STUDY Eat healthy, exercise could help fare better in exams

Overworked and stressed-out school students, burning the midnight oil to pass the board exams, can benefit from these simple tips to enhance their performance — eat healthy and do light exercises.

According to nutrition experts and dieticians, consuming fresh seasonal fruits and vegetable salads and doing breathing exercises can go a long way in helping students concentrate better during their marathon study sessions. “Students usually study at a stretch of four to five hours. If they follow a healthy diet during the exam days it can boost their concentration levels and reduce stress,” says Deepika Aggarwal, head of dietetics at Apollo Hospital, Delhi.

According to Aggarwal, foods like babycorn, oats, wholegrain bread and paneer, among others, have complex carbohydrates that release glucose very slowly and provide the body with energy over a sustained period.

“If you crave a midnight snack, grab some fresh veggies and make a sandwich. It will not only satiate your hunger but will also act as fuel, helping you to carry on with your study session,” Aggarwal says.

According to Shashi Mathur, chief dietician at Sir Ganga Ram hospital, seasonal fruits — either eaten raw or in the form of juices — as well as dry fruits can work wonders for the body and the brain.

“Walnuts and almonds, soaked in water overnight, can be had in the morning while fruit juices can be had while studying,” Mathur says. These food products are rich in antioxidants and fatty acids such as omega 6 and omega 3 which help vitalise the body by curbing stress.

In addition, chocolate milk and lassi are also helpful as they provide the body with the necessary calories.

However, the fact remains that hours of sitting and reading notes do take a toll on the body and, if not taken care of, can lead to muscle cramps.

Doctors advise light exercises and deep breathing methods in between the study sessions to keep the body fresh.

“Take a 15-minute break and go to the balcony or terrace. Take a short stroll and get some fresh air. It will freshen your mind and tackle fatigue,” Aggarwal says. “Keep the windows of the room that you are studying in open for effective ventilation at all times,” she adds.

Other effective options are yoga and deep breathing.

“Take short breaks and indulge in deep breathing at regular intervals. While doing so, you can always revise what you have learnt up till that point,” Mathur says.

All these measures are however of no use if the youngsters don’t give up junk food.

According to doctors, aerated drinks, fried chicken and potatoes, cheese and the like wreak havoc on the body and should be eschewed, especially in the exam season. The high sugar content affects concentration while the excess calories result in lethargy.

For Seema Jindal Jajodia, health food enthusiast and founder of a company that produces organic food products, processed or fast foods are a big no.

“Organic foods are known to carry 50 per cent more nutrients, minerals and vitamins when compared to food produced through intensive farming. The situation is worse when it comes to fast food,” she says.

“Fast food and processed foods should be avoided especially when students are preparing for their exams,” Jajodia adds.

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