As a business owner, you know how important it’s to stay productive throughout the day. However, with so many tasks and responsibilities to juggle, it can be challenging to maintain your energy and focus. While coffee and energy drinks might give you a temporary boost, they're not always the best option.
So, how can you increase productivity in a more sustainable way? The answer might be as simple as incorporating the right foods into your diet. For instance, a study published in the National Library of Medicine shows that the more fruits and vegetables people consume, the happier, more engaged, and more creative they tend to be.
According to experts, these foods contain vital nutrients that foster dopamine production. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in the experience of curiosity, motivation, and engagement. Additionally, they provide antioxidants that minimize bodily inflammation, improve memory, and enhance mood.
So, if you want to take your productivity to the next level, it might be time to rethink what you eat. Choosing the right foods can give your brain the fuel to stay sharp and focused all day long.
Let's take a closer look.
The direct correlation between productivity and the food we eat
So how does food directly correlate with how productive you are? It all comes down to glucose, the primary source of energy for our brains. Every food we eat is converted into glucose by our bodies, providing the fuel our brains need to stay alert. But not all foods are processed at the same rate. Some, like bread, pasta, and soda, release glucose much faster, leading to a burst of energy.
However, this burst is often followed by a slump because your energy levels drop just as fast, making it hard to stay focused. On the other hand, high-fat meals, like cheeseburgers, fried chicken, chocolate, and chips, provide more sustained energy. However, these foods require the digestive system to work harder. This process reduces oxygen levels in the brain and makes us feel groggy.
Here's how it works.
The brain accounts for only 2% of our body weight but consumes a whopping 20% of our daily calories. It needs a constant supply of glucose, but of a certain kind and in the right doses. That's why choosing the right foods can help you stay alert and productive throughout the day.
For example, complex carbohydrates, like sweet potatoes and whole grains, provide a steady stream of glucose. They keep your brain fueled for longer periods without causing a crash.
In addition to choosing the right types of food, timing also plays a critical role. Skipping meals or eating irregularly can cause your glucose levels to drop, leading to that familiar afternoon slump.
To avoid this, aim to eat small, frequent meals throughout the day to maintain a steady supply of glucose to your brain. Making conscious choices about what and when you eat can help keep your brain sharp and help increase productivity throughout the day.
Best for high energy levels: Eggs
Eggs are a fantastic source of high-quality protein, containing all the essential amino acids our bodies need to function properly. This makes them an excellent food choice for increasing energy levels and reducing cravings for sugar and other unhealthy foods. When you incorporate eggs into your daily diet, you're able to avoid the mid-afternoon slump that leaves you feeling tired and unproductive.
Eggs are also rich in several key nutrients essential for brain health and cognitive function. One of these is a vitamin called choline, which plays a crucial role in memory and learning. In fact, studies have shown that consuming choline-rich foods like eggs can improve memory and cognitive function in both young and old adults. Additionally, they are a source of vitamin D, which plays a role in regulating mood and reducing symptoms of depression.
They're a high-protein food that leaves you feeling fuller for longer. This means you won't be tempted to reach for unhealthy snacks or lose concentration due to hunger pangs, making it easier to tackle your morning to-do list. Eggs also help regulate blood sugar, providing a steady stream of energy throughout the day. You get more energy that can help you power through your day without feeling exhausted.
Best for improving mental performance: Bananas
Bananas are high in potassium, fiber, and vitamins C and B6. Potassium balances fluids in the body, maintains proper function of your muscles and nerves, and helps your body stay properly hydrated. Fiber aids in digestion, making you feel fuller for longer periods and helping to prevent those midday cravings.
Meanwhile, vitamins C and B6 have a critical role in brain functions, such as memory and focus. Eating a banana provides your body with much-needed nutrition that results in keeping your mind sharp and productive throughout the day.
But that's not all.
Bananas can help improve your mood thanks to their compound, tryptophan. Tryptophan gets converted to serotonin in the body, which has a relaxing effect on the mind and helps improve mood. A study shows that people who eat bananas regularly have a lower risk of depression.
Apart from the physical benefits, bananas can help reduce stress levels. When we're stressed, our bodies release cortisol, which can damage brain cells over time. Potassium in bananas regulates these cortisol levels, which, in turn, helps control stress.
Best for boosting brain health: Blueberries
Blueberries are a superfood packed with nutrients like vitamins C, K1, and fiber. The flavonoids and anthocyanins found in blueberries have been linked to improved memory and overall mental performance. A study published in Scientific American shows that eating blueberries can improve memory and cognitive function, including attention and decision-making abilities.
Blueberries can also boost your energy levels significantly. It's no secret that an afternoon slump can slow down even the most productive person. However, blueberries have high levels of dietary fiber, making them a slow-release carbohydrate, providing a consistent flow of energy throughout the day. Blueberries also contain vitamin C, which is essential for energy production in the body.
Even better, blueberries can promote better sleep quality. Getting a good night's sleep is critical if you want to increase productivity. But we all know how elusive a restful night of sleep can be. However, research indicates that consuming blueberries can lead to better sleep quality. The antioxidants found in blueberries reduce oxidative stress in the body, leading to a more restful and restorative sleep.
You'll also be glad to know that eating blueberries can lead to better health and well-being by reducing inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation can lead to a host of health issues that can harm productivity, including fatigue, joint pain, and even depression. Luckily, blueberries contain anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation.
Best for supporting cognitive function: Dark, leafy greens
Dark leafy greens have the power to revolutionize the way we work and think.
Dark leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, broccoli, and arugula, are excellent sources of nutrients. Some of them include vitamins A, C, and K, minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, fiber, and antioxidants. These foods stand out because they contain a significant amount of nitrates.
Nitrates are converted into nitric oxide (NO) in the body. Nitric oxide is essential for brain function, blood circulation, and improving physical performance. Moreover, it helps to relax the blood vessels in the body. It allows more oxygen and nutrients to reach the brain, promoting mental performance, clarity, focus, and memory.
Dark leafy greens also contain compounds like sulforaphane, quercetin, and kaempferol. These help to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress on the body's cells and tissues.
Studies have shown that a diet rich in leafy greens can help delay age-related cognitive decline and improve overall brain function. For instance, sulforaphane in broccoli can improve cognitive function in older adults. One study showed that middle-aged adults who ate one serving of green leafy vegetables a day had younger-looking brains by an average of 11 years than those who ate none.
Best for promoting overall wellness: Almonds
We all know that almonds are a healthy snack to munch on, but did you know that they can also boost productivity?
Let's explore this further.
Almonds are packed with protein, fiber, healthy fats, and key vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, magnesium, and manganese. All these nutrients work together to provide your body with sustained energy levels, improve brain function and focus, and reduce inflammation.
This combination of nutrients also helps regulate your blood sugar levels, which can help minimize energy crashes during the day. So, instead of reaching for a sugary snack after dinner that will give you a quick energy boost followed by a crash, try munching on a handful of almonds instead.
Almonds can also help boost productivity by improving brain function. You see, the vitamin E found in almonds acts as an antioxidant that protects the brain from free radicals that can damage brain cells. Magnesium, on the other hand, helps improve the transmission of signals between neurons. It regulates blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and nerve function.
This can enhance cognitive performance, including memory, learning, and concentration.
Almonds also contain healthy fats that can help keep you full and focused for longer periods. This will, in turn, reduce cravings and make it easier to stick to a healthy eating plan.
Best for boosting memory: Salmon
One of the main benefits of incorporating salmon into your diet is that it's a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats are crucial for optimal brain function—they help maintain the integrity of the cell membranes in your brain cells, promoting communication and aiding in cognition. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Medicine, omega-3 fatty acids improve brain function and slow down memory loss.
Salmon is also loaded with high-quality protein, which is key for sustained energy throughout the day. Protein gives your body the necessary building blocks to repair and maintain muscle tissue, contributing to overall strength and endurance during exercise. When you fuel your body with adequate protein, you'll experience fewer crashes and increased mental performance.
Another crucial nutrient found in salmon is vitamin D, a nutrient that can be quite elusive during the winter months. Vitamin D regulates your mood and improves your energy levels, making it an essential addition to your diet. Salmon is rich in protein, tryptophan, and vitamin B6, just like bananas. These work together to regulate your body's melatonin production, which means a better sleep cycle.
What's the bottom line?
Being an entrepreneur is no easy feat—it takes a whole lot of drive and determination to get your company off the ground and keep pushing it to new heights. But oftentimes, we focus so much on the work part of the equation that we can be prone to neglecting our bodies and minds as a crucial aspect of our journey.
A well-nourished mind leads to a well-nourished business. While it may seem like skipping meals or grabbing a quick drive-thru snack is a shortcut to gaining more working hours, in reality, it could actually do more harm than good on our journey toward success. Eating the right foods not only fuels our body but also our brain, allowing us to work smarter and with greater clarity.