Student Life

Brain Foods

By Nick Stern, Staff Reporter

Between balancing school, work, and a slew of different obligations, students can really benefit from achieving and main­taining a healthy lifestyle in which the right foods at the right times can be the difference in success and failure, Registered Nurse at the Student Health Center, Patti Haaland said.

Whole grain foods such as oats or brown rice are a great source of nutrition for the brain as they contain low glyce­mic levels which allows for slower release of glucose into the blood­stream, said Haaland.

This allows for a more alert and focused mind throughout the day and a more sustain­able and steady supply of energy without a large crash at the end, she said. Brown rice, brown pasta and brown cereals are all great wholegrain foods that humans should try to incorporate into their diets, Haaland said.

Beets and blueberries are both excellent sources of nutrition for the brain because beets contain phenylalanine, which is an amino acid that helps relay signals from one brain cell to another, she said.

“Blueberries are good because they are an excel­lent source of antioxidants and anthocyanins which are compounds that help protect brain cells from toxins and improve the use of glucose in the brain,” Haaland said.

Registered Nurse, Collette Dodd said that one of the best tips she can give students is to avoid foods that are greasy, fried and are high in fat and sugar because they will not feed your brain the way that legumes, protein, fish, and vegetables will in the long run.

Dodd also advises people to try to stay away from consuming a lot of dairy products, because dairy products and meats are considered secondary sources of nutrition and it is much more beneficial to get primary sources of nutrition by going directly to the plant by eating veg­etables and grains, she said.

The reason dairy is considered a second­ary source of nutrition is because milk, for instance cow milk, comes from a cow who first gets its nutrients from the earth then digests the nutrients in its stomachs (both of the cow’s stomachs) and what is left is a product that has already had most of the nutrients absorbed out of it by the cow’s body, said Dodd.

“The most excel­lent source of nutrition is going directly to the plant,” she said.

Another tip is to never eat after 8 p.m. because the body’s metabolism slows down while sleeping and instead of digesting the food it will just store it as fat, Dodd said.

That being said, break­fast is the most important meal and a good breakfast can provide the necessary nutrition to get through a day and should be the main meal of the day because most calories are being burned during the daytime while the body is busy, she said.

“Eat like a king for breakfast. Eat like a queen for lunch. Eat like a pauper for dinner,” Dodd said.

Junk food is gener­ally more appealing to students and anyone on the go because not only does the taste of greasy and delicious food pro­vide an oral gratification which make endorphins “pop,” but the speed, convenience and cost of junk food makes it easy for a student to justify eating unhealthy, Haaland said.

“Foods like donuts and French fries may give you an initial energy rush but then you are left with a big carb crash. These foods can actually cause you to be left with less energy than before you eat them,” Haaland said.

It is very impor­tant to remember that the brain is an organ that requires nutri­ents and energy the same way the lungs, heart, muscles, and everything else in the human body needs, she said.

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are priceless nutrients to the brain that humans do not develop naturally and can be found as omega-3 fatty acids in oily fishes such as salmon, sar­dines, tuna, mackerel, and other oily, cold water fish, she said.

The omega 3 fatty acids that can be found in fish are eicosapentae­noic (EPA) and docosa­hexaenoic (DHA) acids, Haaland said.

Not only do EPAs and DHAs help with healthy brain, heart and retina functions but studies have shown that taking these fatty acids will actually help prevent mental dis­eases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia, she said.

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