Today’s life is busy, fast-paced, stressful, and overfilled with stimulus and content. We struggle to find a moment to breathe, let alone collect our thoughts and relax. Over time, these factors contribute to poor mental health and fitness, showing up as brain fog, lack of focus and concentration, fatigue, tiredness, anxiety, mood disorders, and overall feelings of burnout. [This article, “7 Great Superfoods for Increased Mental Clarity and Focus” was originally published in News7Health]
In chronic cases, certain extreme measures or medical interventions might be necessary, but there are plenty of things you can do for yourself to help mitigate these health-impairing symptoms. Starting with food, or more specifically, superfoods.
What are Superfoods?
The term “superfood” was coined in 1917 as a part of a food marketing strategy of the United Food Company to promote the nutritious characteristics of bananas during World War II. But the medical field soon endorsed the term, studying the health benefits of bananas and showcasing positive results in the treatment of celiac disease and diabetes. And so it stayed.
The term is now being overused in a plethora of ways, but the main driving point behind giving a certain food the label “superfood” has to do with its large nutritional value and extraordinary health benefits. Even though many superfoods of today are named so mainly for driving sales, there are still some fascinating and health-boosting fruits and vegetables that earn this title just with their impressive nutritional profile.
Mental Clarity and Focus
Important aspects of brain health and our overall wellbeing have to do with mental clarity and focus. We need mental clarity to be able to process information and think clearly, which in turn makes us focus and concentrate better on whichever task is being thrown at us. It’s important to fine tune your lifestyle habits and routines in that way that promotes mental clarity and focus instead of causing brain fog and fatigue.
Brain fog shows up as the inability to focus and think clearly, making you feel slow and less sharp. This can make even the most usual daily tasks seem harder to perform and require more effort to even concentrate on. It’s mostly caused by anxiety and stress, two main culprits of many health disorders. And then it’s like a vicious circle: the inability to focus on a task makes you more anxious, using your mental resources, which causes you to become even more fatigued and mentally exhausted.
That’s why finding ways to cope with stress and anxiety is crucial to support your mental health, optimize your brain function, and help you stay sharp and focused throughout your days. One of the best ways to do is through diet and specific micronutrients that can have an incredibly positive influence on your brain health. This is where superfoods come into play and deservingly earn their popular title.
This medicinal plant is probably one of the most popular brain enhancing superfoods in the world, with a large variety of brands using them in their products. It’s rich in myriad micronutrients such as potassium, vitamin C, iron, and various antioxidants. It’s therefore helping support your immune system function and its fight against free radicals and their oxidative damage.
Research shows ginseng’s amazing effect in memory improvement as well as preventing degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, its neuroprotective mechanisms can be extremely useful and beneficial in treating depression and anxiety.
Beets are delicious, sweet, versatile, and packed with a plethora of health-boosting nutrients. From folate and manganese to potassium and iron, beets are a true multivitamin you can add to any meal. They’re extremely easy to incorporate in even your most basic meals and you can find them already pre-cooked and peeled, ready for consumption.
They are considered to be one of the best foods for improving your blood flow, lowering blood pressure, increasing exercise endurance, and improving cognitive performance. The brain-boosting benefits come from their ability to increase the level of nitrates. Nitrates are linked to improved cognition as well as increased blood flow to the brain, replenishing it with oxygen and important nutrients. They are also known to stimulate the area of your brain that’s responsible for memory and multitasking.
Beets are also a source of betalains, important micronutrients that have been studied for their effect on the level of osmolytes in the hippocampus. A 2017 study published in Neurochemical Research showed that intaking dietary betalains has a strong effect on the level of osmolytes in the hippocampus, especially during stress, which helps promote neuroprotection. This is why dietary supplement companies like Voke Energy have beetroot as one of their main ingredients.
Cacao Theobroma is known as one of the world’s greatest discoveries because it brought us chocolate. But it also managed to bring a bunch of amazing health benefits with it as well. It’s one of the highest antioxidant foods in the world, helping reduce inflammation, fight free radicals, treat diabetes, and promote healthy blood sugar levels.
When it comes to brain health, cacao improves it through four different mediums:
- An antioxidant phytonutrient known as a flavanol which helps improve blood flow to the brain.
- Active stimulant theobromine which increases mental clarity and sharpens focus, improving memory and learning.
- Improves mental relaxation through its vasodilatory characteristic.
- Has a positive impact on your mood through unique chemicals such as phenethylamine that’s known as a “love chemical,” and anandamide known as a “bliss chemical.”
Medicinal mushrooms have many positive effects on the human body, but lion’s mane has a special molecular composition that improves brain health and cognition. It’s especially effective in reducing inflammation and plaques that cause Alzheimer’s disease, making a strong case for its use in the treatment of this serious disease.
Lion’s mane is also linked to improving memory and learning as well as increasing the release of the nerve growth factor, a very important protein with a role of increasing the length of nerve cell processes. Unlike other medicinal mushrooms, lion’s mane can be eaten raw or grilled and its meaty texture and flavorful profile make it easy to include it in your diet on a regular basis.
Turmeric is one of the most popular spices in Indian cuisine and it’s also widely known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Its main active ingredient curcumin is responsible for reducing inflammation, relieving pain, protecting against heart disease, improving memory, and even potentially helping treat Alzheimer’s disease. Although more research is needed in this field, its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics alone are already doing a lot for optimal brain health, mental clarity and focus.
Widely recognized as a naturally-caffeinated stimulant, guarana is a powerful plant that helps boost your energy levels, promote weight loss, and helps improve memory, focus, and cognitive performance. That’s why its often used in energy drinks and products like Voke Energy’s superfood chewables that help reduce brain fog and push you through your daily tasks.
Maca powder became popular in recent years for its amazing effect on sexual health and hormones, especially in postmenopausal women. This Peruvian superfood has been known as a powerful remedy for thousands of years, but its beneficial effects haven’t been researched as much. Now, we know about its amazing abilities, not just for sexual health but also brain health.
Maca powder seems to be beneficial in improving mitochondrial function and upregulating proteins that are responsible for regulating cell autophagy. That’s why it’s considered to be an effective functional food for reducing cognitive decline that comes with aging. Additionally, maca has a positive effect on your mood and energy levels, helping treat depression and anxiety.
Mental clarity and focus are crucial for your overall health and longevity and they are areas we should all strive to improve as we age. Nobody can age backwards, but changing lifestyle habits to promote optimal function of all body systems is the best tool to prevent diseases, reduce inflammation, and fight free radicals from causing irreparable damage.
Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food, Harvard Health
Important Note: The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed as health or medical advice, nor is it intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease or health condition. Before embarking on any diet or program of nutritional supplementation, it is advisable to consult your healthcare professional in order to determine its safety and probable efficacy in terms of your individual state of health.