Creativity requires an active mind: one that is present, focused and able to form inspired thoughts. In order to keep the mind active, we must feed the brain with nutrients that are specifically required to nourish this amazingly complex organ.
The brain is made up of many neurons, which constantly send messages from one part to another. These neurons receive and process information gathered from the environment through our senses. Many of our inspirational thoughts arise from the interpretation of this information. Neurons, therefore, play an integral role in creative thinking. Keeping a healthy nervous system will ensure these neurons function optimally.
Stress, a lack of sleep and an overuse of stimulants, such as caffeine, all negatively affect our nervous system. Nutrients such as magnesium, B vitamins and essential fatty acids can restore the function of the nervous system and, in doing so, keep the neurons inside our brain functioning well, therefore keeping our creative impulses firing.
It is best to consume a wide variety of essential fatty acids, including those found in avocados, walnuts, chia seeds, nuts, salmon and mackerel. And choline is a nutrient found in egg yolk that helps to keep the communication between neurons working at their best.
Like all other organs, our brains require energy to function properly. This energy is ideally provided in the form of glucose, as it passes directly across the blood-brain barrier and is the quickest source of energy for the brain.
Complex carbohydrates are the best source of glucose. Unlike the refined sugars found in cakes and muffins, the glucose in complex carbohydrates such as whole oats, barley, quinoa and rye provides a slow and constant release of energy. Eating refined sugar, however, will create a sudden increase in blood glucose levels followed by a sudden drop, leading to fatigue and a lack of motivation.
Fuel the brain as early in the day as you can. A breakfast eaten shortly after rising will immediately provide the brain with the energy it needs to get those creative juices flowing.
Protecting the brain from damage and premature ageing will also keep it working at its best. This is done with a regular high intake of antioxidant-rich foods.
Antioxidants are important for the whole body but particularly for the brain, as a build-up of free radicals here will lead to a general degeneration of brain tissue. Consuming foods high in vitamins E and C will provide the brain with the anti-ageing effect of antioxidants, keeping it clear and focused with fresh creative ideas arising.
Eating small, regular meals will also help to keep the creative mind in check. When large meals are consumed, the body spends a lot of energy breaking down the food, leaving little energy to service other organs. Eating big, heavy meals is inevitably followed by a lack of concentration, poor motivation and little inspiration.
To keep inspired, it is also important to eat a variety of foods – boredom on your plate won’t inspire creative thoughts.
Exercise and hydration are also important for continued creative thinking. One of the first signs of dehydration is mental fatigue, so drink water regularly throughout the day to avoid this. Exercise improves blood circulation, taking much-needed oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Enjoying short walks regularly throughout the day will help to keep your mind active.
A creative brain also needs sleep. Without it the brain becomes tired and foggy, with little motivation. Ensure you get a good night’s sleep of seven to nine hours nightly.
Chocolate has been shown to slow age-related cognitive decline, and the darker it is, the better. Have a small piece of dark chocolate beside you as you work and enjoy a nibble every now and then.
People who regularly consume green tea have shown greater mental clarity than those who don’t. Swapping your coffee for a green tea will keep you awake and alert to allow those creative thoughts to flourish.
Eggs are high in a nutrient called choline, which is essential to communication between neurons. Enjoy an egg at breakfast to keep your neurons active and the inspirational thoughts flowing.
Blueberries are high in anthocyanin, an antioxidant known to protect the brain. These tasty berries can be enjoyed in the morning for breakfast, during the day as a snack or after dinner as a healthy dessert.
Mental fatigue is one of the first signs of dehydration, so drink small amounts of water during the day. Craving sweet or salty food is often a symptom of dehydration, so reach for water before a cheeky snack.
These herbs are thought to boost brain function, improving memory recall and concentration. Enjoy them as a tea with a small amount of honey for a soothing sip.