Research out of the University of Georgia reveals that nutrition can play a significant role in our ability to process information and react. Medical professionals and sports dietitians see a broad range of implications.
What Foods Improve Reaction Time?
Two separate studies out of the University of Georgia’s visual sciences laboratory have demonstrated that consuming 20 mg of dietary zeaxanthin, a nutrient commonly found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables, speeds up our ability to process information when taken daily over a 4-month period. According to Dr. William Hammond, lead researcher at UGA vision sciences laboratory at the time, the research is unique because it’s the first time scientists have been able to speed up the interaction between our eyes and brain using zeaxanthin as a nutritional approach.
“Processing speed is central to many aspects of life – from reading to reaction time when driving to successful sports performance. The ability to actually change brain function in relatively young, healthy adults based on nutritional intake has wide implications for our ability to optimize human performance.”
The studies, which were published in PLOS ONE and the Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, also demonstrated a 10% improvement in reaction time and a 14% improvement in contrast sensitivity, or our eyes’ ability to discern fine detail.
One group to take notice of the research is the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association (CPSDA). CPSDA represents the vast majority of advanced practice registered dietitians in the United States who work full-time with athletes in colleges, professional sports, Olympic training centers, the U.S. Military, and in law enforcement. The group views ocular nutrition as a key focal point going forward. “The fact that we can now improve reaction time with a healthy alternative to something like stimulants is very exciting,” said Randy Bird, past president of CPSDA and Director of Sports Nutrition at the University of Virginia.
Sports Impact of Better Reaction Time
For an athlete, a 10% improvement in reaction time can mean the difference between an average and a great performance. According to Pacific University College of Optometry professor Dr. Graham Erickson, a batter has only a fraction of a second to see a pitch leave a pitcher’s hand, send that visual information from the eye to the brain, process the information, make the decision whether to swing or not, and then physically start the swing.
By increasing the speed at which the brain processes information, athletes are gaining critical extra milliseconds to make better decisions on the field. In the sports industry, every millisecond counts, which is something Walt Horn knows firsthand. Horn is a retired athletic trainer for the Oakland Athletics, one of the first organizations to take advantage of the potential benefits of dietary zeaxanthin and make it available to its players. “As an athletic trainer, I am looking to give our players every edge possible,” said Horn. “If an athlete can see the rotation of the ball better, process what they see faster, and improve reaction time as demonstrated in the UGA study, they have a better chance of improving their performance over time.” Since the Oakland A’s, many major league teams have added a nutritional supplement to their athlete’s daily regimens.
Learn more about EyePromise’s connection with professional baseball.
Baseball is not the only sport to adopt zeaxanthin as a means of increasing visual processing speed. A broad range of athletes, from Olympic shooters to professional golfers, have started leveraging the paprika-derived nutrient with favorable results. “Since I started incorporating zeaxanthin into my daily routine, I have been able to see the targets much more clearly with a strong contrast between the edge of the target and the background. I also feel that I am able to locate them much sooner,” said AJ Dupre, one of America’s brightest trap shooting talents.
Can I Improve My Reaction Time?
Yes! The EyePromise® Vizual Edge™ line has the amount of high-quality, dietary zeaxanthin necessary to improve reaction time and visual processing speeds. EyePromise Vizual Edge Pro™ is a daily convenience pack that has 5 different softgels in it – each with its own unique set of benefits for helping to reduce dryness, glare and light sensitivity, and other visual performance factors that can affect your game. Vizual Edge Chewable is a 1-a-day citrus-flavored chewable tablet that still packs a punch for improving visual function, but it has fewer ingredients than Pro and no Omega-3s for helping to reduce dryness.