10 Brain Foods to Boost Your Memory While Studying
You might have heard how taking coffee helps you during exam periods. Whilst coffee is good, too much intake can be very detrimental to your mental and physical health, especially if you are a heavy coffee drinker. Too much caffeine in your system can cause increased heart rate and blood pressure, leaving you feeling jittery and uncomfortable. It can also be quite addictive, thus making one not know when it’s too much. We wouldn’t want that for you at a crucial time like your exam period!
So what should you feed your brain with?
Granted, when studying for finals, what you eat often slides down on the priority list. You end up digesting huge amounts of comfort food like fried chips and the usual coffee to buy you more time to read. Of course, that has not worked yet.
You may have tried all kinds of different study techniques. But did you know that simply choosing foods that fuel the brain can have a significant effect on your academic performance? If you want your brain to perform best at test time, or you simply want to gain as much as you can from that book you’re reading or that photography class you’re taking, eat properly. Here is a breakdown of how and what to eat while revising for your exams.
How do You eat smarter?
It’s true that eating certain foods can improve your ability to focus, retain information, and remain mentally alert in order to get you through the most grueling of study sessions. Therefore, in order to assimilate better, free your body from the excessive processing which dominates normal school shopping today. Iron and vitamin B are especially important to maintaining the physical and mental energy necessary to study well. Iron-containing foods including red meat and cereals can be taken in good quantity. Foods that contain vitamin B include whole-grains, wheat germ, eggs and nuts. Furthermore, here are 7 guidelines:
- Chewable Vitamin C is not a meal: Dietary supplements are good, but real food is better. Instead of a pill, take an orange. An orange contains not only Vitamin C, but also fiber, beta carotene and other minerals. So, when you’re heading for the library, pack whole-food items like apples, bananas, clementines, carrot sticks or dried apricots.
- Eat at regular intervals: Eating regular meals helps keep nutrient and energy levels more stable, curbing the temptation of empty-calorie snacks in the vending machine.
- Big meals disturb your stomach all day: Eating the standard three-big-meals-a-day slows you down mentally and physically. Certain big meals are seriously sleep-inducing. Consider 5 or 6 well-balanced, smaller meals, like toast spread with peanut butter, some fish, or a piece of cheese with fruit.
- You need Sugar: Sugar acts as an energiser to your brain – not table sugar, but glucose, which your body processes from the sugars and carbs you eat. That’s why a glass of something sweet to drink can boost your memory, thinking, and mental ability. Have too much, though, and memory can be impaired — along with the rest of you. Go easy on the sugar so it can enhance memory without packing on the pounds.
- Always eat breakfast, Always: While much is said about the reasons to eat breakfast, less known are the best ways to eat smart in the morning. Coffee and a donut just don’t cut it. The idea is to get some protein, calcium, fibre and a piece of fruit or a vegetable in there. So, a bowl of cereal with milk and a piece of fruit would do the trick. Or try a cereal bar with milk.
- Eat good snacks: Yes. There’s such a thing as a good snack. Try grabbing a brain-empowering snack of dark chocolates to get the most out of your afternoon in the library. The flavanoids and antioxidants in dark chocolate have been shown to lower stress hormone levels and improve your mood. In addition, cacao contains just a bit of caffeine to boost your energy levels and help you power through the rest of your studying.
- Water! Water! Water! It is extremely important to stay hydrated during very tight seasons to avoid a nervous breakdown. Someone who is well hydrated will find that they have much more energy than those who don’t consume enough water during the day.
What should You take then?
1. Tea: Instead of coffee, try taking tea. Herbal teas like mint, chamomile, ginseng or lemon calm your nerves and are beneficial for your health. Sip on a cup of warm, home-brewed tea during those late-night study sessions, which will also help your brain wind down before crawling into bed. Studying during the day?
2. Milk: You’ve probably heard that drinking warm milk before going to bed helps you wind down. Milk contains vitamin B, protein, calcium and vitamin D, which help your muscles relax and reduce stress levels.
3. Yoghurt: A better replacement for soft drinks while snacking is yoghurt. Like milk, yogurt contains many vitamins and nutrients that help relieve stress. Replace Coca-Cola, Fanta or that favourite ice cream with yogurt parfait, which is better for your health and still just as satisfying as a study break snack.
4. Fresh Fruits: Fruits contain the natural sugars needed for brain boost. Dark fruits such as Blueberries (which can be bought frozen in bags) get a lot of attention because they contain powerful antioxidants and other nutrients. The natural sugars in fruit offer clean energy, so you don’t experience the crash that follows consumption of refined sugar. Bananas, citrus fruits like oranges are also good brain fruits for consumption.
5. Avocados: Avocados are high in vitamin B and potassium. These make them the perfect fruit for lowering blood pressure and stress levels. So try eating an avocado with bread, sandwiches, however you like them to give your brain that extra boost it may need to stay active and focused while going through your last revision notes.
6. Fish: How can eating fish lead to better grades? The answer lies in the high concentrations of Omega-3 fatty acids found in most fish. These fatty acids are essential to proper neural function. Most of our brain is made up of fatty tissue, so it makes sense that eating fish and other foods high in fatty acids would help us focus more and learn how to study more efficiently. Eating fish regularly can also reduce your risk of dementia as you get older, another indication of its impact on brain health.
7. Nuts: Like fish, many types of nuts such as almonds, date nuts, and walnuts contain high levels of essential fatty acids that help your brain to perform optimally. As an added benefit, nuts contain a good amount of iron and also provide oxygen to the brain which increases your mental alertness and ability to retain information. Since nuts are high in unsaturated fat (aka the “good” fat) and calories, they make great sources of energy as well. Sounds like a perfect recipe for better grades!
8. Eggs: Eggs are good. No, eggs are great and the very fact that they can be cooked, fried, scrambled and eaten in many ways, make them an even greater choice for breakfast. One egg alone contains vital nutrients, 6g of protein, vitamin B12 (which helps convert glucose into energy) and less than 100 calories – depending on how it is cooked.
9. Raw Vegetables: A long-term study conducted by Harvard Medical School revealed that certain types of vegetables had the most positive effect on memory retention, meaning they are the most likely to help you achieve better grades. Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and bok choy. Eating these vegetables raw is the best way to get the optimal nutritional benefit, since cooking them often cooks out the nutrients your body and your brain need most.
Also, spinach. In general, do eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and lean proteins in their natural form.
10. Whole Grain Cereal: Whole grain cereal is a serious, brain food and deserves its own paragraph. Since cereals are often used as breakfast, Take those extra five or 10 minutes and start your day off with whole grain cereal and soar through those exams! Whole grains contain fiber, vitamin E, and carbohydrates, all of which are good for your body and your mind because they contribute to healthy blood flow to and from your brain. Carbohydrates are also an excellent source of fuel for the brain because they are the body’s preferred energy source.
Stay away from overly sugary cereals – no matter how delicious they taste! Look for cereals that are made with 100% whole grain and low in sugar content like oats and quinoa.