September 28, 2015

Brain Foods to Increase Alertness and Concentration

What you eat can have a strong effect on how you feel, how well you concentrate, and how strongly you experience test anxiety. Processed foods and foods that are high fat or simple carbohydrates can increase anxiety, reduce the effectiveness of your immune system, and decrease your overall well-being.

Unfortunately, this describes the diet of too many Americans. With a few changes, though, you can help your brain function at an optimal level by giving it the food it needs and you can adjust your food intake to increase your ability to concentrate on test day.

“Brain Foods” and How They Help

Experiments and scientific study have shown that numerous foods provide nutrients the brain needs to remain healthy. These foods provide micronutrients and chemicals, as well as specialized fats, used by the brain to produce receptors that help carry signals between individual brain cells. These micronutrients also help prevent cell damage and help reduce inflammation that can occur in individual cells due to environmental damage or aging.

Among the most effective of these foods are:

  • Whole grains and nuts, especially walnuts and almonds
  • Fish, particularly wild salmon
  • Berries, especially blueberries
  • Seeds such as pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

Making a few changes in your diet to incorporate more of these foods can nourish not only your brain, but also the rest of your body. These changes will also help you feel better overall so that you are less likely to suffer from test anxiety either before or during the test.

Foods That Increase Alertness

On the day of the test, certain dietary elements can help as well by increasing your ability to concentrate and stay alert. These include:

Coffee. Caffeine really does help you stay alert and focused, but do not drink too much or it starts to have the opposite effect and can trigger test anxiety. Coffee also has bioflavonoids, similar to those in red wine, that help fight aging.

Mint. During the test, mint candy or gum can actually help your concentration and ability to recall information. Cinnamon has a similar effect.

Pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds contain tryptophan, which the brain processes into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps reduce anxiety. If you need a snack during the test, it could be beneficial for you to try one of these tasty seeds to help quiet your stomach and quell your test anxiety.