School exams are just around the corner! Apart from studying hard and studying smart, eating the right foods can help give you that extra edge as well.
Here, we briefly explain how both TCM and modern science can be used to support brain function, and share with you some food items that can help to boost your brain power.
How eating well helps
How nutrition can help
To support the increased usage of the brain, one can take in food with more specific nutrients that the brain requires, such as lecithin, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, zinc, specific amino acids etc. Examples of foods with these nutrients are shown below.
In addition, one must not downplay the importance of maintaining a healthy and well-balanced diet during exams, as it not only provides the nutrients one needs to function at peak performance, it also reduces the risk of illness during this crucial period.
This means that having instant noodles every meal is not really a good idea.
How TCM can help your brain
While the brain in TCM may be associated with multiple organs, it is most closely related to the “kidneys”. Herbs and food that nourish the “kidneys” (such as sesame seeds and walnuts) are often used to improve brain power. Other examples of food items that help increase brain power include peanuts and eggs.
Black sesame seeds
In TCM, black sesame is used to nourish the kidneys and benefit the brain. They can also lubricate the bowels to prevent constipation.
From a nutritional point of view, black sesame seeds contain lecithin, which is known to support brain function.
Add black sesame seeds to any dish as a topping to add colour, flavour and nutrition
Black sesame seed powder bought from supermarkets can be mixed with water or milk to make a delicious drink.
Like black sesame seeds, walnuts have the TCM properties of nourishing the kidneys, supporting brain function and preventing constipation as well.
Walnuts are well known brain food as they are excellent sources of vitamin E and omega 3 oils, which can support brain health.
Eat alone as a snack
Add to breakfast cereals
Bake in cakes and bread, or use as a topping
Add to salads during lunch or dinner for an extra crunch
Peanuts are rich in protein, vitamin E and zinc, which are important nutrients for the brain. Prolonged intake of peanuts is believed to improve memory. Moreover, in TCM, peanuts are believed to replenish one’s Qi (vital energy).
Peanuts are great as studying snacks, though try not to over-indulge in the roasted or fried variety as they may cause dryness and heatiness.
Peanut powder can be used as a topping in all sorts of dishes such as stir-fried meat or vegetables, fruit and yoghurt, cereal, oats, dessert etc.
Apart from being packed with proteins, eggs also contain DHA and lecithin, all of which can benefit the brain. As a bonus, eggs also have a variety of vitamins such as vitamin A, B1, B2 and E.
Apart from the usual ways of preparing eggs, one can also boil soybean milk and an egg together for a delicious drink in the morning. However, do make sure they are cooked thoroughly.