

6) Miller M G, Shukitt-Hale B (2012) Berry Fruit Enhances Beneficial Signalling in the Brain. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 60: 5709-5715.

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