An unwritten rule of university life is the crazy amount of sweets and fizzy drinks we consume as students during assessment weeks or any day when we are just not in the mood for ‘cooking’ and junk food becomes our new best friend!
Chocolate is usually the biggest ‘guilty pleasure’, same as a hot pizza. Going to gym and signing up for different sports classes makes me think more carefully about what I eat and how I can get more energy.
After I figured out that sweets have significant presence in my diet, I decided to challenge myself and avoid eating loads of Nutella (no matter how amazing it is, and, yes, I know how hard it is to put limits on its consumption).
I started switching all junk foods for healthier options, which most importantly feed my brain better and will help me achieve higher grades.
Here’s my list of ‘super foods’ which are generally healthy and help us ‘unleash’ our brain powers. Vegetarian or not, you can pick and choose which ones to include in your daily diets.
Vegetables make our immune system strong – the leafy greens are the ones which really feed our brains. A recent research suggests that eating two servings of leafy greens a day can increase brain functioning as if were five years younger.
Spinach seems to be the key to ‘brain power’. I know it’s not everyone’s most favourite vegetable, but we can be creative with it and try to include it in salads, quiches, soups or many other dishes!
The fruity, fruity stuff
We have such a diverse range of fruits to select from and suit our individual tastes best. An apple a day keeps the doctors away and it also enhances memory function.
Citrus fruits particularly help us stay awake and are even better than drinking coffee. All ‘berries’ refresh our bodies and stimulate the brain cells to ease the learning processes.
Time to go 100% nuts! My favourite almonds, pistachios and walnuts contain high levels of essential acids that are like ‘nitro’ for the brain. Nuts guarantee optimum performance because they are full of iron and provide oxygen to the brain.
This then make us more mentally alert and improves our ability to memorise information. High in ‘good fats’, nuts are also a great source of energy. I try to have one small bag of mixed nuts a day.
Tuna, salmon and mackerel are the superstars in this category. They contain lots of protein and Omega 3 acids which are essential for the functions of the brain. My mum and grandma have always reminded me how important it is to eat fish at least once or twice a month.
Eggs are definitely another leader in the ‘super foods’ league. They are quick and easy to cook, containing a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D and calcium (which is good for the bones, teeth and cheerful mood), choline (the brain-booster), iron and selenium.
Having eggs for breakfast will not only give you an early dose of these vitamins and minerals, but will make you feel full for longer compared to a bowl of cereal.
An article on BBC states that our ability to concentrate and focus is at its best when we provide a steady supply of energy in the form of glucose in our blood to the brain.
Whole grains are champions in this – their consumption enhances memory function and unlike white bread and pasta, they don’t make us feel sleepy.
Luckily, we can select from a wide range of whole grain breads, crackers and even pasta to help us keep our energy levels high while we are studying.
To bean or not to bean? Bean it – that’s a ‘no-brainer’. The wide range of beans we can consumer, including chickpeas, kidney beans, and lentils, contain a great amount of protein which is important for the brain.
Legumes of all varieties contain high concentrations of folic acid which improves our ability to recall information.
Yes, you read right – chocolate, but not any type – dark chocolate is the one that actually feeds the brain. It helps us improve our memory and it increases the blood flow to the brain.
The darker the chocolate is, or the higher percentage of cocoa it contains, the better for our brain and body.
Last but not least, don’t forget that fresh water has a refreshing effect not only to your brain, but your whole body (especially when you add a slice of lemon to it). At least 1l – 1.5l a day will keep you hydrated with high energy levels.
All of these foods are easy to include in at least one of our meals every day. Nuts and fruits are definitely my favourite ones – I prefer to have a bag of nuts or an apple, instead of crisps. Now, which foods can you add to this list? 🙂