There’s an old saying that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. While it may not be entirely accurate, it does highlight the relationship between diet and wellbeing. We tend to usually consider our diet and exercise when we have a specific goal in mind. Unfortunately, this goal is usually cosmetic. Don’t get me wrong, looking great and wearing the signs of good health on your sleeve is a noble goal, but in order to really appreciate the benefits of a good diet and exercise regime we need to look past the purely superficial.
Eating right and exercising can also increase your brain function, which can be a huge boon to your day to day life, your relationships and your career! The right foods can help to make you more alert and mindful, resulting in fewer mistakes and reprimands at work and much less chance of forgetting an important birthday or anniversary..
Staying fit can stabilize and even accelerate your metabolism, meaning that you feel less tired and lethargic throughout the day. You’ll show up to work clear eyed and smiling while your colleagues shuffle in red-eyed and clutching their coffee for dear life. And at the end of the day you’ll have the motivation to hit the gym as you chase a natural feel-good-fix of endorphins.
Let’s look at the ways in which you can improve your mental agility through fitness and diet…
The importance of planning your daily diet
The workplace is littered with bright and colorfully packaged treats that can not only wreak havoc with your waistline but your state of mind, too. So, first things first, step away from the vending machine! Too many of us starve ourselves all morning before reaching for a sugary snack before lunch. This results in a short blood sugar spike which is followed by a crash which will leave you feeling sluggish and tired, likely with a nasty headache to boot.
The secret to eating your way to healthy brain function is as much in when you eat as what you eat. Our brains are at their most productive with around 25 grams of glucose in our bloodstream. This is roughly equivalent to what’s in a banana, which has the fiber to stabilize your body’s insulin response, releasing energy throughout the day and preventing cravings.
Sticking to a planned diet is vitally important. You might think that you can ‘wing it’ but we all have a habit of making poor dietary choices when our blood sugar is low.
Breakfast- Eggs contain B vitamins that improve neurological function while antioxidant rich blueberries improve memory and motor skills.
Lunch- Pack a tasty salad with green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach and you’ll be loading up with iron which helps to oxygenate the brain and body, while avocado has the healthy fats that promote blood flow, an essential part of brain function.
Dinner- After a hard day’s work we all get tempted by the pizzeria menu, but a salmon fillet is rich in omega 3 and B vitamins to support memory and focus. A side of brown rice and broccoli will provide magnesium and Vitamin K to promote cognitive function.
Snacks- Make sure you keep your energy levels stable with healthy snacks. Whole almonds and carrot sticks will help to maintain stable blood sugar, warding off productivity destroying cravings while providing magnesium to oxygenate the blood and improve brain function.
Exercise for brain health
Think that exercise can only keep your body fit and healthy? It can also improve cognitive function by addressing the areas that affect brain health. Running, jogging or even brisk walking releases a chemical in the brain called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which rewires memory circuits, improving their function. Regular moderate intensity exercise also helps maintain healthy blood pressure, improves energy, lifts your mood, lowers stress and maintains heart health, all of which contribute to improved brain function.
If you’re injured at work then you may be left for a long period without a stable income. This can have severely damaging consequences for your emotional and psychological wellbeing. While you should definitely consult an attorney for work related injuries, your diet and fitness will play a huge part in bouncing back stronger than ever. But whether you’re injured in or outside of work, you need to recover quickly to avoid a detrimental effect on your career and your mental health. Fortunately, diet and exercise are crucial in facilitating a quick recovery. While plenty of rest is important, staying active can prevent muscle deterioration and joint stiffness that could slow your recovery. Swimming, for example, is a great way of staying active without placing stress on joints and muscles.
Likewise a diet rich in protein, Vitamin C and antioxidants are also vital to repairing damaged tissue and facilitating the healing process. So make sure your kitchen is loaded with lean meats, fish, poultry, nuts, green leafy veg and berries.
A healthy lifestyle is its own reward, but a good diet and regular exercise can give your brain the jumpstart it needs to achieve its full potential, and you’ll look and feel great in the process!