Brain food: What to feed your brain during exams

We are fast approaching the end of the year and while this typically signals holidays and celebrations, to students, it mostly means exams. To assist you through this period, Moneybags journalist, Danielle van Wyk, looks at foods you can eat to promote optimum brain functionality.

According to a recent Health24 report, ‘our brains use nearly 20% of our body’s total energy, which is quite a large portion considering it makes up only about 2% of our body weight.’

So which are the foods you should be having more of?

According to nutritionists the following are all foods that you should be stocking up on:

  1. Oily fish: In recent years nutritionists and people in general have cottoned on to the benefits of the essential fatty acids that oily fish boasts. What makes this kind of fish fantastic for brain function and heart health specifically is the active form of DPA and DHA fats. This enables the body to use it more easily. Some examples of oily fish include sardines, salmon, trout, mackerel, and pilchards, to name a few. EPA and DHA is believed to help us with stress management and assists in releasing the feel good chemical, serotonin.
  2. Pumpkin seeds: Pumpkin seeds contain a significant amount of zinc, more so than other seeds, and this mineral has been known to enhance thinking and memory skills. In addition, these seeds boast with magnesium which helps to relieve stress.
  3. Blueberries: While some or other berry is constantly being advertised as having wonderfully beneficial properties, according to experts’ blueberries are the stand out when it comes to improving short term memory. This because of a property called anthocyanins, which is present in other red and dark purple vegetables too.
  4. Tomatoes: When it comes to tomatoes, lycopene, is what you want. This antioxidant has been shown to guard against cell damage that later leads to diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
  5. Wholegrains: Simply put, your brain needs energy to function. Through glucose in the blood this energy supply is maintained. Attain this by opting for low-GI or wholegrains which will give your body a slow release of steady energy.

The exam period can be stressful, and while you may be putting in the necessary work and hours, eating right is half the battle won. This as it will sustain you throughout studying and writing the exam.


Don’t skip breakfast! Giving your body a good start in the morning to get it going is always best.

– Get enough sleep! While this may seem a difficult task as you’re probably staying up late to revise and sometimes cram, getting enough sleep is vital for brain functionality.

-Drink enough water! Try and keep a bottle of water on you as far as you can, and make sure to stay hydrated.