Brain Food: What Should I Eat To Help Me Study?
Did you know that what you eat can have an effect on how your brain works? That’s right – your diet could be affecting things like your ability to process information, retain knowledge, solve problems and concentrate. And these are all things your brain needs to be doing while you study!
The brain is an organ that requires nutrients and fuel, just like all the other parts of the body. So how can you boost your brain function through food? Let’s take a look at the kinds of food you should be eating to ensure your brain is in the best shape possible.
Low GI foods
Foods with a low glycaemic index are those that release glucose slowly into the bloodstream. Since glucose is the brain’s main fuel source, eating low GI foods will ensure that your brain receives a steady stream of fuel, keeping it alert throughout the day. Low GI foods include things like:
- Wholegrains (such as brown bread, rice and pasta)
- Dairy products
- Beans and lentils
- Poultry and lean meat
Essential fatty acids (omega-3)
Essential fatty acids are great for healthy brain function. They cannot be made by the body, so they need to be obtained through your diet. The most effective sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids are things like:
- Oily fish (such as salmon, trout, mackerel, herring and sardines)
- Oils such as linseed/flaxseed and walnut
- Dairy products
Foods rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants protect against cell damage. They are found in a wide variety of foods, especially fruit and vegetables, and many vitamins also have antioxidant properties. For example, recent research suggests that regular intake of vitamin E (which contains antioxidants) helps to preserve brain function and prevent cognitive decline.
Foods rich in antioxidants include:
- Fruits, especially berries
- Legumes such as kidney beans, pinto beans and red beans
- Vegetables, especially leafy greens
- Nuts, especially walnuts (aim for a minimum of 30g of nuts per day)
Foods rich in iron
Iron is an important ingredient for a healthy body – and a healthy brain. Iron deficiency can result in poor learning, memory and attention levels; women are especially susceptible to such a deficiency, so be sure your intake of iron is adequate to ensure optimal brain function and health.
Foods rich in iron include things like:
- Red meat (lean)
- Pork, poultry and fish
- Dark leafy greens such as spinach
Yes, you read right: caffeine. But don’t rejoice just yet at the thought of upping your coffee intake in the name of brain health. We’re talking about moderate amounts of caffeine here, which will help stimulate your brain, boost your memory and improve your mood. As well as coffee, caffeine is also found in tea and dark chocolate (the darker the better).
We know this one sounds obvious, but for a healthy body and a healthy brain, you need to drink a lot of water! When you’re dehydrated, your brain tissue actually shrinks – not something you want to happen while you’re studying. Keep a bottle or glass at your desk at all times and refill it constantly while you study, aiming to drink around two litres per day.
It’s relatively easy to make some small changes in your diet to accommodate these brain-boosting foods. Try snacking on nuts and berries at your desk; eating a solid, low-GI breakfast before you start studying; and enjoying a healthy brain-enhancing meal such as fish and veggies for lunch or dinner.
These are just some of the ways you can improve your study sessions through food – why not get creative and try some new combinations?
Author: Emily Burgess
Bio: Emily is a senior content writer with CourseGuru.com.au. She is a recent University graduate and enjoys writing about educational and career orientated topics.