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When exams are on the horizon, or you’ve got that big assignment to complete, you can expect to put in extra hours of study time. However, what you put into your mouth may be just as important, because eating foods that feed your brain can help you achieve better results. How? It all comes back to your brain.

Your brain needs food

Your brain is the most complex part of your body. Like a computer, it runs millions of processes every day. It never stops working, so it needs constant topping up with the fuel it operates on—glucose, which is a type of sugar. Your body obtains glucose from your food, and it’s delivered to the brain through the bloodstream. The problem is, your brain can’t store glucose, so you need to top up your levels every day.

If your food isn’t feeding your brain, it can lead to low mood and aggression, low-quality sleep, poor memory, and impaired problem-solving. These are not things you want to feel when you turn up to an exam.

Give your brain the best

Your brain needs several key elements to work properly. Fortunately, these are pretty easy to achieve.

They are:

  • Protein — meat, fish, eggs, poultry, legumes, nuts and seeds, dried beans and lentils, dairy products and soy products.
  • Antioxidants — fruits and veggies, including berries, and pomegranate juice.
  • Omega-3 — oily fish, flax seeds and flax oil, and eggs, chicken and beef.
  • Dietary cholesterol — dairy and egg yolks.
  • Monounsaturated fats — avocados, nuts, olive oil, canola oil and peanut oil.
  • Caffeine (moderate amounts) — tea, coffee and dark chocolate.
  • Water.

Easy meal swaps

The best way to feed your brain is to eat a wide range of foods from all food groups. However, when you’re hitting the books, it can be a little tricky to put it into practice. So, we’ve come up with some easy meal-swaps that will get your brain humming in no time.

 Swap this...
 For this...
 Processed cereal
Porridge topped with fruit and walnuts
Biscuits or a muffin
Wholegrain crackers with cheese and tomato
Pizza Vegetable omelette
Burger and fries
Steak and salad
Chocolate or lollies
Fresh or dried fruit
Ice-cream Yoghurt and berries
Potato crisps
Handful of nuts
Energy drink
Fruit smoothie
Coffee Water

It’s okay to have the occasional treat while studying, but eating well-rounded meals most of the time, will help you study better, and lead to better results.

What can I do now?

  1. Check out more study tips and advice on beating exam stress
  2. Read more about healthy food choices
  3. Find out five ways to exercise