There’s a lot that goes into studying. You have to manage your time and your stress levels and most importantly, you need to be able to concentrate. The ability to concentrate for reasonable amounts of time depends on a number of things: you need to get enough sleep, you need to be motivated enough and, interestingly enough, you need to have the right diet. Having the right diet can greatly increase your concentration because of the nutrients it provides your brain. Better nutrients means more energy which means sustained concentration.
There are several kinds of foods that will be discussed in this article, based on scientific research on the nutrients they contain which enhances your concentration. Many of these nutrients are also available in a supplement form in case your diet is insufficient. Visit Consumer Advisors to see which supplements are the best for this sort of thing.
1. Protein-Rich Foods
Protein-rich foods contain the important amino acid tyrosine. Tyrosine is the amino acid used to make dopamine, noradrenaline and thyroid hormones. These compounds are used to send chemical messages throughout the brain and body. Noradrenaline and thyroid hormones are involved in body processes that increase alertness. Dopamine is also important for a healthy sleep cycle which further enhances concentration. Tyrosine also has an immeasurable amount of uses at a molecular level in different chemical processes. Tyrosine, on certain proteins, helps to activate other proteins to perform chemical functions. The series of activating proteins is involved in just about every life process which includes those involved in concentrating.
Food sources that are rich in tyrosine include lean meat such as chicken, turkey or fish; dairy such as yogurt, cheese, and milk, and even plants, for vegetarians or vegans, that include soy, avocados and bananas.
Tea contains another important but rare amino acid. Tea is the only known source of theanine. Theanine is structurally similar to another chemical messenger in the brain called glutamate. The effect of theanine is a reduction in glutamate. It also increases levels of serotonin, dopamine and other important amino acids in the brain. The overall result of all of this is that brain waves slow down just a little bit. Normally you would think that slowing down brain waves is not good for concentration but research has shown that content is best retained at an alpha brainwave level whereas the majority of people operate at a beta brain wave level (slightly faster brain waves).
3. Healthy Fats
Healthy fats include omega fatty acids like alpha-lipoic acid. Alpha lipoic acid is great for the brain because it reduces oxidative damage which occurs during high stress periods. It also helps to produce a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine which is also important for cognitive functioning. The deficiency in acetylcholine is known today as Alzheimer’s disease, so eating alpha lipoic acid can prevent a reduction in acetylcholine and protect you from Alzheimer’s disease.
Sources of alpha lipoic acid include spinach, broccoli, yams and potatoes. There is also a small amount of alpha lipoic acid in red meat.
4. Vitamin B Rich Foods
The B vitamins, especially vitamin B12 provide a variety of health benefits that could improve concentration. The most important function they have in the body is assisting cells to break down a compound called homocysteine. Scientist have linked the buildup of homocysteine to brain degeneration, which means that it harms the brain even in the short term. Homocysteine is often built-up from periods of mental stress and during lack of sleep, both of which usually accompanies high intensity studying.
Vitamin B is also helpful in producing more blood cells which can bring more oxygen to the brain which allows it to work more efficiently for longer. Sources of B vitamins include animal products like meats, eggs and milk and fortified cereals.
5. Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba is scientifically proven to improve memory. There are several studies still undergoing as to how it can do this but the current evidence suggests that it increases blood flow to the brain. Blood flow to the brain brings more oxygen and nutrients and this may help brain cells to form stronger connections which facilitate the retention of memory. Ginkgo biloba is available in its raw form and as a supplement.