Eating Well Improves Brain Function, Focus, and Concentration
Not only does a nutritious diet increase energy levels, prevent some chronic diseases, and help maintain a healthy body weight, but it is an important part of achieving your goals and enhancing your academic performance.
No-Bake Energy Balls prepared by Peer Health.
Happy Nutrition Month 2023!
Third year nutrition students are hosting food sampling events. Tasting samples provided are healthy, low-cost and easy to prepare in advance. Arts Tunnel or St. Thomas More College on Thursday March 9th from 12:30 - 1:30pm. Try samples and talk to nutrition students!
Make sure to keep an eye out for the TikToks, where recipes from the event will be posted! Happy Nutrition Month 2023!
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
- 2 cups rolled oats, ground
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 bananas, mashed
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ cup chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 400 F and prepare a muffin tin with muffin liners or by spraying the cavities with cooking spray.
- Add the oats to a blender and blend until the oats turn into a flour-like consistency.
- Add the Greek yogurt, banana, eggs, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the blender and blend until combined.
- Remove the blender blade and mix in the chocolate chips.
- Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Recipe can be made without a blender. Thoroughly mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl (will want to use pre-ground oats or another type of flour).
- Chocolate chips are optional; can omit or sub for fruits or nuts.
- 3 ½ cups quinoa
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 2 cups cucumber, diced
- 1 ½ cups grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 medium carrot, shredded
- 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp parsley
- 2 tsp dried or fresh, minced garlic
- Salt, to taste
- Prepare quinoa according to directions on the package. Wash and chop the vegetables.
- In a bowl, stir together olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, garlic, and salt.
- In a large bowl, toss together quinoa, pepper, cucumber, tomato, carrot, and chickpeas with the dressing. Keep salad chilled.
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup rolled oats
- ½ cup milk of choice or water
- Chia seeds
- Hemp hearts
- Cocoa powder
- Fresh, frozen, or dried fruit
- Nuts and seeds
- Nut butter
- Shredded coconut
- Pumpkin puree
- Chocolate chips
- Combine all ingredients in a single-serving size jar or container.
- Let sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Meal prep this recipe for up to 3 days in advance.
Chickpea and Potato Curry
- 1.5 lbs potato, cubed
- ½ cup onion, diced
- 2 tsp dried or fresh, minced garlic
- 1 15-oz can chickpeas, with liquid
- 4 tsp curry powder
- 4 tsp garam masala
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- Salt, to taste
- Oil, for cooking
- Par-boil the potatoes for about 5 minutes. Reserve the water.
- In a small bowl, combine curry, garam masala, ginger, cumin, cayenne, and salt.
- In a large frying pan, heat the oil, add the onion and garlic, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the spices and mix well. Add the chickpeas with the liquid and the potatoes along with approximately ½ cup potato cooking water. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Break the Fast!
Starting your day with a healthy meal improves concentration and focus, enabling you to strive for success. Eat within an hour of waking to jumpstart your metabolism and get the fuel you need for your morning.
Quick Breakfast Ideas
- Cold cereal with milk
- Fresh or dried fruit
- Instant oatmeal
- Sandwich with deli meat, cheese, or peanut butter
- High-fibre cereal bars
Dial In: Listen to Your Hunger, Fullness, and Thirst
These are basic biological needs that require attention before you can focus. Carry snacks in your backpack and eat every 3-5 hours to keep your brain at its peak throughout the day.
Easy Snack Ideas
- Fresh or dried fruit
- Cut-up veggies
- Whole grain crackers
- Trail mix or nut
Give Your Brain and Your Grades a Boost with Nutrients It Needs
Adequate iron intake has been shown to improve mental function. Good sources of iron include lentils, cooked spinach, beef, whole wheat bread, and sunflower seeds.
Zinc plays a crucial role in memory formation and cognitive stability. Foods that are high in zinc include wheat germ, bran cereal, and red meat.
The brain relies on glucose for fuel. Eating regular meals with carbohydrate-containing foods can help preserve adequate blood sugar levels in order to maintain cognitive function. Eat whole grain products, starchy vegetables, legumes, and milk and yogurt to keep your energy level up.
This type of fat is highly concentrated in the brain and is important for memory, performance, and behavioral function. Sources include salmon, tuna, halibut, nuts and seeds (e.g., flax, walnuts), and certain oils (e.g., canola, olive, flaxseed).
Fibre helps the body release sugar in the blood slowly, which provides your brain with fuel over a longer period of time. You can find fibre in whole grain bread, vegetables and fruit, pasta, and beans.
A fat-soluble vitamin that can be obtained through food, sunlight, supplement, or multivitamin. The main function of vitamin D is to maintain levels of calcium and phosphorus in the blood and increase the absorption of calcium. These functions are important for bone health.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. It is needed throughout the life to develop and maintain bone and teeth health. It is being deposited and withdrawn from your bones at the same time. Calcium is also needed for the muscles including heart muscles to work.
Brain Food Can Change Your Mood
Food can influence the production of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These chemicals help you feel calm, happy, and more capable of coping with stress.
Anthocyanins found in blueberries may slow and even reverse age-related mental decline.
This powerhouse of nutrition is a good source of folate. Folate is a tryptophan, which helps promote the production of the “feel-good” brain chemical serotonin. Serotonin can provide a pick-me-up to help you study more effectively.
High in vitamin B5, which plays a part in adrenal function to help your body cope with stress.
This antioxidant-rich food has been found to boost memory and help battle Alzheimer’s disease.
The ultimate brain food, salmon may improve memory and help prevent the mental deterioration seen in Alzheimer’s disease.
Turkey contains tyrosine, which triggers dopamine and norepinephrine production, enhancing energy, alertness, and feelings of well-being.
Drink Plenty of Water
Water gives the brain the electrical energy needed for all its functions, including thought and memory processes. Not drinking enough water causes problems with focus, memory, mental fatigue, headaches, and sleep. Carry a water bottle with you and drink throughout the day. Pay attention to thirst cues.
Alcohol Affects Memory and Learning
Most people will agree that coming to class or trying to study after having a few drinks is not the best way to learn. Alcohol inhibits a part of your brain called the hippocampus, a region vital to the formation of new memories. Having alcohol in your system during class will greatly reduce your ability to store new information in your memory.
Coffee and energy drinks cause a short-term burst of energy followed by a long-term slump. Limit caffeine to a maximum of 400 mg/day, equivalent to about 3 cups of coffee. If you do drink coffee, ensure you are also drinking enough water!
Caffeine in Common Products
- Starbucks coffee (12 oz.) – 260 mg
- Iced cappuccino (380 ml) – 90 mg
- Black tea (12 oz.) – 100 mg
- Cola (12 oz.) – 55 mg
- Red Bull (8.4 oz.) – 80 mg
- 5-hour Energy (1.9 oz.) – 208 mg
- Coffee ice cream (1 cup) – 60 mg
- Caffeine pill (1 tablet) – 200 mg
- Tylenol (1 tablet) – 65 mg