Power eating: how food can help, or harm, brain power

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Eating and studying go hand in hand. Eating fuels studying, and studying can induce eating. Food can either power the brain and activate the best parts of it for memorization and thinking, or it can weigh it down and lag its effects. The right foods can be used as a tool to maximize concentration and increase mental capacity.

I don’t like studying, but eating helps a lot because I like eating.”

— 9th grader Katherine Bragg

Food doesn’t just affect body health, but it affects brain power and emotions as well. According to Dr. Eva Selhub, an internationally recognized doctor, scientist, and author describes that wholesome foods, like vegetables and fruits, charge the brain with what it needs to reach its full potential. Foods that are high in antioxidants, like most berries, dark chocolate, and spinach, increase memory skills and decrease stress. Selhub says that processed foods, like refined sugar and wheat, make the brain foggy, and its functions aren’t as sharp.

Some students notice that eating helps them study more efficiently or happily: 9th grader Katherine Bragg said, “I don’t like studying, but eating helps a lot because I like eating.” A lot of times while working, students don’t eat because of hunger, and instead because of a need for distraction.

“I don’t really think about what I’m eating as I’m studying,” sophomore Jonas Bray said. Mindless eating can happen frequently. Due to this, junk food is an easy go-to because of its taste and temptation.

During stressful times, when the body lacks sleep or the brain has been working a long time, the body creates high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. This triggers a craving for any food that causes a short burst of pleasure, such as power or entertainment. According to Dr. Jeanne Segal, an expert in emotional eating, stress eating often comes on suddenly. It calls a specific craving of comfort food, and doesn’t leave satisfaction afterwards. Segal said that using food as a reward occasionally isn’t a bad thing, but when it becomes a habit and impulse, it’s a dangerous cycle.

Food is much more than just eaten. It’s digested, absorbed, and spread throughout the body. Its nutrients are retracted, whether good or bad. It fuels brain power and function, but it also majorly affects overall health. There are many nutrients available to support a healthy brain and a strong academic life.

This story was originally published in the October issue of The Rubicon.