While preparation for any entrance / competitive examination, children as well as parents come under pressure and stress. Do you think what you eat makes difference to how you cope with stress? Well, the answer is Yes for sure. Studies indicate that what you eat plays a key role and affect your mood, alter level of irritability, stress level and promote calmness. Studies also suggest that unhealthy food/meal can increase the stress level. Further, Researches have also indicated that there is a significant increase in food intake, high fat and sugary snacks under the influence of examination pressure which can be counter-productive.
Due to increased stress levels, the body starts demanding more quantum of certain essential nutrients like water soluble vitamins- Vitamin B, C, and minerals like zinc. It is also found that the levels of vitamin C can fluctuate depending on the degree of physical and emotional stress. Nutrients such as zinc, magnesium, potassium, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), vitamin C, B6 and amino acid tyrosine are required for synthesis and proper functioning of adrenal hormones which is the most important stress fighting hormone.
To protect oneself from undesirable eating during stressful times,
certain tips can be quite effective to keep the calm and cooler state of mind.
(a) Eat the adequate amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables like citrus fruits, tomatoes, green peppers, green leafy vegetables, kiwi, broccoli, amla and strawberries to maintain a good level of vitamin C.
(b) To maintain a calm and cool state of mind and a steady stream of energy, avoid large meals and go for rather smaller frequent meals.
(c) Totally avoid junk food and poor quality fat (hydrogenated- trans fats).
(d) Ensure minimum intake of white rice white flour, sugar and sweetened beverages.
(e) Go for whole grains like barley, brown rice, oats and whole wheat; pulses, nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy food, seafood, lean meats, wheat germ and green leafy vegetables to have an adequate intake of vitamin B and zinc.
(f) To prevent swings in blood sugars take dry fruits, fresh fruits, honey coated nuts, seeds, roasted whole grains, salads, soups, hot chocolate, yogurt or almond milk in between meals.
(g) Be well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids. Green tea, chamomile tea, jasmine tea which immensely help in maintaining the calmness of the mind.
(h) Moderate intake should be there of tea, coffee and caffeinated beverages, including colas.
Memory and concentration boosting techniques
To improve memory, concentration and alertness it is always advisable to have a healthy balanced diet, which plays a key role rather than gulping memory pills. However, following tips shall be very useful during preparation for/during the examination
(a) Take natural foods that reduce the cell damage in the brain.
Source: carrots, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, fruits, eggs, fish, and nuts. These are rich in vitamin A, E and C and
(b) Omega 3 fatty acids: It is good for the brain as well as skin and heart.
Source: fish, mustard oil, mustard seeds, methi, soybeans, walnuts, Bajra, urad dal, rajma, and flaxseeds (alsi) are the richest plant source of omega 3 fats.
(c) Vitamin B1: It aids memory. It also keeps the nervous system healthy and is used in the biosynthesis of a number of cell constituents. Source: rice bran, wheat germ, whole wheat flour, barley, maize (dry), eggs, cow’s milk (skimmed, whole), khoa etc.; wheat and rice bran are the richest sources.
(d) Vitamin B12: It is required for the proper functioning of the central nervous system. It improves concentration, memory, balance and relieves irritability.
Source: Foods of animal origin like an egg, lean meat, low-fat milk etc. are good sources of animal origin. Plant foods containing this vitamin include spirulina (blue-green algae).
(e) Folic Acid: It is essential for the body’s clearance of homocysteine, an amino acid that causes cognitive decline and preserves cellular health.
Source: Green leafy vegetables, broccoli, pulses, wheat germ form important sources of folic acid.
Points to be taken care of
- Firstly, it is remembered that three big meals a day will make you slow to respond/sluggish, both physically and mentally.Therefore, rather take 5 smaller meals a day at regular intervals.
- Fluid should be taken adequately and frequently.
- Certain food items are really harmful to your alertness, concentration, and memory during exam time.
- Avoid sweets, chocolates or candy. Momentary they appear boosting, but after some time, they swoop the blood sugar level but later on, lead to sluggishness.
- Avoid coffee, however, smaller intake may be boosting.
- Avoid fried food, chips, fast food, junk food, and toffees. All these creates brain sluggishness because all these gives more calorie to your body which will not burn due to low physical activities in preparation period.