There are many things you can do to improve your general health and overall productivity. One of the simplest and most overlooked being changing the way that you eat. In this day and age, time and money cause many people to opt for fast and cheap meals, that often have few nutritional benefits. We forget that though the brain is only 2% of our body mass, it consumes about 20% of the energy from our daily diet.
“Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain,” Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, a UCLA professor of neurosurgery and physiological science, told Business Insider.
“Diet, exercise and sleep have the potential to alter our brain health and mental function. This raises the exciting possibility that changes in diet are a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities, protecting the brain from damage and counteracting the effects of aging.”
But the analogy that “food is fuel” is pertinent, it is not entirely correct. As Ron Friedman for the Harvard Business Review points out, with fuel for your car you can expect reliably the same output no matter what kind of unleaded gas you choose to use. But fuel for the human body is different. 500 grams of beef and 500 grams of carrots are not alike and whether you eat it raw or cooked further changes the energy your body can break down from the food.
But what does this mean for our focus? Nearly everything we eat is converted by our body into glucose by our bodies to feed our brain function. Without glucose, the brain has difficulty staying alert causing attention to drift.
But as we said before – no two foods are alike. Our bodies tend to process different things at different rates, impacting the speed at which glucose is delivered to the brain. Food like pasta, bread, cereal and high-sugar drinks, release their glucose quickly, leading to a fast increase in energy levels. This burst is inevitably followed by a slump, as the energy is not sustained. Meals which are high in fats tend to offer more sustained energy, but are difficult for the body to breakdown. Our digestive system works harder, which reduces oxygen to the brain. Though energy is theoretically more sustained – we feel groggy.
Knowing this, eating right can be more complex than we think. Especially to stay focused at work. Thankfully there is a wealth of research growing to help you eat for a more focused day. The Entrepreneurs and Business Owners Community made this infographic that explains the way certain foods can fuel your productivity and we think it’s great. Take a look below…