In the modern world, there are countless distractions. And problems arise when these distractions get in the way of your focus, attention, and concentration. They pull you away from the things that are most important to you - whether you want them to or not. Instead of cleaning your apartment or finally getting your dream business off the ground, you end up watching hours of Netflix or browsing through the latest online feed. Maybe you even end up stressed or overwhelmed. Your to-do list piles up - it’s too much. Or perhaps you desperately want to focus and get this next task done, but you just can’t. You can’t seem to just sit down and get ‘er done! Your lacking focus and your ability to concentrate is next-to-none. So, what’s going on? What factors are impacting your ability to concentrate? And how can you improve your focus and concentration? Let’s take a closer look!
Factors that affect focus and concentrationThere are various factors that cause you to lose focus and concentration, ultimately, leading you down a path of potential distraction. Surprisingly, the mechanisms in your brain that are in charge of your attention aren’t well understood by science. Experts theorize that the cholinergic system plays a major role in this ability. The cholinergic system consists of nerve cells that use the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which is responsible for action potentials. These actions potentials act as messages throughout your nervous system. Experts further believe that these action potentials help your brain determine where is best to direct your attention for concentration. But let’s zoom out for a quick second. There are many parts of your life and lifestyle that ultimately determine your ability to concentrate and focus. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Other psychological issues
- Amount of physical activity
- And environmental factors.
What is mental energy?Researchers define mental energy as “a mood, but can also be defined as [the] ability or willingness to engage in cognitive work.” This can be measured through cognitive performance, mood questionnaires, brain scans, and other techniques. Basically, your mental energy is your mental capacity to perform and use your brain for cognitive tasks. Yet, mental energy is not an infinite resource. It has limits.
ATP, the mitochondria, and the brainA lot of problems with health (including cognitive issues like concentration) tend to come back to the mitochondria in a cell. As you may already know, the mitochondria are the powerhouses of your cell. They help provide the fuel, in the form of ATP, for your cells to function as they should. And yes, an amount of mitochondrial damage will occur as time goes on. However, degenerative conditions may lead to a limited supply of glucose and oxygen, which disrupts mitochondrial function. And thus, they limit the amount of energy your mitochondria are able to supply to your cells. When energy is unavailable, neurons may not function as they should or even die. In turn, this can greatly impact your brain’s ability to function. Yet, your pathway toward better mitochondrial health looks very similar to improving your overall health. Quality sleep, consuming proper nutrients, minimizing stress, and performing regular physical activity go a long way in not only improving the health of your mitochondria - but also your ability to focus and concentrate.
Concentration and sleepSleep deprivation has a huge impact on your ability to concentrate. It causes memory issues and attention deficits. In fact, research indicates that sleep deprivation may lead to increased social, financial, and health costs. Why? Because your cognitive functions aren’t activated at 100%. Losing even a couple of hours of sleep can have significant impacts on how you function throughout your day. Yet, sleep can be used to help you focus better. With proper sleep hygiene, such as putting away your blue-light devices before bed and having a set bedtime, and quality sleep, you can start your day refreshed and with the ability to concentrate on the task-at-hand. Learn how to hack sleep: This is Why You Can’t Sleep And 8 Ways To Fix It
Concentration and circadian rhythmAlright, so you can use sleep to help you concentrate better. But what about your circadian rhythm? Is there a link between this natural body rhythm and your ability to concentrate? The short answer: Yes. Your circadian rhythm is involved in all phases of attention, including tonic alertness, phasic alertness, selective attention, and sustained attention. As your day progresses, your concentration levels improve. However, during the early hours of the morning and the late hours of the night, your attention and ability to focus drastically decreases. In other words, you may want to consider saving important tasks that require the utmost attention for mid-day. And saving tasks that require the least amount of concentration or focus for early morning or at night.
How to manage stress to increase focus and concentrationEver notice how during stressful times you struggle to concentrate? There’s a reason for that. Chronic stress can have many negative effects on your mental and physical health. When the body and mind are stressed, dysfunctions occur. And stress is a big one when it comes to age-related cognitive decline. Essentially, stress causes a flood of cortisol and adrenaline. In turn, this impairs other cognitive functions, including your concentration levels. Effectively finding ways to minimize the stress in your life can significantly help improve your ability to focus. Try these:
- Deep breathing
- Progressive relaxation
- Regular exercise
- Practicing positive self-talk
Diet and concentrationYour health comes down to what you put in your body. Nutrition is your foundation. It’s the reason you might feel tired all the time. It also impacts your mood, and so much more. Research proves this. Ideally, your diet should include a range of healthy and whole foods. Steering clear of processed or pre-packaged food items can also improve your concentration and your overall brain health.
Foods that support the brain and mitochondriaFor optimal brain and mitochondrial function, many foods offer beneficial effects including:
- Green tea
- Foods high in B vitamins, such as meats.
- Foods high in carnitine, such as beef, chicken, asparagus.
- Foods rich in selenium, such as eggs, tuna, chicken, pork, and oysters.
- Antioxidant-rich foods, such as bananas, carrots, beets, onions, oranges, and more.
- Foods high in COQ10, including fish, meats, strawberries, cauliflower, and more.
- Carbohydrates (the mitochondria need glucose to effectively create ATP).
What are the superfoods for cognitive healthThere's a variety of superfoods around the world that are renowned for their ability to boost brain health. You can buy them as powders, tinctures, or even get them freeze-dried. And if you are lucky you can find them in your nearest farmer's market.
- Lion's Mane Mushroom has been renowned for its ability to boost the neurotransmitter acetylcholine--which helps with digestion, memory, focus, and REM Sleep.
- Curcumin is the active ingredient of the turmeric root. It has been known to boost cognitive health, especially for those suffering from Alzeihmer's disease.
- Reishi Mushroom: Research done on animals indicates that reishi mushrooms may be therapeutic for neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and may also be able to protect the brain from seizures.
- Mucuna Pruriens contains high levels of naturally occurring L-dopa, the precursor to dopamine. Dopamine is a brain chemical that plays a major role in motivation, pleasure, and emotions.
How can TUSOL smoothies help?TUSOL's ILLUMINATE Banana and Chaga Smoothie is specifically designed to protect acetylcholine — the neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for memory, learning, and emotional response. Lion’s mane increases the production of acetylcholine, chaga protects it from oxidative stress, and maca inhibits AcHE — an enzyme that destroys acetylcholine. Together these ingredients help keep you sharp so you can remember where you put those keys. TUSOL has 2x the dose of supplements in each smoothie serving.
Supplements that boost cognitive healthExperts often suggest these supplements for mitochondrial disorders:
- ALA (Alpha-lipoic acid)
- Coenzyme Q10
- Folinic Acid
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Ginkgo biloba
- Bacopa monnieri
- Rhodiola rosea