July 01, 2019 2 min read

The school year’s coming to an end and the past 10 months of non-stop concentration alongside tough sporting schedules is starting to take its toll. But don’t worry, we can fuel our brains just like we fuel our bodies to keep up our concentration throughout the day and improve our short and long-term memories. Check out these essential nutrients to give your brain a boost and make sure it’s on top form to maintain your sporting performance, without compromising on your grades and school work.

 

1. Oily Fish

Oily fish are often the first foods mentioned when thinking about brain foods. They’re a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which your brain needs to build and regulate its cells and maintain its structure, all of which is essential to its functioning. Research has found that diets high in omega-3 results in improved blood flow to the brain, meaning better cognitive function [1].

Food sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:Fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines.

 

2. Zinc

Zinc acts as a messenger in the brain, sending signals from region to region. It is known to enhance memory and improve mental development and severe deficiency has been linked to many neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and depression[2]. Adolescents are at particular risk of deficiency due to periods of rapid growth and picky eating habits. A mixed and balanced diet is therefore essential to improve not only attention, but long-term health as well.
Food sources of zinc include:red meats, nuts and seeds.
 

3. Iron

Iron deficiency is the most common micronutrient deficiency in the world and one of the first signs is often brain fog. It is widely related to poor memory and lower levels of concentration and performance, which will not only affect youth athletes in the classroom, but their sporting performance as well [3]. Female and vegetarian/ vegan athletes are at a greater risk of iron deficiency and need to be considerate when choosing the foods they eat.
Food sources of iron include:red meats and dark green leafy veg.
 
Help support your brain and boost your memory and concentration by incorporating these key nutrients into a healthy and balanced diet to set you up for success in the classroom, as well as on the field.
 

Did you know?

PRO-TEENis packed full of omega-3, iron and zinc as well as all of the other nutrients essential to adolescents’ diets.
If you found this article useful, make sure you check out our four nutrition tips to beat fatigue

 

References

  1. Amen, D.G et al.,(2017) ‘Quantitative Erythrocyte Omega-3 EPA Plus DHA Levels are Related to Higher Regional Cerebral Blood Flow on Brain SPECT.’, Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
  2. Prakash, A et al.,(2014) ‘Zinc: indications in brain disorders’,Fundamental & Clinical Pharmacology
  3. Fretham, S.J.B et al.,(2011) ‘The Role of Iron in Learning and Memory’, Advanced Nutrition
Emmy Campbell
Emmy Campbell

YSN Lead Nutritionist. Emmy holds a BSc. in Human Nutrition, MSc. in Sports Nutrition and is a Registered Associate Nutritionist (ANutr). Emmy is also on the Association for Nutrition (AfN) and The Sport and Exercise Nutrition Register (SENr).


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