Nutrition Tips for Good Concentration and Exam Success

If, like me, you have a child preparing for GCSEs or other exams this week, then you will probably want all the help you can get to support them focus and concentrate, and avoid anxiety. I’ve put together the following list of tips and hope that they bring some calm into your lives and those of your children:

  1. Great concentration levels rely on good blood sugar balance. This means making sure that your body has a regular and steady flow of energy rather than short sharp burst of energy, followed by crashes and problems concentrating. What this means in practice is eating foods which release their energy slowly such as complex carbohydrates (vegetables, oats, wholemeal bread, wholemeal pasta, brown rice) rather than fast releasing carbohydrates (white bread, biscuits, cakes, sugary cereals, crisps, sweets).
  2. Blood sugar balance also relies on a good intake of protein, as this slows down the release of energy from a meal. This could be eggs or yoghurt for breakfast, nuts and seeds added to your porridge or breakfast cereal, no-added sugar nut butter on wholemeal toast.
  3. Foods with a high sugar content are particularly bad for blood sugar balance so try to reduce your intake of fizzy drinks, sweets, chocolate, biscuits and cake. Read my blog post on cutting down on sugar here
  4. Caffeine also disrupts blood sugar balance so slowly wean yourself off tea, coffee, cola and energy drinks.
  5. If you do like tea then green tea is great for concentration levels as it contains theanine, an amino acid which is associated with alertness.
  6. Good concentration relies on good hydration so make sure you are having plenty of water whilst you are studying and during exams if you are allowed to. Aim for 1.5 litres of water a day.
  7. Our brains are 60% fat and rely on our diets to provide a regular intake of good fats for optimal functioning. Make sure that you eat oily fish twice a week (salmon, sardines, anchovies, mackerel, trout, herring) and have nuts and seeds as snacks. Walnuts are particularly high in Omega 3 which is great for brain power. Have avocadoes and olive oil regularlynutrition tips for exam success
  8. Phospholipids are another key nutrient for the brain and they are found in eggs, soya beans (edamame), liver, nuts and sardines.
  9. If you are getting anxious then Magnesium rich foods may help – these are dark green leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, kale, rocket), nuts, seeds, beans, avocado, soy beans (edamame) and dark chocolate
  10. Another great way to boost Magnesium is to take an Epsom Salts bath. This could be a great way to wind down before bedtime on the nights before exams. Have a look at another blog post to find out about foods to help you relax and unwind.
  11. Great concentration relies on good sleep too. So getting into a good bedtime routine in the lead up to exams is a good idea. 8 hours sleep is ideal – more for teenagers if possible.
  12. If you are prone to exam day nerves then try Bach Rescue Remedy, which you can find in most chemist shops. It’s a very gentle and effective way of calming the nerves. They now produce an alcohol free version for children.

If you are concerned that your child’s diet is not supporting them to thrive then please call me on 07967 639347 to find out how Nutritional Therapy might help – I offer a free 15 minute telephone consultation.

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