While your brain only takes up 2% of your body weight, it consumes up to 20% of the energy you eat. Whether you are studying, writing an exam or listening to a lecture, your brain needs fuel to function optimally. In fact, your brain cells need twice as much energy as any other cells in your body. That means that the better you eat, the better your brain will function.
Your brain needs a constant supply of fuel. Without glucose, your memory and cognitive functioning is impaired. When your brain has no fuel to function, you will have trouble concentrating and solving problems which makes it very difficult to perform academic tasks well.
Not all fuel is created equally so if your brain doesn’t get the right food, it may have the same effect as having no food at all. This means that refined carbohydrates and sugar can deprive the brain of glucose which means you will have trouble concentrating, solving problems, remembering and learning. This means that junk food, candy, donuts and fried foods won’t help to fuel your brain.
You need to get the glucose and other fuel for your brain from healthy sources like whole grains, proteins, fruit and vegetables. Brains need iron which can be found in green leafy vegetables like spinach. It also needs B vitamins which can be found in grains, eggs and nuts.
While vitamin supplements can help, they are no substitute for proper meals. Eating regularly helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable, so ensure you eat at least three meals a day. If you go too long between meals, you will feel tired and you will have trouble concentrating.
For breakfasts, choose whole-wheat breads and cereals, eggs, fruit and yogurt over muffins or donuts.
For lunches, opt for a vegetable soup, a salad, or a healthy sandwich.
For dinner, focus on protein (fish is brain food!) and vegetables.
If you need to snack, go for fruits and nuts rather than candy.
Here are some foods that your brain will really love:
Wild salmon: packed with essential fatty acids like Omega-3, salmon is a great source of protein.
Whole grains: bran, whole wheat, oatmeal, brown rice and wheat germ all contain lots of vitamin B6 and folate which increases the flow of blood to the brain.
Leafy greens like spinach, kale and cabbage which are filled with vitamins B6, B12, Iron and folate.
Seeds and nuts: from peanuts and pecans to pistachios and sunflower seeds, natural nuts and grains contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids which lift your mood while the thiamine and magnesium improve your memory.
Green tea: Much better than coffee or soda, green tea is packed with anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Akai berries and blueberries: Berries are packed with anti-oxidants, vitamins and protein. Akai berries also have omega-3 fatty acids.