This guide provides information, activities, useful books, links and contact information to support you to stay healthy while studying at University of Suffolk. For further advice and guidance available at University of Suffolk go to University of Suffolk Student Services
Healthy bodies do lead to healthy minds. And having a healthy mind will help you ace that crucial exam or paper.
Eating breakfast and regular meals are important to be able to concentrate and focus. Eating meals containing some carbohydrate ensures we have glucose in our blood. Not having enough glucose in your blood makes us feel weak, tired, fizzy minded and irritable. If you feel hungry between meals it may be necessary to include a healthy snack
Wholegrain cereals, pulses, fruit and vegetables are more fillings and because the sugar in these foods is absorbed more slowly it doesn't cause mood swings. Eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals can affect the way you feel.
This is pretty self-explanatory; we all know that more vegetables and fruit provide much-needed minerals, ions, vitamins, liquids and also help relieve constipation. Vegetables and fruit are also low in calories, delicious and can give you an energy boost when you are working away at revising since they contain fructose and healthy sugars your body can convert into energy. Top snacking fruits: apples, bananas, avocados, berries.
Fried, boiled, poached or made sunny-side up, eggs are healthy and good brain food. One egg contains many nutrients, antioxidants, 6g of protein and less than 100 calories (depending on how you cook it…frying will add some on).
Here are some brain food recommendations
Salmon, sardines and mackerel are amongst the healthiest types of fish. Why? Because they contain lots of protein and omega 3, which is essential to keep a functioning brain working well. I’m sure you have heard the saying that fish is great brain food. It's true! A favourite snack of mine is canned sardines – eat them on some whole-wheat bread and you have a healthy, long-lasting meal of complex carbohydrates, vitamins and protein.
Many people think peanut butter is an unhealthy food, but it actually contains healthy fats and lots of protein per serving. This means that as a brain food, just a little can keep you full for a long time. Another plus is that peanut butter doesn’t expire very fast, so you can always keep a jar handy in your cupboard, bedroom or wherever you study in case you get the nibbles. And for porridge, mixing some in the morning bowl is simply a delicious brain food to start the day.
One of the best ways to keep your energy levels stable – rather than being hyperactive one minute and slumped over your desk the next – is to eat more whole grains. This could mean choosing whole grain pasta, brown bread, brown rice, whole grain breakfast cereals and so on. Whole grains make great brain food because they have a low glycemic index (GI), which means they release glucose into the bloodstream slowly, maintaining your energy levels for longer. They’ve also been found to have all kinds of other health benefits – including lowering the risk of heart disease and of type 2 diabetes.
Next, nuts and seeds: perfect for carrying with you during the day in case you need a quick pick-me-up. Different types of nuts and seeds are rich in different nutrients, bringing all kinds of long-term health perks. You can also add nuts and seeds to stir-fries, salads, breakfast cereals or desserts for an extra bit of flavour and nutrition.
Like nuts and seeds, dried fruit is also a perfect snacking food for students (or anyone). It’s full of vitamins and good slow-burning energy, and really portable – so you can always keep a pack with you. (Fresh fruit is also amazing of course, but as anyone who’s ever forgotten about that banana/kiwi/pear will know, it doesn’t always travel well…) Just try to avoid buying dried fruit that comes with added sugar – the aim is to avoid the sugar high that inevitably ends in an energy slump. And if you’re feeling really enterprising, you can even try making your own. Yum!
Staying hydrated is really important for brain function – as soon as your brain becomes dehydrated, it slows down and you start to feel tired, mentally slower and even irritable. It can be all too easy to forget to keep sipping, especially if you’re flat out against a deadline or rushing between lectures or lab sessions – and unfortunately, coffee and fizzy drinks won’t do the job. Get into the habit of keeping a refillable water bottle with you and make sure you stay topped up throughout the day; even if you’re not aware of feeling thirsty, you will notice a difference.
Dark chocolate may not be to everyone’s taste, but it is the healthiest way to enjoy one of the world’s favourite foods. If you need a little reward halfway through writing up that essay or report, go for some really good quality dark chocolate. It’s been found to increase the flow of blood to the brain, as well as bringing lots of other health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke and boosting antioxidants. However, since even chocolate with high cacao content is fairly high in calories and saturated fat, this is still a pleasure to be indulged in small quantities!
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