Examinations are always followed by stress & if you happen to be in your 10th or 12th grade, mere a word “BOARD EXAM” can give you sleepless nights even before you have started your session. It is a stressful situation for students, parents & teachers too. Needless to say, students are more stressed out of all. As the stress level in the body increases the need for water-soluble vitamins like B-complex and Vitamin C also increases. With physical and emotional stress, the concentrations of vitamin C in the body vary significantly. When undergoing a ton of stress, it dips.
As per research, students facing stress due to the examination may have an enhanced desire for high fat and sugar meals. This can affect their focus, concentration & can also lead to ill health, the last thing you want during the most crucial part of your education period.
How nutrition can help improve grades?
There are certain nutrients like Vitamin C, B5, B6, zinc, magnesium & potassium that are needed to produce stress counteract hormones or as we call it adrenal hormones. The right nutrition can not only help you combat stress but also can increase your brain performance & thereby grades.
Nutrition checklist for Students
Eat small but regular meals
The brain will need a stable energy supply to be able to perform consistently over the course of long studying hours. If students eat large meals, there energy and alertness levels will dip. So even if they’re spending hours on the study table, the productivity will be low. You need the right food in the right quantity at the right time to fuel your body correctly.
Don’t skip breakfast
Every morning, eating something nutritious is important for your child to re-fuel for the busy day ahead. Students require higher concentration, longer attention span & good memory to be able to learn effectively in school. Foods rich in fibers, whole grains & proteins while low in GI will be a healthy breakfast choice. Fresh fruit smoothies can also be added in the diet.
What’s in Snacks?
Many students have a habit to keep snacking while they study. High fat & high sugar snacks should be avoided. It will help in steadying the blood sugar levels and will not hamper memory & learning. Snacks should consist of the right combination of omega 3 fats, complex carbohydrates, protein, and micronutrients. Vegetable sandwich, nuts, fruit smoothies, chana chat, dry fruit laddu and seeds trail mix can be a good snacking option. Some students have snacking genes, they are genetically more inclined to keep snacking frequently. Because of this nature they might end up consuming unhealthy foods. A genetic-based structured nutrition plan will not only help in identifying the right foods but also the manner in which it needs to be taken.
Eat more omega-3 fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids play a key function in memory, concentration, and stress relief. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) omega-3 fatty acid is essential for brain function and also boosts memory. Our body cannot produce omega 3 fatty acids hence it is important to include omega 3 rich foods in your diet. Walnuts, flaxseeds oil and fishes like salmon, tuna & mackerel are a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids.
72% of the human body is water. So my mathematics knowledge says that if almost 3/4th of our body is water then we better be taking care of it. Dehydration may influence cognitive function, increase anxiety, and cause tiredness or depression. A water break between your studies can help break the chain of negative thoughts and realign your focus. Coconut water & chamomile tea are also good hydration options.
What you should be doing on the exam day
Eat a light meal
Heavy foods may include oily and deep-fried foods; the energy of the body gets into the digestion of these foods, making you sleepy and heavy. Also, avoid overeating as it also hampers your thinking ability and makes you drowsy.
The continuous study hours put a lot of stress & consume a lot of energy. Taking supplements can be a good option to refuel all vitamins, minerals & proteins. Taking a multi-vitamin capsule can increase your metabolism and provide your body and mind with the needed energy. Iron, zinc, calcium and other minerals and vitamins supplements can significantly assist in managing stress.
Avoid carbs rich foods
Limit the consumption of ingredients rich in carbohydrates. Instead of making you alert, carbs will relax down your body.
It is also advisable to avoid caffeinated drinks, primarily coffee. That’s because caffeine can render you nervous, jittery, and can result in headaches.
Carry Snacks with you
Always a good idea to carry your stock with you. Walnuts, almonds, fruits, energy bars can easily be carried in the bag.
Don’t explore new food
If you end up eating something that is not in agreement with your body, you will suffer throughout your examination. This is going to become an unnecessary distraction you don’t want to experience.
My FAB 5 foods for students
Eggs are great morning food. Healthier option than sugar loaded cereals/biscuits. They also can keep you fuller for a long duration. You can have it fried, boiled or poached.
Mackerel & salmon are some of the healthiest & nutritious fishes that are available. It is a good source of protein & omega 3 that are crucial for better brain functioning. Have it with whole wheat bread and you will have a meal full of proteins, vitamins and complex carbs.
Mackerel & salmon are some of the healthiest & nutritious Against the popular belief that peanut butter is unhealthy food, peanut butter actually contains good fats and loads of protein per serving. A great brain food option which can hold you filled for a long time in just a little.
Leafy Veggies are filled with vitamin K that helps construct brain mechanisms as well as nitrates and antioxidants that occur naturally. They are also a good source of B6 & B12 which is related to boosting alertness & memory.
Green tea is a healthy solution to high-caffeine alternatives as it offers both antioxidants and concentration boost. It also promotes alpha-wave thinking & is impeccably refreshing and vitalizing.
Food is our lifeline and greatly affects our body. Having a customized nutrition plan is essential as our state of health will determine our success in the future. We are in a generation where people have access to more tools & vast pool of information, are blessed with technological innovations and are more skillful than earlier generations but they are struggling with their health. 25-27 years old are suffering from diabetes, blood pressure and other lifestyle diseases. The root cause of the majority of the diseases is the way we are nourishing ourselves. We need to teach this generation the lost art of eating right. I believe the future belongs more to the healthy ones than to the skilled ones.
Ryan Fernando is an Award-winning celebrity Sports Nutritionist with 2GUINNESS world record and 2 Olympic medals under his belt. His client list include Olympic wrestler Sushil Kumar, cricketer Shikhar Dhawan & bollywood superstars Aamir Khan & Abhishek Bachchan. He is CEO & Chief Nutritionist at QUA Nutrition Signature Clinics.