It's exam time at colleges and schools everywhere ... my daughter (high school) and son (college) are both gearing up. I just sent them these tips, culled from Jana Klauer, MD, who will be speaking at Marymount Manhattan College this week on how to use smart nutrition to improve academic performance. (I've been telling my kids these same things for years!)
So, students, to improve your mental acuity and overall health during this stressful time of year -- and maybe even improve your test-taking skills -- here's a good plan:
1. Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast.
2. Include protein and calcium at each meal; stay away from processed foods and refined sugars.
3. Avoid high fats before a test; they can make you sleepy.
4. Have a Snack Plan: go to the nearest grocery or health food store and stock up on healthy foods: blueberries, apples, oranges, bananas, low-fat cheeses, plain yogurts (not sugary) with honey or fruit; dried fruits, nuts; whole-grain bars or cookies; bottled water and seltzers. Be sure to take a variety of snacks with you when you head off to the library to study.
5. Vitamins: if you’re eating well you won’t really need to take them. However, a high concentrate of omega-3s before studying has been shown to improve concentration.
6. Exercise – put down the books every few hours and go outside for a walk or run. Be sure you bring an exercise buddy with you and spend at least 15 minutes getting your heart rate up.
7. Forget about the all nighters. Take a few minutes to write down a “Finals Week Strategic Plan.” BE SURE to give yourself as close to a full night sleep as possible.
And finally ...
8. Reward yourself -- dark chocolate has been known to boost brainpower!