Essential Fatty Acids (EPA, DHA, Omega-3, Omega-6)
Excellent sources: Fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds (such as flax, almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts, and hemp seed oil), and avocados.
Why you need them: Our brain matter is largely made out of fat, so it makes sense that our intake of fat is essential in maintaining and building our intelligence. In addition, there has been research proving that fatty acids can help to control levels of stress and aggression, improve mood and levels of creativity, and protect us against fatigue and memory loss. They don’t call these fatty acids essential for nothin’!
An easy fix: Flax seeds are an excellent source of Omega-3s, so sprinkle ground flax seeds on your morning oatmeal and reap the rewards.
Bonus: If you have skin allergies, such as frequent hives, psoriasis, or eczema, then EFAs can act as an anti-inflammatory to calm your skin. And it has been shown to make hair shinier – nothing wrong with that!
Excellent Sources: Green tea, ginger, dark chocolate, berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries), citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits), pomegranates, spinach, apricots, and broccoli.
Why you need them: While antioxidants have long been praised for their cancer fighting abilities, as a student, their immediate immune boosting ability should be what puts them on the top of your grocery list. Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals in your system that wear you down, helping to keep you strong, energized, and most importantly, healthy.
An easy fix: Throw together a fruit smoothie by tossing a banana, ½ a cup of pomegranate juice, and heaps of berries into the blender.
Bonus: Antioxidants have proven beauty benefits as well, both giving skin a healthy glow and decreasing the signs of aging.
Excellent Sources: Yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, kefir, kim chi, as well as many products new to the market containing probiotic cultures, such as whole grain breads, fruit juices, and various milk products – most advertise its addition right on the label.
Why you need them: As unpleasant as the thought may be, there are billions of bacteria thriving in your gastrointestinal tract. What’s key is maintaining a balance between the good bacteria and the bad. Probiotics assist in the process by replenishing the good, which helps you to absorb nutrients, keeps your immune system strong and keeps your GI tract moving – yeah, that kind of movement.
An easy fix: Grab a low-fat yogurt as a quick and filling snack. It also allows you to add additional goodies such as granola and fresh fruit.
Bonus: A cleaner GI tract can help reduce bad breath and body odour, making your already enticing self that much more approachable!
FLARE.com tip: While energy drinks and sugary treats, may provide an instantaneous boost, these naughty bites are simply triggering a release of adrenaline, which will only tire you more once the rush is over. As delectable as it may be, “step away from the chocolate”.
Iron, B12 and Folic Acid
Excellent Sources: Eggs, red meat, aged cheese, milk, spinach, dried fruit, avocados, beets, chickpeas, bean and alfalfa sprouts, and fortified cereals and soy products.
Why you need them: These three elements assist in the formation of red blood cells which aids in maintaining a healthy nervous system. A lack of iron, B12, and folic acid can lead to anaemia, which means that your body losses more blood then it replenishes. As you can imagine, the result of this is excessive tiredness and breathlessness, since red blood cells distribute oxygen, and that doesn’t exactly keep you motivated for those late night study sessions.
An easy fix: Try substituting lettuce for spinach. Although lettuce has benefits such as silicone and beta-carotene, using spinach in its place on sandwiches, or combining spinach with other leafy greens as a salad base, is an easy way to keep your levels strong.
Bonus: Keeping up your iron, B12, and folic acid levels can also contribute to your emotional well-being, stabilizing your mood and decreasing the potential for irritability.
Excellent Sources: Whole grains, wild rice, soy, chickpeas, lentils, beans, eggs, cottage cheese, almonds, and red and white meats.
Why you need it: Protein is an essential element in your body makeup, but unlike with fats and carbohydrates, your body is unable to store it. Therefore, if we don’t frequently replenish its supply, then muscle weakness, frequent infection, and generally poor immunity can result. It is recommended that, for the active lifestyle of a student, a ratio of 1 protein : 1.33 carbohydrate be adhered to in order to maintain proper levels.
An easy fix: Consider light cottage cheese as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. Similarly to yogurt, cottage cheese tastes great with the addition of granola or fresh fruit.
Bonus: Since hair and nails are made up of protein, proper protein intake will keep them healthy and strong.