Six Foods to Fuel Your Productivity

What we eat affects how we operate throughout the day, and focusing on certain foods can help keep brain fog at bay. Which foods should you eat?

A home office monitor with the wallpaper that says "Do More."
Is your diet driving you to burnout?
  • Published: 8/22/2022
  • 2 min. read

2 PM rolls around and fatigue creeps in. You have hours of work left to go, but you just don’t have it in you to keep grinding away to get through it all. Sound familiar? What we eat affects how we operate throughout the day, and focusing on certain foods can help keep brain fog at bay, meaning you can cruise through your day and feel alert afterward. Which foods are the ones you should eat?

Burnout and how food affects our brains

It’s well-established that nutrition plays a vital role in health and well-being. But many don’t realize that food also impacts our mental clarity and emotions. Research suggests that what we eat influences our gut microbiome, which affects brain health in numerous ways, including our mental well-being. This is timely given the state of burnout culture. From a recent study, one in four people reported burnout and were six times more likely to leave their jobs in the next three to six months. 

Changing eating habits can your mood and clarity so that you can focus on getting things done without feeling burnt out If you’re tired of feeling tired and unmotivated, we’ve got just the cure, and all it requires is having a few snacks and switching up your breakfast and lunch habits.

Which foods should you eat to improve cognitive function?

Dr. Matthew Lederman, MD, and Lifesum Advisor, says to keep the following items stocked to boost mental health and productivity.

  • Berries - Berries are high in polyphenols, a natural compound found in plant-based foods, that can boost cognitive function to support a healthy brain. 
  • Walnuts - Together with other foods high in omega-3 fats, such as soybeans and ground flaxseed, walnuts have been shown to improve mood and support brain health. 
  • Sweet potatoes - Sweet potatoes are high in complex carbohydrates that increase serotonin, which directly affects mood and can lead to improved energy levels. 
  • Oats - Oats contain tryptophan, which the body uses to make serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin affects mood, cognition and behavior, while melatonin affects your sleep-wake cycle - essential for optimal mental health. Other foods high in tryptophan include whole grain cereals and wheat germ.
  • Brown rice - High-fiber foods like brown rice can improve the movement of food through your digestive tract and minimize uncomfortable symptoms like heartburn, bloating and constipation. When your gut feels better you feel better, making it easier to sleep and exercise, directly improving mental health and daily functioning. 
  • Kale - This powerhouse veggie is shown to decrease inflammation and reduce mood symptoms. Studies show that a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables, including kale, broccoli and cabbage, is significantly associated with lower circulating levels of inflammatory markers.

So next time you wonder how you’re going to get through your to-do list, reach for some berries and walnuts or make a quick brown rice stir fry with kale and sweet potatoes, and carry on.

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