At a special request from a friend, in this article, I will be talking about the brain’s health and what we can do to increase our focus, productivity, concentration, and happiness.
Genius Foods, Or What To Eat To Have FOCUS, Optimally Working BRAIN, Happiness, And PRODUCTIVITY?
The subject of brain health and productivity has been very interesting to me and, over the past couple of years, I have learned a lot about the link between the food we eat and its effect on our general health, productivity, brain clarity, concentration, and mood. And that’s not an accident.
First of all, not so long ago I had to pass through a period of unstable health where I had to review my food habits and to make better food choices to support my active lifestyle. And secondly, I’m a person who learns constantly and I am excited to share what I learn. And this, combined with the strive for more personal development and the development of this blog, requires huge levels of concentration, focus, energy, and productivity.
Fortunately, the changes I’ve made in the recent years have helped me get them. And not only that – the difference between me a few years ago and now is phenomenal, and I can boldly say that today I learn new things easier, my focus is much better and I am a lot more productive than before. What is the recipe for that?
Well, I try to really do almost everything from the described here:
– I avoid inflammatory foods;
– I use herbs, nuts, seeds, and spices that have antioxidant properties;
– I eat a lot of vegetables and include a variety of healthy fats in my meals;
– I make sure I stay hydrated during the day and drink enough water;
– I try to include probiotics, prebiotics and fermented foods in my meal plan;
– I do not eat meat too often, but I do have bone broth and soups frequently;
– I am actively involved in fighting chronic stress with proper nutrition, movement, sleep, adaptogens, relaxation methods and essential oils;
– I try to move and although I don’t do 10 000 steps every single day, I make sure I have regular walks or weekend hikes;
– I have a full night sleep in the dark and do everything to improve my quality of sleep and sleeping environment;
– I collect recipes, read books and get creative while trying to include all the foods on the list above in my daily menu in a delicious way for me.
Yes, I know this may sound too complicated for some, but in fact, it is a matter of priorities. I WANT to be healthy, productive and energetic, and while the above helps me to be what I want, I will keep doing it and keep sharing my experiences on the way with the hope that you too may get inspired to make some better food and health choices for yourself!
This being said, recently, I red a book called Genius Foods by Max Lugavere. This book points out the main opponents that prevent us from being in a top form: inflammation, over-eating, deficiency of valuable substances, exposure to toxins, chronic stress, immobilization and lack of sleep and explains what foods do we need to eat to maintain our health and to give our body the nutrients it needs. Why am I sharing this with you?
Because in this post, we will be talking about Genius Foods which can do wonders with your productivity, your concentration, you brain power, and your overall health.
For this purpose, I will share with you some insights from the Genius Foods, as well as some personal finds about superfoods which can drastically improve your energy and overall productivity. I also recommend another book I read a few years ago when I was struggling with making better food choices, which drastically changed the way I look at the brain, the general health and the way I care for myself – New Optimum Nutrition For The Mind by Patrick Holford.
The term “genius” that is used in the book Genius Foods is slightly overwhelmed, but the truth is, even if we are not geniuses, each one of us can strive for selecting powerful superfoods that promote better productivity and concentration.
And, although at first glance, the information that I am going to share with you may look very complex, I am sure most of the ideas and concepts that you are about to read here are not alien to you. So, if any of these topics interests you, delve into it. Your new, stronger, smarter, more focused and more productive body awaits you 🙂
Now, in order to understand what foods do we need to eat, let’s first gain a better understanding about the intruders that prevent us from being energetic and healthy:
In the ideal situation, inflammation is just the normal response of the body to wounds, cuts or temporary invasions of bacteria. But today, unfortunately, because of our lifestyle and nutrition, our immune system is chronically inflamed.
Therefore, in the recent years, the medical circles have crowned inflammation as one of the main causes of quite a lot of health problems – from gastrointestinal tract problems, through depression to autoimmune diseases, and so on.
Reputed medical professionals such as Dr. Frank Lipman even claim that:
“Inflammation is one of the main reasons a person feels old because it can cause pain in the body and joints, lack of energy, distraction, making you forget and many others.”
Therefore, one can feel older in a much earlier age. The goal of the anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle, however, is to feel as healthy and as young as possible for the longest. This being said, here is another good book on changing your daily routine and eating habits to restore and maintain your health.
I believe this is the reason for each of us to seek some form of anti-inflammatory nutrition, without, of course, falling into extremes. And when we talk about such a meal-plan, things are much simpler than any other, because there are no strict rules and prohibitions in this diet. There are only recommendations for increasing and reducing some of the foods on the menu.
Nothing more than that. For instance, here are the basic guidelines I try to follow in my diet in order to promote better health, more energy, more focus, and productivity.
– I try to avoid refined foods as much as possible (white flour and white sugar);
– I keep an eye on the glycemic index of the foods I consume;
– I try to get as many vegetables as possible in my menu;
– I try to pay attention to the balance between omega 3 and 6;
– I try to avoid personal inflammatory foods if I know who they are;
– I make sure I stay hydrated and remind myself to drink water during the day;
– And I try to help the body fight inflammation by incorporating some natural superfoods, herbs, and spices which provide micronutrients and elements such as curcumin (in turmeric), gingerol (in ginger), omega fatty acids (in fish, nuts and seeds), probiotics and prebiotics, vitamins and antioxidants.
Over-eating is the second point that Max Lugavere pays special attention to in his book, saying: “Not always humanity has had the opportunity to order its food through several scrolls of the phone. But today, solving the problem of having permanent food, we have encountered a new one – we have too much of it. And for the first time on Planet Earth, we find ourselves in a situation where there are more overweight people than those with the norm.
And because our bodies are in a permanent state of “fed”, the ancient balance is lost, resulting in a lack of energy and tone, a slow brain, and an increase in the aging process. The food industry is also playing a huge role in developing special foods that make us eat more and more and the control is constantly slipping … ”
This subject is written and spoken a lot in the book and online, so I will not get deeper into it. The citation is just to make you think about how much food we consume and do we really need that much.
Deficiency of valuable nutrients
As you know, our body is a perfectly working machine that every second strives for balance. And our body wants to be strong, to have energy and to feel good, and, believe it or not, it can achieve it if … we DO NOT interfere with it. And that means at least we should try to give our body everything it needs in the form of valuable nutrients.
Ideally, as I strongly believe, we should try to obtain all these valuable nutrients with the food we eat. The problem is that getting all the nutrients we need is completely compromised because the food we eat is not as rich in valuable minerals, vitamins, and microelements as it used to be.
Here I will quote another reputed medical professional, Dr. Stephen Gundry, who sums up the problem with nutrients deficiency in food like this:
“As early as 1936, the American Senate reported that the quality of our soil was so degraded that it was totally devoid of valuable minerals, and even people were eating huge quantities of vegetables (the current recommendations are for intake of vegetables 5 times a day), their organisms will literally starve for valuable nutrients.
So I also remember my patients: our ancestors ate an average of 250 different plants during the year, and these plants were grown in super-fertile clay soil. The animals whose meat they used also fed these plants. If we think that today we can duplicate the vast amount of vitamins, minerals, and other valuable substances by eating only 20 species, and they are also organic vegetables and fruits … You just cannot do it. “
This knowledge, given by Dr. Gundrey, is not new and opens an entirely new topic for the need of food supplements in our diet, as well as the selectiveness when it comes to the origin of our food. However, I will not dig into this now. This was just to help you understand how much you really manage to get with the food you eat from the nutrients you need and how important it is to try to eat balanced and versatile and to make better food choices.
Exposure to toxins
Exposure to toxins is another point for which we are nowadays guilty. Especially in terms of food, which, as Max Lugavere writes in the book, today combines everything in-one: “…it is deprived of valuable nutrients, acts inflammatory to the body and on top of all is covered with toxins”.
If we want to limit the effects of toxins on our body, at least to some extent, we should opt for consuming more foods and drinks with detoxing properties, such as detox tea, diatomaceous earth, organic vegetables and fruits, organic meat and diary, detoxing beverages, etc.
Chronic stress is reported to be a condition in which people find themselves experiencing long-term mental, emotional, or physical tensions. Unfortunately, whether we want it or not, each of us at some point in our life goes through this.
Supporters of the theory also say that one is more inclined to develop this state if, for example:
– he experiences too much stress at work or in everyday life;
– is working on shifts, is a working student;
– is a lone parent;
– is eating poorly and irregularly;
– has no qualitative sleep;
– is experiencing something that further stresses him, such as a relative’s death, divorce, surgery, etc.;
– is exercising stressful situations too much and too often, etc.
The problem is that there is still no medically proven diagnosis of “chronic stress”, but the truth is that there are people who at some point in their lives really feel tired, exhausted and stressed. And we all know that chronic stress can lead to a deterioration in the quality of life of each of us.
Therefore, regardless of whether or not formal medicine recognizes the syndrome, if there are things that can be done and they help us overcome the situation, I think it is right to take some measures.
For instance, here are some tips on what each of us can do to avoid burn-out and permanent stress, which slowly and imperceptibly can seriously degrade our quality of life:
– proper nutrition with priority in the menu of certain superfoods such as avocados, coconut, bone broth or collagen, nuts and seeds, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage), olives and olive oil, fish and poultry meat, fermented foods and/nuts and seeds; superfoods list here.
– consuming foods rich on valuable nutrients in the menu, especially vitamins from the B group, probiotics, vitamins C, E and A, selenium, magnesium, collagen and omega 3;
– supporting the body with the relaxing, rejuvenating and detoxing power of essential oils and other methods for self-care and inspiration;
– more movement in some form of sports and exercise;
– and some lifestyle changes to improve the condition.
I will not surprise you by telling you that movement is very important. Not only for the health of the body, but also for the brain. In fact, the physical activity increases the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and BDNF promotes the growth of new neurons in certain areas of the brain that increase its plasticity and ability to learn faster and easier, to remember better and, in general, to make our brain work more optimally.
And this is a point that many people miss, and it is super important – the movement makes our brains work better, reduces stress, increases energy and focus, improves mood and helps us learn and remember more easily. Movement is important.
Lack of good night’s sleep and sleeping disorders
Of course, we cannot go without it. After all, our body regenerate while we sleep and if that does not happen, well … its not good for us. In fact, quality night’s sleep helps us in many different ways. For starters, thanks to it, we manage to make it easier to make the changes we want to make, such as eating better, doing sports, and so on. It cleanses the “hard disk”, namely the brain, and helps it to store the memories of the day.
So, these are the intruders that prevent us from being healthy, described in the Genius Foods book. Now, let’s see which are the most important brain boosting and healthy superfoods, how to add them in your daily menu, and why …
Genius Superfoods – What To Eat To Have Focus, Brain Power And Productivity?
Genius Superfood Number 1 – The Right Fats
Actually, in Genius Foods’ book, these foods are divided one by one, but I combine them because they ultimately fall into one general category – fat. And our brain is made up of 60% of fat, so they are perhaps one of the most important elements that help it function well.
The right fats, however, not all the fats. And the most important among them are the monounsaturated fats like olive oil, avocado, cocoa (chocolate! :D), macadamia and almond, as well as coconut and omega 3.
I think anyone who has ever read something on the subject of healthy eating does not need to be persuaded why exactly these fats are important to us. Medical tests give them anti-inflammatory properties and claim to fight cardiovascular disease, depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and obesity. Additionally, they are super rich in different antioxidants and your brain loves those!
In short, the right fats are important to the health of the brain, especially in the long run, so do not get rid of them because of misunderstood dietary concepts.
Genius Superfood Number 2 – Berries
Flavonoids, polyphenols, antioxidants … berries are the only category of fruits that have everything. Especially blueberries, but all other berries (strawberry, raspberry, cranberry, etc.) as well.
Berries are the best among the fruits, with a number of medical research behind them, especially for the health of the brain. They are also low on carbs and rich on vitamins and minerals. You can get them fresh or frozen and use them in delicious drinks and desserts. Dried berries make an amazing take-off snack for the office or while on the go and work as an instant boost to your energy.
Genius Superfood Number 3 – Eggs
You know I’m a big fan of eggs, and I collect recipes for everything that can be prepared with them – from silky smooth omelets to a variety of salads, pancakes, and so on. The reason for this is that eggs are an incredible superfood, containing many of our most valuable nutrients, such as vitamin A, B12, E, selenium, zinc, and many others. They are also rich in choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which are important for the health and protection of the brain.
For maximum results, the author of Genius Foods book recommends frequent consumption of eggs without limitation in quantity, but I still remember that the eggs are also an allergen, so do not go too far with them. Still, add them to your menu. To get the most of their nutritional value, eat them whole – with the yolk, which is actually the bearer of all those goodies that I described above.
Genius Superfood Number 4 – Greens
I think there are no two opinions on the subject, and although I’ve put them in the last place, we all know that vegetables are important to us. Very, very important. In fact, according to the author, Max Lugavere, vegetables are the best friend of our brains. Especially those with green leafs such as lettuce, spinach, kale, and cruciferous (broccoli, cabbage, etc.).
Again, the benefits of these foods come from the vast array of valuable nutrients they contain, such as vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. And the most important among them, according to the author of Genius Foods, is the folic acid known as methylfolate. Folic acid, though more popular as a vitamin for pregnant women who cares for proper brain and baby development, has many other benefits for us, adults because it is a major player in the process of methylation that makes our body detox optimally and our genes do their job.
The other key player available in large doses in green foods is magnesium, which accounts for over 300 enzyme responses in our body. And the enzymes, in turn, take care of we have the energy and be young and healthy as long as possible. In his book, Max Lugavere even quotes a study according to which people who consume green foods 2 times a day are 11 years younger than others! Impressive, isn’t it? Of course, they are also rich in fiber and play the role of prebiotics.
If you lack inspiration and don’t feel like eating boring veggies, here is a short and helpful book with 100 simple salad ideas which may help you incorporate more greens in your menu.
The above, though quite extensive, is still a brief summary of the Genius Foods book, so if you are interested in the topic, I recommend you get it along with Patrick Holford’s New Optimum Nutrition for the Mind. There you will understand how sugar affects us, including fruit sugar, and why fruit smoothies are not the best food for us. There is a lot of information about carbohydrates and their influence, and many other valuable and useful information.
I would like to learn also about your suggestions on superfoods that help you support your productivity, interesting books you’ve read or recipes. Feel free to share them in the comments below.
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A Little Note & Thanks
- Note:Please take note that I am not a professional in food and nutrition and all the information written here is a personal opinion and personal analysis on various sources. Always contact your medical provider and/or certified nutritionist for any medical conditions and advice.
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