It’s natural to lose focus or feel distracted when you are working from home. There are several distractions and the motivation level isn’t the same as in an office setup. The good news is that you can focus better by tweaking your diet a little. Mahima Sethia, a nutritionist and a lifestyle coach says, “Our brain is linked with gut by extensive network of neurons and highway of hormones and chemicals which gives all kinds of feedback to gut such as our hunger cues, stress, losing focus, anxiety etc. For example, the feeling you get in your stomach before exams or when you face job suspension and there is feeling of uneasiness in your tummy shows how well your brain and gut are connected. The brain gut axis gives all the updates on the state of affairs at both the ends. And hence if you are feeling forgetful or losing focus, it could be due to poor diet which plays a major role in our brain health.”
A balanced diet and healthy lifestyle is important as well as certain foods with specific nutrients such as good fats, antioxidants etc. to support brain health. Mahima lists out foods that you need add to your diet for better cognitive function, memory and focus.
1. Omega 3 rich foods
Omega 3 includes essential fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are ‘essential’ because our body needs them but cannot manufacture so one must obtain them through diet. Omega-3 rich foods can sharpen your memory. Mahima suggests that you get your requirement of omega-3 fats from foods like fatty fish, algae and several high-fat plant foods such as walnuts, hemp seeds etc. “Remember, low levels of omega-3s may accelerate brain ageing and contribute to deficits in brain function,” she says.
2. Berry Fruits
Eating blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, mulberries and other berry fruits has beneficial effects on the brain as these berries contain flavonoid antioxidants. The antioxidants in berries include anthocyanin, caffeic acid, catechin, and quercetin that can help improving communication between brain cell and also form new connections, boosting learning and memory.
3. Whole Grains:
Whole grains, such as oats, barley, millet, buckwheat and quinoa are rich in many of the B vitamins that work to reduce inflammation of the brain, potentially preserving your memory. I always recommend adding variety of grains to the diet to get all kinds of micronutrients. Having them in the unprocessed form i.e. along with their outer layer or coats is important, that is why they are called ‘whole’ grains. Avoid ‘enriched’, ‘refined’ and look for’100% whole grain” on the label while buying it.
4. Green Leafy Vegetables:
Spinach, kale, cabbage, broccoli and other leafy green vegetables are rich in many nutrients that your brain loves. "Nutrients such as lutein, vitamin K, nitrate, folate, alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene, and kaempferol are particularly dense in leafy green vegetables," adds Mahima. These nutrients have positively and significantly been associated with cognitive health due to the neuroprotective actions.
5. Dark Chocolate:
Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are strong antioxidants. "A single dose of cocoa rich in flavanols (the main flavonoids found in cocoa and chocolate) increases blood flow to the brain thus increasing the working memory speed," says Mahim. Dark chocolate also contains natural stimulants like caffeine which helps to enhance focus, mood and concentration.