5 foods to boost your concentration

Staring at a textbook wondering how you’ll get through your exams? These five foods could help.

Exams can be a huge drain on the brain, so you need to keep it well fed. Enter Rebecca Gawthorne.

She’s a UOW grad and accredited practising dietitian and nutritionist posting regular nutrition advice and inspiration to her 150,000 Instagram followers on @Nourish_NaturallyWe asked Rebecca to spill the details of her top five healthy foods to keep your brain in top-top shape and when to best reach for them.  

1. You have a big day ahead? Have a bowl of oats for breakfast 

“Packed full of low GI, long lasting energy, fibre and minerals, oats are one of your best options for boosting and maintaining concentration levels. Eating a bowl of porridge for breakfast topped with some fresh fruit like banana or berries is the perfect pre-exam meal. Oats have a low glycaemic index, meaning they stabilise your blood sugar levels, which allows you to think clearly and effectively during long exams.”

Oats and a spoon on the table


2. You a need a hit of happy energy? Reach for a banana. 

“Your brain runs purely off glucose (a type of sugar) and bananas are packed full it. Eating a banana will give your brain the healthy, natural, low GI sugar that it needs during exam time. Plus bananas also make you happy, literally! Bananas contain high levels of tryptophan, an amino acid, which is converted into serotonin in your body. Serotonin is the feel-good, brain neurotransmitter, which makes you feel happy! So if exams make you stressed or sad, eat a banana and smile!”

A bunch of bananas


3. You feel your concentration waning? Get some salmon on your plate.

“Packed full of healthy types of omega 3s fatty acids DHA and EPA, salmon is important for healthy brain function. It’s also packed full of protein and minerals, which aid concentration too.”

A salmon and salad dish on a plate.


4. Need to fuel your brain before an exam? Go nuts for nuts.

“Nuts are little powerhouses bursting with nutrients important during exam periods. In particular, nuts are high in iron, a mineral needed for transporting oxygen around your brain and body.”

A jar of almonds spilling onto the table.


5. Feel like a coffee? Drink as glass of water instead.

“While technically not a food, this is probably the most important on the list. Dehydration can cause you to feel tired, lethargic and irritable, making it difficult to concentrate for long periods of time. Water is extremely important during busy, stressful exams and should be your main (or only) fluid. This means choosing water instead of energy drinks, coffee and soft drinks.”

A hand holding up a glass of water.


Interested in a career in nutrition? Check out Rebecca’s blog where she answers some FAQs about becoming a dietitian.

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