MATRICS face many challenges during their final exams and what you eat doesn’t only feed your body, but also your hungry brain.According to Claudine Ryan, registered dietician for Compass Group Southern Africa, a strong memory depends on the health and vitality of the brain.“The brain weighs only 2% of body weight and it contains more than a 100 billion brain cells, which use up to 20% of the body’s energy,” she says. “Glucose is the brain’s main energy source. Vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids also play a role in optimal brain function.”The best food during exams is a balanced diet that includes ‘brain foods’ rather than focusing on individual food items. 1. Have breakfast Studies show that students who eat breakfast have improved memory function and concentration when compared to those who skip breakfast.Have low GI carbohydrates that will ensure the brain has a continuous supply of glucose. Try low GI toasted bread with mozzarella cheese or peanut butter, low GI cereals with low-fat milk, fruit salad and low-fat yoghurt or a fruit smoothie. 2. Grab a snack Refuelling every 3 - 4 hours is crucial to keeping blood sugar and energy levels steady.Plan to have study breaks and have a healthy snack ready.Wholewheat tuna sandwich, popcorn, fruit, low-fat yoghurt or wholewheat biscuits are good snacks to boost energy levels. 3. Slow on sugar Sweets and drinks that contain lots of sugar will only boost your energy levels for a short time and then leave you fatigued and drained.Rather have fresh fruit, dried fruits, fruit salad, low-fat yoghurt and nuts and raisins instead of sweets and cold drinks. 4. Drink enough It is extremely important to drink sufficient amounts of fluids during exam time to ensure your body is fully hydrated.Dehydration may lead to fatigue, headaches and a lack of concentration. Aim at at least 6 glasses of water per day.Other suitable fluids include rooibos tea, homemade ice teas, low-fat milk and diluted fruit juice. 5. Don’t depend on caffeine Limit yourself to two cups of coffee per day or opt for decaffeinated coffee instead. Too much caffeine may lead to restlessness, irritability, anxiety and stress – the last thing you need when trying to concentrate and study.