At this time of year you can be forgiven for feeling a little... what's the word... foggy.
If you find your brain isn't working quite as sharply as it once was, don't worry - there are a few foods you can add to your diet that should help to clear the fog. Or at least have your mind almost back to normal.
Here are five foods to help keep your mind and brain ticking in tip-top shape.
1. Oily fish
From pole-and-line-caught salmon to sardines, mackerel and trout, these healthy fats have long been recognised for being one of the best brain foods around. The fats in oily fish contain the highest concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids, which are proven to make a positive difference to brain health and mood.
Amy Morris, naturopathic nutritionist for Water for Health, comments: “The compounds found in Omega 3s have also been proven to aid the transmission of chemical signals from cell to cell, keeping us alert and more focused. Fear not, if you want all the benefits of omega 3, but dislike fish or think you will struggle to eat the recommended two servings a week, try supplementing it with a high quality product such as UnoCardio 1000 instead.”
2. Dark chocolate
A reason to eat chocolate? We'll take it. Sometimes all you need is a little taste of the good stuff to lift your spirits, so make sure you’re eating a good quality, dark chocolate – ideally sugar-free and with a cocoa percentage of at least 70%.
That’s where the good bits are, including brain nutrients like flavonoids and phenylalanine.
“Protein is also the key to ensuring we are full of energy and have a strong body overall. The amino acids found in protein heavy foods are essential when it comes to forming our hormones, organs and muscles,” explains Amy.
“Like dark chocolate, protein also creates neurotransmitters like dopamine which helps us stay happy and relaxed.”
4. B vitamins
Whether you love or hate Marmite, one thing everyone can agree on is that it contains plenty of B Vitamins.
Amy explains: “Not only do B Vitamins help power our brain, they provide the perfect amount of energy we need to form red blood cells and break down chemicals. However, unlike protein, our body struggles to store B vitamins, so it is important to have a regular intake of this super vitamin.
"B vitamins are known to help conditions like anxiety, depression and heart disease, additionally increasing energy, enhancing our mood, improving our memory, boosting our skin and hair health, and also stimulating the immune system.”
5. Fermented foods
Kimchi, miso soup and kefir are all pretty accessible these days thanks to the rise in favour of fermented foods. Their popularity can be attributed to how much more we understand our guts, as fermented foods are full of live, good bacteria and yeasts that help restore the natural balance of the gut, stomach and intestines.
“It’s been shown that they can help your body naturally deal with stress and other emotions. From stomach ulcers to IBS, a foggy brain can begin to cause some serious issues within our body. With a healthy and well-balanced gut, our mood becomes more balanced and increases our brains function," adds Amy.