I’ll take any edge when it comes to studying and getting better results with less effort and that includes my diet. It’s not always the first thing people think of when we talk about studying strategies but there are certainly some foods that help with memory and concentration and you’d be mad not to take your diet into consideration when studying.
And, no, a diet made up of 90% caffeine does not actually help.
Snacking while studying (ideally healthy snacks) can really help keep your energy levels (and therefore concentration) up but you also need to consider your diet in general. Many studies have seen the direct link between poor memory retention and tiredness and you can help prevent this with a proper diet.
Berries have some of the highest concentrations of antioxidants among fruit, and all berries are rich in healthy anthocyanins and flavonols(a subgroup of flavonoids), which may help protect against the breakdown of brain cells. Some encouraging animal studies have suggested that diets rich in flavonoids may help reverse memory loss in humans.
Blueberries in particular have received a lot of attention because they are one of the best food sources of flavonoids. In fact, a British study revealed that eating plenty of blueberries can enhance spatial memory and learning.
Fresh berries are available at farmers’ markets, local supermarkets, and health food stores. During off-season months, frozen berries are a good substitute and just as nutritious.
To make the most from your studying don’t focus on the time you invest. Focus on the quality of your study session over the quantity you do. This is one of the key things we focus on and we absolutely think you can get twice the results in half the time. Make sure you grab the free audiobook Unlimited Memory by a chess grandmaster which will absolutely transform your results overnight if you apply the techniques.
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, and turnip greens are loaded with folate(folic acid is the synthetic form of this nutrient that’s found in supplements and fortified foods) which seems to have a direct effect on memory. In a study done at Tufts University in Boston, researchers followed 320 men for three years and tracked their blood levels of homocysteine an amino acid that has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease. The participants who had high levels of homocysteine showed memory decline; those who ate foods rich in folic acid, however, which directly lowers homocysteine levels, demonstrated a protective effect against memory decline.
An Australian study also found that a diet featuring plenty of foods rich in folic acid was associated with faster information processing and memory recall. After just five weeks of consuming adequate amounts of folic acid, women in the study showed overall improvements in memory.
Healthy fats are important for a healthy mind. Research suggests that when it comes to food and memory, fish should be the star of the show specifically, fatty fish like salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel and the generous amounts of omega-3 fats they provide. In fact, a study published in the Archives of Neurology in November 2006 found that subjects with the highest levels of omega-3s were significantly less likely to be diagnosed with dementia than subjects with the lowest levels.
Another, earlier study, conducted by researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, followed more than 3,000 men and women for six years to see how diet affected their memory. Those who ate fish at least once a week had a 10 percent slower memory decline than those who did not eat fish, a difference that gave them the memory and thinking ability of a person three years younger.
Strive to eat three 4-ounce servings of fatty fish per week. If that’s not realistic, consider using fish oil supplements.
There’s good news for coffee lovers: About two years ago, researchers from the University of Innsbruck in Austria found that caffeinated coffee can temporarily sharpen a person’s focus and memory. After giving volunteers the caffeine equivalent of about two cups of coffee, they used magnetic resonance imaging to observe that the volunteers’ brain activity was increased in two locations, one of which is involved in memory. Volunteers given no caffeine showed no increase in brain activity.
Another study, published in a leading neurology journal, found that the effects of caffeine may be longer lasting in women. This four-year-long study involved about 7,000 participants who all went through baseline evaluations for cognitive function and blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other vascular issues.
The researchers reevaluated the participants at the end of two years and again at the end of four years; they found that women 65 and older who drank more than three cups of coffee per day (or the caffeine equivalent in tea) had about a third less decline in memory over that time than the women who drank one cup or less of coffee (or the caffeine equivalent in tea) per day.
The results held up even after the researchers adjusted them to take into account other factors that could affect memory function, such as age, education, baseline cognitive function, depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, medications, and chronic illnesses. The researchers speculated that this caffeine-memory association was not observed in men because it’s possible that the sexes metabolize caffeine differently.
Editors note: As much as I love my flavored latte you have to balance this with avoiding a sugar crash. Black coffee is not my preference but when it comes to being productive it’s worth the trade.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that unfiltered coffee (such as espresso, as well as coffee made in a French press) contains compounds that can raise cholesterol levels, especially in people who are already battling high cholesterol. To be safe, stick with filtered coffee, and of course, be moderate when adding milk and sugar!
This is from this answer on Quora. It covers my main suggestions and gives you enough justification (as opposed to most places which just blast you with a list without any actual reasons).
Realistically, we could probably go over hundreds of different types of foods which you could start trying to work in your diet but it’s better to have a few main ideas which you can experiment with and take it further.
If you try and change too much at once you’re more likely to make mistakes and not notice differences (which helps you track and see what works well for you). If you can spare a few minutes I do suggest tracking what you eat and how you feel while studying. It can be hard to judge focus and concentration but be honest with yourself and also consider tracking things like sleep.
1. Fatty Fish
When people talk about brain foods, fatty fish is often at the top of the list.
This type of fish includes salmon, trout and sardines, which are all rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids (1).
About 60% of your brain is made of fat, and half of that fat is the omega-3 kind (2).
Your brain uses omega-3s to build brain and nerve cells, and these fats are essential for learning and memory (2, 3).
Omega 3-s also have a couple additional benefits for your brain.
For one thing, they may slow age-related mental decline and help ward off Alzheimer’s disease (4, 5, 6, 7).
On the flip side, not getting enough omega-3s is linked to learning impairments, as well as depression (3, 8).
In general, eating fish seems to have positive health benefits.
One study found that people who ate baked or broiled fish regularly had more gray matter in their brains. Gray matter contains most of the nerve cells that control decision making, memory and emotion (9).
Overall, fatty fish is an excellent choice for brain health.
If coffee is the highlight of your morning, you’ll be glad to hear that it’s good for you.
Two main components in coffee caffeine and antioxidants help your brain.
The caffeine in coffee has a number of positive effects on the brain, including (9):
Drinking coffee over the long term is also linked to a reduced risk of neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s (9).
This could at least be partly due to coffee’s high concentration of antioxidants (15).
Blueberries provide numerous health benefits, including some that are specifically for your brain.
Blueberries and other deeply colored berries deliver anthocyanins, a group of plant compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects (16).
Antioxidants act against both oxidative stress and inflammation, conditions that may contribute to brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases (16).
Some of the antioxidants in blueberries have been found to accumulate in the brain and help improve communication between brain cells (16, 17).
Animal studies have shown that blueberries help improve memory and may even delay short-term memory loss (18, 19, 20).
Try sprinkling them on your breakfast cereal or adding them to a smoothie.
Turmeric has generated a lot of buzz recently.