We all know that we need to eat five portions of fruit and veg to be healthy. But, do you know that there are foods that not only keep your body fit but your mind too? In fact, the food we eat is one of the most important factors that impact on how productive our study sessions are…
Do you work in the perfect study environment with all the right equipment, yet lack the energy to commit your thoughts to paper? Or maybe you can’t keep your eyes open after just 10 minutes of reading your course material? If so, your brain health may be suffering. But how can you make your brain happy and healthy? One way is through diet; they say that a healthy mind makes a healthy body, and this works the other way around too. So, we’re here to help you out. Take a look at our 5 superfoods for studying below, eat up and get ready to supercharge your study!
Superfood for thought…
Fish superfoods – the oilier the better!
Fish, such as salmon and mackerel, is an excellent source of fatty acids, including omega-3. Omega-3 is an essential contributor to the creation of brain and nerve cells and it has been linked to the prevention of memory loss. So, by eating at least 2 portions of oily fish per week (approx. 280g), you may find that you can remember all those tricky facts that have been slipping from your mind.
Vegetarian? Try chia seeds as an alternative. One teaspoon of these seeds equates to 720mg of omega-3, which is only 80mg less than what a teaspoon of cod liver oil provides! Chia seeds are also packed with protein (protein makes up 14% of their weight), which is important to the process of storing nutrients in the body. More protein = more good stuff that is being retained by your body! Chia seeds may be small, but they are mighty…
Dark chocolate (with a percentage of 70% cocoa or more) is more than just a sweet treat; it may help you study. That’s because it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that increase blood flow to the brain, which has been linked to optimum brain function. Eating chocolate also releases endorphins – known mood-enhancers – into the body, so you’ll be in a better frame of mind to learn. But don’t get carried away. Dark chocolate should be enjoyed in moderation, so time your treats wisely.
Vegetable superfoods – leafy greens
Vegetable superfoods like kale and spinach are packed with several brain-boosting vitamins and minerals, including:
- Magnesium, which prevents brain fog and aids a good night’s sleep. Losing out on quality sleep can leave you feeling frazzled and prone to making mistakes the following day.
- Iron, which increases oxygenation around the body and contributes to peak brain activity as a result.
- Vitamins A, C and K, which improve brain cell health and help to keep your grey matter in peak condition.
Go nuts for nuts! Why? Because they are rich in vitamins and protein, especially almonds and walnuts. Because of this, they can help to keep your brain healthy and improve your concentration and clarity of mind. Plus, they are the ideal study snack: they are packed with healthy fats and fibre, which helps to balance blood sugar levels. This means that you will feel fuller for longer (so you won’t be distracted from studying by your stomach grumbling!) and won’t feel the need to grab for a sugary chocolate bar when your energy levels dip throughout the day.
All types of fruit have health benefits but bananas are the main energy boosters. This is because they’re potassium-dense. Potassium helps to ward off physical and mental fatigue and keeps the mind alert. It also contributes to the regulation of blood pressure levels, which can lower stress levels. This means that eating a banana a day may help to make your mind both happier and sharper.
Why not blitz your bananas in a blender with orange juice, natural yoghurt, a handful of oats and a teaspoon of honey for a delicious breakfast smoothie that will power you for the day ahead?
Add these foods to your diet and you’ll be sure to get through your study sessions in no time. Don’t forget to keep hydrated too though! Because not only is water crucial to our survival, but it also aids the transportation of nutrients around the body. So, without glugging your recommended amount of H2O each day (roughly 8 glasses), you won’t be able to reap the benefits of what you’re eating.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Water is essential – it keeps us alive. But there are also so many other benefits of proper hydration when it comes to your study schedule:
- Water keeps the mind sharp: a 2011 study found that even mild dehydration can have a detrimental effect on memory and our ability to retain information.
- Proper hydration boosts energy levels: dehydration has been found to increase feelings of bodily fatigue and anxiety, which will both affect your ability to concentrate on what you’re learning.
- H2O wards off headaches: do you suffer from headaches that make you want to crawl into bed and remain there for the rest of the day? Then reach for the water – it can help to reduce the intensity of headaches and even prevent them in the first place.
Fun fact: the brain is made up of almost 75% water. Therefore, by not drinking enough you deprive your brain of what it needs to function properly. If this happens, studying will be the last thing on your mind…
So, fill up a glass, munch your way through the foods above and you’ll find that you may just achieve more than you ever thought possible.
Want to learn more about nutrition? Are you interested in helping others make healthier choices? Then put your brainpower to the test with one of our Nutritional Sciences courses today!