Study your diet, revise it to beat exam stress

Ishi Khosla Posted online: Saturday, Mar 08, 2014 at 0000 hrs
New Delhi : Exams are on and it is not just children who are under stress. At a time like this, what you eat can make a huge difference on how children and parents deal with the stress.

Studies suggest that diet can reduce stress levels, irritability and promote calmness. Further, it has been reported that unhealthy meals can increase stress levels. Another study indicated that students under examination stress showed significant increase in food intake, high fat and sugary snacks, which can be counter-productive.

Further, increased stress creates a greater need for certain essential nutrients such as water soluble vitamins — Vitamin B, C — and minerals such as zinc. The levels of vitamin C can fluctuate depending on the degree of physical and emotional stress.

Nutrients such as vitamin C, B6, zinc, magnesium, potassium, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and amino acid tyrosine are required for synthesis and proper functioning of adrenal hormones — the most important stress fighting hormone. By following some simple tips, we can help be calm.

Eat smaller, frequent meals to ensure a steady stream of energy and have a calming effect on the brain. Choose adequate amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables like amla, citrus fruits, tomatoes, green peppers, green leafy vegetables, kiwi, broccoli, and strawberries to ensure good vitamin C status. Greens are good in particular .Vegetable and fruit smoothies are great too.

Minimise intake of white flour, white rice, sweetened beverages and sugar. Choose whole grains such as oats, barley, brown rice, whole wheat and quionoa , pulses, nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy, seafood, lean meats, green leafy vegetables and wheat germ to ensure adequate intake of vitamin B and zinc.

Avoid junk food and poor quality fat (hydrogenated- trans fats).

Snack smart on fresh fruits, dry fruits, honey coated nuts, seeds, roasted whole grains, soups, salads, hot chocolate, almond milk or yoghurt, to prevent swings in blood sugars and cravings.

Most importantly, stay well-hydrated. Green tea, jasmine tea, cammomile tea help calm the mind.

Take tea, coffee and caffeinated beverages including colas should be consumed in moderation. In excess, they can reduced hydration and increase irritability. Try to take plain or lemon water if you have taken too much of tea or coffee .

For those looking for memory enhancing techniques, nourish your brain with healthy food rather than gulping memory pills. Memory boosting nutrients include antioxidants like vitamin A, E and C found in natural foods like eggs, carrots, broccoli, fish, nuts, green leafy vegetables and fruits. They reduce the cell damage in the brain. Ensure that you get enough magnesium in your diet through greens, whole grains and seeds. Limit sugar intake as it increases the body’s magnesium requirement.

Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish, mustard oil, mustard seeds, methi, urad dal, rajma, soybeans, lobia, walnuts, bajra, and flaxseeds (alsi), chia seeds are good for brain, skin and heart health.