It’s getting close to that time.. and it doesn’t have to be that dreadful! Nutrition plays a critical role in optimal cognitive function. Here are my top 5 suggestions to help contribute to your success when studying for & writing exams.
1. I’m sure you’ve heard it before but really, Eat Breakfast!!!
Breakfast is generally best consumed within 1-2 hours of waking up. I cannot stress the importance of eating breakfast enough!! And I am not referring to your morning coffee .
A healthful and balanced breakfast will help you stay focused, improve your concentration and provide you with long lasting energy throughout the day.
2. Include a good quality source of protein at each meal (and snack)Â
Eating breakfast is important, but WHAT you eat for breakfast will make all the difference.
Having a good source of protein at each meal will stabilize your blood sugar levels, which has a direct impact on your energy levels, concentration and mood. If you’re getting enough protein throughout the day, your brain will thank you and you will be studying & writing your exams like the smarty pants you are!
A few of my favorite ways to sneak protein into meals..
- Adding almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds to plain oatmeal
- Adding a spoonful of ground flax or other seeds (I prefer hemp hearts or chia seeds as a good protein source) to full fat yogurt, which is higher in protein and lower in sugar.
- Put almond butter on whole grain toast or on apple slices
- Keep hardboiled eggs in the fridge to have a snack or in a hurry for breakfast.
- Making homemade trail mix to have on the go.
(ie: sprouted whole grain toast with almond butter & hemp hearts and an over-easy egg)
3.Â Avoid refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta and rice and replace those babies with whole grains!
When carbohydrates go through a refining process, they become more concentrated in sugar because most of their fiber and nutrients are removed.
This means when digested, a refined carb releases sugar rapidly instead of steadily into the blood stream, creating rises in blood sugar spikes which shortly leads to a crash in energy levels.
The brain says No thank you!
Instead, the sugars from whole grains – which have their fiber and other nutrients in tact – provide the brain with steady and longer lasting fuel as they are not so rapidly released.
4. Don’t be afraid of fat – especially around exam time.Â
Essential Fatty Acids (or EFA’s) play a big role in sharp cognitive function.
Omega 3 EFA’s in particular are needed for focus, memory and concentration. These are best obtained from eating oily fish – such as tuna, salmon, mackerel and sardines in addition to the seeds I’ve previously mentioned, which are high in omega 3’s – hemp, pumpkin and flaxseeds. Vegetarian sources of Omega 3â€²s can be found in certain algaes which can easily be obtained in supplement form – check in with your local health food store.
Omega 3 eggs are also good to eat during exams. (I always recommend cruelty free, happy chicken eggs.) The lecithin present in the egg yolk is very beneficial for keeping your brain sharp.
In addition, EFA’s reduce inflammation in the body which can be caused by stress… *ahem*
5. Lastly, take a whole food multi vitamin.Â
This will help you get the essential good quality nutrients you need especially if you’re tight on time. A multivitamin will contain B vitamins, which helps control the stress response, and magnesium which is needed for relaxation. Your immune system will be rejoicing which means you will too.
Happy writing & studying to you!