What To Eat During Exams? Brain Food for Studying

March is here and so are the exams world over. Here is a diet for the students who will be appearing for the examinations especially boards exams. I hope this article would help the students for their dietary management and while planning for their self study time tables. All the parents and students ask me the same question- What to eat during exams? What’s brain food for studying?

I just recalled my 17 years old patient Esha who was a brilliant student and a topper in the class. Once during her exams in an examination hall, she suddenly fell down and fainted for a while. The teachers called the parents immediately and she was taken to her doctor for the investigations.

All were shocked reading her investigation reports that were saying:  the fainting attack she had was known as ‘neurocardiogenic syncope’. Following are the reasons for this neurocardiogenic syncope. Let’s know what causes these fainting attacks especially in students first.

Causes of Neurocardiogenic Syncope

1. Iron deficiency: 

The main function of the iron present in our blood is to supply enough amount of oxygen to all the cells of our body through blood circulation including brain cells. In case of low blood hemoglobin levels, (hem = iron, globulin= protein) less amount of oxygen is carried to the cells and in this condition brain cells starve for the oxygen and faint at times.

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2. Electrolyte imbalance: 

The perfect balance of minerals like sodium, chlorides, potassium etc is very important for the fluid balance inside and outside the cells. If this balance is disturbed it affects the blood pressure of the student and sometimes students get fainted out of low blood pressure.

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3. Dehydration: 

When one drinks less water, the cells of the body suffer from cellular dehydration and that condition too may lead to fainting attacks.

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4. Hypoglycemia:

The improper food intake at big intervals lowers blood sugar levels as when you utilize your brain more during study hours, the brain cell gets their food from the blood sugar and blood sugar levels remain constantly down. If proper amount of glucose is not provided to the cells at proper intervals, due to low blood sugar levels (known as hypoglycemia) one may get fainted.

5. Insufficient sleep:

Brain cells are exhausted due to over use and they need proper rest during night. You can say, at least 6-7 hours of deep sleep at a stretch to get them rejuvenated again. tired cells tend to refuse getting information supply and one might get fainted.

6. Stress:

Due to constant thinking and storing data in the brain, due to performance anxiety, expectations of the surrounding people and competitive environment one do get stressed. In this stressful condition, one might get fainted as well.

So, we learnt about the causes of neurocardiogenic syncope (commonly known as fainting attacks), now let’s learn how can one keep himself away from that condition and get perfectly nourished during exam days.

What To Eat During Exams? Brain Food for Studying

1. Consume small frequent meals at regular intervals: 

Keep munching with some fruits, roasted snacks, nuts at every 2-3 hours to maintain the supply of energy level to the brain cells.

2. Have heavy breakfast:

The start of the day should be with full energy booster foods. The perfect breakfast contains one serving of protein (like milk/egg/paneer preparations), one serving of complex carbohydrate (like cornflakes/paratha/thepla/poha/ upma), one fruit (any) and a fistful of dry fruits to fulfill all the needs of body and brains.

3. Consume foods reach in omega 3 fatty acids:

Omega 3 fatty acids are not only known for strengthening heart muscles but that helps reducing depression, fatigue and anxiety as well. The sad news is that omega 3 fatty acids are not produced in our body and we have to take them as supplements from food items. Fatty fish, nuts like almonds and walnuts, seeds like flax seeds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds are considered to be a good source of omega 3 fatty acids. They should be consumed on daily basis.

4. Drink ample amount of water:

When body is dehydrated, person feel irritated and may suffer the lack of concentration too. While studying for long hours, students may forget drinking water so frequently. Students must drink fluids in any form like lime water/ fruit juices/ milk shakes and pure simple water every few hours. They must keep on drinking water sip by sip every few minutes to increase the span of concentration.

5. Electrolyte balance:

Mostly final exams are held during summers in our country. We do lose minerals in a big amount through sweat. We must regain the lost minerals otherwise the blood pressure drops down and that condition may result into fainting attacks. To prevent this, one must keep on consuming fluids containing ample amount of minerals like sodium, potassium and chlorides. To get these minerals, students can add a little more salt into their food preparations like dals, salads, juices and lemon water. Students can drink ORS (oral rehydration solution) during afternoon hours.

6. Foods rich in iron to be consumed more:

Foods rich in iron like dates, figs, black currants, apples, pomegranates, green leafy vegetables, pulses, liver and shell fish if non vegetarian to be consumed on daily bases to maintain blood hemoglobin levels. Blood with good hemoglobin levels helps pumping brain cells with energy rich oxygen.

7. Enough sleep:

6-7 hours’ sleep at a stretch is must for complete rejuvenation of brain cells as we discussed above. One must design his study schedule accordingly and try to drink a cup of warm milk before bed to get sound sleep.

8. Stress free studies:

Little pranayama and meditation in morning hours can really help students to stay calm during study hours and during exams.


Students should always remember that “You will not be judged by the marks you obtain in your exams during student life rather you will be assessed by the right decisions taken at right time. You will only be able to take right decisions at right time if you are physically and mentally healthy and happy. You will be physically and mentally healthy and happy just by eating nutritious food and following a well-balanced life style.


So. Get Set for the final exams. ALL THE BEST TO ALL STUDENTS.


Nirja Parekh

Dietitian by profession.

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