Just when you thought your Monday couldn’t get any worse, you look at the clock and realize it isn’t even noon yet. You skipped breakfast this morning and headed for the pastry buffet at work instead. You thought that coffee would keep you going a little longer but your energy is dwindling by the minute.
By the time 2:30 pm rolls around you’re still feeling foggy and can’t shake that writer’s block. Well wouldn’t you know, it might be the foods you’re eating that are actually interfering with your concentration.
While we know there are foods out there that can give your brain a boost, there are also foods out there that can impair your concentration and cognition as well.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Here are a few bad foods to avoid if you want to have a productive day at the office.
Often the foods that hinder your concentration are the ones that satisfy your sweet tooth. This is because sugary junk foods are made up of simple carbohydrates with few nutrients that are easily digested in the body. When you consume junk food, your body only has a temporary supply of energy to work with.
This false feeling of energy is called a “sugar high”. Once your body burns up that short term energy, you experience what is called a “sugar crash”. This sugar crash can cause fatigue, loss of concentration and increased irritability.
Candy bars are the quintessential embodiment of empty calories. If you consume 2,000 calories per day, the USDA recommends that you try to eat less than 200 calories from excess sugar. Eat a regular sized chocolate bar and there you have over 200 calories before you even blink your eye.
As mentioned before, candy bars are primarily comprised of simple carbohydrates. They contribute very little protein, vitamins and minerals to your day. They will end up depriving you of the energy you need to stay awake.
The same argument goes for soda. Soda is basically the liquefied version of a candy bar. You probably already know that excess consumption of soda can lead to diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
But did you know that soda can actually play a role in the brain?
Researchers from the University of Southern California in 2014 wanted to prove that sugary sodas affect brain tissue. In their study, adolescent rats were given access to soda for 30 days. At the end of the given month, the rats were tested by traveling through a maze to get to a reward. The researchers found that these rats had difficulty with spatial learning.
What they were able to find was that rats given access to sugary soda every day had inflammation on their hippocampus which is the part of the brain responsible for concentration and spatial sense.
Refusing your body the proper fuel it needs can lead to exhaustion. When you begin to have a sugar crash and your body doesn’t have other fuel sources to rely on, it can hamper your concentration while driving, cause you to make more mistakes at work and have decreased sensibility when making decisions.
Foods Loaded with Salt
Sodium is an extremely important mineral in your body. It’s important for proper muscle contraction, nerve transmissions and water balance. The USDA recommends that adults consume 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. And although that may sound like a lot, it adds up to just about a teaspoon of table salt.
Too little salt can be detrimental to your health, however this is an uncommon problem. Consuming too much salt on the other hand is quite easy. Too much sodium in the blood is called hypernatremia. Hypernatremia can be caused by consistently eating foods with a high sodium content. Your body requires water and potassium to balance the sodium in your system. Without enough water or potassium, hypernatremia is possible.
Signs of hypernatremia are lethargy, irritability and twitching. When you flood your brain with sodium, the high concentration can actually disrupt nerve function and lead to poor concentration and sluggishness.
Processed foods and fast food are two major culprits that can cause your body to be flooded with sodium. Aim for fresh fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed meats in order to avoid that unwanted overload. Remember to check the nutrition label on the processed foods you purchase and make sure you are drinking plenty of water!
Foods with Trans Fats
If there is one thing your brain relies on, it’s fat. Your brain is comprised of fat and requires fat to maintain its membranes and store fat soluble vitamins. Some fats however, can be harmful. These fats are infamously known as trans fats and have been a subject of debate for years.
Current medical research indicates that trans fats can lead to cellular destruction and abnormal hormone production.
This can increase inflammation and adversely affect memory. Consuming foods that are high in trans fats may hinder your concentration. Foods that typically contain trans fats are: donuts, cookies, crackers, muffins and cakes. Replace these foods with healthier alternatives for more power while you work. And check ultimate good fats foods list.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can improve your cognition simply by changing the types of foods you eat. Aim for nutrient dense, complex carbs such as salmon, walnuts and kiwi. These will give your brain a steady stream of energy over a prolonged amount of time to focus on what needs to get done.
Connect here with Watchfit Expert Bonnie Giller
Contribution by J. Lipera