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Exam Season

This week I have been speaking to pupils at Fettes College on exam nutrition and performance. I have been educating 1000’s of pupils on the importance of nutrition and the brain since 2016. As we are in the middle of the exam season here in Scotland here is a summary of what you can do to support your brain during times of study, work, interviews, giving presentation and really any time that is more of a challenge than the usual!

  • Eat good levels and sources of protein throughout the day to have an adequate, balanced supply of neurotransmitters. These are chemicals the brain produces that make you who you are! They are involved in mood, sleep, memory, keeping calm, focus and attention span. 

o   Animal – red meat, fish, chicken, eggs, dairy and seafood

o   Plant – beans, pulses, lentils, peas, broccoli, nuts and seeds

  • Eat foods rich in:

o   B6 – Bananas, beans and pulses, brown rice, and Brussels sprouts

o   Magnesium – Beans, green vegetables, whole-grains. Epsom salt baths

o   Zinc – Pumpkinseeds, beans, meat, nuts, oily fish and prawns

o   Theanine – green tea, lentils, seafood, halibut, spinach and walnuts

  • Eat fat, 60% of the brain is made from fat and fat helps the brain function as well as being anti-inflammatory and giving it structure. Try to eat oily fish, 1-2 times a week for its omega 3 content. These are a list of fats I recommend people to have in their diets: olive oil, oily fish, eggs, dairy, meat, butter, olives, nuts, seeds, blackberries (yes good source of omega 6) and avocado.

  • Eat fermented foods – they may support digestion and may increase GABA levels for that feeling of calm. GABA is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is involved in feeling calm. A study in 2017 found that a strain of bacteria from fermented foods produced GABA. We know that there is a gut brain link, and this could be one of the ways a healthy gut supports a healthy brain. Try making your own kefir, sauerkraut or kimchi or eat plain natural or Greek yoghurt.

  • Support blood sugar – keep carbs complex mainly (oats, wholegrain, vegetables and pulses) and pair carbs with protein and or fat to slow down the release of the sugar from the carb into the bloodstream this will keep energy, mood and appetite balanced. I am launching soon an e-book on carbs and sugar soon. 

  • Have fun – exercise, laugh, spend time with friend and family. It is not all about food – find ways to relax, move and have fun time while studying, schedule it in to your timetable. 


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