There is a widely held belief – untrue, as it turns out – that creativity is a gift possessed only by the lucky few. In fact, there’s a lot you can do to increase your creativity, but if you don’t eat and drink right, you’re putting yourself at a creative disadvantage. Here a list of the best foods for creativity.
1. Salmon and mackerel
Most people have heard the oft-repeated wisdom that fish is good for the brain and intelligence, and for once, what they say is true. Fish is probably the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, something that is vital for proper brain function.
Oily fish that live in cold waters are considered to have the highest concentrations, which means species such as salmon and mackerel are among the best fish to eat for a brainpower boost.
Eating fish like this can improve memory and mood, and it helps build brain circuits. Serving up fish just once a week can even increase the size of the hippocampus, a vital part of the brain for creativity.
The best way to cook the fish to increase brain capacity is to grill or broil it – best to avoid frying.
2. Pumpkin seeds
Many seeds contain important nutrients that are essential for keeping your brain functioning well. One example is pumpkin seeds, which are a good source of zinc.
This essential mineral helps improve memory, increases your performance in critical thinking tasks and is also good for general cognition and brain function.
Zinc in pumpkin seeds also works as an anti-depressant. As most creative people will be aware, depression, negative thoughts and even just bad moods are all killers for creativity. You can only be at your creative best when you are thinking positively – and pumpkin seeds can help.
Coffee has long been associated with creativity and original thinking. For example, the famous French writer and thinker Voltaire is said to have drunk around 40-50 cups of coffee per day! And there have been plenty of others like him.
Science is now beginning to understand some of the reasons why coffee has been such a favorite of creative thinkers through the ages.
The caffeine in coffee is now known to increase concentration, help us think more clearly and aid mental performance.
Furthermore, as everyone knows, it keeps us awake – and if you’re someone who is more creative at night, those long hours sitting up late is when the magic is most likely to happen.
No wonder coffee has such an association with so many of the great thinkers of history.
4. Green tea
Another drink of choice for artists down the ages is green tea. Green tea is packed full of antioxidants and is well known as a natural detoxifier for the body; drinking green tea often is known to provide all kinds of benefits for our overall health.
It was first brewed as a drink by monks in ancient China who noticed its ability to keep them awake while they meditated. It contains caffeine, but in lower amounts than in coffee – this results in a more mellow effect that is perfectly conducive to creative thinking.
China, where tea drinking is thought to have originated, has produced many great philosophers through the centuries – is it possible to imagine this is only a coincidence in a land where tea-drinking is such an integral part of the traditional culture?
5. Fresh fruit
A popular saying is “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, and we all know we are supposed to eat five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables daily to keep our bodies in optimum condition.
Another saying is “healthy body, healthy mind”, and if we don’t look after ourselves properly, reaching higher levels of creativity is just a vain hope.
However, eating fruit does more for our creativity than just help keep our bodies in good shape.
Fruit contains tyrosine, an amino acid that helps synthesize proteins. Studies on this amino acid have also shown that increased levels of tyrosine actually make us better at solving puzzles and can help us with tasks involving deep thinking.
Steve Jobs supposedly attributed much of his creative prowess to a diet that included lots of fruit – and it would seem the science backs him up on this to a certain extent.
6. Fresh vegetables
Eating fresh vegetables is also an important factor that can keep our minds sharp and help with increased creativity.
Unprocessed foods are the perfect fuel for our bodies and minds since they are simple, easy to digest and packed full of essential nutrients.
This means if you want to be able to think outside the box, you need to eat up all your greens first!
One small – and extremely delicious – fruit deserves a particular mention all of its own. If you need to kickstart your creative abilities, serve yourself up a portion of blueberries.
Blueberries are thought to cause the brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that enhances your mood and helps your brain stay sharp and in good working order.
Blueberries are also high in fiber and proanthocyanins, which help maintain alertness and concentration.
With all of these benefits, if you want to give yourself a creative edge, try giving yourself a helping of blueberries on a regular basis.
This is great news for chocoholics everywhere – it is thought that eating chocolate actually makes you smarter and more creative!
Chocolate contains a kind of metabolite called flavonoids, and in one study at the University of Nottingham in England, it was demonstrated that increased levels of flavonoids increased the flow of oxygen to the brain
This, in turn, boosted short-term cognitive ability, essential to creative thinking. While the amounts of flavonoids administered during the experiments were much higher than you would expect to receive from eating a chocolate bar, a smaller dose from your favorite treat can’t do any harm.
Many diets tell us to avoid carbs if we want to get in shape – but if we want to boost our creativity, carbohydrates should definitely remain on the menu.
Carbohydrates deliver a quick shot of glucose to the brain, and one study in Toronto demonstrated that this can improve cognitive ability in healthy elderly people.
The study set out to determine whether the effect of improved cognitive ability observed after drinking a glucose drink could be verified scientifically – and the results backed up the original hypothesis.
The experiments confirmed that glucose affected cognitive ability, so if you want to keep your brain functioning in optimum condition, remember that cutting out the carbs to watch your line might also negatively affect your creative abilities.
Walnuts may be another powerful superfood when it comes to inspiring innovation and creativity; they are known to be a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, just like cold-water fish, and have a similar effect on cognition.
In one experiment, two groups of rats were tested to determine the effect of walnuts on cognition.
The first group was fed walnuts for 28 days while the second group was not. The results were clear – the rats fed on nuts performed better in cognitive tests.
While these results don’t necessarily mean the same results would be observed in humans, we know that omega-3 is important for brain function, so if you want to give your creativity a boost, eating walnuts regularly won’t do you any harm.
Walnuts are a particularly good idea for vegans and vegetarians since they won’t be able to take on the same nutrients by eating fish.
Perhaps this one is the best news of all – but it won’t come as a shock to those who are already familiar with the creativity-enhancing effects of alcohol.
Just like coffee, many great thinkers down the ages have been more than a little partial to the occasional tipple, and many also suffered from its ravages – but not before having created some memorable works.
Ernest Hemmingway is often erroneously attributed the line that we should “write drunk and edit sober”. In fact, Hemmingway never said this, and he was fiercely dedicated to his work. He would drink with lunch but never at dinner so he was always in a fit state to write early the next morning.
However, he was, without doubt, a notorious boozehound, and toward the end of his life, his health suffered as a result. But not before he earned the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Perhaps you can try drinking with more moderation than Hemmingway was able to do – then maybe you will benefit from some of alcohol’s creativity-giving properties in a healthier way.
A large selection of delicious foods for thought
As you can see, there are many foods that are thought to benefit brain function and creativity. The most important thing is to ensure you eat a balanced and healthy mix of unprocessed foods to keep your brain well-fueled. If you do, you will surely see your creativity levels increasing.