17 Everyday Foods To Beat Stress During Exams

A call comes in of a women, sounding worried about health of her daughter.

Me: “How can I help you?”
Mum: “My daughter is in grade 12 and not able to concentrate”
Me: “Tell me more about it”
Mum: “She is not eating well, sleep at night is hard to get, always feeling stressed and angry, not able to understand some of the subjects….”

And we continued the conversation. Regularly, there are lot of parents go though similar situation. Let’s face it we’ve created exams to be an life draining episode for kids. Some statistics suggest almost 95% of students feel anxious or stressed before exams.

What makes students anxious?

  • 63% Not getting into college / university if you do badly
  • 62% Fears about sitting the exam
  • 59% Pressure from parents to do well
  • 56% Not doing as well as your friends
  • 53% Not getting a good job after

While there is no guaranteed answer to all these question, the only thing you can focus is on your effort. Anxiety and Stress is normal and natural when you are performing for something important in life. Due to the stress, we disturb our routine. Sleepless nights, Not eating well, Not staying hydrated and lot more issues parents bring to us. While parents advice kids to stay healthy, although I see following on advice is always minimal.

Most of the times psychological training and practices are most effective for stress and anxiety relief, although you can use food as medicine as well. Here’s list of foods that would help alleviate stress before an exam:

1 Milk:

Milk is one of the major sources of calcium. Calcium is a natural stabilizer for the nervous system. Research has proved that when people are under certain pressure, the amount of calcium which is discharged through the urine will increase. A glass of warm milk before bed is a time-tested remedy for insomnia and fidgetiness. That’s because milk is high in antioxidants, vitamins B2 and B12, as well as protein and calcium. The protein lactium has a calming effect by lowering blood pressure, while the potassium in milk can help relieve muscle spasms triggered by feeling tense.

2  Banana:

Bananas can help the brain produce serotonin. Serotonin can make the mood become stable and happy. Bananas also contain a large amount of potassium, which can keep blood pressure at a normal level. Magnesium contained in banana also has the effect of relieving psychological pressure and easing emotional tension.

3  Citrus fruits:

Eating more foods rich in vitamin C also has the effect of relieving psychological pressure. The main source of vitamin C is fresh fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits and tomato, which are the best source of vitamin C.

4  Millet congee/porridge :

Millet congee contains a variety of amino acids required by the human body. Experts have reported that drinking millet congee often can regulate the endocrine system of human body, as well as relax the nerves.

5 Whole-wheat bread:

Whole-wheat bread contains a variety of amino acids and organic acids, which not only can relieve psychological pressure, but also can ease emotional tension. What’s more, it is also rich in vitamin B, which has the effects of maintaining the health of nervous system, eliminating anxiety, and promoting sleep.

6 Oranges:

Studies suggest that when a child is under too much pressure his/her vitamin C levels tend to dip, thus making him/her more vulnerable to illnesses. So, incorporate oranges in their diet. Other than Vitamin C, oranges are a great source of folic acid which is great for physical growth as well. There’s a reason orange juice is said to be part of the breakfast of champions: Vitamin C is another vitamin known to lower blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol. For a quick burst of vitamin C, simply eat a whole orange or drink a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice without added sugar.

7  Spinach:

Spinach is a rich source of iron and calcium along with vitamin A. Iron in spinach helps in developing a strong immunity and helps in developing social and aids in the formation of haemoglobin and essential enzymes.Be like Popeye (the cartoon character) and fill up on spinach. Leafy greens may not be your idea of comfort food, but spinach can have a comforting effect. Spinach is packed with magnesium, the mineral that helps regulate cortisol levels and promote feelings of wellbeing. A mere cup of spinach fills 40 percent of your daily quota, so slip some in with your morning eggs, swap for lettuce in your sandwich, have a salad, steam it as a side dish,or drop a handful of leaves into your soup.

8  Water:

Water aids digestion and helps regulate and maintain body temperature. Keeping the body well-hydrated should be a health priority and daily habit whether exams are round the corner or not. When we are stressed, we tend to overlook our water consumption and neglect our health as a result. And during times of stress, you’re more likely to forget to drink and eat well. Just getting enough fluids helps to keep you at your best during times like these. Sip your stress away. Studies have shown that being just half a liter dehydrated can increase your cortisol levels.

9  Asparagus:

Depression has been linked to low levels of folic acid, and one vegetable that boosts this mood-enhancing nutrient is asparagus. Asparagus is high in anti-inflammatory nutrients as well as provides a wide variety of antioxidant nutrients, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and the minerals zinc, manganese and selenium. A single cup provides two-thirds of your daily value, and it’s easy to fit asparagus into almost any meal. Some ideas: Sauté some asparagus tips for a tasty omelet. Go with steamed or grilled Asparagus as a side vegetable for meat, fish or poultry. Snack on some steamed Asparagus by dipping in some dressing.

10  Avocado:

We need B vitamins for healthy nerves and brain cells, and feelings of anxiety may be rooted in a B vitamin deficiency. Avocados are rich in stress-relieving B vitamins. Bonus: They’re also high in monounsaturated fat and potassium, which help lower blood pressure. Avocado’s folate helps to prevent the build-up of homocysteine, a substance that can impair circulation and delivery of nutrients to the brain.

11  Blueberries:

Blueberries may seem small, but just a handful pack a powerful punch of antioxidants and vitamin C, making them mighty stress-busters. When we’re stressed, our bodies need vitamin C and antioxidants to help repair and protect cells. While blueberries are tasty all by themselves, there’s no better way to boost the nutrition in a serving of yogurt or high-fiber cereal. Research has also shown that blueberry eaters experience a boost in natural killer cells, a type of white blood cell that plays a vital role in immunity, critical for countering stress.

12  Almonds:

Get some stress-relief munching on almonds, which are rich in vitamins B2 and E. Both of these nutrients help bolster the immune system during times of stress. Just a quarter cup of almonds each day does the trick. For variety, spread some almond butter on fruit slices or whole wheat crackers.

13  Salmon:

Put more fish on your dish to help you feel at ease. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps keep cortisol and adrenaline from spiking when you’re feeling tense. Salmon is one of the very best sources of omega-3s: Consuming 4 ounces at least three times a week goes a long way towards protecting your heart when those stress hormones are surging.

14  Turkey:

That sleepy feeling you get after eating Thanksgiving dinner is due to the amino acid tryptophan found in turkey. Tryptophan signals the brain to release the feel-good chemical serotonin, which promotes calmness and even tiredness. The amino acid, found in protein-containing foods, helps produce serotonin, “the chemical that regulates hunger and feelings of happiness and well-being”

15  Oatmeal:

Oatmeal is another food that helps get the calm-inducing hormone serotonin flowing. Go with thick-cut, old fashioned oats that require cooking instead of instant oatmeal. Why? Coarse oats are higher in fiber and so they take longer to digest (meaning their calming effect actually lasts longer). According to MIT research, carbohydrates can help the brain make serotonin, the same substance regulated by antidepressants. But instead of reaching for that sugary food, go for complex carbs. “Stress can cause your blood sugar to rise, so a complex carb like oatmeal won’t contribute to your already potential spike in blood glucose.”

16  Chamomile Tea:

Studies show the chemical apignenin in chamomile has anxiety-reducing properties. Steep some tea in hot water, or drink it cool over ice. This drink has a mild and naturally sweet flavor that is easy to enjoy. Chamomiles mildly sedating and muscle-relaxing effects may help those who suffer from insomnia to fall asleep more easily.

17  Kale:

Drinks and foods rich in folates can stave off the blues: think dark, leafy greens packed with Vitamin B-12. Kale protects the body from oxidative stress, which is usually evident in the appearance of cataracts, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and cellular damage.

While these foods are great to alleviate stress, just eating them and wishing is not going to make you happiest person in the world. It is also not going to get you the best results in your exams.

A healthful diet, Sleep, Exercise and certain mental practices will make you less worried about exams. I always say ” Do your best and Forget the rest”

If you are looking for a specific plan designed for your lifestyle and body, please drop an email to us at hello@ultimateyou.in and we will help you do better in exams.

Additional Resources

I’ve written series of article which will provide tools, techniques and strategies which can help students reduce stress. The links are below.

Part 1: Managing Exam Stress

Part 2: Time Management

Part 3: Psychological Tools

Part 4: Other Strategies

Part 5: Parent’s Guide

Some of the sources used while writing this article.

www.healthyhubb.com | www.herbwisdom.com |www.health.com|www.northwestpharmacy.com|www.livescience.com|www.abc.net.au|www.ezinearticles.com

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