Life Health

Fueling your body and mind keeps them in tip-top shape

By Raven Nyman

Summer fruit and vegetable selections make healthy living easy, helping to keep your body and mind in tip-top shape. (Julie Jocsak/Postmedia Network/Files)

Summer fruit and vegetable selections make healthy living easy, helping to keep your body and mind in tip-top shape. (Julie Jocsak/Postmedia Network/Files)

Picture this: an all-night cram session, a pile of unread books, a growing list of deadlines. How do you arm yourself for study wars and homework standoffs? What you put in your body is a great place to start, yet students often turn to a quick fix to satisfy their hungry or renew their energy. When it comes time to focus on schoolwork, junk food is the last thing your body needs. You might be wondering, then, how can I better fuel my body and my brain?

Look to the ocean

Its summer, after all, which means trips to the market and a chance to eat fresh-caught fish! Not only do fish like salmon and sardines provide us with excellent sources of protein for our working bodies, but they also contain loads of omega 3 and essential fatty acids that we need to keep our brains functioning smoothly. These fatty acids can’t be found in our own bodies, so we’ve got to obtain them through our diet. If you’re looking for a great source of study fuel, try oysters with multigrain crackers, or open a can of salmon or tuna to spread on toast. These snack ideas will guarantee you a boost in energy without the crash and burn you might experience from binging on more sugary, filler foods.

Add a few minutes to your morning

We all know how stressful mornings can be when you’ve had too much studying and not enough sleep. Factor in those of us who aren’t morning people to begin with, and you can guarantee that we’ll be waking up grumpy and of course, hungry too. But stress and pressure can lead us to reach for quick fillers like sugary instant oatmeal or drive-thru breakfast sandwiches that leave our bodies still craving the protein and nutrients they require. A fast and effective alternative can be found in eggs. Not only can they be prepared in countless ways — and combined with pretty much any food item you’ve got in your household — but eggs taste great, and they’re great for you! Eating eggs for breakfast means fuelling your body with essential proteins, vitamins, and nutrients. What better way to start your day?

Go green

Now I know we’ve all heard this one before, but I can’t overstate the importance of getting your vitamin intake when it comes time for exams, or any stressful situation really. As far as the vitamin game goes, greens have you covered! Think dark, leafy greens such as spinach, chard, broccoli, and kale. These vegetables have great amounts of vitamins such as B6, B12, and vitamin K, which all aid in brain functioning, memory processes, and increasing overall alertness. Many of these greens can be grown in your own backyard, so if you’re unable to pick them up at a local grocery store consider starting a small garden as a summer project. If leafy greens aren’t your thing, sip some green tea instead. Replacing typical study beverages like coffee or energy drinks with green tea is a great way to boost your energy and help you stay focused longer. Unlike beverages with large amounts of caffeine in them, green tea won’t make you experience stubborn cravings and it certainly won’t leave you feeling that wretched caffeine crash. If you weren’t sold on those benefits alone, then the miracle antioxidant power of green tea might make you reconsider. Plus, you can have it hot, cold, or even in the form of a latte!

Grab a natural boost

We know that a lot of sugar isn’t good for our bodies, but that doesn’t stop us from craving it, especially when our bodies and brains need an energy boost. This last tip is an obvious one but can sometimes be hard to follow: swap sugars for fresh fruits. This process is made even simpler in the summer, when fruit is plentiful and easy to access. Instead of reaching for a chocolate or candy bar, grab a handful of cherries, a banana, or a few slices of watermelon instead. Fruit contains naturally-occurring sugars that will give you a healthier, more effective energy boost than you will find from a bag of chips or a can of pop. Fruits are full of antioxidants that help your body fight off free radicals that can result in sicknesses and disease, so regularly consuming healthy, fresh fruit is a must if you want to keep your immune system sharp. Plus, many fruits and vegetables are high in vitamin C, the power-house vitamin known for increasing mental agility and protecting against age-related brain degeneration. But remember, vitamin C is another thing that we humans do not store in our bodies, which means you’ll need to replenish its sources each day by continuing to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet.

Summer fruit and vegetable selections make healthy living easy, but these tips don’t just apply to study and homework sessions. They should be followed on the regular to keep your body and mind in tip-top shape. Eating well is critical to your physical and mental health, so be sure to extend your healthy eating habits to your everyday life.