Six foods to boost brainpower for exam success

Two children doing school work together

Are you feeling the pressure of revision and looming exams? We have one child taking GCSEs and our neighbours have got the double whammy of both GCSEs and A levels to contend with! To ease the stress and strain and to help with focus and mental acuity, here are some proven top-notch brain foods to keep kids taking exams brain sharp. Whether you have a tween or teen taking exams, or you are tackling university studies, then add these power-packed foods to your shopping trolley to help them sail through with flying colours.

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Feeding the brain

Good nutrition and a well-balanced diet can really pay off when children are revising for exams, helping with concentration and memory. As exam season approaches, it is important to ensure youngsters are eating the best brain foods during this intense period. Just as we focus on nutrition and eating well ahead of a sporting event, such as a marathon or simply a school sports tournament, we should adopt the same approach when preparing for exams.

Brain-boosting food

These six brain-boosting foods will help your child to stay energised and focused during revision and exam season.

  • Blueberries – have you ever heard of “brain berries”? Blueberries are like little blue dynamos packed with antioxidants, especially wild blueberries called bilberries or haskap berries. These tiny powerhouses have been found to fight off oxidative stress and help improve memory. Whether you sprinkle them on breakfast or munch on them as a snack, blueberries are sure to give your child’s brain the boost it needs. Try fresh, frozen or blueberry “super food” powders.
  • Oily fish – salmon, mackerel and sardines are your brain’s best buddies. They are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, the superheroes of brain health. Omega-3s nourish the frontal and prefrontal cortex which in turn, not only enhances memory but can also give a boost cognitive function, regulate emotions and keep the brain in top-notch condition.
  • Eggs – especially egg yolks are the ultimate brain fuel. They are a rich source of choline, a nutrient that plays a crucial role in brain health and development. Choline helps to make acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is essential for working memory and processing of information. Whether your family like them scrambled, boiled, or poached, make sure to include eggs in the diet for a brainpower boost. If your youngster is not an egg lover, include them in pancake and waffle recipes.
  • Leafy greens – Time to up your child’s greens! Salad leaves, kale and broccoli are not just good for your body, but are fantastic for your brain too. Loaded with folate and vitamin K, these greens support neurotransmitter synthesis and memory. Whether it is in a salad, smooshed into a smoothie or steamed greens at supper, make sure they get a daily dose of leafy greens.
  • Nuts and seeds – it’s nuts how good nuts and seeds are for your brain! Almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and chia seeds are packed with healthy fats, antioxidants and essential nutrients. Walnuts are particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids and look like mini brains, while pumpkin seeds packed with zinc have been found to help with anxiety and low mood, as well as enhancing cognition. Snack away on these nutrient-packed goodies to give the brain a boost.
  • Dark chocolate – Yes, you read it right! Chocolate, cocoa/cacao can be good for your brain. Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (70%  and above) is chock-full of flavonoids, which improve blood flow to the brain and enhance cognitive function. One study found that students who consumed dark chocolate improved their working memory and attention. Let them indulge in a few squares of dark chocolate in the morning or at lunch time to keep the brain ticking like clockwork (but don’t eat it near to bed time, otherwise they might be wide awake due to the caffeine…!).

Round up

It’s pretty nerve wracking and exhausting in the run up to exams for youngsters (and their parents!). Good nutrition is the key to unlocking full potential, so load your kids up on these power-packed foods and watch them embrace those exams with ease. Good luck everyone!

If your child is really struggling with focus and concentration, is exhausted from exam pressure or their mental health has taken a dive, then do get in touch with our NatureDoc clinical team who can provide more individual nutritional advice and lab testing.

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