Foods to Help You Stay Focused

January 7, 2019

Food is the fuel that regulates your energy and mood, both of which can greatly affect your focus. Improve your chances of maintaining a healthy brain by adding “smart” foods and drinks to your diet.

Caffeine Can Make You More Alert

Caffeine can’t boost IQ or make you smarter, but it can energize you and help you concentrate. Found in coffee, chocolate, and energy drinks, caffeine gives you that unmistakable wake-up buzz, though the effects are short-term.

  • Up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. That's roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee. 1
  • Caution! Too much caffeine can make you jittery and uncomfortable. It could also cause insomnia, irritability and rapid heartbeat.

Sugar Can Boost Short-Term Memory

Sugar is your brain's preferred fuel source--not table sugar, but glucose, which your body processes from the sugars and carbs you eat.

  • A glass of OJ or another fruit juice can offer a short-term boost to memory, thinking and mental ability. If you have too much, though, memory can be impaired.
  • Go easy on added sugar, as it has been linked to heart disease, diabetes and other conditions.

Eat Breakfast to Fuel Your Brain

Studies have found that eating breakfast may improve short-term memory and attention.

  • Foods at the top of the brain-fuel list: high-fiber whole grains, dairy and fruits.
  • Don’t eat too much! Researchers have also found that high-calorie breakfasts can hinder concentration.

Fish Really is Brain Food

A great protein source that is linked to improved brain function is fish.

  • Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are key for brain health.
  • A diet with higher levels of fatty acids has been linked to lower dementia and stroke risk, less depression and slower mental decline.
  • For better brain health, eat two servings of fish weekly. 2

Add a Daily Dose of Nuts and Chocolate

Nuts and dark chocolate contain many brain benefits, with a minimum of excess calories, fat, or sugar.

  • Nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E, which has been linked in some studies to less cognitive decline as you age.
  • Dark chocolate has powerful antioxidants and contains natural stimulants like caffeine.
  • Enjoy up to an ounce of nuts and seeds a day.3

Add Whole Grains and Avocados

A diet high in whole grains and fruits like avocados can reduce the risk of plaque buildup and enhance blood flow.

  • This can lower the risk of heart disease and lower bad cholesterol.
  • Whole grains like popcorn and whole wheat also contribute dietary fiber and vitamin E.

Blueberries Are Super Nutritious

Research shows that blueberries may help protect the brain from damage caused to your cells by free radicals.

  • This may reduce the effects of age-related conditions like Alzheimer's disease or dementia.
  • Diets rich in blueberries may also improve learning and muscle function.

QualChoice Can Help

For help with improving your diet or other well-being goals, call 501.228.7111 or 800.235.7111 and ask to speak to a QCARE Health Coach.*  

*Programs vary by group and benefit plan. Check with your health plan administrator to see if QCARE benefits are included with your plan.