I used to think my lack of focus and difficulty being productive was a personality flaw. I’d put things off, feeling like I was in a fog. I couldn’t concentrate on tasks and just felt kind of dumb. And I thought it was “just the way I am.”
Turns out, it had nothing to do with who I am and everything to do with how I ate. Nutrition and digestion are imperative for cognitive function, and cognitive function is imperative for productivity.
The human body has a gut-brain axis, and when something goes wrong in one, something will also go wrong in the other. Symptoms of bloating, poor concentration, lethargy and slow-thinking after eating is a clear sign that your digestion and nutrition needs some tweaking.
Try these three things to boost your nutrition and digestion. (Your success might just depend on it!)
1. Eat in a relaxed state.
When you eat in a stressed-out state, your body is not properly prepared for digestion. Blood and oxygen flow away from the gut, decreasing your digestive power and leaving you bloated, feeling sluggish and with poor nutrient absorption from your meal.
To prepare for digestion, make sure you get into the “rest and digest” state. To do this, eat without any distractions and do some deep nasal breathing to calm your nervous system. You can also say a few things you are grateful for as you breathe deep. Then take time and eat slowly (a minimum of 20 minutes). This alone will decrease your odds of an afternoon crash.
2. Get your micronutrients.
A large percentage of the population is not meeting at least one of their essential micronutrient requirements. Micronutrients are part of the hardware required for a properly functioning body. If you’re missing them, you can experience unnecessary irritability, fatigue, lethargy or brain fog. More severe problems can arise from micronutrient deficiency, but those symptoms in particular can really interfere with your productivity.
To start working toward meeting your micronutrient requirements, aim for 10 or more servings of vegetables a day, or make half of every meal vegetables. A huge salad with a lot of greens and different vegetables, eaten in a relaxed state, is a great way to have consistent energy throughout the day, and not experience the typical midafternoon crash.
3. Address underlying digestive issues.
In this day and age, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t suffer from some type of digestive issue, unless they’ve already specifically addressed their gut health. If you’ve experienced a lot of stress at work, drank (or drink) a lot of alcohol, eat on the run, eat processed foods, have taken a lot of antibiotics or prescription medication, then you’ve unknowingly created a recipe for poor gut health.
Years of that type of lifestyle can leave you with bacterial overgrowth in the gut, parasites or low stomach acid. If you do have digestive issues, look into healing and boosting your digestion.
Follow the above principles and start eating fermented foods or take a probiotic. Look into consulting with a nutritionist who can help reverse these problems for you so you can have more consistent energy and better cognitive performance throughout the day.
Once you’ve transformed your nutrition and digestion, you’ll be amazed by how easily you become the productive, clear-minded, energetic person who is bound to succeed.
Mike Marschhausen is the co-founder of Mike & Suzie Health and Wellness and the podcast co-host of The Mike & Suzie Show. He helps ambitious men live energetic, healthy lives in order to achieve their full human potential. He focuses on holistically integrating all aspects of life for well-rounded health and happiness. Follow him on Facebook.