It’s not Adobe Photoshop that’s the ultimate tool in your workflow. It’s not Illustrator or Sketch either - nope - it’s your brain. Without a healthy brain you’ll lack the ability to do anything; to think, to function, and of course…be creative.
Eating and drinking is something that we do approximately 2-6 times a day, and although it is deeply satisfying to inhale a tasty dish, our need as heterotrophic beings to feed every so often is kind of a burden. It’s also our responsibility to eat well, and as many of us already know, that’s no fun at all!
But it’s not all bad. In fact, most foods aren’t unhealthy at all if you consume them in moderate doses; two such examples are dark chocolate and alcohol, which both have fascinating effects on the area of the brain that creates brilliant ideas. As artists, designers and illustrators, we need ideas.
So, lets take a look at 6 foods that can boost creativity.
1. Dark Chocolate
It’s not the sugar rush that fuels creativity, although it’s quite easy to draw that conclusion. Actually, dark chocolate aids the circulation of blood in the brain for three hours, helping to combat tiredness, fatigue and even aging.
Flavanols increase the amount of oxygen flowing to the brain, and they’re found in cocoa, so the darker the chocolate, the better your brain’s cognitive skills will be for a short time.
But that doesn’t mean you should eat dark chocolate all day, or every day for that matter. Dark chocolate offers a quick boost - use it for when you feel the most run down. Ahem…Monday’s.
2. Pretty Much All Nuts
Not all fat is harmful. In fact, most nuts contain healthy, unsaturated fats that lower cholesterol and the chances of heart disease, and they’re also desirable brain food as well.
Nuts can help shield you from Alzheimer’s disease by boosting your CPU and memory (see what I did there?), and ultimately this will improve your creativity and overall brain function.
Nuts (walnuts especially) are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which is linked to depression and cognitive deficiencies if you don’t eat enough of it - think about it, have you ever seen an unhappy squirrel? You can also find omega-3 in fish, so if you’re allergic to nuts you better snack on seafood instead.
Eggs are a double-edged sword, so you must eat them in moderation. While they’re high in Choline, which is an important nutrient for the brain, they’re also very high in cholesterol.
So while you certainly can’t eat too many of them, they’re very useful for boosting memory and strengthening the body, and they can even improve your eyesight too, which is something that many of us designers and digital artists worry about because we’re so often staring into the computer screen for hours at a time.
Fun fact: egg yolk is the most nutritious food in the world. If it weren’t for the cholesterol level, they’d be perfect.
And lots of it! Just kidding - you shouldn’t become too carried away with this one. Alcohol (in small doses) makes you relaxed, so not only is ideal for reducing everyday stress, it activates that section of the brain that breeds new ideas. Seriously.
According to Prof. Jennifer Wiley, inventor of the alcoholic beverage aptly named “The Problem Solver”, your creative vertex is reached when your blood alcohol level reaches 0.075.
5. Cauliflower, Broccoli and…Kale?
Both broccoli and cauliflower are high in potassium, which is vital for the brains need to heal and improve. It’s rich in vitamin K too, which stimulates the brain cognitive functions.
Kale is relatively unheard of in some regions, but it’s a superfood with an abundance of health benefits. Kale is actually easy to find, easy to grow, and easy to cook, but more importantly its nutritional value is sky-high; most notably how it aids hydration and the transportation of oxygen to the brain.
6. Oats and Other Good Carbs
Glucose is a type of sugar and the body’s main source of energy, but all sugars however are harmful to the body if consumed too much. Healthy carbs are broken down into sugar over time, meaning the body can distribute sugar however and whenever it sees fit. Oatmeal is a terrific example and it’s healthiest if you eat it in the morning, ensuring you’ll have the optimal amount of energy to function throughout the entire day.
Like with all food, these six mind-boosting eatables should be consumed in moderation. Some eggs (yes, a single egg) for example contains more cholesterol that our suggested daily limit, but the otherwise nutritional value is superb.
If you’re eating a well-balanced diet and including at least some of these brain foods into it, then not only are you helping your brain come up with fresh ideas more efficiently, but your brain will stay younger and healthier for longer. And of course that could only mean more designing and coding!
What’s your diet like and how does that affect your work? It’s quite surprising how many of us don’t even think about it, but by making a few simple changes you can create bigger things.
Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments.
Daniel Schwarz is a full-time design writer and digital nomad. When he’s not writing about design and code, he’s actually doing it (sometimes) at Airwalk Studios, a creative studio of which he’s the founder. 25 years of age, originally from London.
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