by Geri Walton ~ January 26th, 2009
Poor concentration can be caused for hundreds of reasons, including anxiety, depression, drowsiness, fatigue, inattention, illness, or medication side effects. In fact, several web sites indicate there are over 175 reasons for lack of concentration, and, with so many possibilities, it may be hard to pinpoint precisely what you should do to improve concentration. One thing that may help is concentrating on eating concentration food, or in other words, eating foods that seem to improve concentration.
Foods that seem to improve concentration include the following:
- Blueberries. The lead scientist at the Neuroscience Laboratory at Tufts University, Dr. James Joseph, has become synonymous with blueberries because he’s done so many studies about them. In his lab, he’s learned blueberries do all sorts of great things. They help neurons communicate more effectively, slow brain aging, and reduce mental deterioration seen in middle age. Additionally, blueberries and their antioxidants may help ward off amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and Parkinson’s disease (PD).
- Caffeine. Hundreds of studies have been done on caffeine and its effects on the body and the mind. A recent study has found caffeine increases alertness in as quickly as ten minutes after consumption and that it affects men more strongly than women. Another study showed it reduces and prevents cognitive decline in aging women. Caffeine’s effects seem to last between two to four hours, but you should also be aware other studies have shown caffeine may cause an increased chance of miscarriage, increased blood pressure, and greater bone loss.
- Gingko Biloba. Oriental medical doctor (OMD) Michael Tierra, in his book The Way of Herbs, recommends gingko biloba for concentration problems because he claims this herb improves blood circulation to the brain. He also notes that a number of studies have been conducted using it and that in a dementia patient study, gingko “showed measurable improvement in as little as eight weeks.” Tierra claims the benefits were seen with 24 percent concentrated extract and that the “average dose [used in the study was]… 40mg, three times daily, for three months.”
- Oysters. Oysters are often thought of as an aphrodisiac, but they may be an even better brain or cocentration food. It seems oysters may have the ability to boost mental energy due to their amino acid tyrosine content, which is a precursor to the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, because studies by Deijen (a), Deijen (b), and Mahoney show tyrosine tends to improve cognitive tasks. According to UCLA professor of neurosurgery and physiological science, Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, copper may also be factor in cognitive decline, as patients with Alzheimer’s disease often have low concentrations of copper, and oysters may counteract that deficiency as they are rich sources of copper.
- Rosemary. Seventeenth century herbalist and physician, Nicholas Culpeper, may have been right about rosemary and it’s beneficial affects on the brain. According to Susan Ambrosinio’s web site, Culpeper wrote that rosemary helps “weak memory,…quickens the senses…[and prevents] the giddiness or swimmings therein, drowsiness or dullness of the mind.” Science Daily published an article reporting that rosemary contains carnosic acid and that carnosic acid offers benefits against free radicals linked to Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
- Sage. Sage’s medicinal properties have been known to herbalists for centuries, and they have long thought of it as a memory enhancer and concentration booster. One study published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics in 2003 showed Sage (S. officinalis) extract was effective in managing “mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.”
- Spinach. Everyone probably knows that spinach is supposed to make you strong because of Popeye. However, it may actually help you lose fewer brain cells. According to a study published in 2005 in the journal of Experimental Neurology, researchers demonstrated that eating spinach (blueberries and spirulina) after a stroke reduces brain cell loss compared to diets without those foods.
- Strawberries. The last item considered a concentration food is strawberries.The Journal of Neuroscience published a long-term study on the benefits of strawberries and spinach in relation to cognitive behavior. The researchers found that these antioxidant rich-foods may retard “functional age-related [central nervous system] CNS and cognitive behavioral deficits.”
Lack of concentration can be more than an annoying problem. If you find you are overattending—a process where you have to increase your attention and completely focus on the task at hand—you may also find you are regularly exhausted and fatigued. Concentration foods, along with a well-balanced diet, may help improve your concentration, particularly if your concentration problems are related to nutritional deficiencies. If you’re interested in conducting a self-diagnosis for concentration problems, click here for a symptom checker that will help you narrow your problems down from a 162 causes of concentration difficulty.