Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? It is perfect timing as midterm season is in full swing before our spring breaks.

We all know that eating healthy on a regular basis is a good habit for college students to cultivate in order to improve many aspects of your well-being, such as your physical and mental health. Additionally, as college students trying to pursue our degrees, brain power is at an utmost importance. However, it seems contradictory that we all get too busy in our studies to eat or eat the right foods, since they have a larger impact on our overall brain function than we realize. Eating healthier can also help alleviate insomnia and restlessness and can lessen anxiety, depression or constant stress. This will allow you to have a sharper mind to focus in class and retain information more effectively.

Foods to Boost Brainpower

The best foods to boost brainpower include a balance of glucose, fatty acids, and antioxidants.

Glucose

First off, glucose (sugar) is one of the biggest culprits but also one of the most effective ways to fuel your brain for studying. Glucose in the unhealthy forms, such as refined sugars and in sweet processed foods, triggers insulin which decreases your overall metabolism and most commonly leads to an energy crash that we all know very well. This is not very conducive to studying. However, our brains actually need sugars to work, but rather in the natural form that contain fiber, such as fresh fruit (fructose) and in plain dairy products such as milk and cheese (lactose).

Fatty Acids

The other essential nutrient for our brains are fatty acids. There is this common belief that fat is bad for you, but your brain is made of fat and needs therefore needs fat, just like sugar, to work. It’s the kind of fat that you eat that matters. Good fats can include fatty fish (salmon, tuna), natural nut butters, avocado, nuts, and seeds. If you cook, utilizing extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil is a better alternative than canola, it’s processed and refined counterpart. These omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids not only will help to strengthen your memory and retain information, but will help you feel more satiated and give you longer lasting energy. They also create neurotransmitters that make you feel calm and focused!

Antioxidants

Last but not least, antioxidants. These can be found in many teas, vegetables and fruits that help regulate oxidative stress that destroys brain cells. High rates of stress and anxiety has been prevalent among college students, especially U of R students, making antioxidants a very important addition to anyone’s diet. The beauty of these is that they help block free radicals so you brain doesn’t have to work and that they help to maintain your brain function. You can increase the amount of antioxidants in your diet by eating thing such as potatoes, fresh cranberries, cherries, blackberries, dark chocolate, and spices such as cinnamon, oregano, turmeric, cumin, and basil.

In all, there is a commonly used phrase “abs are made in the kitchen”, and it works similarly with academic performance and nutrition. See what incorporating these foods into your diet can do for you!

By Rebecca Block
Peer Health Advocate
Class of 2018