7 Foods That Can Boost Productivity and Creativity

You are what you eat.

You’ve heard that plenty of times before, but have you ever given it some serious thought? What does it mean, exactly? Think of it this way — if you eat nothing but fried foods, chips, and soda, you’re probably going to be overweight and generally unhealthy. If you take on a vegan diet, you’ll likely be pretty lean. If you eat a lot of protein-packed foods, you’re probably going to be pretty muscular — just like the foods you eat.

But those links go beyond just physical makeup and appearance. The foods we eat, and overall dieting habits, have a serious impact on our the way our brains function. If you’ve ever heard someone use the term ‘brain food,’ this link is what they’re referring to.

There are several physiological factors that are at play when discussing diet and cognitive function — blood sugar levels, caloric intake, and the concentration of vitamins and minerals among them. The point is, what you eat can and will have an affect on how you’re able to perform throughout the day, which can mean spikes and plateaus in productivity, and being able to tackle objectives with a clear and focused mind.

After all, it’s hard to get anything done when you’re ‘hangry,’ right?

Researchers say you’ll want to focus your overall eating habits toward a fruit and vegetable-heavy diet in order to hit higher levels of engagement and become more productive. There are many foods and drinks that can also help you find a spark of creativity or a boost in engagement because of their specific compositions. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up during the work day, the following seven foods should help you get back on track.

1. Eggs

close-up of poached eggs

Poached eggs | iStock.com

Eggs are rich in protein, which will not only help your body build and maintain muscle, but also leave you feeling full. That means that if you have a few, you’ll stop feeling famished and be able to get back to work. But more than that, eggs contain many vital nutrients, including choline. Choline has been linked by many researchers to increased cognitive ability, and even improved memory. Plus, they’re cheap and relatively easy to make. Hard-boil some eggs, and keep them nearby.

2. Bananas

Bunch of Bananas

Bunch of bananas in a basket | iStock.com

Bananas are cheap, easy to eat, and delicious. You can find them pretty much anywhere, too — from hotel continental breakfast bars, to every 7-11 or Starbucks out there. But the greatest thing about bananas is that they’re natural mood enhancers and can get your mind back on the things that count. Bananas contain chemical compounds like tyrosine that can help you calm down. Bananas also have a good dosage of potassium, which has numerous psychological and physiological effects.

3. Salmon

Grilled Cajun Salmon

Salmon with corn and asparagus | iStock.com

Grizzly bears must be on to something.

Salmon has been found to have rather profound impacts on brain function, mostly due to the big concentrations of Omega fatty acids within the tissues. Those fatty acids, and the ones found in salmon in particular, are ideal for our neurons and help support healthy brain tissue. This is why fish oil pills grew so wildly in popularity, and why many doctors suggest getting plenty of fish in your diet. If you can’t seem to get any work done, have some Steelhead for lunch.

4. Tea

pouring a cup of green tea to increase productivity

Green tea | iStock.com

Yes, tea will give you a caffeine dose that will leave you more energized and raring to go, but there is also evidence that certain teas will help your memory. Green tea, in particular, has been clinically shown to have a lasting impact on brain connectivity, which refers to the communication networks located within the brain itself. Opening up those networks increases working memory, it has been found, and may even helped stave off degenerative diseases like dementia.

Perhaps all that tea is what helped the British control huge swaths of the globe for so long?

5. Wine

wine on a restaurant table

Glass of wine | iStock.com

If you’ve ever wondered how and why some people seem to come alive after a glass or two of wine, there’s some science to back it up. Certain compounds found in wines have been tied to increased levels of cognitive performance — levels that were curiously not present when subjects drank beer or other liquors. The compound in question, called resveratrol, is commonly found in grapes, which is how wine drinkers end up reaping the benefits. Resveratrol can help give you a memory boost, and may even have anti-cancer and anti-aging effects too.

6. Dark Chocolate

plain dark chocolate and dark chocolate candy bars

Dark chocolate bars | iStock.com

Just like wine, chocolates (dark chocolates, specifically) are rich in certain compounds that are linked to increased brain function. In this case, we’re talking about high concentrations of flavanols, which are present in cocoa beans. There is evidence that flavanols can lower blood pressure, and even help regulate blood sugar, but they also are tied to memory and cognitive abilities.

7. Nuts

boiled peanuts

Peanuts | iStock.com

Can’t get enough cashews or almonds? Eat up, because there is evidence of long-term nut intake being tied to better brain health. Nuts contain all kinds of important elements in high concentrations, including vitamins and minerals. You also get healthy fats, and one of the best sources of protein outside of meats and poultry. And much like salmon, there are nuts that contain some essential and valuable fatty acids, which can help facilitate brain development and ward off age-related degeneration.

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