Eating well: Life in the Fast Lane

Food items that will give you a varied and balanced diet to make you more productive during your fast


With the mercury rising to unprecedented heights (exceeding 43°C), parts of the country are engulfed in one of the worst heatwaves to hit the region. If you are fasting this month, pay close attention to what you eat for a healthy and productive lifestyle. According to Mayo Clinic’s website, a healthy diet does not only help control weight and lower cholesterol, it can also improve concentration, alertness, problem-solving skills and productivity.

1. Eggs

Eggs contain a fat-like B-vitamin called choline that enhances memory and reaction time. Choline can help boost the memory centre in the brain because it increases the size of neurons, helping them fire electrical signals strongly and rebound faster between firing.

2. Bananas

The brain works best with about 25g of glucose circulation in the blood stream — about the amount found in a banana.

3. Yogurt

Yogurt has protein, minerals and probiotics, which help the digestive system. The protein in yogurt may also help increase the amount of water absorbed by the intestines, improving hydration.

4. Spinach

Spinach is full of antioxidant power. Researchers suggest that a diet rich in spinach can significantly improve learning capacity and motor skills. A salad with spinach has more than three times the amount of folate (helps tissues grow and cells work) than one with iceberg lettuce.

5. Almonds

Phenylalanine, found in almonds, can do wonders for your mental and neurological health. Additionally, almonds are high in riboflavin which is important for body growth and red blood cell production.

6. Dark, leafy greens

They are loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Iron, for example, helps bring more oxygen to the body (and brain) and improves cognitive control.

7. Olive oil

Olive oil is a great source of monosaturated fat, which is known to slow brain aging. Drizzle 1tbsp to 2tbsp over your salad with some balsamic vinegar, or choose an olive oil-based dressing.

8. Salmon

Salmon has omega-3 fatty acids, protein, iron and B-vitamins which support memory, recall, reasoning and focus.

9. Brown rice

Whole grains, like brown rice, are filled with vitamins and magnesium, which improve cognitive health.

10. Eggplant

Eating eggplant will keep your brain sharpen by enhancing communication between your brain cells and messenger molecules.

11. Fruits and veggies

Fruits and vegetables contain vital nutrients that foster the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls the brains reward and pleasure systems. Helps regulate empotional responses that plays a key role in the experience of curiosity, motivation and engagement. They also provide antioxidants that minimise bodily inflammation, improve memory and enhance mood.

12. Carrots

Raw carrots will give you the steady level of blood sugar your brain needs to function optimally.

13. Walnuts

Walnuts are made up of 15% to 20% protein and contain omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E and vitamin B6, making them an excellent source of nourishment for your nervous system. Walnuts may also help correct the brain’s serotonin levels — an important brain chemical that controls both our moods and appetite.

14. Cashews

Cashews are high in magnesium, known to open up the blood vessels in your body. More oxygen-rich blood means better brain function.

15. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate contains antioxidant properties that increase the production of endorphins while enhancing focus and attention span.

16. Dark, fibre-rich whole wheat bread with meat, eggs or another protein 

Dark fibre-rich wholewheat bread

It is lower on the glycemic index and this kind of bread causes less of a blood sugar spike. Add some meat or other protein to the bread and the glucose absorption rate becomes a gentle curve.

High-fibre carbohydrates

They are relatively low on the glycemic index, but combining them with fat or protein can slow absorption even more.

*The infographic was compiled by the Entrepreneurs & Business Owners Community.

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, July 12th, 2015.