When we’re busy, mistakes and problems make us even busier. It’s also difficult to perform to our usual standards when working from home, and as things take longer, our minds start wandering off...
We have probably all experienced this at some point.
I wonder how many times I have even had to tell myself, “Stay focused!”
The quality of our performance depends largely on the degree of concentration. In other words, concentrate on work for shorter periods of time and the quality will improve. If you also take time to exercise and relax properly, then you can lead a healthier lifestyle. By spending more time with family and friends, enjoying hobbies and doing other activities connected to spiritual enrichment, the balance of your autonomic nervous system will be restored, becoming more and more healthier.
Here are some ways that our diet and eating habits can boost our concentration.
1. Don’t eat too much at once
If you want to improve your concentration, don't overeat.
When you eat, blood flows to the stomach as your body sets to work digesting the food. The brain’s function then weakens, becoming drowsy and sleepy.
Even if you eat lots, energy can’t be stored in the brain and blood sugar levels will rise sharply. This will then leave you feeling sleepy and stressed, resulting in a loss of concentration.
It’s best to stop eating once you’re about 80%, or possibly even 60% full.
When constantly working from the same spot, do you ever lose concentration in the middle of doing something, feel drowsy and drink several cups of coffee, or reach out for some candy?
Consuming caffeine and sugar might waken you up to start with, but avoid having another straight after the first just because you finished it. As a guideline, the maximum amount of caffeine you can consume per day is said to be 2-3 mugs of coffee, or 10 cups of tea.
Drinking too much coffee can have the opposite effect and cause you to lose concentration, so it’s important to be aware of timings. Everyone is different, and even if you keep within the maximum recommended amount, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to stay focused. So, even if it’s just one cup, try to replace it with water or another caffeine-free drink.
2. A well-balanced diet
A high-fat, high-calorie diet takes energy to digest and reduces your brain's ability to focus. If you want to improve your concentration, then try a well-balanced meal plan that’s easily digested.
If you have a main meal of rice, meat or fish, natto and vegetables, then it’s best to start with the vegetables first to avoid a sharp rise in glucose levels. It’s also important to be aware of low GI foods, like the ones mentioned below.
We often hear about low GI foods, but what does this mean?
“GI” stands for Glycemic Index, which is an index showing how much foods will raise blood sugar levels.
All foods are given a GI value, and those with low GI values are good for our health because they cause blood sugar levels to rise slowly. This also means they help to improve concentration.
Some specific examples of low GI foods include buckwheat, soy foods, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, yogurt, bananas, apples and vinegar. If you bear these in mind when deciding on what to eat, then even when eating out at restaurants and convenience stores, you’ll be able to follow a diet that increases concentration.
Not all high-calorie foods raise blood sugar levels quickly, so get to know the different foods and enjoy a delicious diet.
3. Chew properly
Chewing stimulates the brain and prompts the release of hormones, which then further activate the brain.
As such, chewing gum is believed to be effective when it feels like you can’t concentrate.
4. Eat every 2-3 hours
The amount of energy stored in the brain is limited. With regular sustenance, you can improve and maintain your concentration.
That’s why snacking is actually a good idea! Children have small stomachs and a developing digestive function, so they can’t get enough nutrition from just three meals a day. Likewise, an adult’s brain that continuously works will continuously want nutrition, too.
Glucose is effective in boosting concentration, especially when it comes to sugars that slowly raise blood sugar levels. Try snacking, and remember not to eat too much and properly chew your food.
・Blue-backed fish (such as saury, mackerel and sardine)
5. The most effective drinks are water and a tiny amount of caffeine
As mentioned briefly above, instead of drinking caffeine leisurely while you work, it's best to drink it in one go like a shot.
As with confectionary and other foods, drinks containing synthetic sweeteners and additives are difficult to digest and cause blood to flow to the stomach. It’s best not to drink them slowly, as they will instead make you sleepy and reduce your concentration.
6. Bonus: Which food reduce concentration?
Some foods are good for our concentration while others are not. Fatty acids and trans fatty acids are among those that reduce our concentration when consumed.
These acids are abundant in beef fat, butter, margarine, ready meals and other so-called junk foods.
We want to eat junk food when it’s late at night and we’re tired, but this leads to a downward spiral where the more you eat, the less you can concentrate…
Go a step further and avoid junk food as much as you possibly can, and aim to improve your concentration in a healthy manner.
So, what are your thoughts on food and concentration?
There are a number of things to be aware of, but with a little care, you can start making changes today.
Of course work is important, but in order to stay a professional, it’s also important to take care of your own mind and body. The healthier you are, the more focused you will be and the more your time will be better spent.
Practice self-care, improve your concentration, and enjoy more of those irreplaceable moments in life.
Owner and beautician at Amrta Laboratory beauty salon in Ginza.
Graduated from Tokyo University of Science in 1999. From an early age, Satsuki suffered from acne and decided to enter the beauty industry. She has supported more than 200,000 women with their beauty care. After working for a beauty salon management company, she opened Amrta Laboratory in 2019.