Healthy Habits to Stay Sharp

FACT: Studies show that eating a balanced breakfast the day of a big test can actually help you score better. But “balanced breakfast” does not mean sugary cereal or a chocolate muffin. The kind of fuel you need for maximum brainpower involves a mix of protein, carbs and fruit.

TIP: Don’t have time to whip up a nice plate of eggs and turkey sausage in the morning? Ask your parent to buy some microwavable breakfast burritos, or, if you’re in the habit of grabbing fast food in the morning, order an egg sandwich and orange juice.

Okay so you woke up late and missed breakfast. Now what?

FACT: Just about everything that falls out of a vending machine is not good brain food.

TIP: However, most vending machines carry nuts that are packed with brain-friendly protein. They may be a bit salty to make a nutritionist proud, but they will give you a lot more fuel than cheese-covered chips. For the future, keep a stash of energy bars in your locker.

Pop quiz: Which will help you more with your test, an apple, orange or banana?

FACT: Bananas are enjoying their time in the spotlight as an ultimate brain food. Potassium supports brain function, and bananas are packed with potassium.

TIP: If you need an afternoon pick-me-up, opt for a banana rather than soda (which will only make you crash later).

Brain booster #1: Share your smarts; get smarter.

FACT: It’s a fact—teaching makes you smarter. Even if you already “get” a tough concept, explaining it to someone else pushes your brain even farther and helps you understand the concept even better than before.

TIP: If this week’s geometry lesson is a breeze for you, offer to help a classmate after school.

Brain booster #2: Break out of your rut.

FACT: By exercising your left brain and your right brain, you’ll not only be smarter, you’ll be a more well-rounded person.

TIP: If you are left brained (you are probably extremely organized and prefer things neat and sequential), try injecting more creativity into your day (take a new route to school or sit with a different group of friends during lunch). And if you lean more towards the right brain (you are likely a visual person who enjoys daydreaming and thinks variety is the spice of life), try following order and procedure once in a while (wear a watch or do a crossword puzzle).

Do your body good.

FACT: Exercising the body increases oxygen to the brain, releases feel-good endorphins and does wonders for stress relief.

TIP: Make it a point to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. And that doesn’t mean buying expensive equipment or joining a gym—even a walk around the block with your pooch can do wonders for your physical and mental well being.

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