Brain Food: How to Keep Yourself Fuelled Through Those Essays

Iliana Gutch Marinovon 30 April 2018
Brain Food: How to Keep Yourself Fuelled Through Those Essays

Feeling sluggish and unable to reach those 5000 words? These foods will fuel you through to the final word count...

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Study period is looming, and those assignments are piling up. With hours of cramming and essay writing in the library unfolding ahead of you, the option of grabbing a convenient meal deal or Subway just seems too tempting. But sometimes endless sandwiches and packets of crisps don’t leave you feeling as satiated as you’d think. Here are some tasty meal and snack ideas which will help those little grey cells work to their best ability and give you the energy you need to power through those assignments. Unfortunately, it hasn’t yet been scientifically proven that you can eat your way to academic success, but it’s always worth a try!

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1. Oily Fish

Oily fish includes salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines and they have numerous health benefits. Oily fish is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which studies have suggested can work to increase brain size and reduce memory loss and even help to prevent diseases such as dementia later on in life. It’s also been proven to reduce fat build up in the arteries, so it’s a great way to stay streamlined! It’s recommended to have at least two portions of fish a week - any fin is possible if you eat enough fish, so don’t let that oppor-tuna-ty pass you by!

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To find a delicious and quick-to-make salmon recipe, click here.

If you’re vegetarian, then good plant sources of Omega-3 include linseed, soya beans, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.

2. Dark Leafy Beans

As your mum would say, don’t forget to eat your greens! Veggies such as kale, spinach and broccoli are packed with vitamins and nutrients such as Vitamin E and folate, which work to protect the brain by lowering levels of amino acids in the blood. A big bag of spinach is always good to have in the fridge – it’s a super easy and convenient way to throw a handful of leaves into any salad or sauce you're making. Lean, mean and green is definitely the way forward.

3. Avocado

In true millennial style, avocados are, of course, the answer to all your worries. A rich source of Vitamins E and C, the avocado has even been shown to lower the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and its high-fat content means that it will keep you full for even longer while you power through those essays – so basically, it’s just perfect in every way. Its creamy, rich texture means the avocado is a great addition to a salad or wrap, or the classic, simply mashed on toast with a bit of salt and pepper. Maybe frittering away your student loan (and probably your future mortgage) on those endless bottomless brunches was worth it after all.

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For Jamie Oliver’s tasty guacamole recipe, click here.

4. Whole Grains

What is more wholesome than whole grains? These bad boys don’t do things in halves and if you eat them, then neither should your assignments (although please note, that this article may not be held responsible for any incomplete or failed assignments). They are packed with fibre, which gives you serious energy and helps reduce the risk of heart disease. So, start the day right with some overnight oats, fill up with whole-grain sandwiches, or simply swap your pasta or rice for brown at dinner.

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5. Nuts

High in healthy fats which keep you full for longer, nutritious and delicious nuts are the perfect afternoon snack. These are also packed with Vitamin E, so when you’re about to grab that packet of crisps from the vending machine, reach for a handful of almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts instead.

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6. Blueberries

A study at Tufts University in America linked eating blueberries to improving or delaying short-term memory loss. So, if you’re a little forgetful, maybe it's time to add a sprinkling of these little fruity friends onto your yoghurt or cereal at brekkie.

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7. Dark Chocolate

Last, but most certainly not least, is heavenly dark chocolate. Chocolate is, unsurprisingly, the number 1 food that people crave, and this is because of something called anandamide, a neurotransmitter which has been appropriately named the “bliss molecule”. This increases levels of serotonin, and makes you feel great! So, if you want to feel fabulous, EAT MORE CHOCOLATE! (there really is hope after all.) Not only does it improve your mood, but chocolate is high in flavonoids which are shown to increase brain activity and memory, attention span, and problem-solving. See – it’s not all doom and gloom, we also live in a world where chocolate makes you clever. But try not to eat 10 bars in one sitting (talking from experience).

Other Tips:

  • Drink water! It is very important to stay hydrated. Drinking 1-2 litres of water (that’s 6-8 glasses) per day is recommended.

  • Avoid eating too much sugar. Because of high stress levels, it’s tempting to cram your face with cookies and sweets, but sugar only provides your body with short-term energy, leading to a crash which may cause you to feel drained or irritable. Try replacing your sugary snacks by nibbling on dark chocolate or nuts.

  • Exercise regularly. Exercising releases endorphins and is an excellent way to release stress. Studies have shown that when the brain is stimulated by physical activity it is better at retaining information, so try to squeeze in some time between library stints to get active.

  • Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals will decrease your energy levels and slow down your metabolism and you'll probably end up just eating junk later on instead. So, no matter how frantically you are writing that last-minute essay, make sure you put aside time to eat three proper meals a day.

And remember, a happy tummy makes a strong brain!

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Iliana Gutch Marinovon 30 April 2018