Updated: Apr 26
By Dr. Marika Berni, ND
Do you find that you start tasks, but don’t complete them? Are you foggy headed? Does your day end with you feeling like you accomplished nothing? Can you sit and read a book? Do you feel overwhelmed regularly?
We rely on our ability to focus and concentrate to perform our daily tasks. Poor focus results in procrastination, the inability to think clearly and accomplish tasks, difficulty sitting still, forgetting things and making careless mistakes.
Chronic alcohol use
Insomnia or reduced hours of sleep
Low iron or vitamin B12
Depression and anxiety
Food sensitivities and poor diet
Blood sugar control issues
Side effect of medications
Tips to improve your focus
Get to the root of the problem by having your ND test your nutrient and hormone levels. This will rule out many of the common causes and can make supporting your focus more precise. Levels to consider testing – thyroid hormones, iron, vitamin B12, markers of inflammation, sex hormones, cortisol levels, fasting blood sugar, insulin and blood lipids.
Too little and too much sleep can impact your focus! Many studies demonstrate that sleep deprivation leads to lower alertness and concentration. The investigators of this study concluded that getting an average amount of sleep (7-8 hours a night or greater than 5 and less than 9) resulted in the women participating being 2 years mentally younger than those who over or under slept. Yikes!
Aerobic exercise can increase your heart and lung capacity to transport oxygen to your brain, which can increase brain volume and decrease age-related brain atrophy. Say no more. Who wants a shrinking brain? Not to mention the positive influence on cortisol levels, energy and mood exercising provides.
Aim for regular, moderately intense exercise (30 minutes, 5 times a week with your heart reaching 70% of maximum) to increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a brain chemical that rewires memory circuits so they work better.
Consider following the principles of the Mediterranean Diet . Evidence shows that this diet can reduce dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Dos and don’ts – reduce refined carbohydrates and red meat, which cause inflammation. Increase fatty fish, olive oil, leafy greens, fruits such as berries and vegetables, which are rich in brain protecting antioxidants. Do drink 8 glasses of water or herbal tea daily, or try green tea!
I found this amazing site that is all about wild blueberry recipes!! (You can get frozen wild blueberries at your local grocery store). Wild blueberries are high in anthocyanins, which are a super antioxidant found to improve cognitive health.
Supplements to consider.
B vitamins, especially B12 if you are vegan, vegetarian or your doctor has identified a low level through blood testing. B vitamins in general support the body during stress and improve energy.
Omega 3 fatty acids which are a source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) can result in significant improvements in episodic memory in adults with memory concerns.
Bacopa monnieri is an Indian botanical that is used for longevity and cognitive enhancement. It can also reduce anxiety and improve your memory and has an antioxidant effect.
Centella asiatica or Gotu Kola is well known for its cognitive enhancing properties.
Getting your focus back may take a bit of effort and may involve a combination of lifestyle changes, but if you start with one thing at a time, you CAN improve your cognitive health and lead a more productive life – leaving more down time for the fun things!
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