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Top tips for top brains

It’s exam time again and many school and university students are feeling the added pressure exam stress places on their minds and bodies. Wouldn’t it be great if you could improve your mood, boost your memory and sharpen your mind? You can, says psychologist and nutrition expert Patrick Holford, simply by knowing which foods to add to and exclude from your diet.

Patrick Holford’s top tips to get you through exam time:

  1. Ensure an optimum intake of vitamins and minerals, both from your diet and through taking supplements.
  2. Optimise your intake of essential fats, especially Omega -3 fats, by eating flax seeds, oily fish and taking fish oil (Omega 3 and 6) supplements. During exam times especially, eat two servings a week of cold-water carnivorous fish like herring, mackerel, salmon or trout, as a good source of Omega-3 fats and protein.
  3. Make sure that you eat for sustained blood sugar levels – that means sticking to a low-GL diet.
  4. Avoid any form of sugar – in biscuits, cakes, confectionery and also foods with added sugar in the forms of syrups, dextrose and maltose.
  5. Add turmeric to your cooking. Turmeric, found in most curry powders, does much more than add zinc to food. It reduces pain, boosts your immune system and has been shown to have a potential positive effect on memory.
  6. Replace coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks with Patrick Holford’s Awake Tea, which contains extracts of Moringa – a tree hailed for its incredible nutritional properties. Awake Tea is a natural and delicious alternative to coffee that will clear the mind and boost energy levels.
  7. Avoid the ‘brain agers’ – oxidants, alcohol and stress. Maximising your mental powers isn’t just about what you eat. It’s about what you don’t eat (and what you do drink and smoke). Your brain and nervous system are made up of essential fats, protein and phospholipids, all of which can be damaged by oxidants such as alcohol, stimulants and too much stress. Minimise your intake of fried food, processed food and saturated fats from meat and dairy products to prevent damage to brain fats.
  8. Get enough sleep. To do this, make sure that you are not consuming any sugar or caffeinated drinks, especially after 5pm.