So it’s coming up to exam time, and you’re doing as much revision as you can to give yourself the best chance of getting the grade that you want. But many students don’t realize how important it is to keep their bodies and minds healthy during the exam period – namely by trying to keep stress levels at a minimum, getting plenty of sleep, and eating the right foods.
The reason that eating the right diet is so important is because our brain uses up around 20% of our body’s energy at rest, despite making up only 2% of our total body weight. Glucose is the main source of the brain’s energy, and this comes from broken down food – so it is imperative that you do not skip meals if you want your brain functioning at its very best.
While the best nutritional advice is to eat three, healthy balanced meals a day, with 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, there are also specific foods which can help to boost your brainpower.
The benefits of essential omega-3 fatty acids are well documented, but many of us are still not getting enough of it. There are very high levels of omega-3 in oily fish, alongside high levels of DHA (a lack of which is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss). Fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel also contain iodine, which improves mental clarity.
Wholegrain foods are brilliant for your brain. If you’re eating bread, pasta or cereals, you can simply opt for a wholegrain option of these – so it won’t even require a change to your usual routine.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts contain essential fatty acids, while seeds such as pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of zinc, vital for enhancing thinking skills and memory. Both contain vitamin E, which can help to prevent poor memory.
Egg yolks contain high levels of choline, a substance which helps your brain to remember things, alongside the brain-charging vitamin E.
OK, so it’s not strictly a food, but green tea contains polyphenols, which protect the brain and help dopamine production, making it a real mood-booster. You need to be going into every exam with a positive mental attitude, so give it a try!
Blueberries are a real superfood, helping your body in a number of different ways. The reason they can help you during the exam period is that the antioxidants protect the brain and are good for your memory.
This root vegetable can boost brain power because the natural nitrates increase blood flow to the brain. Enjoy it in a leafy green salad with some lean meat and a low-fat vinaigrette, and your brain will be at its very best.
Yoghurt contains amino acids, which help to reduce stress and anxiety levels, helping you not to get so worked up over your exams and, therefore, concentrate better.
If you enjoy a nice plate of salad, go for some nice dark greens such as spinach – they are full of B vitamins, which help the production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are all feel-good hormones. Add some chicken or egg to your salad to gain some protein for added energy.
And if you fancy a treat, then help yourself to some Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate with a 75% or higher cocoa content has natural antioxidants, can lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol, helping to keep your body healthy. But the caffeine in it can also help you to focus your energy. Treat yourself to a few squares just before you enter an exam, and will help your concentration – just don’t have too much.