- Drink up
Fluid intake is vital for the whole body and studies show that dehydration affects concentration levels. The recommended intake is 1-1.25 litres a day, but it doesn’t all have to be water – tea, coffee and herbal drinks all count, and lots of fruit and veg are also packed with water. But cut down on alcohol. Binge drinking in particular has been shown to lead to cognitive impairment, as well as dementia in later life.
- Eat breakfast
Studies show that concentration levels are higher in those who eat breakfast. Glucose, which we get from food, is the brain’s main fuel source, so, after a night’s ‘fasting’ while you sleep, it makes sense to eat on waking, preferably slow-release carbohydrates, such as porridge, or a combination of protein and carbs, such as a poached egg on toast. As the brain is a highly active organ – it forms only two per cent of our body weight, but consumes around 20 per cent of our oxygen and glucose – make sure you eat regular meals during the day to keep it fuelled.
- Break a habit
Do something different and shake up that grey matter, says Professor Ian Robertson of the Institute of Neuroscience at Trinity College, Dublin. He suggests brushing your teeth with your other hand, reading the newspaper aloud, taking a new route to work – anything that’s different from what you usually do.
- Play a brain game
Whether it’s sudoku, crosswords or test-your-memory websites, all will keep your brain active. Try different ones to keep up the challenge.
- Move it
You can boost the oxygen supply to your brain with exercise, particularly aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, jogging or dancing, which research shows improves thinking and reasoning skills. So, get away from your desk at lunchtime and stride out – you’ll find you perform better in the afternoon.