Right food at the right time is essential for the proper and effective functioning of the brain. We need to fuel our brain properly from the start of the day. Research shows skipping breakfast can lead to a significant reduction in concentration, memory, and alertness. Many students, in a hurry to go to school or tuition, skip breakfast. Keep in mind that after your supper the brain will be starving for almost 8 hours till your lunch. This is hazardous to the brain cells. Have a balanced diet comprising of proteins, vitamins and carbohydrates. Researches have verified that people who eat a balanced breakfast do significantly better on mental tasks than people who eat a high carb breakfast. So for a better performance in school and exams never skip your breakfast.
It has been observed by medical practitioners that more than one out of every three of teenagers are having eating disorders. Great number of girls are having improper diets due to their being figure conscious. On the other hand teenage boys eat without any concern about their body and become obese. Eating disorders are psychological disorders that involve extreme disturbances in eating behaviour. Experts link eating disorders to a complex mixture of biological, behavioural, psychological and social factors.
Adolescence is a time of rapid growth when weight gain is necessary to fuel the growth and changes required for puberty. Many students of this age fail to eat enough to keep up with growth and this energy imbalance may trigger health problems. In addition, many girls of this age become beauty conscious and figure conscious and skip meals to maintain a lean figure. Adolescents fail to keep energy intake up while high level of energy is expended in sports. Adolescence is a sensitive time for the developing brain, particularly for the prefrontal cortex and other important brain structures such as the hippocampus which are critically involved in learning and memory. Researches shows diet is likely to be a significant influence on brain capacity during this stage of life.
Regular meals three/four times a day have been linked to higher academic performance according to a study in Korean adolescents. In Norwegian teenagers, foods reflecting a less healthy diet (including soft drinks, sweets, snacks, pizza, and hot dogs) were linked with learning difficulties. Higher academic achievement were reported in adolescents in Canada who consume more fruits, vegetables and milk as part of their diet. A research showed that, in Iceland, adolescents who had poor dietary habits (with higher consumption of chips, hamburgers and hot dogs) had lower academic achievement. In contrast, adolescents with higher fruit and vegetable consumption achieved higher academic scores. In Australia, data from the long-running Western Australian Raine study have shown teenagers’ diet impacts cognitive performance, which is a significant predictor for academic achievement.
Leaving our traditional diet pattern and running after the western and Chinese food leads to a high overall intake of total fat, saturated fat, refined sugar and sodium but lower levels of significant micronutrients including folate and iron. Folate has been positively linked to academic achievement in adolescents while iron deficiency has been associated with poorer mathematics scores in children and adolescents. High levels of fat and carbohydrate consumption are linked with impaired thinking skills through changes to key areas in the brain. All research findings are consistent with the idea that diet has impacts on teenagers’ thinking skills. To conclude, teenagers who eat well definitely are conferring significant benefits on their academic performance.
Fr. Joseph Elanjimattom