Entrepreneurs are a naturally creative breed and seem to have all the necessary characteristics to spark a business start-up idea from nowhere. Or do they? Are we born with creative entrepreneurial traits or can they be acquired as our working lives accumulate experience and business acumen? While the nature or nurture debate of the ‘entrepreneurial gift’ is worthy of another blog post, there are definitely techniques, tricks, and tips that can improve our creative output.
One such factor is a person’s diet. Certain food types are known to kickstart the functions of the brain, stimulate the mind, and just generally improve your general well-being, potentially improving creative output. Healthy body, healthy mind – right? There are no guarantees, but here are ten foods that may help the flow of inspiration and increase the frequency of those ‘light-bulb moments’.
1. Swimming with ideas – oily fish
OK, let’s start with the most commonly known brain food. Most people have heard of the memory-boosting capabilities of our scaly friends and there’s truth in this popular theory. Regularly including any combination of salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, pilchards or kippers in your diet will boost the areas of the brain associated with memory and cognition. All that omega-3 is what the brain craves most and fish is practically swimming in the stuff. It’s an easy, tasty experiment to work into your diet.
Photo: Naotake Murayama
2. Saucy business – tomato skins
This is easy. Tomatoes are everywhere and the skin of every tomato contains healthy doses of antioxidants, lycopene, and beta-carotene, which help regulate the cell growth of the brain. And no, unfortunately tomato sauce doesn't count.
Photo: Corey Burger
3. Entrepreneurship – a nutty profession?
Nuts are both an immediate fix and a strategic long-term play. Gobbling down a few handfuls of nuts (any type counts, really, except peanuts) will give you a much-needed energy boost in times of creative stagnation, while the fat and protein will sustain you rather than send you crashing south like a reckless sugar junkie who may prefer the peaks and troughs of the dreaded chocolate biscuit!
Also, over time, a good sprinkling of vitamin E is believed to aid in preventing cognitive decline in later life.
4. A little berry for big ideas – blueberries
You don’t just want to be creatively innovative – you want to possess guile and mental agility, right? Blueberries help increase the production of dopamine, a natural neuro-transmitter that will keep your brain firing for longer. They’re also high in fibre and proanthocyanidins, which protect the brain from toxins, helping maintain alertness and concentration. We present blueberries – a true superfood. Who knew?
Photo: Market Manager
5. Pumpkin power – seeds
Yes, at some point we've all worked with somebody who momentarily took to knocking back handfuls of dry pumpkin seeds either side of lunch hour. Dry mouth aside, they were on the right track; your seed-popping peers will have noticed increased thinking capacity, improved memory and more focus. Sunflower, sesame or tahini seeds will also do the trick. These wonder seeds are also packed with protein, high in zinc and actively reduce blood pressure.
Photo: David Schwart
6. Caffeine works – coffee
The introduction of a steaming hot cuppa is never going to stall the creative process. Coffee will reset the mind and keep the body upright just as your workload threatens to overwhelm you. The trick is not to go beyond two–four cups a day, otherwise things can get a bit weird. Caffeine has been proven to bolster activity of the anterior cingulate gyrus in the prefrontal lobe of the brain, an area concerned with planning and concentration – useful traits for persevering through the start-up phase!
7. Tow the choline – egg yolks
How many ways can you cook an egg? See, the creativity has started already.
Easy, quick, and tasty. Paired with a few slices of bread, you can rule the kitchen with an egg or two, and cooking them takes up very little of your precious time. Eggs are the lifelong (or long-life) constant of the fickle and versatile creative mind in search of nourishment. The yolks are also high in choline, a known stimulant and memory-boosting aid.
8. Smell of success? Garlic cloves
Aside from its ability to repel anyone who might disturb your creative workings, garlic also acts in the background against cholesterol and gives a boost to your cardiovascular system. Those who can stand that, er, distinctive flavour will swear by eating a clove a day and report an improved overall feeling of general well-being. A niche choice.
9. Lentils, mmmm lentils. Said no one, ever.
But this much-maligned budgie food could unlock the creative spark you seek. Introducing a few lentils to your soup or salad is an easy, unobtrusive addition to your diet that can help to decrease levels of amino acids, known to impair brain function.
Photo: Nick Mote
10. The artists' choice – green tea
Green tea has been the beverage choice of writers and artists for years. But don’t just sip on a mug for the ascetic (although that’s also perfectly fine). A warm cup of Long Jing contains a type of antioxidant called catechins, which will boost your brain and cleanse your system.
With a high caffeine content, though released slowly, it’s best not to mix with number six; it’s usually one or the other.
Photo: Dan McKay