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15 Superfoods to Boost Brain Power and Productivity

By Michael Crump | 26 May 2015

Your diet and lifestyle have a major impact on your ability to focus effectively and complete your work successfully. If your current meals and snacks are letting you down, try adding these 15 powerful superfoods into your diet to boost your brain power and productivity.

You’ve got a big exam coming up. You’re pulling an  all-nighter study session and you need something to help you get through your middle-of-the-night slump. You reach for an energy drink and that last slice of cold pizza… only to find yourself passed out asleep at your desk a few hours later.

What happened? It turns out “you are what you eat” isn’t just good advice your grandma gave you growing up. The foods you take in actually have a major impact on your ability to think critically, form new memories (extra important for students) and stay productive. In fact, the World Health Organization suggests that proper nourishment can raise productivity levels by 20 percent!

That’s huge, and it’s definitely an effect you’ll want to take advantage of as a student. To get the most out of your study sessions, consider adding the following top 15 “superfoods” to your diet in order to boost your brain power and your productivity.

Have you noticed a difference in how well you’re able to study based on the foods you eat?

#1 Water 

If you’re in the middle of an intense study session, sipping a glass of water may be the last thing on your mind. But remember, it only takes a loss of 1-2 percent of your body’s ideal water content to cause dehydration. A corresponding 1 percent body weight loss due to dehydration can result in a  12 percent decrease in overall productivity.

The solution? Keep a water bottle near your desk and set your phone’s alarm clock to go off every 15-20 minutes, reminding you to take a drink.

#2 Green Tea 

Instead of reaching for another coffee, make your next beverage a cup of hot tea. The polyphenols and catechins found in this alternative drink help convey a steady stream of glucose to the brain and body, leading to enhanced memory and diminished mental fatigue.

#3 Fish 

You’ve probably heard about the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, but did you know that these compounds play a crucial role in brain function and development? Enhance your memory’s ability with 2-3 weekly servings of omega-3 rich fish, such as salmon or sardines.

#4 Avocado 

Besides being one of the best fats you can use to power your physical and mental health, avocados are known to lower bad cholesterol. Not only does this minimise your risk of cardiovascular disease, it also helps prevent plaque from building up in your arteries, leading to greater blood flow to your brain.

#5 Whole Grains 

For your carbohydrate needs, reach for whole grains instead of their more processed counterparts. Whole grains are packed with the fibre that’ll keep you full throughout your study sessions and also contain the vitamin E needed to enhance memory and cognitive function.

#6 Eggs

If you want your brain to function at peak efficiency, it needs to have the appropriate number and balance of neurotransmitters – hormones that control how signals move throughout this thoughtful organ.

And when it comes to balancing your brain’s hormonal needs, eggs can’t be beaten. Eggs are a potent source of choline, a B vitamin that’s been shown to enhance memory and reaction time in people and animals as well as minimise fatigue.

#7 Berries 

According to neuroscientist James A. Joseph, “The antioxidants in berries counteract oxidative stress and function as anti-inflammatory agents, which are ‘the evil twins of brain ageing.’”

Put simply, berries – such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and others – aren’t just tasty; they’ll help keep your brain in tip-top studying condition as well.

#8 Leafy Greens 

Some scientists and researchers call dark leafy greens, like spinach, kale androcket, the best things you can eat. Katherine Tucker , the director of the dietary assessment research programme at the Human Nutrition Research Center of Aging, shares that these potent plants contain the folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 needed to break down compounds known as homocysteines, which have been associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

You may not be concerned about Alzheimer’s and other age-related diseases yet, but leafy greens will do wonders for your mental focus during your study sessions as well. If you can’t handle the bitter taste, blend them in smoothies with assorted fruits to add some sweetness.

#9 Carrots 

Another great addition to your brain power boosting smoothie is the carrot – a vegetable that’s packed with vitamin A. This nutrient helps to improve eyesight, making it the perfect remedy for tired, over-studied eyes.

#10 Walnuts 

Need a snack to power your study break? Don’t reach for unhealthy crisps – grab a handful of walnuts instead. Nuts and seeds of all kinds are packed with vitamin E and other antioxidants that have been scientifically proven to slow cognitive decline as you age.

#11 Almonds 

If walnuts aren’t your style, reach for almonds instead. You’ll receive all of the same benefits, plus a powerful boost of brain power.

#12 Flaxseeds 

Flaxseeds are jam-packed with micronutrients, fibre, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins. But they also have a benefit that’s sure to appeal to students: flaxseeds appear to help keep the eyes lubricated. If you’re a student who’s spent too much time staring at a screen, you can’t go wrong adding this superfood into your diet!

#13 Yoghurt 

Dairy is your friend when it comes to brain power and productivity. Yoghurt specifically contains both healthful probiotics and an amino acid called tyrosine that contributes to the production of brain hormones dopamine and noradrenaline. Together, the presence of these two hormones leads to better alertness and memory retention – two critical strengths for students.

#14 Dark Chocolate 

If you’re in desperate need of a sweet pick-me-up, dark chocolate has you covered. Aside from being lower in sugar and calories than most sweets, dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidants and natural stimulants. Together, these compounds increase the production of feel-good endorphins, enhancing concentration, focus and mood.

#15 Red Wine

Been at the books for hours? Treat yourself to a celebratory glass of wine. While you may want to take a break from writing papers or editing assignments while you have a drink, research from scientist James Joseph suggests that compounds found in red wine – or grape juice, if you aren’t a drinker – seem to increase levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, leading to better short-term memory and motor skills.

What’s your favourite way to get superfoods into your daily diet?

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