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Powering up your teen’s brain: the ultimate study survival guide

Powering up your teen’s brain: the ultimate study survival guide

Let’s dive into the amazing world of your teenager’s brain and how you can help to supercharge it for effective studying. We’ll be tackling the secret agents of concentration: blood sugar management, hydration, stress-busting techniques, and brain-boosting nutrients. Get ready for some seriously interesting facts and practical tips to help your teen become a study superhero!

 

  1. The glucose game: Fueling brain power

 

Did you know that your teen’s brain is a total energy hog? It uses up to 120g of glucose per day, demanding a steady supply of fuel to work its magic. But hold on, that doesn’t mean loading up on sugar! High-sugar diets may give quick bursts of energy, but the brain cells demand a slow and steady supply. Instead, opt for balanced meals with whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, veggies, and healthy fats to keep the brain buzzing.

 

  1. Roller coaster rides? No thanks! The importance of blood sugar management

 

Picture this: your teen devours a gigantic meal and suddenly feels like they’re stuck in a food coma. Large meals can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar, causing fatigue and hindering focus. Instead, try to keep things steady. Encourage your teen to munch on smaller, balanced meals throughout the day where balance is all about the mix: Emphasise whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. These foods provide essential nutrients, fibre, and slow-release carbohydrates, which contribute to sustained energy levels and enhanced concentration.

 

  1. Quenching the brain’s thirst

 

Dehydration is the archenemy of concentration, memory, and mental performance. Keep hydration levels up by encouraging them to drink water throughout the day, small and consistent sips are usually better than gulping it all down in one go. Pro tip: Have them keep a water bottle on their desk as a hydration buddy Fruits and veggies are also a great source of water and because they are also packed with micronutrients, give the immune system what it needs to keep going (which is incredibly important as we head towards flu season!)

 

  1. Stress and study, friend or foe?

 

It’s normal for teens to experience some stress, but too much (especially without supportive relationships) can be detrimental to brain development. Let’s keep it cool and collected, shall we? Open up those lines of communication, create a supportive environment, and encourage stress-busting activities like exercise, mindfulness, and hobbies. And remember, a good night’s sleep is the ultimate secret weapon for a calm and focused mind.

 

  1. Brain boosting nutrients unleashed

Optimal brain health needs a squad of brain boosting nutrients. Together with a balance of wholegrain and high fibre starches, lean proteins, healthy fats and plenty of fruits and vegetables, these additional nutrients and ingredients may give your teen the cutting edge:

 

– Palatinose™: This low-glycemic carbohydrate, derived from beet sugar, provides a sustained release of energy. It can help prevent the sharp spikes and dips in blood sugar levels, providing a steady supply of glucose to the brain for improved concentration.

 

– L-Theanine: This amino acid, often found in green tea and available as a supplement like Suntheanine™, promotes relaxation without drowsiness. It can help create an ideal setting for learning by amplifying the generation of alpha brain waves, which are associated with a relaxed yet alert state.

 

– B-vitamins: Having all this energy means nothing if you can’t access it! B-vitamins act as cofactors to help the body access energy derived from food making it accessible to be used for the important things in life, like studying!

 

– Antioxidant nutrients: Certain antioxidants, such as acetyl-L-carnitine and vitamins A, C, D, and E, can support brain health by helping to reduce osmotic stress (which is really important for long term brain protection). 

 

With all these factors in mind, let’s look at some practical ways that you can balance blood sugar levels, pack in the nutrients and stay hydrated:

 

Snack attack! Here are some delicious and nutritious snack ideas:

 

  • Greek yoghurt with mixed berries. Greek yoghurt is packed with protein and a mix of fresh berries like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries give a burst of antioxidants and natural sweetness.

 

  • Whole grain crackers with nut butter. Crunch and spread your way to concentration! Grab some whole grain crackers and slather on almond butter, peanut butter, or cashew butter. The combo of complex carbs and healthy fats will keep those brain cells firing.

 

  • Veggie sticks with hummus or guacamole. Get ready for a veggie party! Slice up colourful carrots, bell peppers, and cucumber, and dunk them into a bowl of hummus. This crunchy, fibre-filled snack is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.

 

  • Trail mix. Made by combining unsalted nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and dark chocolate chips. This power-packed mix will give your teen sustained energy and a boost of antioxidants.

 

  • Smoothies: Our favourite is made by blending a banana, some berries, baby spinach, nut butter, milk (cow’s or plant based) and Bioteen whey protein, giving you the perfect blend of all the good stuff).  

 

Struggling to stay hydrated, try these tips:

 

Infused water: Grab a pitcher of water and add slices of zesty citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, or limes. Toss in some berries or a few sprigs of fresh herbs like mint or basil. Let it infuse for a refreshing twist that’ll make hydration feel like a party in your mouth.

 

Fruit popsicles: Who said hydration can’t be a cool treat? Puree your favourite fruits like watermelon, strawberries, or mangoes, mix in some water, and pour the fruity goodness into popsicle moulds. Pop them in the freezer, and soon you’ll have tasty, hydrating popsicles to beat the heat and quench that brain’s thirst.

 

Herbal teas: Time to cosy up with a cup of brain-boosting tea! Explore a world of herbal teas like soothing chamomile, refreshing peppermint, or vibrant hibiscus. Sip them hot or pour them over ice for a delicious, caffeine-free way to stay hydrated. 

 

The bottom line is that with the power of balanced nutrition, hydration, stress management, and brain-boosting nutrients, your teen will be unstoppable. So, parents, arm yourselves with nutritious snacks, hydration hacks, and stress-busting strategies to support your teen’s concentration and overall brain health.

 

Remember, studying can be fun and rewarding when their brains are nourished and their bodies hydrated. By providing them with the right fuel, you’ll help them unlock their full potential and set them on the path to academic success.

 

Now go forth and conquer those textbooks with a healthy dose of playfulness and brain-boosting goodness! Study superheroes, assemble!

 

References

Kuzawa CW et al. Metabolic costs and evolutionary implications of human brain development. PNAS September 9, 2014 111 (36) 13010-13015

Magistretti PJ, Allaman I. A cellular perspective on brain energy metabolism and functional imaging. Neuron. 2015 May 20;86(4):883-901.

Mergenthaler P et al. Sugar for the brain: the role of glucose in physiological and pathological brain function. Trends Neurosci. 2013 Oct; 36(10): 587–597.

Young LM. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of B Vitamin Supplementation on Depressive Symptoms, Anxiety, and Stress: Effects on Healthy and ‘At-Risk’ Individuals. Nutrients. 2019 Sep; 11(9): 2232.

Nagai Y et al. Effect of Palatinose administration on alpha-1 brain waves in human volunteers. Food Sci. Technol. Res., 9 (4), 357–360, 2003.

Kobayashi, K, Nagato, Y, Aoi, N, Juneja, L, Kim, M, Yamamoto, T. Effects of L-theanine on the release of α-brain waves in human volunteers. Nippon Nogei Kagakukaishi 1998, 72, 153– 157

Juneja, R.; Djong-Chi, C.; Tsutomu, O.; Yukiko, N.; Hidehiko,Y. L-theanine—A unique amino acid of green tea and its relaxation effect in humans. Trends Food Sci. Technol. 1999, 10, 199–204

Song C.H, Jung J.H, Oh J.S, Kim K.S. Effects of Theanine on the Release of Brain Alpha Wave in Adult Males. Korean Journal of Nutrition 2003 Nov;36(9):918-923.

The Teen Brain: 7 Things to Know [Internet]. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). 2020 [cited 1 September 2022]. Available from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-teen-brain-7-things-to-know

Konrad K, Firk C, Uhlhaas P. Brain Development During Adolescence. Deutsches Ärzteblatt international. 2013.110(25): 425–431.

Center on the Developing Child (2007). The Science of Early Childhood Development (InBrief). Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu

Peyser T, Balo A, Buckingham B, Hirsch I, Garcia A. Glycemic Variability Percentage: A Novel Method for Assessing Glycemic Variability from Continuous Glucose Monitor Data. Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics. 2018;20(1):6-16.

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