A Healthy Gut Means A Healthy Brain.
You know the feeling: the fluttery tummy before a big test, or that gut feeling you get when something isn’t right. Ever wonder why emotions sometimes upset your stomach, or why those gut feelings lead you toward a decision? These are evidence of the close relationship between our brain and the micro biome in our gut. The enteric nervous system (ENS), a layer of cells lining the GI tract, works as our second brain (it’s named this because it has hundreds of millions of neurons, the second most amount of neurons in the whole body after the brain). The ENS communicates to our brain all the time. When things are balanced, we receive doses of serotonin, the happiness chemical. When things are off-balance, we might feel nervous, anxious, foggy or stressed.
Our digestive system plays a big role in our memory and our ability to focus … those are pretty important when studying for an exam! To keep your brain in tip top studying shape, you want to make sure your gut is getting the nutrients it needs so that it can communicate to the brain and keep us thinking straight. Eat smart while you study with these easy brain food tips.
How To Eat Smart While You Study
Our brain is a hungry mother. Despite the brain only accounting for 2% of human weight, it consumes up to 20% of our calories! With this kind of hunger going on upstairs, you want to be feeding your brain only the best stuff, especially you're focusing on one task.
- Small Meals: Our brain can be a serious snacker. Why the hardcore munchies? The brain really likes its consistent stream of glucose, but it has to be the right amount (about 25g). You can feed your brain glucose without putting yourself at risk for high blood sugar by eating small meals that include complete protein and fats throughout the day. Fuel up on healthy types of glucose, like fruits and veggies, rather than soda or candy.
- Keep It Low Glycemic: Low glycemic foods help glucose to be released throughout the body slowly after you’ve eaten. A balanced snack of complex carbohydrates, fats and proteins helps maintain a steady flow of energy to the brain.
- Choose The Double Threat: You’ve probably heard about the health wave that is raving about probiotics. But, what they miss is the crucial second half to that good gut bacteria, prebiotics. Probiotics and prebiotics work as a team to help us digest food, prevent illness, and level out our emotions (remember the brain-gut connection?). Prebiotics help get probiotics rolling, but they do a lot more than we realize. Prebiotics run their own show by strengthening our immune system, making our bones stronger, and lowering risk of weight gain. These two powerhouse bacteria just moved to the top of your shopping list.
Great Brain Snacks For Studying:
- Non-fat Greek yogurt mixed with fresh berries
- Raw veggies with hummus on the side
- Whole-grain crackers dipped in some peanut butter
- Oatmeal topped with bananas or strawberries
- Whole-grain toast with avocado and cottage cheese
- Our Rowdy Bars (learn more about this power-through food)
Hungry for more? Check out our list of low-glycemic snacks.