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.
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