Whether you are sitting exams, prepping for a presentation, delivering training or simply want to boost your brain function, then my top tips below will support performance.
- Eat foods that keep you fuller longer and release energy into your system slowly, such as oats, chia seeds, wholegrain bread and good cereals, brown rice, spelt, brown couscous, wholegrain, lentil or vegetable pasta, quinoa, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pulses, lentils, and bananas. A good breakfast is extremely important to wake up your system and give you energy.
- Drink a glass of water at least once an hour to keep you hydrated and your brain working optimally. Add lemon for vitamin C
- Eat some protein with your breakfast – studies have shown this keeps you feeling fuller longer so you won’t be distracted during revision or exams with a rumbling stomach or feelings of hunger. Eggs are good, or yoghurt, nuts and nut butters. Almond nut butters contain healthy fats which we need for optimum brain function, and a good dose of Vitamin E.
- Eat as much green leafy vegetables as you can. The list of these wonderfully healthy vegetables is a long one and includes; broccoli, kale, spinach and chard. They are a vital source of vitamins and iron (for energy) and in particular vitamin K which assists the neural pathways. They are also packed with anti oxidants and B vitamins which are often associated with being alert and a healthy functioning memory.
- Omega 3 and healthy fatty acids. These good fats cannot be made by the body and therefore we need to eat them. They are important in the context of revision and exams because they have been proven in tests to help reduce anxiety and even depression and help lift mood. Omega 3 therefore is crucial for our brains and may even fight inflammation in our body. Ways you can get your Omega 3 fats; Salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, shrimp, seaweed and algae, (chlorella and spirulina) walnuts, linseed, chia seeds, hemp, edamame ( soya beans) and kidney beans, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
- Be careful of heavily caffeinated drinks but a white tea, or green tea might help keep you alert as well as offering valuable anti oxidants to your body to support your system.
- If energy is low, then look to fruit. The fructose are healthier natural sugars which may give you a boost. Blueberries are an excellent choice.
- Plan and give yourselves good quality nourishing treats. This may be fruit, hummus and crudites, nuts, avocado, crispy chick peas, a bowl of edamame, nut butters with apple etc.
- Eat serotonin boosting foods. Foods don’t contain serotonin but they contain tryptophan which converts to this mood adjusting chemical 70% of which is made in our gut. You will find this in nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh cheese, red meat, chicken, turkey, fish, oats, beans, lentils, eggs – and a really good dark chocolate ( at least 70%).
Vitamin D can help with anxiety and low mood so make sure you get enough of it. Can be found in ;
- Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon.
- Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals.
- Beef liver.
- Egg yolks.
- Non dairy fortified milks
- Keep your immunity high by incorporating foods such as turmeric which is anti inflammatory, anti viral and anti bacterial. Include garlic, ginger, and onions for extra protection and have a jar of Manuka honey with a high UMF value on hand to make wonderful nourishing and immune boosting drinks from fresh ginger, lemon, turmeric and Manuka.
- Eat foods rich in zinc which helps prevent illness during this time and may prevent colds. My healthiest recommendations would be; seeds, nuts, dark chocolate, whole grains, sweet potato, kale, chicken leg, eggs and shiitake mushrooms.
- Since studies were shown that students performed 5-7% better, rosemary has been added to my guide for optimum performance. Infusing a room full of the aroma can support ‘ remembering to remember’, but there are also benefits from putting it into food and adding a piece to a glass of water. Dinner of turkey, in a lemon and rosemary sauce with shiitake mushrooms with brown rice, is a perfect way to cram much of the stuff needed mid prep or exams.