All too often, people rush through the morning and try to save time by skipping breakfast.
Dr. Tara Swart, a neuroscientist, wrote in Fast Company that instead, people should carefully plan their meals to ensure that they’re getting the nutrients that improve concentration, reduce stress and promote good decision-making throughout the day.
The food we eat fuels our brains, which use up to 30% of the energy gained from what we consume. When you haven’t properly nourished your brain with food and water, it reverts to “survival mode,” Swart writes. “It draws blood away from the rational cortex toward the part of the brain that controls basic functions you depend on to get through the day,” such as commuting or getting dressed.
So while you might feel OK completing your routine tasks, things like problem solving and regulating emotions will be more difficult after skipping a meal or eating food with little nutritional value.
Swart shared some tips for getting your brain what it needs to function at its best with Fast Company:
Often, we only drink water when we feel thirsty. In reality, however, we need to consume about 500 mL of water per 30 pounds of body weight to maintain the hydration that prevents us from harming our focus, memory and decision-making, Swart writes. Research shows that even 1% dehydration can negatively affect brain performance.
Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12 and protein can help prevent mental decline and contribute to brain-cell growth, Swart writes in Fast Company. These beneficial ingredients can be found in fish like salmon and mackerel.
Magnesium helps reduce release of cortisol, a stress hormone, and also regulates body processes such as blood pressure and sugar levels. Eating magnesium-rich foods such as leafy greens, grains and beans, among other things, can help restore magnesium stores that are integral to healthy body processes.
Read more tips to get your brain working at its best here.