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Foods for Focus From a Neuroscientist and a Dietitian

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E.Everyone knows The Wall. It can meet you at 2pm just after you finish lunch. Or maybe it doesn’t creep in until around 4 p.m. when the work day is almost done. The wall is the barrier between motivation and productivity. You want to do shit but you can’t focus on anything longer than the length of a TikTok video and you just feel tired.

Even neuroscientists who are well versed in how the brain works are not immune to this midday low. The difference is they know how to hack it. The same goes for registered dietitians; they know which foods drive the brain and vice versa, who may wish that the afternoon nap does not end in kindergarten.

Do you know what can help you overcome the wall? Snacks. (Finally a solution we can all really stand behind.) Of course, * what * you eat is important. If you want to replenish your snack supply like a neuroscientist and RD – two people who know how to get through a day of work better than most – read on. They are about to reveal all of their recommendations.

Nutrients related to concentration and productivity

When it comes to eating for focus and productivity, the neuroscientist, author of Cleaning Up The Mental Mess and founder of the NeuroCycle app, Caroline Leaf, PhD, says it’s emotional, physical, and metacognitive. “Your mind empowers and powers the entire digestive process,” she says. “This is why I put a lot of emphasis on the ‘mentality behind the meal’ – our state of mind itself can be a ‘nutrient’) you are, and sometimes you need a mind change. Read: If You Need A Break, Take A Break.

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But dr. Leaf says there are some foods that can help with this mindset change. One that she particularly likes is the functional adaptogenic mushroom known as lion’s mane. “Some studies have shown that Lion’s Mane can help with focus, mood regulation, and memory building,” she explains.

If you’re not familiar with lion’s mane, you probably know something else that Dr. Leaf used to encourage this shift in thinking: caffeine. “Caffeine has been linked to helping alertness and focus,” she says, adding that people who are sensitive to caffeine should only take it in the morning or early afternoon as it can disrupt their sleep.

In terms of nutrients, according to Dr. Leaf on complex carbohydrates like whole grains, sweet potatoes, beans and yogurt. “These foods are linked to help with brain fog and distraction,” she says. Nutrition expert Maya Feller, RD, says that in addition to complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats are two other nutrients that have been linked to brain fog support and focus.

Keeping these nutritional guidelines in mind will lay the foundation for the foods you should be focusing on. Below, Feller and Dr. Leaf your favorites.

8 foods for focus and productivity that will help you get through the day:

1. Eggs

There’s a reason some dieters refer to eggs as nature’s multivitamin; they are a gold mine of nutrients. Feller says she loves eggs because they contain protein and healthy fats, as well as another nutrient called choline. “Eggs are one of the richest sources of choline in food. Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that has widespread cognitive functions such as mood, memory, learning, and attention, ”she says.

Check out the video below to learn more about the health benefits of eggs:

2. Avocado

Pairing your eggs with avocado will take your food-for-focus snack to the next level. “Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats, which help support nerve cells and aid transmission between neurons,” says Feller. If you’re vegan, make yourself avocado toast and pair the fruit with a slice of whole wheat bread. This will give you the complex carbohydrates that Dr. Leaf pointed out that they are so good for productivity.

3. Dark chocolate

If you’re in the mood for something sweet, Dr. Leaf to reach for dark chocolate. “[Studies show] It can help regulate mood by supporting healthy hormone levels, ”she says. It’s also full of antioxidants that are good for blood circulation – and blood circulation is critical to brain health, including focus.

4. Adaptogenic coffee

Do you remember how Dr. Leaf said she used both lion’s mane and caffeine to improve her mood and focus? Fortunately, it’s a duo that shows up in more places, like these Taika black coffees ($ 59 for 12) and Earth & Star Lattes ($ 6 each).

5. Yogurt with granola

Dr. Leaf loves this two-ingredient snack because both yogurt and granola are great sources of complex carbohydrates. Pro-brain tip: resort to Greek yogurt or skyr for the maximum amount of protein.

6. Nuts

“All nuts and seeds are nutrient-dense and good sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids,” says Feller, adding that they also contain melatonin and polyphenols – two other nutrients linked to focus and productivity. Can’t decide which type of nut to choose? She says reaching for walnuts. “They’re high in tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin that has been linked to reduced risk of depression and anxiety, and improved memory,” she says.

7. Salmon with vegetables

If you’re trying to figure out which lunch can help you get through the day, Feller recommends salmon with cruciferous vegetables or leafy greens. The salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which she calls the ultimate brain food. “Omega-3s are located in the cell membrane of brain cells and are needed for proper communication between brain cells,” she says. Feller adds that cruciferous vegetables are high in phytochemicals and antioxidants like lutein, zeaxanthin, glucosinolates, and sulforaphane, all of which have been shown to help reduce inflammation in the brain. And the leafy vegetables? She says they can help focus because they’re high in micronutrients – specifically potassium, vitamin K, and the carotenoid lutein, all of which have been shown to improve alertness and cognitive function.

8. Turmeric

Whether the food you take off this list is eggs, avocado, salmon, or any of the others, Feller says you can increase its brain-supporting benefits by adding turmeric. “The curcumin in turmeric has been shown to increase BDNF levels,” she explains. “BDNF is a neurotransmitter that is important for cognitive performance, learning, and memory.” Add flavor and benefits for the brain? Well, that’s a big win for snacking.

To learn more about the health benefits of turmeric, watch the video below:

As you can see, there are plenty of foods that can work in your favor to give you the focus and productivity you need to get through your day – whether you crave something savory or sweet. Sure, a snack isn’t always the solution to a lunch problem. But isn’t it nice to know that it can be one? As in kindergarten, sometimes just a snack is enough to feel better. (Okay, and maybe a good nap too.)

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Whole Grains Health

MOV Parent: Time for the lunch bell | News, Sports, Jobs

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The summer months are coming to an end and school is getting closer and closer. When you go back to school it can be difficult to start or continue a healthy lifestyle. It’s easy to choose unhealthy lunch and snack ideas. However, I want to share with you the importance of packing a healthy lunch and preparing a healthy snack when your kids go back to school.

1. Eating a healthy diet can improve your health today and for years to come. Think about how your food choices will be made up throughout the day or week to help you create a healthy eating routine.

2. It is important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, as well as dairy and fortified soy alternatives. Choose options for meals, drinks, and snacks with limited added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium.

Some of the negative effects that unhealthy school lunches have on children are mental and physical problems. Eating the wrong diet can lead to obesity or other weight problems. A child with poor diet is more likely to develop diabetes, kidney stones, and heart disease. Without proper nutrition, a child’s academic performance will decline. Sleep behavior is also affected when children do not eat enough nutritious foods. These children may also exhibit more aggressive behavior and lower attention spans.

When I was in school I packed my own lunch. Most of the time I just tossed everything I could find into a bag and called it lunch. I would wrap anything from cookies to leftover pizza. It wasn’t until I got a little older that I understood why I should choose healthier options. I decided to work on a healthier lifestyle and now cucumber and melon are my favorite food when I wrap lunch.

Becoming more aware of what to give your child for lunch, what your child is packing for lunch, and what groceries you bring around the house can help them feel better, be better, and be healthier.

As a parent, you can help your child choose healthier options by:

1. Regular family meals

2. Serving a wide variety of healthy foods and snacks

3. Be a role model by eating healthily yourself

4. Avoid fighting over food

5. Include children in the process

Figuring out the best lunch options for your child can be difficult. You could try some of these options:

* Turkey + cheddar roll-up, fresh berries, yogurt and trail mix

* Cheese quesadilla, guacamole, salsa, tortilla chips and strawberries

* Peanut butter and jelly sandwich, graham crackers, cheese spread and a peach cup

* Turkey slices, cheese cubes, pita wedges, hummus, baby carrots and celery

To make lunch more attractive to your child, try different foods. Some ideas include:

* Make potato salad or pasta salad multi-colored. Use fun noodles or add hard boiled eggs, beans, peas or small cubes of meat for extra protein.

* Cut raw vegetables like carrots, celery, green peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and cucumbers. Send them with a small container of low-fat dip.

* Add a piece of fruit for dessert, washed and ready to eat, or a packet of fruit salad.

* Try reduced-fat cheese cubes or cheese spreads with whole grain crackers.

* Few children can resist yogurt, a good source of protein and calcium that is now available in many different flavors and shapes.

* Choose healthy snacks. Pack pretzels, popcorn, rice cakes, whole grain crackers, dried flakes, or trail mix.

After a long day at school, your children will be hungry. Having healthy snacks for your children after school is important. You can have a snack ready and waiting for them or allow them to choose from the healthy options you have around the house.

The American Heart Association has a list of healthy snack options divided into categories based on cravings. Some of these snacks are:

* Apples and pears

* Bell pepper slices

* Popcorn

* Nuts and seeds

* Carrots and celery sticks

Make sure you find the right ones that suit your family’s needs.

While I was in grades 3-12, I got involved in post-school sports. It was important to have a healthy snack before training and games. The snacks I always chose were apples and peanut butter or bananas and peanut butter.

I also enjoyed applesauce. My parents bought the sugar-free version and I added cinnamon. These were simple and healthy snacks that I could grab on my own.

“There is nothing unhealthy about educating young people about nutrition.” – Pierre Dukan

***

Megan Zwick is a program assistant in Family and Consumer Sciences at Ohio State University Extension, Washington County. She can be reached at zwick.54@osu.edu.

***

resources

* Stadler, M. (2018, August). Back to School Kids Lunch Ideas. (2018, August 14).

* Hopkins, A. (2019 August 15). 15 Healthy After School Snacks Your Kids Will Actually Eat

* What is MyPlate?

* Dukan, P. (n.d.). Healthy eating quote. 34 Best Quotes About Healthy Eating For You And Your Children.

* Schuna, C. (no year). The Effects of Children Eating Unhealthy School Lunches. LIVESTRONG.COM.

* Ben-Joseph, EP (Ed.). (2018, June). Healthy nutrition (for parents) – nemours kidshealth. Children’s health.

* School lunches. Harvard Health. (2015, July 16).

* Healthy snacking. www.herz.org. (nd).

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7 Ways to Improve Your Gut Health

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When your stomach is fine, you never think about it – but when you don’t, it’s hard to think about anything else. The group of microorganisms that live in and make up your gastrointestinal tract play a role in almost every aspect of your health, from preventing chronic disease to maintaining your immune system. So it’s no wonder that you feel lousy when things get out of hand.

But what exactly is your gut feeling? And is it possible to improve your gut health? Here is everything you need to know.

What is the intestine?

The human intestine is much more complex than even experts once realized – it comprises a multitude of internal organs that are involved in the digestive process to absorb nutrients from food and excrete waste, explains Rushabh Modi, MD, a certified physician in both internal medicine and Gastroenterology and Hepatology and Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. “Typically, this refers to the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon, with the pancreas and liver being crucial as supporting organs that help make digestive enzymes,” he says.

How your gut keeps your body healthy

In addition to absorbing and transporting nutrients to all tissues in the body, the intestine is critical to maintaining fluid and salt levels and eliminating waste, explains Dr. Modes. “Many vital nutrients and vitamins such as B12 and iron have special transporters that only exist in the intestine,” he adds. Iron, for example, needs stomach acid to be absorbed effectively – and B12 also needs certain receptors in the stomach and middle intestines to be absorbed. “These nutrients are difficult to obtain in any other way and they are essential for normal physiological function,” adds Dr. Modes added.

The gut is also one of the body’s most important disease control systems. “The acid in the stomach kills the bacteria and viruses that can inadvertently be ingested through food, and the digestive tract is an important way of introducing antigens to boost immune function and protection in the body,” says Christine Lee, MD . Gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic. “The digestive tract also digests the foods ingested and extracts the essential nutrients that the body can absorb for vital use.”

New research has even uncovered a link between poor gut health and several neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, autism, and depression. One such study from the Université de Genève found that people with Alzheimer’s have different types of bacteria in their gut than those who do not have the disease.

8 signs your gut is suffering

If your gut is unhealthy, you are likely to have one or more of the following symptoms, even if it’s mild or rare:

  1. gas
  2. Flatulence
  3. Acid reflux
  4. heartburn
  5. diarrhea
  6. constipation
  7. Changes in stool
  8. Inexplicable weight loss
    1. “Since food digestion and waste production are the two most important functions of the intestine, if there are problems in these areas, the intestine can often be the cause of the problem,” explains Dr. Modes. Acid reflux and heartburn have also been linked to the gut, although you may feel the pain further from the core of the problem. Flatulence is also becoming more common, so Dr. Modi notes that patients view them as almost a normal reaction to eating certain foods.

      If you experience unexplained weight loss despite eating regular meals, it may indicate that your body is unable to digest or absorb the nutrients in the foods you eat and that there is a problem in your digestive system, according to Dr. Lee.

      How to improve your gut health

      The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to support your gut health. Here are some of the strategies doctors recommend.

      Eat a wide variety of healthy foods

      A diet made up of several different food types can result in a more diverse microbiome made up of more types, according to a report published in the journal Molecular Metabolism. This, explains Dr. Lee, strengthens our microbiome and increases its resilience.

      The best foods for gut health are fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, especially those with the highest fiber content that help your digestive tract function properly. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, women should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day and men 38 grams per day.

      And cut down on unhealthy foods. “The more fat, fat, and salt you eat, the worse your gut health gets,” said Scott David Lippe, MD, chief of gastroenterology at Bergen Regional Medical Center in Paramus, NJ and assistant professor of medicine at Rutgers Medical School. This is especially important to keep in mind at dinner, as restaurants tend to consume salt, fat, and fat because they taste good.

      Try to leave out dairy products

      If you experience gas, gas, or loose bowel movements after drinking milk or eating cheese, you may be lactose intolerant. “This affects many adults, especially those who have no Northern European ancestry,” says Dr. Lip. “A quick and easy test is to drink a glass of regular milk – if you feel unwell, you are lactose intolerant.” If you are not ready to give up dairy products, you can also try taking lactose tablets before consuming dairy foods take.

      Consider a probiotic

      These tiny little microorganisms aid your metabolism and help rebalance your microbiota, says Douglas A. Drossman, MD, gastroenterologist and Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Psychiatry, UNC Division of Gastroenterology at the UNC School of Medicine. He recommends taking them when you have symptoms of an unhealthy bowel; however, there can be no other benefit. In fact, there isn’t a lot of research to prove the benefits of probiotics for the gut.

      For example, a review published in Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology found that probiotics positively affect the gut microbiota of people with certain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes, but do little to improve the gut microbiota of healthy people. “If you are taking antibiotics or have diarrhea, taking probiotics can be very helpful,” adds Dr. Lip. However, he recommends trying to get your fair share of probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi first.

      Include more prebiotics in your diet

      “Prebiotics are not bacteria, they are foods that good bacteria like to eat,” explains Dr. Milstein. “We have to feed the good bacteria and starve the bad bacteria.” He recommends eating foods rich in bacteria such as walnuts, berries, bananas, flax seeds, legumes, artichokes, onions, garlic, chicory, dandelion greens, asparagus, leeks and whole grain products. “The diet is personalized, but putting some fruits and vegetables and fiber on our plate with every meal helps keep gut and brain health,” adds Dr. Milstein added.

      Monitor your vitamin D levels

      Recent research in Nature Communications has examined the relationship between gut bacteria and vitamin D levels and found that deficiency in the nutrient plays a key role in increasing the risk of certain diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer, plays. Any form of disruption of the GI barrier, according to Dr. Drossman commonly referred to as “leaky gut,” which can increase a person’s risk of developing infectious, inflammatory, and functional GI diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. “Most people with leaky gut have very low levels of vitamin D and very low levels of the two most important omega-3 fatty acids – EPA and DHA,” he says. He recommends that most people consume at least 5,000 IU (125 µg) of vitamin D3 daily and consume sufficient fish oil (or the vegan equivalent) of 1,000 mg DHA per day. Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.

      Manage your stress level

      Stress not only puts a strain on your mental health, but also on your physical well-being. Chronic high stress can, according to Dr. Drossman directly affect your gut health. While removing stressors from your life isn’t always possible, stress management strategies like diaphragmatic breathing, meditation, or yoga can help, says Dr. Drossman. “It’s also a smart idea to see a psychologist to see if brain and gut therapies (cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, mindfulness) can be used,” he adds.

      Get a good night’s sleep every night

      When you don’t get enough sleep, your whole body is affected, including your intestines. In fact, new research shows how closely your gut microbiome and the quality of your sleep really are. A study by Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida found that poor sleep, for reasons as yet unknown, can negatively affect your gut microbiome, which can then manifest itself in a variety of other health problems, including autoimmune diseases and mental illnesses. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.


      Jenn Sinrich is a veteran writer, digital and social editor, and content strategist specializing in health, fitness, beauty, and relationships.

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    YOUR HEALTH: When heart health is a matter of race

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    PITTSBURGH – Up to 1 in 500 American adults have cardiomyopathy.

    Their hearts have enlarged, thickened, or stiffened, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood around the body.

    Now, new research examines racial differences in the outcomes of these heart patients.

    “If we don’t give patients good medicines and the like over time, they will develop into what is known as clinical heart failure, where they develop symptoms of shortness of breath and leg swelling,” said Dr. Shazli Khan. Internal Medicine Physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

    People with cardiomyopathy may not have any symptoms at all, or their symptoms may be very mild to begin with.

    Dr. Khan examines racial differences in cardiomyopathy outcomes.

    She and her colleagues looked at data from 18,000 patients over a period of six years.

    “What we actually found was that black patients in our cohort had a much higher prevalence of many chronic diseases,” said Dr. Khan.

    “So more chronic kidney disease, higher blood pressure, higher diabetes rates.”

    If black patients are on optimized heart failure therapy and continue to have symptoms, they can get additional benefit from taking hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate, known under the brand name BiDil.

    Previous research suggested that black patients had a much higher prevalence of chronic illnesses, including chronic kidney disease, higher blood pressure, and higher rates of diabetes.

    “In fact, they died more than the white cardiomyopathy patients,” said Dr. Khan.

    Researchers found that black patients diagnosed with cardiomyopathy were 15% more likely to die than white patients.

    Dr. Khan says the study results suggest that providers should emphasize earlier interventions.

    “That they come in to fill their medication, make appointments, give them resources, and educate them about the long-term effects of certain medical conditions.”

    Patients are advised to focus on eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins like chicken or fish.

    Also, focus on maintaining a healthy weight by balancing caloric intake with physical activity to reduce the risk of heart disease.

    Doctors will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your personal and family medical history.

    You will also be asked when your symptoms are occurring, such as whether exercise is causing your symptoms.

    If your doctor thinks you have cardiomyopathy, several tests may be done to help confirm the diagnosis, including an X-ray test to see if your heart is enlarged.

    Several blood tests may be done, including those to check your kidney, thyroid, and liver function, and to measure your iron levels, and a treadmill test to see your heart rhythm, blood pressure, and breathing while you run on a treadmill.

    Your doctor may recommend this test to evaluate symptoms, determine your physical fitness, and see if exercise is causing an abnormal heart rhythm.

    If this story affects your life or has caused you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.

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