Super performance foods: maximising work performance through diet

by 20 Mar 2007

As well as achieving a healthy weight, research shows that the right diet can have a significant impact on your work performance by boosting your vitality, immunity and energy levels. Plus the new exciting area of study is focused on super foods for maximum brain performance.

Go fish

Long chain omega 3 fatty acids from fish are being widely studied for their role in brain development and performance and there is also some evidence of their links with reducing the risk of depression. Studies have shown that healthy people consuming omega 3s had marked improvements in higher brain functions, like reactivity, attention and cognition.

Go for: at least 3 serves of omega 3 rich fish a week, like salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel, or fortified sources with DHA, like certain breads.

Keep the right carbs

In simple terms, foods high in carbohydrates increase blood glucose levels and provide vital fuel to working muscles and the brain. However carbs also increase the quantity of the amino acid tryptophan in the brain and switch on the synthesis of serotonin. Serotonin is the feel-good chemical that promotes calmness and a positive mood.

Go for: regular serves of low GI (glycemic index), nutritious carbohydrates like oats at breakfast, wholegrain bread at lunch, pasta with dinner and snacks of orchard fruits and low-fat yoghurt to help maintain sustained energy and a positive mood.

Suits to a tea

Caffeine is a recognised drug, stimulant and performance aid. Moderate quantities can be an effective way to maintain alertness, but one too many coffee pick-me-ups can have the opposite effect. New research is suggesting that when it comes to your mental state, it may suit you to have a tea. Researchers from Oxford University have found that a compound in tea, L-theanine, stimulates alpha-brainwaves which are associated with a relaxed but alert state of mind –just what’s needed for senior managers.

Go for: the right amount of caffeine for your body size and metabolism, which for most people is equivalent to no more than 3 to 4 cups of brewed coffee a day. Stick to a regular pattern of caffeine intake by spacing your beverages.

Read more scientific articles on weight loss and nutrition at the Weight Watchers Science Centre

By Stephanie Christopher, general manager, corporate sales and customer service, Weight Watchers Australasia.