Lacking concentration? Making a few food swaps can make a different to sharpen your cognitive function.



You need: Tyrosine, another potent alertness booster. Once tyrosine hits your brain, it increases other important alertness chemicals such as dopamine and noradrenalin (chemicals also known as catecholamines). Without enough of them, your mind will wander and jump between things like a flea, undermining productivity.

Eat: Protein. Protein contains tyrosine to boost your alertness and cognition. If you’re struggling to concentrate or think clearly, try protein without carbs to cultivate alertness without the sedation. Carbs can reduce the alertness-boosting benefits of tyrosine by donating sedative tryptophan.

» Small can of plain tuna
» Small tub of cottage cheese for a protein hit without carbs
» Blueberries: Colloquially called ‘brain berries’, blueberries can increase powers of concentration by up to 20 per cent, shows a University of Reading study.
» Yellow curry: Curry is high in curcumin, a potent antioxidant spice shown by many studies to help slow the process of brain ageing and protect against dementia.
» Black-eyed peas: The flavonoids help enhance blood flow in the brain while the high folate levels promote faster recall and information processing.
» Dark chocolate: A few squares – not the whole block. A small taste can make your mind sharper, shows research from the University of Nottingham.
» Rye toast: A good source of carbohydrates, which are crucial for producing the brain’s preferred fuel, glucose.
» Pears and apples (with the skin on): These contain quercetin, an antioxidant that appears to protect against Alzheimer’s disease, shows research from Cornell University.
» Sardines: and other oily fish can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 40 per cent according to French research.
» Coffee: Your daily latte or long black may do wonders to keep your brain in shape, shows a French study, which also found that women over 65 who drink three or more cups of coffee a day have better memory function. Don’t overdo it, though, as too much caffeine can also boost anxiety levels and compromise sleep.
» Spinach: Research at the University of Amsterdam has found that after eating this green leafy food (which boosts tyrosine), people reacted faster and with more accuracy to problem-solving tasks.
» Eggs: and beef and milk: These are all good protein sources of choline. Studies show that adults enjoy better memory function after eating choline-rich foods. So an omelette or scrambled eggs may be the best breakfast before a job interview or exam.

Whatever you do, don’t skimp on fats. “Your brain consists of 50 per cent fat,” says Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, a former neurologist who runs the Cambridge Nutrition Clinic in the UK. “Healthy fats and cholesterol create and protect the white blood cells and millions of other cells that repair the wall linings of blood vessels, which can help improve cognition and also protect against (or slow) brain ageing trajectories implicated in dementia and cognitive decline.” Fish is a rich source of omega-3.

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