Studying or working in an office can be hard. Sitting down and concentrating for hours at a time requires discipline and focus, as well as a degree of energy and enthusiasm. It also requires concentration and memory. Although no physical activity is involved, our brains will be working overtime, especially when researching, writing, emailing and answering the phone all at the same time!
To really succeed at work or study, you should give yourself the best chance of doing so. If you were training for a marathon, you’d be keeping an eye on your diet and hydration and ensuring you got enough sleep. For work and study, the same principles apply, with our brain and body needing the best possible fuel to make sure we can work effectively. So here we’ve found some great drinks to help to give your brainpower that much-needed boost!
Beets are a nutritional powerhouse—and so is their juice. It increases levels of nitric oxide, a blood gas that improves blood flow. How does that help your brain? Your brain needs good blood flow to function optimally. You can buy ready-made beetroot juice at health-food stores, although it’s much less expensive to make your own with fresh beetroot (include the root and greens, which are nutritious as well). Add some apple juice to thin the juice and enhance the natural sweetness of the beetroot.
Good news if you like chocolate! The flavanols in chocolate can help improve blood vessel function, which in turn improves cognitive function and memory. Dark chocolate also improves mood, can ease pain and is full of antioxidants, which are great for anti-ageing and help to prevent cancer.
One study of healthy volunteers showed that five days of consuming high-flavanol cocoa improved blood flow to the brain significantly.
Bananas are the ultimate fast food. If you’re in a hurry, make sure you grab a banana to eat on the go. Not only are they sweet, tasty, cheap and nutritious but they have also been shown to boost concentration. Bananas contain potassium, an essential mineral that plays a key part in keeping your brain, nerves, and heart in great working order. They are super easy to store, just keep some chopped banana in the freezer and blend with juice or milk for an instant power smoothie.
Acai, a South American fruit that reduces inflammation, is ranked near the top of brain-healthy foods because it dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow. The juice has a pleasant taste—something like a cross between raspberry and cocoa—but it’s very expensive. Try blending some everyday frozen berries that have been shown to boost brain health—raspberries, blueberries and strawberries, for example—along with a little acai juice to make an easy, delicious smoothie.
Spinach is known as brain food because it contains lutein, folate, and beta-carotene, which have been linked with preventing dementia and increasing brain function and concentration. Blending two cups of spinach with half a cup of cubed melon, half a cup of Greek yoghurt and a few tablespoons of water is an easy way to create an energising smoothie to keep you going. You can add some ice cubes if preferred, and sweetener.
Blueberries, also known as “brain berries”, are a great choice for creating a super smoothie. Blueberries are full of antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals and prevent them from damaging cells in both the body and brain. Blueberries also contain flavonoids that are capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier. They are said to be capable of improving learning and memory by enhancing communication among brain cells, and may even stimulate the growth of new brain cells.
Make sure you get all the essential nutrients by blending your own drink or smoothie. You can find some great blenders and juicers at Spotlight to help you prepare your brainpower boost. Keep your smoothie fresh by using an insulated flask too, so it is ready to hand when you need it during the day.