Halloween is over, Christmas music is playing and midterm season has just about passed, so you can say it has been a pretty busy past couple of weeks. While this would normally be the time I forget about work and binge-watch Netflix (Stranger Things season 2) for a week to de-stress, this luxury is unfortunately long gone.With just over a month until finals, the last thing anyone wants is a repeat of the past month. By now you probably have developed your own study habits, but one thing that may have lacked during midterms is nutrition. It’s hard enough to eat well when all 3 meals come from a dining hall, but it is super important to be fueling your brain properly, especially during times of stress. How do you expect to study for hours on end if you haven’t given your body the proper energy it needs? Fuel your midnight library dates and cram session with these brain-boosting foods. 

1. Blueberries

Fruit, Healthy, sweet, berry, blueberry, blueberries
Tess Tarantino

Blueberries have been shown to improve memory and concentration as the antioxidants stimulate the flow of oxygen to your brain.

Bonus: Antioxidants also help prevent you from getting sick (especially as winter approaches).

2. Nuts and Seeds

walnut, apricot pits, almond, meat, nut
Kendra Valkema

Nuts and seeds contain vitamin E which act more long term in preventing cognitive decline. However, they also are rich in omega-3 healthy fats and amino acids that aid focus as well as high levels of antioxidants that improve alertness.

Seeds such as pumpkin seeds also contain zinc which improves memory and overall brain function.

(Some personal favourites include walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds)

3. Avocados 

vegetable, guacamole, avocado
Rebecca Holstein

Avocados contain monounsaturated fats which enhance blood flow throughout the body and helps to activate and protect brain cells. 

4. Leafy Green Vegetables 

spinach, vegetable, salad, lettuce, basil, relish, herb
Kristine Mahan

Leafy greens contain antioxidants and carotenoids which both boost and protect the brain. They also contain B-vitamins which are proven to help with memory and focus.

Some personal favourites are spinach, kale (the greener the better!)

5. Water

lemon, water, lemonade
Caroline Liu

Not technically a food, but still very important, especially for the brain! Dehydration can lead to a lack of focus and mental clarity.

Tip: filling up your water bottle and going to the bathroom are also easy ways to make sure you are standing up and moving every couple of hours.

6. Dark Chocolate 

beer, coffee, tea
Jeanne Kessira

Yes, chocolate can be good for you! I’m not talking about Kit-Kat’s or Twix, but dark chocolate above 70%. Dark chocolate contains magnesium which aid in de-stressing. It also contains antioxidants which help to improve memory and concentration. However, this isn’t an excuse to eat a whole block of chocolate, it should still be enjoyed in moderation. 

7. Eggs

egg yolk, chicken, egg
Jocelyn Hsu

Eggs contain high amounts of choline which is essential in creating the chemical acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter. Additionally, the cholesterol in eggs is important in building cell membranes

What to Avoid

1. Refined Sugar

gelatin, sweet, jelly beans, candy
Christin Urso

In moderate consumption, sugar is not a problem, but when consumed in large quantities refined sugar can impair memory and learning skills. The sugar crash that follows also doesn't help with preventing anxiety and keeping you awake for long nights of studying.  

2. Fast Food

sandwich, ketchup, hamburger, cheese, bun, french fries, bread

Finals mean more stress and less time, especially less time to think about your next meal. Think fast food is the perfect answer? Think again. Similar to refined sugars, foods with high trans-fat content induce fatigue and decrease cognitive function. 

To learn more about how food impacts brain function, check out this article from Harvard University.