As much as I love search engine optimization, I love health and fitness just as much. I know my blog posts are usually about SEO, but I thought we’d take a little detour from the norm with this post and talk about how our eating habits can affect mental performance.
This might sound crazy, but what if certain foods could make you more productive throughout your work day? All recruiters should be familiar with the super powers of coffee. It’s both delicious and effective. But caffeine overload can be dangerous for your health. Caffeine is simply a stimulant. It’s not providing your body or brain with the nutrients it needs to operate efficiently. Your brain needs real nutrients and real fuel to optimize its performance so you can endure the daily rigors of hiring.
When it comes to finding top talent, recruiters have a lot on their plate. The day-to-day grind can be tedious and exhausting. Picture this: It’s 11:30 AM. You’re nodding off into your computer screen. Your phone is ringing. You have a dozen unopened emails and an interview at 1 PM. You’re exhausted and off in the distance a thick brain fog is rolling in. You have 30 minutes until the door slams shut on productivity. You fight the urge of brewing another pot of coffee in the break room because you know a crash will ensue. Your neighbor offers you a slice of pizza. You accept. It’s delicious, but now your day is over. Wave goodbye to any potential productivity and grab a pillow. You’re going to need it.
Sound familiar? We’ve all given into the temptation of delicious and unhealthy food before. But choosing what to eat at the office is just as important as choosing what not to eat. Whether it’s donuts, pizza, chips, processed food, candy, or carb-heavy treats, next time decline your neighbor’s offering and reach for these healthy brain snacks.
Blueberries are a great snack for every day of the week, except when you’re wearing a white shirt. This super food contains many small molecules called “anthocyanins.” These compounds have numerous antioxidant properties known to improve cognitive function. Blueberries are also effective at reducing neurological inflammation, which can help slow age-related cognitive decline. Some studies have also confirmed the blueberry’s ability to enhance subjective well-being, making them a well-rounded snack for developing a sharper mind.
I remember flicking broccoli off my dinner plate as a child. If only my mother told me that broccoli is high in choline, which is the precursor to acetylcholine, your brain’s most prominent neurotransmitter linked to memory and learning. I probably would have eaten more of it growing up! Of course, that’s not the only benefit of broccoli. Having a strong immune system is key to not missing a day at the office and letting your work pile up. Broccoli helps with that, too. It contains high amounts of vitamin C and vitamin E, both of which are potent antioxidants that protect against free radical cell damage.
Coconut Oil (MCT Oil)
Coconut oil has become the new rage in the health and fitness world lately. With promises of improved heart health, more focus and energy, and weight loss potential, it seems too good to be true. But is it truly effective? The answer is both yes and no. Coconut oil is primarily composed of saturated fatty acids. Only about 15% of those fatty acids are effective in improving brain function and supporting weight loss. These fatty acids are known as “MCTs” or medium-chain triglycerides (your brain’s preferred fuel). There is a big difference in coconut oil vs. MCT oil. Too much saturated fat, as we know, can be unhealthy. But our body treats the MCTs in coconut oil differently than it does with other saturated fats. The MCTs are quickly converted into usable ketone energy for the body and brain rather than being stored as fat. So grab some MCT oil and mix it with your water next time you’re thirsty and need a mental boost. It tastes great, and it’s good for you!
Eggs are a great low calorie/high protein snack that can help you get through your work day. They are very high in choline content (even more so than broccoli), which can help support acetylcholine synthesis and kick your brain into high gear. Keep in mind that most of the vitamins and nutrients are in the yolk. Eating pure egg whites is unlikely to provide the same mental edge that eating the entire egg would provide. Studies have shown that Americans are highly deficient in dietary choline. Perhaps because we’ve been told our whole life that eggs are “fatty” and “dangerous” for your health? This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Sure, they have some cholesterol in them, but nobody ever said to eat a dozen eggs a day, right? Moderation in life, friends. If you need a quick pick me up, bring a few hardboiled eggs and some broccoli to munch on.
Growing up, I was always told that fish is “brain food,” but I never understood the full health benefits of fish. It turns out that fish is also an excellent source of dietary choline. Salmon, tuna, cod, and many other types of fish are an excellent way to cut brain fog due to their high choline and vitamin B12 content. Tuna is also a good natural source of phosphatidylserine, a phospholipid that helps to stabilize mood and promote mental focus. Like the egg, fish is also high in protein, which can keep you feeling fuller, longer. When you choose to snack on high protein foods, they serve as a form of appetite control by increasing satiety. You’ll be less likely to reach for the bag of chips or the box of cookies if you’re not feeling hungry! This is key for staying sharp and energized. Fish also contains EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), both of which are provided in unique ratios in omega-3 supplements. EPA is known for its ability to reduce bodily inflammation and improve mood, while DHA supports cognitive function. Thanks, fish!
Eat Smarter. Get More Done.
All too often, we choose to eat foods that are detrimental to our productivity. Remember, your body and mind are machines. The fuel you decide to provide your body will have a significant impact on its performance. Choosing healthy snacks will help you accomplish more, put you in a better mood, and keep you upbeat throughout the workday. The results will show in front of your clients and candidates, and that’s never a bad thing. We’re not saying you need to quit coffee, or never eat pizza ever again. But if you want to be at your absolute best, both mentally and physically, there are certainly better options!