By Tori Taylor, September 20 2018 —
If I’m in a bean bag chair, hot drink in hand, books and laptop open with all the best studying intentions at heart, I realistically only have two hours of focus before my eyelids start to flutter. Even if I change my surroundings and end up in a creaking plastic chair with a cold water bottle and my books perched on a wobbly desk, the discomfort won’t keep me awake. My lids still droop and my forehead hits my textbook before I even get close to finishing what I’ve sat down to do.
If this sounds familiar to you, I have a few nutrition suggestions. There are a plethora of things to eat and drink that can keep your brain memorizing and your eyes focusing. Most of these items can be found on or near campus.
First and foremost, the crowd favourite — caffeine. This stimulant comes in many fantastic forms but for the purpose of studying, coffee reigns supreme. Coffee can block an inhibitory neurotransmitter in your brain called adenosine, a depressant. This allows norepinephrine and dopamine, two much more supportive teammates, to amp up your neurons. With a bunch of enthusiastic neurotransmitters bouncing around, your brain function, mood, energy, reaction times and most importantly, your memory, can improve.
There are two cafés near campus that have phenomenal beans and even better baristas. I highly recommend Weeds Café and Higher Ground Café. The environments are quiet and relaxed for studying. For on-campus options, Fuel For Gold brews a great cup of Phil & Sebastian coffee. Drink the nectar of the gods and feel mighty as you take down page after page of less-than-enthralling text.
If coffee isn’t your thing, green tea is just as potent. It combines caffeine and L-theanine, an amino acid that increases gamma-Aminobutyric acid, an inhibitory neurotransmitter best known for decreasing anxiety and increasing dopamine. This gives a boost to your concentration and alertness, so if you tend to be a bit scattered or are having a hard time focusing on the job at hand, green tea might be your new best friend. Good Earth, with locations in ICT and TFDL, has a few quality green tea options. They offer a light, tropical blend, a well-roasted sencha and a flowery jasmine option. For an extra boost, add a little bit of raw honey and send some love to your immune system.
This next suggestion will keep you swimming upstream all year long. Head to any grocery store to find Omega-3 supplements via capsule or, if you’d prefer, gummy bears. If gummy bears are your method of choice — as mine was — do not eat the majority of the bottle within a 15-minute sitting. It will be the most expensive bottle of candy you’ll ever buy and you won’t achieve any spectacular result. Salmon oil can keep you focused and attentive while you sit in lectures, labs or the library. Omega-3s can lower hyperactivity, impulsiveness and restless tendencies. You are what you eat, right? So spend this next semester #salmonstrong.
A great way to take care of your brain health is to eat as many antioxidants as you can. Antioxidants can dramatically strengthen our ability to fight off exhaustion and sickness. Grab a handful of blueberries or hit up Jugo Juice in MacHall and drink a dark berry juice or green smoothie. The vitamins from the fruits and vegetables in fresh juices will add immune boosters and energy.
“Om-a-lette” you in on another food that should be kept nearby if you want to do well this semester. It will keep your brain from scrambling when you crack open a boring textbook.
Uncomfortable puns aside, eggs are a triple threat. They are full of vitamins and minerals. Two specifically powerful properties are vitamin B12 and folate. Vitamin B12 is popular for its mood-elevating magic. As a student, it’s easy to get run down and feel exhausted. Vitamin B12 is a natural, incredibly powerful pick-me-up. Folate is a specific type of folic acid, known as B9 that is used for red blood cell production. It is also a great brain vitamin and studies show that it can keep your memory young and active. If you can find a way to fit eggs into your regular diet, you may be able to absorb more information during study sessions and feel happier while hunched over that textbook in TFDL.
On your next lunch break, swing by Fuel for Gold to grab a wrap or sandwich with eggs. Add an egg to your next pho craving or protein bowl or go full Rocky and toss a couple raw eggs into your morning smoothie. Whatever your preference, the added support to your studying routine will be well worth it.