The most dreaded season for school-going kids is here again, no we are not talking about the haze but exam fever! As both parents and children work very hard practising papers, revising various subjects and trying to cram a year of knowledge into their heads, perhaps it is best to boost the brain with some helpful, healthy “brain boosting” foods.
“Brain Boosting” Foods
Brain-booster 1: Fatty Fish
We always hear the old folks talking about the correlation of a fishy diet and a brainy child. It might not be an old wives’ tale after all, as fatty fish contain lots of Omega 3 fatty acids important for healthy brain development.
How to consume? Take a good dose of fish oil (if you can stand it) or simply serve a salmon sandwich, grilled mackerel and enjoy some sustainably-farmed tuna.
Brain-booster 2: Rosemary
A study by Northumbria University suggests that the smell of rosemary affects cognition and boosts memory. Participants in the study were exposed to the aroma of rosemary while performing visual processing tasks. Those exposed to rosemary demonstrated higher memory scores than those who did not receive the rosemary therapy. Fun fact: in ancient Greece, scholars wore rosemary garlands during exams! Care to weave one for your child?
How to consume? Aside from seasoning meat and fish with rosemary, you could include some fresh twigs into water, along with some fruit slices such as orange or apple. Drinking rosemary-infused water might help boost the memory skills much needed!
Brain-booster 3: MCTs
MCTs are also known as Medium Chain Triglycerides and are found in coconut oil and human breastmilk. Studies have shown that MCTs help slow down cognitive decline and may even improve the conditions of people with Alzheimer’s. MCT oil has been gaining interest in Japan as the aging population uses to it combat aging.
How to consume? Add a spoonful of MCT oil into dishes, soup or rice to fuel your brain well. This oil is odourless, so your child wouldn’t be able to tell the difference of the “secret ingredient”.
Brain-booster 4: Berries
Berries – blue berries, black berries, cherries, wolfberries are rich source of flavonoids and anthocyanins, aside from being high in antioxidants. Research suggests that eating berries benefit brain signaling pathways involved in inflammation and cell death. The high antioxidants in berries protect brain cells from damage by free radicals and also prevent brain cell damage, thereby improving movement control and function.
How to consume? Eat them raw and fresh for its brain enhancing properties.
Brain-booster 5: Eggs
This is a no-brainer, pun intended. Eggs are usually consumed at breakfast as it is a good source of the B vitamins – B12, B6, Folic Acid. These vitamins may prevent the brain from shrinking and delay cognitive decline. Also, eggs are a nutrient dense food source which is easily enjoyed in any form.
How to consume? Fried, scrambled, poached!
Brain-booster 6: Nuts & Seeds
Another source of healthy Omega 3 fatty acids is nuts and seeds. They are also rich in Vitamin E, an antioxidant which protects cells from oxidative stress. Try walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, macadamias which have the highest amount of Omega 3!
How to consume? Raw nuts and seeds are great for snacking during revision time, especially when the children or adults get peckish. You can also incorporate nuts and seeds in dishes as toppings.
Brain-booster 7: Whole grains
The next time you purchase your cereal – opt for a whole-grain one. Oats and grains are high in fibre, thus keeping you energised for a longer time. They are also low GI foods and would not cause sudden spikes in blood sugar levels which results in lower concentration and a decline in energy.
How to consume? Serve oat porridge, choose whole grain pasta, bread or noodles for meals. Replace rice with alternatives such as quinoa, cous cous or ten-grain rice.
Boost the Whole Body with a Healthy Diet
A general rule of thumb is to eat healthily, whether it be exam period or not. Fuelling the body with nutrient-dense diets which helps boost not just the brain but the entire body. Don’t forget to take breathers and have some fresh air and Vitamin D as well for optimum performance. Grin and bear it and the exam fever will soon be gone.