Feeding the Brain: Important Foods That Can Improve Students’ Cognition


Ijeoma Onuoha

The process of studying causes the brain to go through a lot of mental stress as the brain is the powerhouse responsible for cognition. The cognitive function of the brain refers to the mental processes in the brain, which involve the acquisition of knowledge, understanding, as well as reasoning. The brain, as the powerhouse of cognition, is a highly active organ that requires sufficient nutrients to support it. Just like a powerhouse, it is essential that it is fueled for it to run smoothly. In simple terms, it needs to be fed.

The idea of feeding the brain may seem foreign to many students, but it is imperative to understand that just as we feed our bodies for energy and growth, the brain as a cognitive powerhouse has to be fed also. As students, being aware of the specific kinds of food that aid the improvement of the cognitive function of the brain is very important. This is because inadequate and insufficient care of the brain can adversely affect cognition and most importantly educational achievement.
Certain foods contain nutrients which can improve and strengthen the brain’s cognitive function. They include:

1. Fatty fish

First on the list is what is regarded as fatty fish, also known as oily fish. These are recommended as they are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which is very important to the improvement of the brain’s cognitive function and the overall health of the brain. Some oily fish high in omega-3 include Sardines, Panla, Kote, Shawa and Titus.

2. Fresh fruits and Vegetables

Fresh fruits and vegetables are also recommended foods for the improvement of the brain’s cognitive function. They contain vitamin C, vitamin K, as well as other necessary nutrients which help slow cognitive decline. They include orange, tangerine, apples, watermelon, spinach, pineapples, tomatoes, ugu, ewedu, cucumber, avocado, et cetera.

3. Whole grains

Whole grains are grains that are left close to their natural state, as they have undergone minimal processing and are more nutritious than refined grains. Some include whole oats, wheat (e.g. wheat bread), millet, corn (e.g. pap, boiled or roasted corn and popcorn), et cetera. These are high in iron, magnesium phosphorus, vitamins B and fibre which boosts brain health. Eating these foods also limits the consumption of processed food as it is not healthy for the brain.

4. Antioxidant-rich foods

Antioxidant-rich foods are also very important for the improvement of the brain’s cognitive function and overall health. They protect against inflammation, and oxidative stress as well as improve the learning ability and memory of the brain. They include berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, etc), nuts (peanuts) and dark chocolate.

5. Water

It is very important to stay hydrated as water is essential to flushing out toxins and waste that impair the brain’s cognitive function as well as transport nutrients to the brain to keep it healthy. Drinking water regularly limits the consumption of processed foods and sugary drinks such as sodas as it is a well-known fact that students drink more sodas and energy drinks than they drink water. This is not good for the health of the brain as it can have negative effects on the brain’s health and slow the brain down.

Finally, what you eat as a student can significantly impact your brain health; thus, it is necessary to include the above foods into a well-balanced diet that can provide the necessary nutrients and antioxidants to support brain health and cognitive function. Remember that your brain is your number one key to adequate studying and acing your exams, do not starve it.

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