Study your diet, revise it to beat exam stress

Study your diet, revise it to beat exam stress

Studies suggest that diet can reduce stress levels, irritability and promote calmness.

Ishi Khosla is a former senior nutritionist at Escorts. She heads the Centre of Dietary Counselling and also runs a health food store. She feels that for complete well-being, one should integrate physical, mental and spiritual health. According to her: “To be healthy should be the ultimate goal for all.”

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.

Strengthen memory and calm your nerves

Vitamin B1: It keeps the nervous system healthy and is used in the biosynthesis of a number of cell constituents. It also aids memory and learning. Good sources of vitamin B1 include rice bran, wheat germ, whole wheat flour, barley, maize (dry), eggs, cow’s milk (skimmed, whole), khoa.

Vitamin B12: It is needed for the proper functioning of the central nervous system. It improves concentration, memory, balance and relieves irritability. Foods of animal origin like egg, lean meat, low-fat milk etc are good sources. Plant foods containing this vitamin include spirulina (blue green algae).

Folic Acid: It is essential for the body’s clearance of homocysteine, an amino acid that causes cognitive decline and preserves cellular health. Green leafy vegetables, broccoli, pulses, wheatgerm form important sources of folic acid.

Lecithin: Lecithin is a primary component of all cell membranes and helps insulate nerves. It may help improve short-term memory and prevent memory loss. Good sources of lecithin are egg yolk, soybeans, cauliflower and beans.


Healthy Fats: Fats found in nuts, oilseeds, cold pressed oils (olive, sesame, canola, sunflower, corn) are healthy fats. Unhealthy fats lead to formation of free radicals that can injure brain cells & hamper the functioning of neurotransmitters.

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