“Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world”- Nelson Mandela
Hi ho hi ho, it’s off to school I go.
It’s never to late enrich your world with knowledge, even if it’s just to change your own views or learn something new. I’ve recently returned to school to study nutrition for a second time. I’m learning clinical nutrition at Nature Care College and undertaking their Advanced Diploma of Nutritional Medicine.
It’s a great course because it covers all aspects of nutritional medicine, and I’m solidifying and increasing my knowledge even further.
Up-skilling means I’m discovering the latest nutritional research breakthroughs, and better placed to follow my dream of opening up a Supercharged integrative space which brings all of my holistic principles together in one place. It’s never too late to dream. More on that soon J
The last few months have meant that I’ve been buried in books and facing a computer screen and in need of convenient snacks that will boost my brainpower and provide me with sustained energy. I’m studying remotely so there’s no counting students in the front row to see which paragraph I have to read out and I won’t have to be rocking the grandma vibe in the back row.
It’s easy for many students to get into the habit of grabbing a quick coffee or an energy based drink like they’re water, or munching on chips and chocolate because you don’t want food preparation to be a time waster when there’s study to be undertaken and homework to finish.
In order for a clear head and energized body, proper nutrition should be a crucial part of your study or work routine. The better the fuel your brain gets, the better you perform mentally. It really is a no-brainer!
People often forget that the brain requires nutrients just like your heart, lungs or muscles. Although the average adult human brain weighs about 1.4 kilograms (a measly 2% of total body weight), its responsible for a whopping 20% of our resting metabolic rate (RMR)—the total amount of energy our bodies expend when doing absolutely nothing!
So what foods are particularly important to keep your grey matter happy and put you in study mode?
I’ve listed my top five healthy brain-boosting snacks that’ll give you the sustained energy you need to get you through a busy day of study or work.
These quick, convenient and incredibly nutritious snacks can be prepared the night or weekend before so you can grab them and go if you need to.
As they’re all nutritionally dense, leaving you feeling fuller for longer, you’re unlikely to be tempted by those lingering vending machines that contain nutritionally poor choices or grabbing quick snacks to boost energy.
These are my favourite study snacks because they taste delicious and use the natural sweetness of carrots paired with the incredible antioxidant properties of lemon zest for a zesty flavoursome bite.
Flaxseeds are a good source of Omega 3’s and help to lower inflammation levels. The primary Omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseeds is alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA as it is commonly known.
Even if you’re using flaxseed in your baked goods, the good news is that the ALA component has been found to be stable for at least three hours of cooking at moderate oven temperatures.
The smooth and creamy texture of these muffins is due to the addition of natural yoghurt, a good gut and brain health food.
Every day new research is emerging showing that good bacteria ingested in foods such as yoghurt can affect brain function. Regular consumption of beneficial bacteria known as probiotics has been shown to increase brain activity, particularly on emotion, cognition and sensory-related tasks.
Whilst spinach may have given Popeye his bulging muscles, it’s one of those amazing foods that will boost both brawn and brain. A diet rich in spinach has been shown to help keep your brain alert as you age thanks to its impressive antioxidant profile.
Antioxidants can block the effects of free radicals - toxins produced by the body that damage cells and can lead to a range of health complications, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer and strokes. Consuming spinach has also been linked to improved performance on a range of learning and memory tests.
These muffins are bound to be enjoyed by everyone in the family, and are great served warmed if you’re studying from home or at room temperature when you’re out and about.
Yup, you read right. My healthy variation on the classic truffle is not only delicious and texturally sound, but can also fit the bill when you're in need of an easy chocolate fix when you’re cramming.
I like to infuse the truffles with my own flavours such as peppermint or orange to make them unique. You can rustle them up the night before and keep them stored in the fridge or freezer. These chocolate truffles can even be frozen for up to a month in a sealed container, then all you need to do is drag them out and pop them into the fridge a few hours before consuming.
They’ve been a lifesaver for me over the last few weeks. I love that they’re rich in essential fatty acids thanks to the addition of nuts, seeds, and coconut.
Adequate consumption of essential fatty acids (especially Omega-3s) has been linked to increased brain performance, mental alertness and clarity, and enhanced mood, creating an attitude that is ready to work and learn.
Nuts and seeds also travel well and make a great quick snack between classes. They’re loaded with protein and will keep you feeling satisfied for hours on end when you’re hitting the books.
Just a handful of pumpkin seeds is all you need to get your recommended daily amount of zinc, a nutrient deficient in many westerners diet that is vital for enhancing memory and thinking skills. Great when you’ve got lots of facts and figures to absorb.
The flavanol content in raw cacao has also been linked to enhanced cognitive function. Try this easy recipe for yourself and see just how delicious boosting brainpower can be!
Perfect for breakfast, as a snack, or a guilt-free desert, this nibble mix, with its balance of sweet and spicy flavours and crunchy texture will truly satisfy.
There’s no need for refrigeration, making this mix a great snack while on the go.
Add a sprinkling of nutmeg and cinnamon, two spices frequently employed in ancient Indian Ayurvedic medicine, as they contain a number of powerful health-enhancing properties.
Meanwhile, a compound in nutmeg called myristicin helps keep your brain sharp and boosts brain activity. Nutmeg may also relieve mental strain and promote concentration and clarity.
This nibble mix is full of good fats and B vitamins so your mind will be pepped up and ready for comprehension.
A little preparation on a lazy weekend afternoon can prevent a massive guilt trip midweek if you’re tempted to reach for a mid-morning or afternoon snack.
While many muesli bars are loaded with trans-fats and refined sugar, there’s no reason you can’t create healthy ones and still enjoy those gooey and crunchy flavours in your school lunchbox.
The great thing about these grain-free muesli bars is that, not only are they easier on the digestive system, they also contain two nutrient dense dried fruits; goji berries and apricots.
Sundried fruits will ensure your blood sugar levels don’t drop significantly between meals, helping to keep you feeling satisfied and alert, perfect for when you’re reading or reviewing.
Goji berries invigorate and strengthen the body’s coping mechanisms (particularly the adrenal glands), helping the body to deal with stress without collapsing.
In addition to their high antioxidant content protecting against free-radical damage to the brain, goji berries can reduce narrowing of the arteries that deliver oxygen and nutrients to brain cells.
As if that weren’t enough, they help our bodies produce choline, an essential nutrient that combats free radical damage linked to Alzheimer's disease. Apricots are a rich source of vitamin A, which research shows is essential for brain function, particularly in the synthesis of nerves, learning and memory.
These mini salmon frittatas take just a few minutes to make and will satisfy even the most stubborn study craving.
Of all the different types of fish, salmon is the most praised for being a nutritional miracle.
Salmon are born in fresh water before spending most of their lives navigating the open sea only to swim back to their birthplace to give spawn. This extraordinary ability to remember their original birthplace has been attributed to their olfactory memory (memory of smell).
No wonder these intelligent fish are considered a 'brain food'! They’re also loaded with the most beneficial omega-3 fats, eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA).
Omega-3 is termed an essential fatty acid because the body cannot synthesise it itself and it must be obtained from the diet. Your brain LOVES these fatty acids. In fact, sixty percent of your brain is composed of fatty acids that are crucial to proper brain structure and function.
If you fail to acquire enough DHA from your diet, your brain will be unable to fire optimally and your neurons will be left exposed to injury, disease, inflammation and reduced cognitive capabilities … not what you want when trying to ace those exams!
Like salmon, eggs also contain essential fatty acids. As we get older, our brains begin to shrink due to something called brain atrophy. However, we can fight against this natural process by eating eggs, which are full of vitamin B12 that helps fight against brain shrinkage. Eggs are one of the best foods to eat to keep your memory from cracking!
I hope these energy boosting brain snacks will have you doing cartwheels wherever you are!