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It’s easy to forget the effect that nutrition and exercise can have on our ability to be productive and achieve our significant results. If you find yourself easily distracted and have difficulty focusing, it could mean that your body is deficient in a vital nutrient. The 4th way to improve your productivity with attention management is to ensure that your body is receiving the proper combination of nutrients in the proper amounts.

Dr. Harvey Kitzman earned a PhD in biochemistry and has a practice in Austin, TX, offering nutritional supplements and consulting. I asked him to provide some input about improving control over your attention through nutrition, and following are his thoughts on the subject.

Proper nutrition is essential for life. Having the correct amounts of vitamins, minerals, water, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats on a daily basis is essential in order to ensure that your body functions properly. With respect to brain function and concentration, this is especially important. The brain consumes between 20-30% of our energy at rest, and uses the consumed nutrients to make chemical compounds in the brain called neurotransmitters. This is why a hungry person may have difficulties concentrating, whereas someone who has just eaten may have an easier time with concentration and task orientation. Ensuring that you have the correct nutrients is essential to improving concentration.

So what sorts of nutrients do we need? We get most of our energy from carbohydrates, but consuming too much refined sugar can leave us feeling lethargic, similar to how we feel after eating a very large meal. Complex carbohydrates and low glycemic carbohydrates, which take the body a long time to digest, will ensure that our blood sugar levels remain constant, and that our brains will receive a steady supply of blood glucose. This will help with alertness while preventing that sleepy feeling. Complete proteins, proteins that contain the correct amount of the essential amino acids (ones your body can’t make itself) are important for the synthesis of neurotransmitters, which in turn affect mood and alertness. Essential fatty acids, such as Omega 3 fatty acids, have been shown to have a positive effect on the nervous system itself, ensuring proper brain health.

While your body does not get energy from vitamins, vitamins are needed for the biochemical reactions in your body to function normally. A daily multivitamin is needed to ensure that our bodies are getting the proper nutrients that we are not getting in our food. B-complex vitamins in particular have been shown to have many positive effects on the nerve tissue, and are a healthy way to stimulate the nervous system. Minerals such as iron are needed to ensure that the hemoglobin in our red blood cells is functioning normally. This will ensure that we get the proper blood flow to brain so that nutrients and oxygen can be delivered there. Antioxidants are needed to remove any metabolic byproducts that are created, which may interfere with proper brain functionality. Finally water helps to remove toxins as well for excretion by the body. Keeping the brain hydrated will also ensure efficient brain function.

Because of the above issues, eating proper meals (not skipping meals), drinking plenty of water, and ensuring the right balance of nutrients, will help to ensure proper brain functionality and in turn, proper concentration and task orientation.

Dr. Harvey Kitzman has a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Chemistry from Texas Lutheran University, and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and an MBA from the University of Florida. Currently he operates Kitzman Enterprises, where he is a Nutraceutical Consultant – working with nutritional supplements to aid with preventative health. He works with individuals who are interested in nutritional supplementation, with health professionals who are interested in incorporating nutritional supplementation into their practice, and with companies interested in implementing corporate wellness improvements and practices.

Dr. Harvey has invited readers of this blog to contact him for help with any of the issues mentioned above. You can find him at Health by Harvey or @drharveyk on Twitter.

Click here to read the fifth post: physical activity.

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