The academic year comes to an end, students of all age groups are busy preparing to answer their exams and every single one of them wants to do well.
The sleepless nights, stress, skipped meals and all the unhealthy quick food fixes will have an adverse effect on one’s concentration and ability to retain what he or she has been studying. With exams right around the corner, it is very important to eat right. Here are some healthy tips to help you out.
Do not skip meals: Examination stress can affect your appetite but skipping meals is not an option. Your brain needs energy from food in order to function proficiently. A steady supply of glucose will enhance your concentration while studying for, or answering an exam. Make sure you have a healthy breakfast, which will fuel your brain for the rest of the day. Skipping breakfast or any other meal will affect your concentration, making you irritable and sometimes dizzy or light headed. Opt for a breakfast that will give you some protein, carbohydrates, calcium and fiber. Example of a healthy breakfast can be a bowl of cereal with milk and fresh fruit.
Eat foods that boost your brain function: Nutrients like vitamin B1, B12, Omega 3 fatty acids and folic acid are good for the brain. Thiamine or vitamin B1 is essential for a healthy nervous system and it aids memory and learning. The richest source of thiamine is whole grain cereals, pulses and nuts. Wheat or rice bran can be also used in meals. Vitamin B12 helps improve concentration, memory and help keep irritability at bay. It is also essential for the proper functioning of the central nervous system. B12 is readily available from foods like eggs, lean meat, low fat milk and spirulina. Folic acid is another important nutrient; it clears an amino acid ‘homocysteine’ responsible for cognitive decline. Fresh green leafy vegetables, broccoli, liver and pulses are good sources of this vitamin. Other foods that boost your brain power are foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids like fish, walnuts, sunflower seeds and flax seeds.Another important nutrient is iron. Iron deficiency can affect your memory and concentration, as well as cause mental and physical fatigue so make sure to consume foods rich in iron. Rich sources of iron include cereals, pulses, millets, green leafy vegetables and red meat.
Eat for energy:The right kind of food can boost your immune system, provide sustainable energy, and improve your mental alertness. The wrong food choices can make you feel lethargic, anxious and exhausted by the end of the day. Eat smaller meals frequently. Have plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. Avoid foods or beverages loaded with refined sugar, they may provide you with a temporary high which will be followed by a crash in your blood sugar levels. Opt for healthier snacks that will provide you with sustainable energy, like dried fruits and nuts, fruits, seeds, yogurt, multigrain sandwiches etc. Avoid junk foods, refined cereals and cereal based products and bad fats (hydrogenated fats), opt for whole grains instead.
Stay hydrated: Water is essential to the human body. Dehydration not only causes physical fatigue, it also causes mental fatigue. Make sure you drink sufficient water before and during exams. Dehydration affects your concentration. Avoid the unhealthy sugar loaded drinks like colas and opt for healthier beverages like green tea, fresh lime water or tender coconut water. Keep a check on your refined sugar intake. Try and drink 1.5 to 2 liters of water per day.
Avoid eating out and do not try new foods: With exams around the corner you cannot afford to fall sick. Avoid eating out especially if you are prone to infections. Do not try new foods which your body is not accustomed to.
Get enough sleep and some exercise:This goes a long way in improving your performance in an examination. It is very important to get sufficient sleep which will help you study and will also help you recall what you have learnt. The body and mind requires adequate rest without which it cannot function properly. Exercise also helps improve your mood; it helps as a stress and anxiety buster in addition to improving your concentration and enhancing your cognitive abilities. So make sure you take a break from your studies to take a walk, go for a swim or a jog or cycling. This will help you relax and unwind and keep you refreshed for your next study session.
- Nivedita Dempo is a fitness expert and the owner of Studio 101, Goa’s premier fitness centre