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Food is the vital fuel for keeping our brains focused. Eat little and often, avoiding processed and sugary foods that give you a blood sugar spike followed by a brain-draining slump. Choose foods that release energy slowly, such as wholegrains.
B vitamins (particularly B6, B9 and B12), found in wholegrains, chicken, pork, shellfish, eggs, bananas, lentils, nuts and leafy green vegetables, are also essential for brain function as are vitamin D and a cognitive-boosting nutrient called choline (found in high amounts in eggs).
Omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish and flaxseed contain EPA and DHA fatty acids which are found in high concentrations in the brain.
A study from the University of Barcelona found being as little as two per cent dehydrated (which probably won't even make you thirsty) can impact on concentration. Aim to drink around a litre of water/fluids daily, but remember this can also include foods with a high-water content including melon, cucumber and celery.
We all know how much easier it is to be firing on all cylinders after a great night's sleep and equally how sleep deprivation can devastate our ability to think clearly and focus. Getting enough sleep (ideally between seven and nine hours) - particularly the rapid eye movement (REM) phase - not only keeps you alert but also enables your brain to store new information. Dipping below six hours a night eats into this slow-wave, mind-improving slumber, making it harder to focus when you're awake.
Your brain benefits from exercise as much as your body. Just an hour outside in nature can increase attention span by an impressive 20 per cent. A walk or run outdoors can also help you deal with the distraction of stressful emotions (such as worrying about work or a relationship) that can sabotage concentration.
Researchers from the Universities of Aberdeen and Leeds also found children who took part in reasonably intensive exercise performed significantly better in concentration tests than ones who hadn't exercised.
Supplements may help improve concentration. Try:
Jo Waters is a health writer who has contributed to a variety of newspapers and magazines including the Daily Mail, Mirror, Nurture Magazine and the Express.
See more of Jo Waters' work.
Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible, supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.