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By Girija Naiksatam

As students, you pay a lot of attention to the fine details of studying; you do regular homework, practice sums and jot down every little thing that your teacher says. But are you careful about what you eat? Are you aware of how it can affect your routine? Here's taking a quick look at foods that you should stay away from.

1. Colas and Sodas
The intake of these often starts as a one off but before you know it, you are drinking one glass a day. Sodas contain nothing but sugars, artificial sweetening and a lot of liquid gases, all of which contribute to hyperactivity, lack of attention and weight gain.

2. Fried Food
Fried foods may seem great for a snack break in between studies. But what you don't realize is that not only are these unhealthy since they're loaded with trans fats but research also shows that they tend to make us feel more at ease, lazy and lethargic. Not the best option if you've got a packed time table for school/college.

3. Meat
Notice how you always want to nap after a huge non-vegetarian meal? That's because meat takes a lot longer to digest and by nature, it falls into the heavier category. So you probably shouldn't expect to get any studying done after you've had a good non-veg lunch. Lesson to learn: Stay away from meat during exam time.

4. Coffee
Coffee may refresh you but the only reason for this is the chemical caffeine that it contains. Caffeine is an instant stimulant and a mood elevator, good for the short run but very hazardous for the long run. So, the next time you need a refreshing drink while studying, why not opt for some homemade lemonade instead?

5. Chocolate
Too much chocolate didn't do anyone any good. Most students often keep a chocolate or two handy to eat while they're studying. What they don't understand is that, like coffee, chocolate too is a mood stimulant and having too much of it could make you way too restless while trying to concentrate.

You might have heard that eating almonds makes you smarter. But you probably considered it to be a myth. Now, research has proven that there is a direct co-relation between food intake and a child's performance. Read on to find out more about what foods your child should and shouldn't be eating:

1. Nuts
Nuts such as almonds, walnuts and cashews which are a rich source of minerals and amino acids are a must for your kids. Not only are they a source of energy but research also suggests that just a handful of these taken mid meal work well in building brain power.

2. Fish
Make sure your kids get their regular supplement of fish, a proven brain food. Fish is low in saturated fats and is a rich source of Omega- 3 fatty acids which are proven to be instrumental in improving concentration and learning ability.

3. Fruits and Veggies
A balanced helping of fruits and veggies daily would mean that your kids are getting their daily dose of vitamins and antioxidants. These are not just high in nutritional value but also help to boost the immune system thus making your kids stronger and healthier.

4. Figs, Beans and Lean Meats
Iron deficiency is very common among children. A lack of iron in the blood leads to a restricted supply of oxygen to the lungs thus reducing attention span, ability to co-ordinate and concentrate. Give your child iron rich foods such as spinach, figs, beans and lean meats and other such rich sources of iron.

5. Cut down on Sugar
Let your kid have his chocolates and candy, but in moderation. Sugar found in artificial colors and flavors can be detrimental to a child's delicate digestive system and also for their teeth. Fizzy drinks, colas and caffeine are a strict no-no! Instead urge them to drink more water or fruit squash.
Foods that Feed your Brain

During exams, many parents give various medicines to their kids that claim to increase their learning power. Let's look at some of the natural brain and mood enhancers.
It's a known fact that the most important meal of the day is your breakfast. Breakfast eaters are likely to achieve higher grades, pay closer attention, participate more in class discussions, and solve more complex academic problems than breakfast skippers.

1. Consume more complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide energy and as the brain uses around a fifth of the body's energy requirements, they are very essential for proper mental functioning.
  • Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest, so they release their energy gradually, providing ongoing energy and stamina.
  • Foods with the best brain carbohydrates include: Fruits, cereals and grains, vegetables and legumes, oatmeal, bran, spaghetti, rice and dairy products.
  • Minimize the intake of simple carbohydrates. These are digested quickly and cause too much sugar to be released into the bloodstream. This is countered by the release of insulin. The brain is thus alternately flooded and starved of essential glucose, which may lead to dizziness, anxiety, headaches, thirst, mental confusion and sleepiness.
  • 2. Encourage grazing. Children's behavior often deteriorates three to four hours after a meal. To smooth out the blood-sugar mood swings, let your child nibble on nutritious foods throughout the day. Pack these snacks for school and carry with you when you are away from home.
    3. Perk up your proteins. Proteins in the diet affect brain performance because they provide the amino acids from which neurotransmitters are made. These are biochemical messengers that carry signals from one brain cell to another.
  • High protein, low carbohydrate foods that are likely to jumpstart the brain are seafood, soy, meat, eggs, and dairy.
  • 4. Feed your brain the right fats. Both growing and aging brains need nutritious fats. The best source for the right kind of fats is fish. Because of the fatty acids they contain, fish is known as the best kind of brain food.
    5. Consider vitamin supplements. Here are some of the vitamins which have been shown to affect behaviour and learning:
  • Vitamin C is required by the brain to make neurotransmitters. In fact, the brain has a special vitamin C "pump" that draws extra vitamin C out of the blood and concentrates it in the brain. Sources of Vitamin C include tomato, orange, sweet lime, amla and sprouted pulses.
  • Vitamin B12 is vital for maintaining healthy brain tissue.
  • Vitamin B6 deficiency causes hyper-irritability and fatigue.
  •   Flesh foods (non-veg) are good sources of Vitamin B.
  • Folic acid deficiency affects neurotransmitter functioning, resulting in symptoms associated with depression.
  • 6. Insure enough iron. The symptoms of iron deficiency include irritability and diminished mental alertness. Iron rich foods include greens, jaggery, dates, egg yolk etc




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