• Deirdre Brandner

5 Foods to Fuel your Brain with Pat Tyrrell, Naturopath

We know that the Brain takes up 2 % of our body, but uses 20% of our energy. Without the necessary fuel for our brains, the impact of stress will result in memory problems, fatigue and decreased concentration levels. To ensure our year 12 students have the required brain energy to navigate the next few weeks, then consider what fuel sources are most effective for this time.

1. Water is essential

Our Brain is made up of 85% water, and this water is essential for the production of dopamine and norepinephrine. Think of water as petrol for your Brain, if you want to go anywhere, you are going to need this fuel. Without water, your brain function is impaired, particularly around executive functioning, which aids in planning and actioning. Aim for 2 litres of water a day. On its own or try herbal teas.

2. Blueberries

Research has shown that blueberries boost overall energy levels that allow us to perform at our optimum. During this study period, we want to get as much from our brain as possible. Blueberries are a great snack to have at your work desk. Not into blueberries? Try red or bright coloured fruit such as raspberries or cherries. Alternatively, red capsicum or beetroot.

3. Avocado

It's not just a bougie spread for your toast. This food source can increase focus and concentration. It contains several nutrients that have been shown to increase brain function. Not only that, avocado is a healthy fat that will keep us fuller for longer.

4. Leafy Greens

Popeye didn't just get his physical strength from Spinach. He was able to increase iron levels and vitamin B, which helps with brain function. Spinach, kale and silver beet are better cooked as the nutrients are better absorbed. If you prefer salads, try spinach leaves or shredded kale. We recommend Kaleslaw, shredded kale with salad dressing such as vinegar which will help you access the nutrients more effectively.

5. Dark Chocolate

A Freddo frog isn't going to cut it here. Studies have demonstrated that eating dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao has been shown to improve brain plasticity, which is crucial for learning. The cacao helps the body combat oxidative stress.

What you need to know about caffeine

It is all about balance. No one should have any more than three coffees a day. The winner here is that the right amount of caffeine will open up the small blood vessel to the Brain and therefore help with alertness and cognition. Too much of this is lead to over stimulation. Too much coffee can also lead to dehydration, which decreases Brain function.

Foods to avoid when studying

Muffins and Doughnuts: Any refined carbs have limited nutritional value. Why don't you try dark chocolate protein balls. It is important to check the contents, to make you sure the sugar levels aren't too high. The ones in the health section of the supermarket are usually your best bet.

Fruit Juice: This is pure sugar, we call it fructose. If you ever have fruit juice always dilute with water. But better still have a piece of fruit, this will give you fibre and is perfect for gut health and in turn brain health. Remember high sugar levels will result in a slump, also known as a sugar crash.

Beware the toasted sandwich. White bread toasted ham sandwiches are not helpful brain food. The salt factor is super high in processed meat and such will deplete your efforts to hydrate. White flour has had all the goodness removed, you are not getting anything out of this. White flour also has no Vitamin B, therefore a wasted opportunity to get fuel for your Brain. Try a salad sandwich on wholemeal or multigrain bread instead, this bread is also low GI, meaning you will have sustained energy.

For more study tips, head to my instagram page or my selection of VCE blogs.

Pat Tyrrell is an accredited Naturopath by the Australian Naturopathic Practitioners Association. For more from Pat Tyrrell head to Executive Antidote.

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