Some students may not consider the importance of eating the right foods before an exam session. Nevertheless, the brain requires quality nutrition to ensure optimum performance, dietitian Clare Evangelista states. Just as consistent study habits produce the best test results, the best way to ensure mental acuity is to eat a healthy diet every day.
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Eggs, beans, seeds and nuts are protein-rich foods that the body uses to manufacture amino acids. Amino acids are precursors to the neurotransmitters, or specialized brain cells, which help you to maintain mental acuity and motivation. Although eggs are generally considered a breakfast food, they can be eaten as part of a meal or snack anytime during the day. A half-cup of cottage cheese, 1 cup of yogurt or 1 ounce of hard cheese provide between 10 and 15 ounces of protein, approximately one third of your daily protein requirement, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Humans have referred to fish as brain food for more than 2,000 years. Omega-3 oils are fundamental to human development and survival. Fresh-water fish is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Since the nutrient is necessary for learning, concentration and memory, it’s essential to provide your brain with an adequate supply. If salmon, sardines or trout don’t appeal to you, walnuts, hazelnuts or cashews are good alternatives. Omega-3 supplements are also available in capsule form. Many are of high quality, but less expensive supplements may be ineffective and contain contaminants. Avoid choosing your supplements based on price alone.
Foods to Avoid
People frequently turn to carbohydrates for a quick boost in energy, but carbohydrates stimulate the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that quiets the brain and fosters feelings of calm and relaxation. A slice of whole-grain bread is preferable to processed foods, such as snack bars that often contain added sugars that may appear on the label as fruit juice concentrate, corn sweetener, malt syrup, or brown sugar, which are all equivalents to sucrose. Students should also avoid overloading with coffee and sugar-laden soft drinks that can cause nervousness and interfere with the ability to focus. For optimum hydration drink plenty of water throughout the day and bring a bottle along to sip, if allowed.
- Medical News Today: Eat to Excel on Exam Day
- MedlinePlus: Protein in Diet
- NaturalNews.com: Brain Health Dramatically Improved by Intake of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Fish Oils
- USDA Agricultural Research Service: Added Dietary Sugars Are now easily Identified
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids