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April 13, 2017

How to Support Your Brain for Optimal Focus and Attention

ADHD, ADD, two common issues we are approached with in our clients, both for their children and themselves. Attention and focus issues are not just relegated to those in elementary school! Many adults report struggling with optimal attention and focus. The good news is there are many things you can do dietarily as well as supplements to support optimal attention and focus!

Diet:

Diet is a huge area of control for parents and individuals. You have the power to choose foods that support optimal brain function. So what can we eat to give our brain the best boost possible?

When levels of serotonin drop, the results can be depression, anxiety, and negativity. This may be why we crave carbohydrates such as pasta, bread, and chocolate, all of which raise serotonin levels temporarily. Complex carbs, such as apples and sweet potatoes, work the same way, but don’t set you up for more cravings. Likewise, dopamine helps to increase focus and motivation. Eating small amounts of protein throughout the day can boost dopamine and stabilize blood sugar.

An optimal plate would be divided in the following way: Half of the plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables, one fourth with a protein, and the remaining fourth with a carbohydrate, preferably one rich in fiber like sweet potatoes or brown rice. And speaking of carbohydrates, focus on carbohydrates that do not spike your blood sugar and are high in fiber, such as those found in vegetables and fruits, like blueberries and apples. Bad carbohydrates – ones that have been stripped of nutritional value, such as sugar and simple carbs – are the problem and should be excluded.

Similarly, sugar is not beneficial for brain health. It increases inflammation in your body (which leads to inflammation in the brain, as well) and erratic brain cell firing. Sugar is addictive, and perhaps plays a role in aggression. In a recent study, children who were given sugar every day showed a significantly higher risk for violence later in life. The less sugar in your life, the better your brain and behavior will be.

But let’s not forget the fats! Fats are great fuel for the brain and very needed. Focus on healthy fats, especially those that contain omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods like salmon, sardines, avocados, walnuts, chia seeds, and dark green leafy vegetables. You can get very creative with these foods, as a matter of fact, our walnut date cookies are the perfect treat that also support healthy brains!

Other food additives to avoid when possible:

  • MSG (all forms, including those listed as natural flavors)
  • Gluten
  • Artificial food colors
  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Preservatives
  • Pesticides – choose organic when possible or at the very least use the EWG’s dirty dozen and clean 15 list.

Supplements:

There have been studies on the effect use of supplements to support optimal attention, focus and self-regulation. They include:

  • Magnesium
  • B6
  • Zinc
  • Pycnogenol
  • Phosphotidylserine (soy free)
  • Acetyl L-Carnitine
  • Omega-3’s

A great combination supplement with many of these ingredients that we have had personal experience with is Focus-Mate from New Beginnings Nutritionals. We have heard great reports from happy clients, their parents and even their teachers! This product is easy to administer and already has the optimal blend of research-based nutrients.

Studies:

Pycnogenol® supplementation improves cognitive function, attention and mental performance in students.

Omega-3 fatty acid treatment of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study

Improvement of neurobehavioral disorders in children supplemented with magnesium-vitamin B6. I. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorders.

Effect of MAGNE-B6 on the clinical and biochemical manifestations of the syndrome of attention deficit and hyperactivity in children.

Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of zinc sulfate in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Could you or a loved one use support for diet, supplementation or even lab testing to help support optimal brain function? Contact us to get started on boosting your brain today!

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