Eat to in­crease alert­ness

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Variety - An­jali Muk­er­jee, nu­tri­tion­ist

Acommon com­plaint among most ex­ec­u­tives, stu­dents and pro­fes­sion­als is that they find it dif­fi­cult to con­cen­trate and stay alert. Com­mon ex­cuses for the same are stress, lack of sleep or dis­trac­tion due to un­der­ly­ing per­sonal prob­lems. Thus, to in­crease the alert­ness level, peo­ple of­ten take refuge in caf­feinated bev­er­ages like tea and cof­fee, and end up get­ting ad­dicted to them.

But are you aware that even diet can play an im­por­tant role in ei­ther making you slug­gish, or in fine-tun­ing your mind? By making some small di­etary changes, you can in­crease your men­tal alert­ness as well as im­prove your per­for­mance by sev­eral notches.

It’s all in the ABC (Alert Brain Chem­i­cals)

The en­tire game of keep­ing the brain alert or making it drowsy, sleepy or ex­hausted is the re­sult of in­ter­play be­tween a few brain chem­i­cals — nor­ep­i­neph­rine (NE), dopamine and sero­tonin. Re­search sug­gests that peo­ple are more alert when the brain pro­duces higher lev­els of dopamine and nor­ep­i­neph­rine, while sero­tonin has a more calm­ing and anx­i­ety-re­duc­ing ef­fect, of­ten making the per­son drowsy. Dopamine and nor­ep­i­neph­rine have the abil­ity to off­set the ef­fect of sero­tonin, thus in­creas­ing alert­ness and con­cen­tra­tion. So, eat­ing car­bo­hy­drate-rich rice or pasta makes a per­son calm or slug­gish, whereas eat­ing pro­tein-rich fish or sprouts at lunch makes a per­son more alert.

Quick guide for an alert diet

A diet that boosts con­cen­tra­tion lev­els works great for those who con­stantly com­plain about poor at­ten­tion span. Some rec­om­men­da­tions on foods to keep con­cen­tra­tion high are:

Eggs in any form pro­vide good-qual­ity pro­tein nec­es­sary for sus­tained alert­ness in the morn­ing.

Eat pro­tein first and car­bo­hy­drates later, if you want to feel alert. For ex­am­ple, eat the fish first, and then the bread.

Do not eat carbs on an empty stom­ach. Do­ing so will make you feel sleepy.

Avoid large, greasy meals. Eat­ing large meals makes you lethar­gic. The fat­tier or heav­ier the meal, the more lethar­gic you feel.

Hy­drate your­self with 8-10 glasses of wa­ter daily, as it leads to good blood cir­cu­la­tion in the brain. Those who com­plain of poor con­cen­tra­tion tend to be de­hy­drated.

Break up the en­tire day’s calo­rie in­take into four to five small meals. They pre­vent dip in blood-sugar lev­els and hence, pre­vent a drop in per­for­mance lev­els as­so­ci­ated with lower alert­ness.

Med­i­ta­tion can help to sharpen men­tal skills.

Eggs in any form pro­vide good qual­ity pro­tein nec­es­sary for sus­tained alert­ness

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