Boost your brain power!

No one is more aware than you that exam time is approaching. While hard work and long hours are the most important ingredients over the next few weeks, don’t forget that how you treat your body during this time can make a difference. As well as making sure that you get enough sleep, regular fresh air and physical activity, how you eat can also give your brain power a big boost. Here are our hottest tips

Make a healthy start!

In the morning, your body has been fasting for at least up to 12 hours. This means that blood sugars are at their lowest level. Not eating breakfast means that your body, and especially your brain, might be running in second gear. Why not try wholegrain toast with low fat spread and a glass of juice, or your favourite wholegrain cereal topped with banana and low fat milk? You can find more ideas for healthy breakfasts here. If you’re too nervous to eat a whole breakfast, just have a few light bites, like: 

  • slice of wholegrain toast with  low fat spread
  • glass of unsweetened fruit juice
  • pot of low fat yoghurt
  • piece of fruit

Slow and steady wins the race

Try to eat more whole grain foods, like wholemeal bread, brown rice and jacket potatoes, to keep your blood sugar levels steady throughout the day and prevent any slumps in energy or concentration. Go for frequent, smaller meals throughout the day to keep your brain well-fuelled. Try a baked potato with tuna, or pasta with chicken as a light lunch. 

Drink to think!

Even mild dehydration can be a major cause of fatigue. Too little water means that there’s not enough blood flowing around the body to bring essential oxygen and energy to the brain. Keep a water bottle in your bag and drink throughout the day. Milk is another good option. For more advice on staying hydrated visit our drinks section.

Use caffeine wisely

It’s true that caffeine increases alertness, reaction times and ability to think clearly, but too much caffeine can make you irritable and jittery. Try to limit the number of cups of coffee you drink to 1-2 per day. Tea has about half the caffeine compared to coffee. 

Eat iron-rich foods

Iron helps the body to carry oxygen to the brain. Too little can mean the brain isn’t working optimally. Try to eat plenty of lean red meat, fortified breakfast cereals, dark green leafy vegetables and pulses, like peas, beans and lentils. Young women tend to be particularly at risk of low iron stores, so ladies, this applies especially to you.

Snack smartly

Smart snacks can help you be at your best during what can be a stressful time.  Pack your snacks in re-sealable plastic bags and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to leave the house.

Ideas for 'at home' snacks Ideas for 'anywhere' snacks
  • Toasted wholegrain bagel topped with low fat cheese e.g. low fat cheddar or cottage cheese
  • Wholegrain toast with heated baked beans or home-made soup
  • Wholegrain breakfast cereal with semi-skimmed milk and chopped fruit
  • Smoothies - A really good one is strawberry yoghurt with orange juice, banana and plenty of ice.  Best taken with a meal and ideally drink through a straw to protect teeth
  • Brown scone with banana or  low fat cheese e.g. low fat cheddar or cottage cheese
  • Plain popcorn
  • Crackers and low fat cheese e.g. low fat cheddar or cottage cheese                          
  • Bananas – the ultimate energy boosters or other types of fruit (whole or chopped)
  • Chopped raw vegetables like carrots or peppers, or a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • Handful of nuts