Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Eat well during exams

Exam season is on and every parent will want to help their children stay physically and mentally healthy through out this time. There is no doubt about it - exams really are exhausting. The best way to get over the final hurdle is to keep revising according to a timetable, take plenty of breaks and get out into the fresh air for a break.

The diet plays an important role in their well being. The right foods protect child's body and mind. They also improve marks by boosting academic performance on the exam day. Of course, parents should feed children well throughout life, but there are times when foods can make the difference between success and failure. A healthy balanced diet should consist of whole grain cereals, legumes, sprouted pulses, fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Non vegetarians can include eggs and fish.

The best diet food during exams is lots of fresh foods as close to their natural state as possible, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, sprouted pulses, fish and egg. They help to activate memory by stimulating the release of neurotransmitters, brain chemicals involved in receiving, processing, storing, and accessing information optimally when needed most during exams. The worst foods are all the processed, soft drinks, cookies, cakes and junk food are best to be avoided. They inhibit brain function.

Breakfast is the most important food of the day. It is important children should never skip breakfast since it has proved that it causes lack of concentration in studies, weak memory, and stunted physical growth. This meal is very important since it meet the needs of the nourishment after the 10 -12 hours of gap.

An ideal breakfast must provide at least 30 to 40% of total calorie requirement of a person. Skipping breakfast is very harmful to the body. Eat a sustaining breakfast such as whole meal toast, whole grain cereal porridge like oats, wheat flakes, broken wheat, milk or yoghurt or eat stuffed vegetable or panner chapattis with curd or sandwiches with egg or sprouts or idli, sambhar for a very healthy and whole some diet. Including some fresh fruits or fruit juices are also very healthy.

Protein activates neurotransmitters and stimulates memory. And the brain has to have fat, because it is 70% fat. It needs fat from the diet, especially the "good fats" - essential fatty acids because our body does not make them so we have to supply from out side. Fish contain the essential fatty acids especially the salmon, mackerel and sardines. Eggs are also good for protein and fats. But too much of fatty food will make the child drowsy and sleepy. Because of this high quality essential fatty acids is to be taken in moderation and should avoid butter, ghee, cheese, and other oily foods.

It would be good to have health drinks like bournvita, hot chocolate, horlicks or complan or soy vita instead of tea and coffee since tea and coffee are stimulants and cause sleep disturbance, muscular tension, anxiety etc. But if a person is used to take coffee or tea regularly should not avoid fully because sudden fall of caffeine level in blood will interfere with the brain function. A good liquid boost before an exam is good. A few almonds crushed to a paste and blended milk or Fresh fruit juices like orange or grape or fresh pineapple are good. Pineapple contains an enzyme, bromelain that activates neurotransmitters involved in memory.

The best liquid to drink before and during an exam is water. Water is essential as a body lubricant for various organs. Mucus that lubricates the digestive tract and the respiratory tract saliva, which makes it possible for us to, swallow the food, all contain water as an important component. So don't forget the elixir of life water during these exam days. Often fatigue and mild headaches is a sign that you are becoming dehydrated. If you don't consume enough water, your output of energy will drop. Carry a water bottle with you, and drink periodically throughout the day. Water speeds up brain function. Too little water slows it down and dehydrates the brain. When the brain dehydrates, it releases cortisol, a hormone that shrinks dendrites, the tree-like branches in the brain that store information and create memory.

If you plan to stay awake through out the night. Eat a light meal at night. Avoid oily or fried snacks as these will only make you sleepy. If you are taking coffee through out the night then eat something light along with it for eg a biscuit or rusk.

Non strenuous exercise is another essential during exam time. Gentle walking, swimming, jogging, cycling and jumping support memory function and help to de-stress students. Be sure to take out time for some fun everyday. Having a good laugh is a great way to de-stress and have fun.



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