Healthy Diet Improves Academics

If you believe the old joke that all students live on nothing but pizza, baked beans and Mars bars, you might not be far from the truth; but could poor diet mean poor academic performance too?

Recent research in the US has shown that poor nutrition does impact directly on students’ ability in the classroom. Without the amino acids provided by the protein found in foods such as dairy products and meat, our brains cannot build the neurotransmitters used by brain cells to communicate with each other. Protein also provides a long-lasting energy source and helps to keep the brain alert and active, unlike many carbohydrates which contain chemicals that can have a soporific effect.

The best sources of “good” carbs are foods like; vegetables, fruit, pulses and whole grains. These also offer fibre, vitamins and minerals and some fruits, like berries, contain antioxidants which boost the immune system. This in turn helps to fight off colds and viruses.

A student whose diet is made up mainly of junk food and processed products which contain a high amount of salt and sugar is more likely to feel low and run-down, and is more likely to succumb to seasonal coughs, colds and flu viruses.

Dieting and poor health

You only have to take a look inside a fashion magazine to see that being super skinny is still considered to be the most attractive and fashionable body shape to have. Young female students who don’t eat properly in an attempt to look like skinny models risk jeopardising their studies as well as their health.

Hunger and skipping meals, particularly breakfast, can induce mental confusion and the symptoms of hypoglycaemia including mood swings and abnormal behaviour. It’s now commonly acknowledged that sweets and fizzy drinks contain an unhealthily high quantity of sugar and e-numbers which can cause hyperactivity or exacerbate existing behavioural conditions like ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

Those students who enjoy good nutrition and increased energy levels from the food they eat also have better neurological function than those who don’t, according to research carried out by the American Dietetic Association.

In a series of experiments it was clearly shown that students who eat a healthy, balanced diet perform much better in test situations. Good test performance hinges on the student’s ability to remember information and to access it quickly and accurately. The studies found that those students who ate a good breakfast worked faster and made fewer numerical and visual skills errors in tests.

The irony is in the preconception that eating healthily is expensive and time-consuming; neither is true. A supermarket trolley full of fresh fruit and vegetables is actually no more expensive than one filled with cakes, biscuits and ready-meals. With a little imagination and a quick Google search for recipes, even the most basic cook can rustle up a wholesome, healthy meal in hardly any time at all.






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