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Healthy foods can boost your productivity

By Nickie Kaetzel • Apr 9, 2018 at 2:00 AM

We’ve all felt it. That grumbling in our stomach around 2 or 3 p.m. telling us it’s time for a snack. You might even feel a little sluggish and need a pick-me-up to get you through the rest of the work day.

What type of snack will provide you the energy needed?

Should you go to the vending machine and find a quick snack or just drink a cup of coffee instead?

Whether it’s a mid-morning cookie or an afternoon apple, the snacks you eat could affect how productive you are. So, here are some healthy snack options and foods that boost your productivity.

Eat your fruits and veggies

It’s no secret fruits and vegetables do our bodies good. But, did you know that produce can have a positive effect on our productivity?

Researchers think vitamins, antioxidants and carbohydrates in fruit and vegetables increase the brain’s production of dopamine and serotonin. These are neurotransmitters involved in mood, behavior and brainpower. So the next time your belly is “talking to you”, try getting a boost from …

• Blueberries. The flavonoids found in blueberries interact with nerve cells, increasing communication among them and stimulating the regeneration of brain cells.

• Broccoli. Its brain-boosting abilities are tied to its levels of vitamin K, which improves cognitive function.

• Kale. This nutrient-rich vegetable contains vitamin K and manganese, both known for boosting brain function. Manganese also helps with your brain’s ability to focus on tasks and provide energy.

• Avocado. It’s high in monounsaturated fats that protect brain cells and promote blood flow, which increases brain function.

Don’t forget your Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fish contains omega-3 fats, which help fight inflammation throughout the body, including the brain. The most effective omega-3 fats occur naturally in oily fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, herring and sardines. A quick fish taco, fish finger or even a few sardines might help get you through the afternoon.

Try a handful of nuts

Nuts are also a good source of omega-3 fats. They’re also rich in vitamin E, which has been known to prevent cognitive decline.

Almonds and walnuts are two great sources of vitamin E. Peanuts, pistachios, cashews, pecans and macadamia nuts are also good choices.

Don’t forget about Whole Grains

Whole grains are packed with essential nutrients such as fiber, B vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium. Magnesium can help with energy metabolism and may help improve mood. The fiber found in whole grains will help keep you full to ensure you do not crash later. Try snacking on whole grain crackers, cereal, air popped popcorn, or whole grain bread for an afternoon “pick me up.”

Water

While not necessarily a food, water is vital to not only staying hydrated, but staying focused. Every function in the body relies on water, including brain function. If you are dehydrated, you may feel sluggish and like you can’t focus. Keep a bottle of water handy to drink throughout the day.

If you keep hitting the wall at work and are looking for ways to get over it, take a look in your lunch bag. The snacks you bring could provide the pick-me-up you need to get through your day. If you’d like to learn more tips on healthy eating, visit the Fisher-Titus Health Living Blog at https://www.fishertitus.org/health.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nickie Kaetzel is a registered dietitian nutritionist at Fisher-Titus Medical Center. For help in reaching your health and wellness goals, contact your primary care physician for a referral for outpatient counseling.

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