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May 29, 2009 at 9:48 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Fight "Afternoon Lull" With a Focus Boost Lunch!

By Smarty More Blogs by This Author

Unfortunately, there's no single food that will instantaneously sharpen your focus or improve your concentration. However, some easy changes to your overall diet can work wonders to sustain energy levels for longer periods of time. Preventing energy highs and lows can increase levels of focus and concentration.

Energy Equals Focus

We often turn to coffee, energy drinks, or soda when we feel that afternoon lull hit. However, since that lull usually occurs between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., suggesting it is likely due to the digestion of lunch, a proactive approach, and better, more nutrient-rich lunch seems the smarter solution. Fast food, pasta, pizza, and any other high fat or processed foods force your body to worker harder digesting, and consequently, there is less blood flow available left for your brain.

In contrast, a healthier lunch that is lower in fat and higher in complex carbohydrates, fresh fruits, and vegetables will help you maintain relatively consistent energy levels. Foods low in sugar and higher in complex carbohydrates take longer to be processed by the body, thereby avoiding the rapid boost and drop effect we get from highly processed foods. No afternoon lull! Snacking throughout the day on these healthy foods naturally promotes focus and energy.

Feed Your Brain

Omega 3: When it comes to brain function, some foods are better than others. Science has shown that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other good fats can boost brain function by keeping blood vessels elastic and preventing plaque build-up. Good sources of omega 3 include fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and anchovies, and healthy vegetarian fats such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil.

Antioxidants: Antioxidants are also great for all parts of the body because they clear out harmful free radicals and promote optimal circulation. You can get antioxidants from many different sources: fresh fruits and veggies, real fruit juices like pomegranate or cherry, and whole grains.

Iron: Increasing your iron intake (as iron deficiencies are common) can also help prevent a drop in cognitive function. Green, leafy vegetables, lean beef, and supplements are a good way to go.

Whole Grains: Whole grains are rich in antioxidants, fiber, protein, and good fats. Skip the white bread and opt for one that includes "whole grain" as the first ingredient. Since whole grains are digested slowly, they won't cause a sugar rush or drop.

Water: Drinking water keeps your blood oxygenated and prevents dehydration, which causes fatigue and impairs concentration.

Avoid After Lunch Lull

Do your best to avoid most processed foods, excess sugar, caffeine, fat, and calories. Instead:

DIY Lunch: Want a healthy lunch? Best prepare it in advance. If you already have a lunch, you'll avoid the easy route of fast food or take out, which usually involve excess calories, huge portions, and too much money. Pack a lunch at home based on the above information for maximum benefits.

Choose Wisely: If you must get take out, try for a chef salad and a whole wheat roll, or a sandwich on wheat bread. Soup can be good if it's mainly vegetables; avoid cream based soups. When ordering take-out, try to get a source of lean protein (chicken, low fat cheese, beans, and nuts), complex carbohydrates (whole grain breads or crackers) and at least two to three servings of fresh vegetables and fruits. Protein and carbs fill you up while the fresh produce keeps you energized.

Get Moving: Simple lifestyle changes can help you maintain focus as well. Take a quick walk after lunch if you can, or just climb a flight of stairs for an energy boost.

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Have a healthy lunch or mid-day snack suggestion? We'd love to hear it!

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Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/foods-for-better-concentration

http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/brain-foods-your-kids-need

http://www.eatingwell.com/news_views/nutrition_news/smarter_foods.html

http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-foods-eat-brain-power

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