Brain food matters. How you think and feel can be directly affected by what you eat, as one of our resident nutritionists Lily Soutter, explains.

By simply following a brain friendly diet, you might sharpen your memory, increase your attention span and improve your mood…

1. Oily fish

Did you know that the brain is nearly 60% fat? Healthy fats line each cell membrane helping to maintain their structure. Essential fats are also crucial for the brain’s integrity and ability to perform.

As these healthy fats cannot be manufactured within the body, they must obtained from the diet… Keep your brain well nourished with salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies, flax and chia seeds.

2. Wholegrains

Blood sugar dips can cause concentration to go straight out the window. This is because our brains run on sugar to function, in fact the brain uses as much as 20% of energy needed by the body. All carbohydrates break down to sugar, but only the fibre-rich slow release carbohydrates provide sustained fuel to the brain.

Choose wholegrain bread, pasta, rice, oats, potato, quinoa, buckwheat, rye, and barley.

3. Berries

Exciting new research suggests that polyphenols found in mixed berries may help to improve cognitive performance, accuracy and reaction speeds for up to 6 hours post consumption.

This double-blind, placebo controlled trial gave promising results to indicate that adding these delicious fruits to our diet could perfect way to keep us at the top of our game. Try adding berries to natural yoghurt, porridge and even smoothies.

4. Green tea

It may be tempting to rely on caffeine for brain power during exam season however overconsumption much may lead to anxiety, irritability, and even insomnia. Caffeine withdrawal may also result in headaches and low mood, which can wreak havoc with concentration.

Green tea on the other hand contains a much lower caffeine content and is rich in compound called l-theanine. This has been studied for it potential ability to provide feelings of relaxed alertness and clarity, without the jitters that keep us up all night.

5. Infused water

It may sound like old news, but a large proportion of the brain consists of water and dehydration can negatively affect concentration, short-term memory and even mood.

If you’re not a fan of plain water, try making some flavoured water by infusing with berries, mint, cucumber and even lemon.

www.lilysoutternutrition.com

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