Guest Post from our Consultant Nutrionist, Carola Becker
The busier you are, the better you should eat!
I know, sometimes that sounds unachievable – you are working long hours, you are sitting 3m away from your fridge, and feel you don’t have time to eat properly. But there’s a lot at stake – performance does not only mean making good decisions and thinking clearer. It’s about your very own mental wellbeing, your ability to deal with difficult situations and conversations with your team and colleagues.
Working from home has most likely changed your way of working and eating. Here’s an overview about the most important nutrients for your brain which you can add to any of your meals.
Constant stress can lead to a higher risk of memory loss, even Alzheimer’s. The best way to work against this and help your brain is by consuming antioxidants. Eat vibrantly coloured foods like wild blueberries, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes and brazil nuts, but also kidney beans and cinnamon.
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals for optimal health. It relaxes your muscles and your brain for a calmer mind, better mood and sleep. The best foods are almonds, cashews and brazil nuts. Nuts make perfect snacks for those busy afternoons!
These fatty acids are critical for the function of the central nervous system – a lack of Omega 3 has been linked to low mood and poor comprehension. Salmon and mackerel are your best friends! Walnuts, chia seeds and flax seeds are good options, too. Eat fatty fish once a week and sprinkle seeds over your porridge.
Zinc is involved in better sleep, reduced anxiety, and it regulates the communication between your brain cells – specifically the ones that form your memories! You can find zinc in lean red meat and poultry. Oysters and crab are good sources too, but they are high in sodium – be careful! The best plant sources are pumpkin seeds and cashews. Eat the occasional lean steak and add cashews to your snacks.
These nutrients will give your brain a fighting chance to be at its best!
But there are two things I’d like you to reduce:
1.Please reduce the amount of alcohol you are drinking. Alcohol is a nerve poison which is directly linked to poor mental health. If you can reduce or stop consuming it, it will help you to think clearer and work better.
2.Try reducing your sugar intake – yes, your brain runs on glucose, but it benefits more from a constant flow of energy gained from slow releasing carbohydrates like vegetables, pulses and wholegrains. Reducing your sugar intake will help to even out your energy levels and keep you concentrating for longer.
One more note:
I know it’s tempting to snack all day, rather than taking a proper break, but taking the time to eat a meal does not only fill you up nicely, but it also gives your brain a rest from your screen. Studies show that, although it may seem that you save time by eating whilst working, if you step away from your desk, you will work better and more efficiently afterwards.
Help your brain by stepping away from your desk for your lunch break!
Carola Becker is our Nutrition Coach at Ben Morton Leadership.
She helps her clients make impressive changes to their mental and physical health: more energy, better stress resilience and improved cognitive performance. She is a speaker and online course creator and runs award-winning wellbeing retreats all over the world.
More info: www.carolabecker.com