What you eat can effect your ability to think, as well as your physical and emotional response to the stress of taking a long test. During the regular school year and especially when preparing for the ACT, your daily diet is as important as your nutritional “cramming” the day before an important exam.
Nutritional studies identify four substances necessary for optimal functioning of the brain*.
VITAMIN B (folic acid, B12 and B6) helps keep the brain active and facilitates concentration.
(lean meat, leafy vegetables, cranberries, bananas, nuts and seeds)
OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS promote neurotransmissions (messages within the brain) to help you stay focused and improve memory, possibly even reducing learning disabilities**.
(herring, anchovies, sardines, salmon and tuna)
COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES can counteract test anxiety and sustain energy for longer periods of time than sugary treats. Complex carbos raise serotonin levels and help clarify thought.
(corn, squash, beets and whole grain cereals)
PROTEINS are broken down in the digestive system to form amino acids that feed the brain and help memory acquisition and retrieval.
(eggs, milk products, dried beans, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, nuts, fish and poultry)
A SPECIAL NOTE ON FLUIDS...
Dehydration is one side effect of stress which can have a negative impact during a test and while studying also. Drinking water is a good remedy.
Nutritionists at MIT Medical Center for Health Promotion & Wellness*** suggest a diet for test-taking time.
For the day before a big exam, focus on a well-balanced combination of equal parts protein, complex carbohydrates, and vegetables, that includes foods high in vitamin B and fatty acids.
On test day morning focus on protein and minimize sugars. Breakfast might include eggs, low-fat cottage cheese, a smoothie using fruits such as pears, apples and berries that are mixed with whey protein and kelp powder.
The ACT snack after Math and before Reading could include a banana, dried cranberries or raisins, nuts like peanuts, cashews, pecans, walnuts or almonds, seeds like flax, pumpkin, and sunflower, even a little dark chocolate if you need a reward.
On regular school days, when lunch is followed by additional classes, think of lean meat, tofu, tuna or salmon, dark green leafy vegetable, cheese, raw carrots, and whole grain bread.
**Shannon Wakeland, “Brain Food for Exams.” www.ehow.com