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University students: how a better diet can improve your results

students cooking pasta together
Studying for a degree is extremely hard going at times, whatever your chosen subject and whether you’re working on assignments, preparing for practicals or revising for your exams.

The pressure is always further heightened before and during exam time, especially in your final year. That means it’s important that whenever you’re feeling under pressure and stressed, you listen to your body as your health is something that should never be taken for granted.

Have a think, what grade would your current diet get?

Thinking hypothetically, what grade would a nutritionist give your diet? A First, a 2:1 or are you scraping a 2:2? If you’ve never really thought about the foods you consume and tend to eat whatever you fancy, rather than considering the nutrients they contain, now is the time to change. You need to give your body the fuel it requires and opt for foods and supplements than can boost your memory, concentration and alertness.

When it comes to your nutrition, it’s a marathon not a sprint so changing your diet or starting to take a supplement isn’t going to work if you do it the day before your exams start. You need to begin in the weeks and months beforehand so that your study and mental agility gets a boost throughout the revision period. So, what foods and supplements will help give you the edge? We have a few suggestions…

Improve your brain function with Omega 3

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to your body but it can’t make them itself, so relies on getting them from foods such as oily fish, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, tofu, rapeseed oil and soya. Omega-3 fatty acids can help improve brain function, keep your nerve cells healthy and boost your ability to retain information.  To be confident that you’re giving your body enough, you could choose to take an omega 3 supplement.

Get your vitamins from fresh and dried fruit, peas and wholegrain breads

You need to make sure you give your body enough vitamin B (vitamin B1 in particular) if you want to feel energised and alert. You can do this by eating foods that are rich in vitamin B1 (thiamine) such as fresh and dried fruit, wholegrain breads, peas, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals. Alternatively, you can opt to take a vitamin B supplement, but it shouldn’t contain more than 100mg of thiamine per dose.

Improve your memory with herbal supplements

Two herbal supplements that could help you during exam time are Ginkgo Biloba supplements (also known as Memory tree) and Ginseng supplements. You can take them in capsules if you wish but we recommend you try switching your first coffee of the day with either a cup of Qi Teas Organic Fairtrade Green Tea With Ginkgo or a cup of Dai Wang Korean Ginseng Tea. It’s believed that Ginkgo Biloba can help improve your memory and ability to perform daily tasks, whilst Ginseng could give you a much-needed energy boost on days when you’re feeling tired.

Make your health your top priority

Being rundown can impact on your immune system and increase your chances of falling ill, so as well as introducing some of the foods and supplements listed above to your diet, you should look at other ways you can make your revision and exam time less stressful and exhausting. You want to walk into the examination room feeling fired up and confident, so make sure you don’t push yourself too hard. Cramming your revision into a short period of time is never a good idea so start early. Practice the skills you’ll need in the exam room, essay writing for instance, rather than solely focusing on memorising key facts. Put together a revision schedule that you can stick to that has clear goals and includes plenty of breaks.

You’ll find that you retain information easier when you revise this way. Don’t spend your downtime watching TV, you should get outside in the fresh air instead: go for a walk, a jog or play a sport you love with friends. If you enjoy your nights out, consider scaling them back until your exams have finished because you need to be aiming for eight hours of undisturbed sleep a night. Don’t be afraid to ask your fellow students to turn down their music if it’s keeping you from sleeping at night or stopping you from being able to concentrate in the daytime. You may even benefit from the odd nap as some studies have shown it can help your brain recall what you’ve learnt.

Sources

1. www.life-enhancement.com/magazine/article/578-omega-3-fatty-acids-improve-cognitive-function 
2. www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vitamins-minerals/Pages/Vitamin-B.aspx 
3. www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vitamins-minerals/Pages/Vitamin-B.aspx 
4. www.theguardian.com/education/2014/jan/08/five-secrets-of-successful-revising 
5. www.journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797612441220?etoc=&

 

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