I am getting ready to study for the bar exam. I wondered if there are any “brain” foods that will help me concentrate during this time?

A healthy and balanced diet can absolutely help to improve cognitive function. Choosing foods from all of the food groups and getting adequate hydration will help people to think clearly and complete tasks more efficiently. Some research does specify a few specific foods that may help to improve thinking skills. Coffee (specifically caffeine) may help one to improve short-term memory performance. However, do not overdo it and consume too much, as it may alter/effect your sleep schedule. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, walnuts, flaxseed can also be essential for brain function development. They also can decrease instance of dementia and reduce the risk of stroke. Consuming whole grains like whole wheat bread, pasta, brown rice can also help improve the blood flow to the brain and the cardiovascular system, which may help improve cognitive function. Adding a handful of blueberries to yogurt or cereal is a great way to help decrease risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Also, blueberries may help to improve one’s thinking skills. Sipping on peppermint tea may be a good way to help improve concentration, which is essential while studying.

Breakfast is a very important first step in improving brain function. An ideal breakfast would contain a balance of complex carbohydrates and protein. Examples include: a veggie omelet with a low fat bran muffin, fruit and yogurt; whole-wheat French toast topped with blueberries and paired with milk; peanut butter and banana slices on a whole-wheat English muffin with milk; low fat granola mixed with yogurt and fruit.

Be sure to limit foods that may hinder one’s ability to think clearly. Consuming a diet filled with greasy or fried foods may slow thinking/brain function. Try to avoid a diet that is too high in concentrated sweets (soda, candy, cookies, pie, etc), as too many simple sugars tend to cause energy levels to peak and then crash, leaving one feeling tired/fatigued. Balance is the key. Smaller more frequent meals filled with foods from all of the food groups is a good way to improve thinking and brain function.

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