Best Natural Foods and Ingredients to Boost Focus and Concentration (According to the Experts)

Table of Contents

In today's fast-paced digital age, maintaining focus and concentration is more challenging than ever. The constant influx of information from multiple sources, often called "information overload, " can be overwhelming and significantly impede our cognitive abilities. Balancing this avalanche of data requires us to develop and hone our concentration skills. A focused mind not only aids in assimilating information more effectively but also enhances productivity and creativity. 

While there isn’t much we can do about the fast-paced world we live in, there are things we can do to help us focus more effectively. Some of the best foods for focus and concentration may help us on our quest to zone into our task at hand (no matter how boring that task may be! ).

The role food and diet plays in focus and concentration

Food and diet play a fundamental role in bolstering focus and concentration. The brain, much like the rest of our body, requires essential nutrients to function optimally. Consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates can fuel the brain and enhance cognitive functions. 

Imagine your brain as a high-performance sports car. Just like that car needs premium fuel to deliver optimum speed and performance, your brain needs top-notch nutrition to function at its best. When you feed your brain a diet of low-quality, ultra-processed food, it's like trying to run a Ferrari on low-grade gasoline — it will not perform as well, no matter how fine-tuned it is. And if you don’t give your car enough fuel, it will not run – similarly to how your brain functions if you undereat. 

Nutrients linked to better focus and concentration

A balanced and nutrient-dense diet is ideal for people who want to enhance their focus and concentration. Among the many nutrients in our food supply, some are most strongly linked to better focus and concentration. 

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Found in:

  • Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines.
  • Flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
  • Plant oils such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil.

How it helps:

Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), play a vital role in maintaining brain health and enhancing focus and concentration. DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain and is crucial for normal brain development and function. It contributes to the structural integrity of brain cells, aiding in transmitting signals between them, thereby supporting cognition and memory. EPA, on the other hand, possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties that protect the brain against damage and aging. 

Magnesium 

Found in:

  • Leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard.
  • Nuts, especially almonds, cashews, and peanuts.
  • Seeds, including pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.

How it helps:

Magnesium is a mineral that supports healthy brain function by regulating neurotransmitters, which send signals throughout the brain and nervous system. A magnesium deficiency can lead to neurological concerns that affect concentration and memory. 

B Vitamins 

Found in:

  • Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli.
  • Whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat.

How it helps:

B Vitamins, particularly B6, B9, and B12, are crucial for brain health and play a significant role in improving focus and concentration. Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, aids in the production of neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that allow brain and nerve cells to communicate with each other. A deficiency of B6 can lead to cognitive decline, poor concentration, and even mood disorders. Vitamin B9, or folate, is pivotal for proper brain function and mental and emotional health. It works in tandem with B12 to help create and regulate neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, all of which play a role in mood regulation and cognitive function. Vitamin B12 is essential for maintaining the health of your nerve cells, and a lack of B12 can cause memory issues, mental fog, and reduced attention span. 

Vitamin K

Found in:

  • Green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and collard greens.
  • Broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
  • Fermented foods like natto.

How it helps:

Vitamin K is another vital nutrient that significantly bolsters cognitive function and focus. It's a fat-soluble vitamin known for its critical role in blood clotting, but recent studies indicate its profound impact on brain health. Vitamin K is involved in the synthesis of sphingolipids, a class of lipid molecules pivotal for the proper functioning of the brain and associated with cognitive performance. Further, it helps prevent oxidative stress and inflammation, known culprits for neurodegenerative disorders. As a testament to its role, individuals with higher dietary intake of vitamin K have been associated with better memory performance and increased cognitive speed

Lutein

Found in:

  • Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard.
  • Corn, green peas, and carrots.
  • Eggs (specifically egg yolks)

How it helps:

Lutein, a type of carotenoid found predominantly in green leafy vegetables, eggs, and other fruits and vegetables, also plays a significant role in supporting focus and concentration. While it is commonly known for its beneficial effects on eye health, recent studies have shed light on lutein's impact on cognitive health. Lutein is found in the brain's grey matter, which is responsible for processing information in the brain. Higher lutein levels in the brain have been linked to better cognitive performance in areas such as learning, memory, and focus

Anthocyanins

Found in:

Blueberries, mulberries, black currants

How it helps:

Anthocyanins are the vibrant superheroes of the nutritional world, brilliantly colored and power-packed. They're responsible for your raspberries’ red color and blueberries’ blue hue. 

But they're not just there for their good looks. These dazzling compounds are loaded with antioxidant properties, acting like an elite bodyguard for your brain cells, combatting oxidative stress, a significant contributor to brain aging and neurodegenerative disorders. By doing so, they safeguard neuronal health, ensuring optimal brain function. 


Nootropics linked to better focus and concentration

Nootropics, often referred to as 'smart drugs', are a class of substances that aim to boost brain performance. They're like the brain's little helpers, working behind the scenes to enhance memory, creativity, motivation, and even mood. From caffeine to more complex supplements like racetams, nootropics are all about giving your grey matter the upper hand. But remember, while they might offer a quick cognitive boost, they're not a substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle. So, before you start relying on these brain-boosting buddies, ensure you're also feeding your brain with a healthy dose of nutritious food and keeping it sharp with regular mental exercise.

Here are some popular nootropics that can help you on your quest for better focus:

Caffeine

Found in:

  • Coffee beans.
  • Tea leaves, particularly black and green tea.
  • Cocoa beans, found in chocolate.

How it helps:

Caffeine, the beloved star of our morning rituals, can also help boost our focus. Think of it as the lively cheerleader for your brain. But instead of pom-poms, it uses adenosine receptors. Normally, adenosine - a by-product of brain activity - binds to these receptors and slows down neural activity, making you feel tired. But caffeine, which has a composition similar to adenosine, can essentially “block” adenosine’s ability to bind to the receptors, resulting in an increased feeling of alertness. 

Just remember, our darling caffeine can be a bit over-zealous, so moderation is key!

L - Theanine

Found in:

  • Green tea and black tea.
  • Certain types of mushrooms.
  • Moment drinks 

How it helps:

L-Theanine, a popular compound found in true teas (like green tea), is like caffeine's mellow buddy that doesn't cause a fuss but gets the job done. 

L-Theanine promotes the production of alpha brain waves, which are associated with a state of "wakeful relaxation". That's kind of like being in that 'in the zone' state where you're calmly productive and creativity flows smoothly. And when taken with caffeine, this compound can help to smooth out the jitters and keep the brain humming along nicely. 

Curcumin

Found in:

  • Turmeric Root
  • Moment drinks 

How it helps:

Curcumin, the active compound found in turmeric, is another powerful agent for brain health. It works wonders for brain function by crossing the blood-brain barrier and having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. 

Curcumin increases the level of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a type of growth hormone that functions in the brain. Low levels of BDNF are often associated with brain disorders, including poor memory. By increasing BDNF levels, curcumin effectively enhances neuron production, improving memory and concentration. 

Moreover, curcumin boosts the bioavailability of DHA – a major omega-3 fatty acid that is a primary structural component of the human brain. This helps increase focus, cognition, and overall brain efficiency. 


Functional Mushrooms linked to better focus and concentration

Functional mushrooms have been cited in recent research as powerful brain boosters, particularly in terms of focus and cognitive function. Because of this, many people lean on mushrooms for focus. Here are some functional mushrooms that may support better focus and concentration:

Lions Mane Mushroom

Lion's Mane mushrooms have been gaining recognition in the realm of cognitive health and are particularly known for their potential to enhance focus. These mushrooms contain two unique compounds, hericenones and erinacines, which are believed to stimulate the production of nerve growth factors (NGFs).

NGFs are proteins that play a critical role in maintaining and organizing neurons, the cells responsible for processing and transmitting information in the brain. By stimulating NGF production, Lion's Mane mushrooms may help to maintain the health and functionality of these neurons. This, in turn, can support mental focus, allowing information to be processed more efficiently and accurately. Lion’s Mane is found in Moment drinks.

Cordyceps

Cordyceps, another type of medicinal mushroom, also shows promise in the realm of focus and cognitive function. Indigenous to high-altitude regions of China, Cordyceps has been utilized in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.

Recent studies suggest that Cordyceps can help boost the body's production of ATP, one of the primary molecules for storing and transferring energy in cells. This increase in energy can potentially enhance brain function and concentration, hence fostering greater focus. Cordyceps also possess antioxidant properties, which may protect against cognitive decline by mitigating oxidative stress. Cordyceps is found in Moment drinks.

Other adaptogens linked to better focus and concentration

Adaptogens are a unique class of healing plants and herbs that are known to help balance, restore, and protect the body. They have been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions. These compounds help the body resist physical, chemical, or biological stresses, enabling it to "adapt" more efficiently to stressful situations. Hence, people love adaptogens for concentration. 


Here are some adaptogens that are linked to better focus and concentration:

Ashwaganda

Ashwagandha, a renowned adaptogen, is highly recognized for its potential to enhance focus and concentration. Traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine, this powerful herb has been linked to cognitive enhancement primarily due to its stress-relieving properties. By mitigating the impacts of stress on the body, Ashwagandha can effectively create a more conducive environment for mental clarity and focus.

Additionally, some research suggests that Ashwagandha may directly improve brain function, memory, and reaction times, making it a valuable natural supplement for those seeking to boost cognitive performance. Ashwagandha is found in Moment drinks.

Ginseng

Ginseng is another adaptogen that has been traditionally used to enhance cognitive performance. It's particularly known for its potential to boost concentration and focus. Ginseng may enhance brain functions such as memory, behavior, and mood.

The active compounds in ginseng, called ginsenosides, are believed to be responsible for these neuroprotective effects. They are thought to reduce brain inflammation, inhibit oxidative stress, and enhance brain function, promoting better concentration and focus. Ginseng is found in Moment drinks.

Table: Brain Boosting Food & Ingredients and How They Work

 

Foods

How they help

How to consume

Leafy Greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens

rich in antioxidants and carotenoids, which are thought to boost brain health. Specifically, leafy greens are a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two types of carotenoids that are associated with cognitive function.

Smoothies, salads, stir fry, sandwiches.

Cruciferous greens like broccoli and brussel sprouts

Rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, including a compound called sulforaphane, which is believed to have potent neuroprotective properties. 

Salad, smoothies, raw with a dip, roasted. 

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines

Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute to the maintenance of brain function throughout life and play a crucial role in learning and memory. 

Baked, roasted, sauteed. 

Seeds like pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds

Rich in antioxidants, including vitamin E, that protect brain cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Some are a source of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which help support brain health. 

Snack mixes, over salads, over yogurt. 

Functional Mushrooms like lion’s mane and cordyceps

Contain compounds that support brain function

Teas, supplements, certain dishes, drinks like Moment beverages. 

Teas like green tea and black tea

Contains L-theanine and caffeine, which support focus and concentration

Iced or hot

Berries like blueberries, mulberries, black currants

Anthocyanins protect the brain and help support cognitive function.

In smoothies, spreads, and on their own. 

Adaptogens like ashwagandha and ginseng

Help the body “adapt” to stress.

Teas, supplements, drinks like Moment beverages. 


Choosing the right foods can be the secret weapon to maximizing focus and concentration. A cup of tea a day could keep the mental fog away, thanks to the dynamic combination of the stimulating effects of caffeine and the calming properties of L-Theanine. Topping off your meals with a serving of antioxidant-rich berries can provide the extra brain booster, combating inflammation and oxidative stress. And drinking beverages with ingredients that support focus and concentration, like Moment drinks included in their Focus and Memory collection, can help fuel your body with many helpful compounds conveniently. 

As they say, you are what you eat, and in this case, you could very well eat your way to a focused and alert mind!

Lauren is a nutrition expert, three-time book author, freelance writer, recipe developer, and media spokesperson. With a special focus on women's and pediatric nutrition, Lauren has a passion for conveying complicated nutrition information to this unique and engaged population.

Related Posts

Lion's Mane Mushroom Health & Wellbeing Benefits, Uses, and Useful Information
Adaptogens & Nootropics

Lion's mane mushroom health & wellbeing benefits, uses, and useful information

Expert Opinion: L-theanine and Alcohol - Everything You Need To Know
Adaptogens & Nootropics

Expert opinion: l-theanine and alcohol - everything you need to know

How to boost energy without caffeine – What do the experts have to say?
Energy & Fitness

How to boost energy without caffeine – what do the experts have to say?

Cranberries and Womens' Health - Everything You Need to Know
Superfoods

Cranberries and womens' health - everything you need to know

lions mane for improving memory and fighting brain fog
Adaptogens & Nootropics

Lions mane for improving memory and fighting brain fog

Reishi Mushroom Health Benefits, Uses and Useful Information
Adaptogens & Nootropics

Reishi mushroom health benefits, uses and useful information