This article was submitted by Sarah James, NUPSA’s Student Communications Officer.


 

A word of warning: I am not someone you should be taking diet advice from.

This late in the semester, there’s only one thing I want more than an HD on my upcoming research essay. A Woolies/Coles discount on Red Bull.

Yes, this mighty elixir has been proven to cause headaches, irritability, heart palpitations, and – in some extreme cases – death, but is it really that bad?

As we prepare to power through our final slog (that thesis chapter won’t write itself, you know), I’ve decided to dive deep into the mysterious world of healthy eating. Experts have proven that a balanced diet can enhance your academic performance – so why not give it a whirl?

And it doesn’t need to be expensive. I’ve tried to focus my article on foods which find that sweet spot between cheap, easy, and tasty (but also healthy, because as if McDonald’s doesn’t already fill all three categories).

 

Green Tea

There’s a lot going on for green tea. The fact that it’s green already makes me think it must be good for you, but among all the caffeine-related drinks you could be guzzling down, green tea takes the cake.

Firstly, research has found green tea boosts brain function by improving alertness, performance, focus and memory. However, what is particular interesting about green tea is its ability to help you relax.

I know – relaxing seems legitimately impossible this time of year. And the three-cups-of-coffee jitters certainly aren’t helping. Green tea contains an amino acid called L-Theanine, which not only enhances your brain’s capacity, but also helps you relax but without feeling tired. Perfection. 10/10.

 

Fatty Fish

Fish seems to be one of those foods people either love or loathe. I’ve never met anyone who feels indifferent about fish. However – I’m sure this is the one food you were 100% expecting to find on this list.

Between the quality food education I received at Hunter Life Education and ads for fish oil tablets, I know fish is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. But why is Omega-3 so good for your brain?

Your brain is made up of roughly 60% fats which can’t be made naturally in the body. So by eating foods rich in Omega-3, your brain can build brain cells and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, depression and dementia. Time to stock up on salmon, tuna and sardines.

For all you vegetarians, vegans or fish-haters out there – linseeds, soya beans and chia seeds are a great alternative.

 

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are arguably the least tasty thing on this list (unless you’re one of those fish haters). But just like making sure your work is referenced properly, sometimes you’ve just got to do the right thing. Chow down on your kale, silver beet and spinach like Popeye – and rather than watching your biceps grow, feel your brain become thicc.

 

Berries

According to WebMD, a recent study performed on rats (to investigate their rate of ageing) showed that those eating a diet rich in blueberries greatly improved their learning capacity. And are we really that different from rats? If you’re looking to improve your short-term memory, have a handful of berries at the ready.

 

Nuts

Nuts are convenient, cheap, tasty, and a fantastic source of Vitamin E. And there are so many options! Peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds… Versatility is your friend. If you’re not a fan of nuts (like me), try putting them in a smoothie or having them with your cereal. All of the health benefits, none of the taste.

 

Turmeric

Turmeric has been getting a pretty bad rap of late as one of those superfoods constantly plugged by hipsters and the types of cafés that have milk crates for seats. But it is so good for you! Aside from Ginger, Posh, Scary, Baby and Sporty – it’s definitely my favourite spice.

Turmeric is full of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties to keep your noggin functioning at its best. Mix it into a curry or some other savoury dish you’re making. Although I’ll admit, I’m still a bit sceptical about turmeric lattés…

 

Coffee

In times of crisis, it’s so easy to find ourselves turning our regular small latté into a triple shot espresso – but is it actually helping us? The research appears to be mixed on this one. Some studies suggest it increases alertness and boosts your overall long- and short-term memory. Others, though, say it increases irritability, decreases focus and ruins your sleep cycle. I’ll leave this one up to you.

 

Dark Chocolate

Obviously, I’ve saved the best ‘til last! It’s not like we really need a reason to eat chocolate, but it’s nice to know we can do it guilt-free (sort of). A source of caffeine and antioxidants, dark chocolate has been shown to enhance your mental efficiency. And it’s a scientifically proven mood booster!

 

Right now, I’ll take any kind of happiness booster I can get.

 

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