How Diet Affects Concentration

How Diet Affects Concentration

Attention problems are reaching epidemic proportions in a society increasingly driven by distractions. One survey found that between 85% and 95% of students struggle to pay attention. Another found that 40% of adults have experienced a financial loss due to procrastination. If you struggle to pay attention, you're not alone. And while therapy, ADHD medication, lifestyle changes, and better time management can all play a role in attention challenges, your diet may also be a culprit. Eliminating sugar is one of many changes you can make in order to improve your focusing abilities, check out these 5 tips for better concentration. 

1. Cut Out the Stimulants

Stimulants such as caffeine may give you a quick burst of energy now. Over time, though, they can interfere with your ability to concentrate. When you get large quantities of caffeine and other stimulants, your body may decrease its production of neurotransmitters associated with motivation and attention. Cutting caffeine may mean going through a week or two of exhaustion, but when it's done, you'll feel energized and motivated.

2. Trim the Sugar

Sugar in the form of sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, and simple carbohydrates such as white rice and white flour is bad for your health and your brain. Blood sugar spikes can interfere with your short-term attention span. And in the long-term, excess sugar consumption can change the way your brain functions, alter your metabolism and cause you to produce fewer brain chemicals associated with attention and motivation.

3. Get Brain-Healthy Protein

Protein is a building block for healthy brains, so eating a high-protein diet may help you boost your concentration and reduce your tendency to procrastinate. Brain-healthy proteins include nuts, Omega-3 fatty acids, beans, and lean meats. Some evidence also suggests that protein may boost the efficacy of ADHD medications.

4. Curb the Crash Dieting

At any given moment, more than half of the population is trying to lose weight or build muscle with a new diet. There's nothing wrong with trying to eat healthier, but constant dietary changes take a toll on your body and mind. Rather than caving to pressure to conform to the latest fad diet, focus on getting the right nutrients each day. Sure, you might lose weight a little bit slower, but the constant blood sugar changes and metabolic challenges associated with fad diets can cripple your motivation and concentration.

5. Drink More Water

If you do only one thing to improve your health, drinking more water—eight to 10 glasses each day—should be it. Chronic dehydration can interfere with your ability to pay attention. Moreover, drinking more water may mean cutting out less healthy options, such as soda and caffeine. And, of course, when you drink water, you help your kidneys and liver flush out toxins, thereby more quickly ridding yourself of any ill-advised foods and drinks you've recently consumed.