Food for thought – Boost your writing process with your diet
As medical writers, our brain is our most important asset and we should invest in taking good care of it. We spend most of our time sitting at a desk behind a computer pouring over documents, medical writing, and researching. Our bodies weren’t made to sit for extended periods of time and staring at a screen for hours on end doesn’t do your focus and productivity any favors.
Most people know that getting enough physical activity not only keeps your body happy, but can also do wonders for your mind. However, did you know that what you eat can also impact your creativity, productivity, and overall writing process? A balanced, nutrient-rich diet not only increases resilience and mental performance, but also lowers the risk of a number of diseases!
Here are some tips and tricks to boost your writing process with your diet:
- Protein. Proteins are essential for brain function. Their building blocks, amino acids, form the basis for the production of important neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, two of the so-called “happy hormones” and play a role in mental performance . An added benefit is that high-protein foods are very satiating and reduce cravings and snacking . Good dietary protein sources include lean meats, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, peas, lentils, lower fat dairy products, tofu, and other soy-based products.
- Healthy fats. Healthy unsaturated fats such as omega-3 fatty acids are important for the brain, not only early in development, but also for learning and memory in adults and they might even lower the risk for dementia [3, 4]. Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout, etc.), nuts (in particular walnuts), and avocados are excellent sources of omega-3.
- Green leafy veggies. Leafy greens including spinach, kale, collards, broccoli, and lettuce, are rich in brain-healthy nutrients and vitamins like folates. Research has shown that consumption of leafy greens can help keep your brain young and contribute to overall brain health .
- Berries. Berries are not only pleasing to the eye, but the pigments that give them their bright colors (flavonoids) also have antioxidant effects in the brain and help improve memory. In addition, berries contain a wide range of other nutrients and are low in calories .
- Coffee or tea? The jury’s still out on whether coffee is good or bad for you. On the one hand, caffeine can lead to a short-term concentration boost and could also help to improve memory. Next to caffeine, coffee also contains many other bioactive substances that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective effects. On the other hand, coffee can increase blood pressure and affect the heartbeat [7, 8, 9]. The way to go here is likely moderation. Tea, especially green tea, has similar beneficial effects as coffee [10, 11], but again moderation is advised as excessive green tea consumption could lead to liver toxicity .
- Limited sugar and processed foods. Although sugar, in the form of glucose, is the main energy source for the brain and is necessary for its function, too much of it is detrimental. Aside from affecting overall health, high blood sugar levels are associated with attention problems, decreased memory function, and even shrinkage of the brain [13, 14]. Highly processed foods contain both fat and added sugars, an especially harmful combination. If you are looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, dark chocolate containing flavonoids is a better alternative .
So basically all the good stuff is off-limits then? Well, not quite. A little indulgence once in a while won’t hurt, but as with everything, balance is key. Just remember, a happy brain makes a happy, productive writer!
Specials thanks to: Nele Plehiers | Medical Writer
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