Parents, ever thought about it, that the food your child consumes every day is related to the functions of the brain? The brain is always “on”, and the food they eat affects their mental health way more than you think it does. Whether you want your child’s brain to function attentively before an exam or you want them to stay sharp and focused during the classes, paying close attention to what they eat can pay off in your favour.
Healthy pre-exam nutrition gives children an added edge during this mental marathon, and the importance of healthy eating habits at this stressful time can not be emphasized on enough.
Here are some brain foods suggestions and tips that can help in improving your child’s cognition and focus and help them to perform better on the exam day!
Make sure to eat:
- Even if they usually skip breakfast or avoid eating when in stress, you should still take some time out for them to have breakfast before a test as the mental focus should be on the exam and not on the growling stomach. The chances are that they will feel worse and be too fatigued mentally to do their best on exam day otherwise.
- Breakfast has a positive effect on a child’s cognitive performance, particularly in the realms of memory and attention.
- Simply start their day with some whole grains or a bowl of fresh fruits and dates and if they can’t have something substantial then try having a smoothie or a dairy-free shake.
- Up to 70% of our brain is made up of fat, and thus, the right kind of fat is required for proper brain functioning.
- The human body cannot produce significant amounts of omega-3, EPA, and DHA, which are the essential fatty acids vital for brain health.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are known to keep the brain healthy and improve memory, focus and concentration in kids efficiently.
- Try adding some flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, spirulina etc. to your child’s meals every day.
Green leafy vegetables:
- Not just on the gut health and immunity, green leafy vegetables have a positive impact on brain health also.
- Micro-nutrients like beta-carotene, lutein, vitamin K act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agent present in them help slow down cognitive development and increase the age of brain cells.
- It contains an antioxidant compound known as flavonoids which prevent damage to the brain area associated with memory and enhances your child’s memory and learning attributes.
- It can stimulate chemicals like serotonin and endorphin levels, which are associated with better concentration and attention span and can work with a healthy diet.
- This is not one of the well-sung heroes for promoting memory, focused concentration and cognition.
- Beetroots are a rich source of nitrates which dilates the blood vessels, thereby improving the blood supply and oxygenation to the brain cells, which in turn improves mental functioning.
- You may add it to the salads, roast them or simply juice it out for your child!
- When in a hurry, these make a great grab and go option. Not only they provide your child with natural sugars for the kick start but also the crucial vitamins and minerals keeps their brain, nerves and heart in the best shape.
- Their rich antioxidant content improves the performance on learning and memory tests. Instead of reaching out to crappy junk, consider enjoying some fresh juicy fruits when those sweet cravings kick in.
- Thirst and dehydration can cause fatigue and sometimes all your child needs is a glass of water to flush it out.
- If they need that afternoon pick-me-up tea, swap it for a green tea. It contains a modest amount of caffeine combined with amino acid theanine which has shown to improve mental alertness and focus. Squeeze some fresh lemon and ginger juice for the added flavour.
Food one must avoid:
- Brain Blocking foods: Refrain from items loaded with sugar and refined flour such as breads, cakes, cookies, chocolates, candies etc. as they lead to energy highs and dips instead of stabilizing the blood sugars during exam time, and also they increase digestive load taking away the focus from brain nourishment to digestion.
- Brain Blocking beverages: If your child is feeling drained, think twice before grabbing the soda can or a tea/ coffee mug. These sugar-loaded beverages can wreck their blood sugar levels and cause unnecessary jitters. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) may be particularly harmful, causing brain inflammation and impairing memory and learning. Also, they leave children more dehydrated than re-hydrating and can cause headaches, which will only distract them more.
The key to success in exams of your child is in you being mindful and aware of what they feed their brain and body with. Let them eat well and shine on! If you have tried any of the above listed brain foods to improve your child’s memory during exams, let us know in the comments section below.
This article is written by Neha Ranglani – an integrative nutritionist, health coach and lifestyle educator, blogger, speaker and a plant-based food coach.