Foods for Focus this Scholastic Season

Though teenagers might rejoice to discover that there is no overt negative neurological impact from their Smartphone habit (an article published in the journal Nature: Human Behaviour finding no evidence that cognitive

abilities are being harmed by digital advancements; save map reading), that’s not to say that one can do simply anything to the brain and body and hope to get away with it.

Now integrated fully back into the academic way of life, a little nutritional savvy goes a long way in keeping young minds fed and focussed in a plant-based manner as we go from winter into early spring – a beneficial boost to the tough scholastic year (and exams) ahead. Instead of letting them supercharge on tea, coffee, or both, make sure the toast (what teenager doesn’t hog a loaf of bread?) is wholewheat and that liquid intake includes cell-hydrating water, plain and simple.

1. Avocados

An amazing source of healthy fats (the prime fuel for the brain), avocados can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and lower bad cholesterol later on, also. Delicious on toast, on top of rice, or simply scooped fresh from its alligator-like skin, as long as you’re not chomping on these savoury pears every day of the week, the brain benefits outweigh the environmental implications.

2. Wholegrains

Wholegrain foods are brilliant for fibre and vitamin E – both critical for improvement and maintenance of memory.

Vitamin E can be found in dark green leafy vegetables as well, but a breakfast inclusive of wholegrains really

improves circulation and keeps blood glucose levels stable: perfect for frantic weekday mornings before catching the bus

3. Cranberries

Few things are cooler than a cranberry for coordination and memory: chock full like other berries with antioxidants, the cranberry is, of course, most suitable to wintry days either as topping to a seasonal granola or popped into muffins and nut roasts. Then, there’s cranberry sauce…

4. Blueberries

Another awesome antioxidant source, blueberries help protect neurons from damage and serve to build receptors between brain cells. Also a good source of vitamin C, keep those thought processes perky with a decent handful each day.

5. Pumpkin Seeds

Rich in immunity-supportive zinc (crucial, given our increased wariness of the truly nasty colds and other bugs our kids – and we – picked up in the autumn when social distancing was that bit more lax), memory is both enhanced and thinking skills aided by a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds on a soup or warming bowl of porridge.

6. Walnuts

Sometimes, there are foods which look like the body part they nourish: walnuts are one such example. A small handful per day provides a veritable booster shot of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals brilliant for improving cognitive function and alertness. It is thought that the high vitamin E content can also potentially reduce risk of Alzheimer’s later on in life.

7. Tomatoes

Lycopene, the tomato’s antioxidant extraordinaire, is believed to prevent free-radical damage to brain cells. So slice a few up with a side salad or to pop into that packed lunch sandwich. A drizzle of olive oil will aid absorbency, too.

8. Broccoli

Providing a hearty portion of our RDA of vitamin K, necessary for brainpower and general cognitive health, broccoli has also been found to be high in glucosinolates, which slow the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This means a sharper memory and a top- performing brain. Perfect for exam season.

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