Whether you’re studying for an exam or you’re trying to nail that dissertation, your memory, or more importantly, your brain, is your biggest asset.
Not only does your brain help take in information to help you get those grades, but it also retains it, ensuring you can call on it at a later time. However, a common mistake made by many students is to eat poorly during the crucial studying process.
This often sees junk food, bags of crisps, fizzy sweets, and chocolate eaten non-stop in an attempt to up energy levels – and let’s not forget the cans of energy drinks. While this can provide a short-term energy boost, curbing hunger and giving us that much-needed sugar, it can actually be harmful in the long term.
Instead, during this period, you should take the time to assess what you’re eating, opting for ‘brain foods’ to help increase your chances of success.
Does food really help the brain?
This is something you’ve probably heard of many times, and you may have thought of it as ‘nonsense’. After all, can certain food really improve your memory?
Well, the simple answer is yes – food can help improve your chances of a healthy brain.
As the most complex part of your body, the brain is constantly working, which means it needs a constant energy top-up. You may be surprised to learn that the brain takes up around 20% of your body’s calories. That means that one-fifth of your daily energy is consumed by the brain, which is quite a large amount when you think about it.
So, if you aren’t eating properly and giving your body the food it needs, you won’t be able to fuel your brain, making it much harder to concentrate on your studies and retain information.
What are brain foods?
There are many foods out there that can help with brain function, and we’ll get into that in a little bit. However, before we do, we’ve listed exactly what your body needs to ensure you have a brain fit for studying:
- Protein – this can be found in everything from eggs and meat to nuts, lentils and more. This is important as it helps to send messages to the other parts of your body, and can also create a chemical that can improve your mood.
- Omega-3 — found in multiple foods, most notably oily fish, but also eggs, Omega-3 can help your brain work harder.
- Dietary cholesterol — cholesterol is what helps the brain to create cells that send messages to the rest of the body and can be found in dairy products and egg yolks.
- Monounsaturated fats — if you love some smashed avocado on toast, you’re in luck. Foods such as this contain monosaturated fats, which can help to improve memory and make your brain work harder, better, faster and stronger.
- Caffeine — consumed in moderate amounts, caffeine can help you to feel refreshed and focused. But stay away from energy drinks – the copious amounts of sugar can actually have an adverse effect.
- Water – we all know we need water to survive, and your brain is actually 73% water, so in order to keep it in great shape, you need to be topping up on your hydration.
The Best Brain Foods
Now that we’ve discussed what’s needed and that brain foods do work, what are the best brain foods for studying?
From snacking to actual meals, the list below should help you prepare for those revision sessions.
When preparing breakfast, lunch, or dinner, try and incorporate the following foods into your meals.
Rich sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, which we mentioned above, food such as trout, sardines and salmon are excellent brain foods due to the brain being 60% fat, and half of that is the Omega-3 kind of fat.
An excellent replacement for foods such as chips, these are full of fibre and protein, which is just what your brain needs when it comes to improved function. Try roasting with salt and chilli or garlic powder to make them extra tasty.
Just like fatty fish, eggs are an excellent food that can be incorporated at all times of the day, providing you with B vitamins and many other nutrients to help with brain function. But let’s not forget, they’re quite versatile too, meaning you can mix it up with scrambled, boiled, poached, fried, and any other type of egg to stop meal fatigue.
Bursting with antioxidants, broccoli is also jam-packed with vitamin K. While you may not have heard of this, it’s been shown to improve memory.
If you’ve eaten and you’re looking for that little mid-revision pick-me-up, don’t reach for the crisps. Instead, try the following.
Tasty and healthy, almonds are an excellent way to get that much-needed energy boost when you need it.
Tasty and filled with antioxidants, you’ll not only be getting that chocolate hit but helping to improve blood flow to your brain to increase your focus.
You’ve probably been told to eat some fruit instead of hitting up the confectionary many times since childhood, but when it comes to your brain, it really can help. A medium orange is filled with vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant known to help with brain health.
A snack that’s been found to improve heart health, which can inadvertently improve brain health, studies have shown that nuts can help with cognitive function. They’re also filled with vitamin E, while walnuts are also packed with Omega-3 fatty acids. Just make sure you stay away from the dry roasted ones you find in the pub.
A delicious food that can work as a snack or as an accompaniment for some morning porridge, blueberries are filled with antioxidants and have been shown to help improve memory.
It’s not just food you want to be looking at when it comes to your brain health. During study periods, you also need to be looking at what you drink, as this can have a huge effect on the brain. Aside from plenty of water, try the following.
Featuring both caffeine and antioxidants, ensuring you get your morning or mid-morning coffee (whenever you choose to drink yours), will help your brain by increasing your alertness, mood, and sharpening your concentration.
If coffee isn’t for you, then don’t panic too much, as there are alternativeness. Rather than turning to tea for the caffeine hit, opt for green tea instead. Working in a similar way to coffee, green tea can help to improve alertness, performance, memory and focus.
And there you have it, a list of the foods you should be eating when studying to ensure your brain is working at its full capacity. Whatever your favourite study snacks and meals, you can be sure of an inspiring study space with Nido. Our student homes are designed to offer the perfect place for work and play, so you can boss that degree while maintaining a great social life. For more information and to explore our student accommodation, visit the homepage.