When you’re in exam mode, you usually feel stressed, get little sleep and live on coffee, sports drinks and sugary foods. This creates a perfect storm for your brain to throw a temper tantrum and refuse to perform just when you need it most. Would you run a marathon without a good breakfast? No, you’d know to fuel up and give your body the energy it needs to stay on top of your game. Well, your brain is no different. If you want your brain to perform at its peak, you have to give it the fuel it needs.
What happens when I starve my brain?
Your brain may only take up a small amount of your body weight, but it uses 20% of the energy you burn every day. Without proper fuel, your brain functions start to fail. The first thing that goes is your higher brain functioning and this affects your ability to reason and solve problems. That means you won’t be able to understand the questions, formulate complex answers or communicate as effectively if your brain is starved of the energy it needs to perform.
What kinds of foods do brains need?
Like the rest of your body, your brain cannot live on coffee and sour gummies alone. It needs a balanced diet of carbohydrates and proteins as well as fruits and veggies. There are also healthy ingredients that go a long way to ensuring that your brain is firing on all cylinders:
Antioxidants: Toxins called free-radicals collect in your bloodstream and end up in your brain. Here they break down brain cells. The best way to combat free-radicals is by eating foods high in anti-oxidants. There are tons of these in fresh fruit and veggies, especially in berries (and especially blueberries and acai berries), tea, soy, read grapes, spinach, garlic, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes and whole grains.
Omega-3 oils: You already know that fish is good for your brain – that’s because it contains oil from the Omega-3 family which helps to improve your memory and brain functioning. The best brain fish is salmon, but you can also find omega-3 in eggs, canola oil, flaxseed oil, wheatgerm and nuts.
Fiber: One of the biggest problems for exam writers is the dreaded crash. If you started your day with a doughnut and a cup of coffee, you’re in for a nasty surprise. About an hour after your breakfast, your blood sugar will crash and you will start to feel tired and lethargic. You won’t be able to keep your eyes open and you’ll find it harder and harder to concentrate.
Ensure that your body has a steady supply of energy by consuming foods high in fiber. Fiber helps to slow the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream which means you will have enough energy to last you all the way through the exam. Foods high in fiber include beans, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and whole grains.
Make sure you have enough brain power to get through your exams by giving your brain the fuel it needs to succeed.