It’s not easy to find focus in our world of smartphones and constant distractions, and I bet most people would like to improve their ability to stay on-task. There are lots of external ways to improve your focus, but today I want to talk about internal factors that could be affecting your mental clarity. More specifically, how your diet could be sabotaging your ability to focus.
When you have improved focus, you’ll see benefits in every area of your life, including in the actions you take toward your goals and dreams. You’ll find it easier to:
In contrast, mental clutter can keep the brain from accomplishing straightforward tasks that you want to do. Setting your brain up to better focus will lead to drive, confidence, and enthusiasm for what you’re doing. You could use all the external techniques in the world to focus better (ie, using a timer, locking your apps during certain times, or relying on accountability to others), but if your brain is still too scattered and foggy, you may need to look inside to what may be causing you to lose focus so easily.
There are definitely internal and physical reasons that you can’t focus. Once you become aware of them, it’s relatively easy to make small changes to fix them. Even better, changing these habits can also result in an overall improvement in your physical health. Keep reading for some common diet pitfalls that could negatively be affecting your focus.
A diet high in sugar has been linked to a number of chronic issues like obesity and diabetes, but too much sugar can also contribute to mental clutter. Recent studies have shown that too much sugar in the diet can increase your chance of developing Alzheimer's disease when you're older. This means that sugar can have a negative impact on your brain's ability to organize and focus on information.
Decades ago, fat was believed to be bad and everything was altered to be “fat-free”. Now we know that there are good and bad fats. Too much trans fat can lead to obesity and other health issues, while not consuming enough good fat can be bad for your brain. Most of your brain is actually made of fat and needs it to function well. Based on the findings of recent studies, some doctors believe that if the brain doesn't get the proper nutrients it needs to thrive, it will even begin to consume itself.
Rather than focusing on a diet that’s low in fat, you should instead focus on a diet that is low in carbohydrates. This is because when carbs are broken down by the body, they turn into sugar. Instead, try incorporating more healthy fats into your diet, such as eggs, avocados, salmon, and oils like olive, flax, and walnut.
Did you know that more than half of the population of the United States is considered to be continually dehydrated? Water is the other main component of the brain, and it needs water to function at maximum capacity. If you’re not sure if you’re drinking enough water, try tracking how much you drink. When you’re properly hydrated, you will have more energy, focus, and clarity.
Another culprit of brain fog is low levels of essential vitamins and minerals, specifically vitamins D and B12. Vitamin B12 will help keep your memory sharp and give you energy, while a lack of it could lead to digestive issues later in life. Vitamin D is another important supplement you should be taking, because the majority of people don’t get enough sunlight each day to produce the amount the body needs. Learn more about everything Vitamin D does for you.
Unaddressed food sensitivities can cause digestive discomfort, brain fog, and even anxiety or depression. You can find out what you’re sensitive to by doing a simple finger-prick test or doing an elimination diet. This is where you remove potentially irritating foods for a period of time, and then add them back to your diet while monitoring how you feel. It’s usually pretty obvious when you add something back that your body doesn’t agree with. Learn more about food sensitivities and gut health.
Physical factors and how you fuel your body and mind are important to how well you can focus. Try experimenting with these ideas, and see how you feel. Of course, always talk to your doctor before making any major health decisions! I’d love to know how you’re doing, so feel free to reach out if you have questions or need help.
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