Are matric students mentally ready for their exams? 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 uses up to 20% of 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."
What you eat doesn’t only feed your body, but also your hungry brain. These tips will help students have a sharp mind during exam time:
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.
Grab a snack
Refuelling every 3 - 4 hours is crucial to keep blood sugar and energy levels steady. Plan to have study breaks and have a healthy snack ready. Whole wheat tuna sandwich, popcorn, fruit, low fat yoghurt or whole wheat biscuits are good snacks to boost energy levels.
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.
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 for at least 6 glasses of water per day. Other suitable fluids include rooibos tea, homemade ice teas, low fat milk and diluted fruit juice.
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.
The best food during exams is a balanced diet that includes ‘brain foods’ rather than focusing on individual food items.
Try this brain boosting smoothie recipe!
- 1 x banana
- ½ cup of fresh or frozen blueberries
- 50 ml lower fat vanilla yoghurt
- 100 ml apple juice
- Handful of crushed nuts
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