I recently received Miss Shelly Marie’s book, Eat Well & Be Fabulous, in the mail. There are amazing tips shared throughout the the entire easy-to-read book, but one thing that stood out to me were the facts about brain food. With school’s start just around the corner, it’s the perfect time think about how you’re going to properly fuel yourself through the fall semester.
Here are 4 smart tips to fuel your brain for the fall semester:
1. Fuel up.
- The brain, which accounts for 2% of our body weight, sucks down roughly 20% of our daily calories. It demands a constant supply of glucose, primarily obtained from recently eaten carbohydrates (source).
- Confused thinking is often a symptom when glucose level become low.
- On the other hand, high glucose levels slowly damage cells everywhere in the body, including those in the brain.
- Also, high blood sugar, coupled with a cognitive task, is associated with elevated cortisol — a hormone known to impair memory in high doses. In other words, don’t get out the flash cards after that second piece of cake.
2. Become a grazer.
To optimize brain power, eat more frequent, smaller meals. The brain works best with about 25 grams of glucose circulating in the blood stream — about the amount found in a banana.
3. Eat lower GI foods.
- The glycemic index (GI) ranks foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. For example, pretzels are high on the index, because they cause blood sugar to rise very quickly, while raw carrots have a low glycemic ranking; same with white sugar vs. agave.
- Carbs in lower glycemic food are broken into glucose molecules more slowly, thereby providing a steadier supply of energy to the brain. Low GI meals also tend to satiate hunger better.
- High fiber carbohydrates are relatively low glycemic, but combining them with fat or protein can slow absorption even more. Add some meat, tofu, or other protein to a piece of whole grain bread and the glucose absorption rate will be but a gentle bend. Turn the taste up a notch by topping it off with a little olive oil or pesto. Check out my easy, basil pesto recipe here!
Carrots ‘n’ hummus – yum!
4. Know your fats.
- Not all fats are created equal. Remember this: Unsaturated > Saturated > Trans
- People who eat diets high in saturated fat are more susceptible to cognitive deficits.
- The brain is 60% fat. While most people need to limit their fat intake, very low cholesterol levels have been associated with depression, aggression and anti-social behavior. A non-fat diet is not the way to go.
- Omega-3′s, an essiential fatty acid, are valuable in our diet, as they have been of assistance in treating psychiatric disorders. Though, it is easy to buy your Omega-3′s in the way of supplements, aim to get them from natural sources such as cold-water fish (salmon), seeds (hemp & chia), and nuts (walnuts).
Facts from the fabulous Shelly Marie, RD:
Eggs are the bests source of choline. Studies show choline is important in brain function & health. Whip up a scramble!
Top Brain Bosting Fruits: Apples, Blueberries, Grapes & Strawberries. Apples & PB make for a great between class snack.
It’s almost time for school! Check out Allison’s scholarly tips : )
Hillary is an intern at College Lifestyles and student of Food & Nutrition Communication at California State University, Chico. Her favorite fuel for exam day is a banana with peanut butter – mmm.