04 May 2022 Article

Concentration and food, is there a link? Yes, there is!

Everyone experiences a lack of concentration from time to time. It is not fun. Especially if you have to perform. In this article I give you simple tips that might improve your concentration. Some of the tips will have an immediate effect. The others will generally improve your eating habits and indirectly improve your concentration abilities.

First and foremost: stay hydrated

Dehydration can lead to loss of concentration. Drink at least a glass of liquid (water, tea) every two hours. If you don’t have this habit (yet), install a reminder on your smartphone or put a large (1.5 l) bottle of water on your table and make sure to drink it by the end of the day.

Make sure your blood glucose is stable

The level of glucose in our blood is directly related to our consumption of carbohydrates. So-called “fast” carbohydrates release glucose quickly into the bloodstream. This gives us a burst of energy, so to speak, and we become focused for a while. However, after a short time, our blood sugar level dramatically drops again. “Slow” carbohydrates cause a slower release of glucose into the blood and therefore our blood sugar level remains stable. “Fast” carbohydrates are found in table sugar and all foods containing it, white flour products (bread, pasta, cookies, cakes), soda drinks and fruit juices. It is recommended to avoid these products. If you really want to eat a cookie, it is better to eat it after a meal. In that case, the release of sugar into the blood will be delayed. “Slow” carbohydrates are found in foods rich in dietary fiber: whole grains, beans, lentils, peas, vegetables, nuts, seeds.

The release of glucose into the blood after eating fresh fruit occurs quite quickly but not as quickly as after consuming table sugar. This is because fresh fruit contains fiber.

Do not starve

Do not take long pauses between meals (> 5 hours). Long pauses make glucose levels drop (see above).

Eat plenty of legumes and whole grains

Whole grains and legumes should be present in your diet on a daily basis, especially if you are a vegetarian. These foods are particularly rich in B vitamins (except B12). The B vitamins work closely together in our bodies. Most metabolic reactions in the human body happen with the help of B vitamins. Vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin) and B5 (pantothenic acid) are jointly responsible for the course of an optimal energy metabolism. The lack of one or more of these vitamins can lead to (chronic) fatigue and not being able to concentrate. People who avoid important food categories such as grains (or gluten) and legumes (beans, lentils, peas) are at risk of a deficiency in B vitamins.

Drink a cup of coffee in the morning

Scientific evidence shows that coffee temporarily improves concentration and memory. But the more coffee you drink, the less effect it has. Try not to exceed the limit of 4 cups of coffee per day. If you are sensitive to coffee and cannot sleep well, only drink it during the first half of the day.

Tea can also be helpful

For people who are very sensitive to caffeine, a coffee might be too much, while a cup of tea would be just right. Both black and green tea contain caffeine and can temporarily increase your focus and concentration.

Treat yourself to a piece of dark chocolate

Dark chocolate seems to improve cognitive performance, but the available research has not gathered enough evidence for a concrete health claim on cognition yet. However, many people swear that they get a “boost of mental energy” after consuming chocolate. Which chocolate works best? When it comes to health benefits, the principle behind choosing chocolate is simple: the higher the percentage of cocoa, the better. That is, the more cocoa, the less sugar. Healthy chocolate is one that contains at least 70% cocoa mass.

A bonus (no-diet) tip: Keep moving

Movement is important! If you have a sedentary job (like most of us), make it a rule to pause every 50 minutes and do some light stretching or go for a short walk. You will be amazed at how much better you will feel!