You know the old saying – you are what you eat! There are plenty of foods out there that give us the extra energy we need at times. If you are studying hard, you need to keep your brain in tip-top condition. What foods should you be including in your diet to give the old grey cells a boost?
- Whole grains
Your brain cannot work without energy. Your ability to concentrate and focus improves when you give the brain a steady supply of energy in the form of glucose. Choose whole grains with a low-GI factor so that glucose is released slowly into the bloodstream, keeping you alert throughout the day.
Swap white bread and refined dried pasta for whole grain cereals, granary bread, brown rice and pasta.
- Oily Fish
Salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, herring, kippers and pilchards are perfect for including essential fatty acids (EFAs) in your diet. Omega-3 oils can also be found in some plants, such as linseed (also known as flaxseed), soya beans, pumpkin seeds and walnuts. These fats are known to be important for a healthy brain, heart, joints and our overall well-being.
There is research that suggests blueberries help to delay and improve short-term memory loss. It is thought that the anthocyanins in the fruit are the key to improving memory. If you aren’t keen on blueberries, snack on other dark purple or red fruits known to contain anthocyanins, such as cherries and blackberries.
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that can be found in abundance in tomatoes. Evidence is coming to the fore that it stops ‘free radical damage’, such as that found in people who have developed dementia. Eat them raw or cook them with a little olive oil to optimise absorption.
- Vital Vitamins
Specifically, B6, B12 and folic acid! An experiment in people with mild cognitive impairment found that after two years of intervention with B6, B12 and folic acid, there was significantly less brain shrinkage. This means keeping your brain fit and well by eating vitamin B rich foods such as chicken, fish, eggs and leafy greens.
Vitamin C has long been known to boost mental agility, something perfect for when you need to think quickly in the exam room or on a practical test. Vitamin C is not stored by the body, so you can’t overdose on it like you can other vitamin and minerals. One of the best sources of vitamin C is blackcurrant, so keep these berries as your handy snack. Red peppers, citrus fruits and broccoli are also great vitamin C providers but eat them raw as the vitamin is destroyed by heat.
- Pumpkin Seeds
Delicious as a snack, pumpkin seeds are full of zinc, known to boost memory and thinking skills. They are also full of stress-busting magnesium, B vitamins and tryptophan, the ‘good mood’ chemical that helps serotonin to kick in and get to work.
Already mentioned as being full of vitamin C, broccoli is also packed with vitamin K. This vitamin is essential for enhancing cognitive function and improving brainpower. This is ideal if you are currently in the middle of an assignment! It also contains compounds called glucosinolates that calm the central nervous system, allowing you to think clearly.
Grandma was right – research proves that sage does improve memory and concentration. Most studies focus on sage in an essential oil format. but adding sage to your diet will certainly help your brainpower. Add towards the end of cooking so that you preserve as much of its oil as possible.
Vitamin E has been proven to prevent cognitive decline, especially in the elderly. If your brainpower is struggling, reach for nuts as a healthy snack – but tried to avoid processed or coated nut products, as these come with an unhealthy dose of salt.
Choose walnuts and almonds, and enjoy leafy green vegetables, asparagus, olives, eggs and brown rice, all of which will give you some much-needed extra vitamin E.
Balanced Diet + Exercise = Happy Student!
A balanced diet is covered in many healthcare courses, as we all need to adapt our diet to suit our lifestyle. The same is true when we are studying hard. We need to look after our brain, giving it the energy it needs without neglecting the rest of our body.
This means exercise. From a brisk walk in the sunshine to a run around the park, getting our body moving is also a great way to boost brainpower. How do you look after your mind, body and soul?