Many people have commonly suspected that it is almost impossible to have good nutritional health at college. All you can eat fast food dining facilities, late night food binges, caffeine cravings, its no wonder why some skeptics claim the theories of the Freshman 15 and the Sophomore 20.
However, gaining weight is not the only thing that can come as a result of poor eating choices. Studies have shown that diet and nutritional health can greatly impact your energy levels, focus and concentration and overall cognitive abilities. According to the National Food Service Management Institute at the University of Mississippi, there are 3 major factors linked to cognitive development: nutrition, genes, and environment.
The hard-nosed truth about fast food diets, diets consisting of high saturated fats and sweetener having such a negative impact on our overall health now and in the future is astounding. Yet, people continue to eat these foods.
Unfortunately, for the college student, these foods are made for convenience and seem to be the quick stop answer for someone on their way to class or caring for a late night study hunger pang. The reality is that obesity and liver damage is a result. A study done by the St. Louis University School of Medicine uncovered that sedentary mice, fed nothing but foods with high fat content and high fructose corn syrup (most commonly used sweetener) experienced increased obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This condition can lead to cirrhosis and death.
Students not receiving enough food in their daily routine can experience decreased activity in learning, social interaction, curiosity and overall cognitive functioning. Additionally, students who don’t receive enough iron in their diet can risk slower nerve impulses as iron plays a necessary role in the brain tissue. (University of Mississippi) Diets lacking protein, iron, copper, zinc, selenium, vitamins A, C, E, B6 and folic acid can result in lowered immune systems. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)
The good news is that it is completely possible to maintain a healthy diet while keeping up with heavy study demands. Its a matter of choice and discipline. The positive effects on school performance can come when you consider these steps for good nutrition:
1. Do not skip meals, especially breakfast. Make sure the each meal is not high in sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and saturated fats.
2. Incorporate fruits, vegetables and a complete stack of daily vitamins for good brain and energy function. Don’t forget the fiber.
3. Control portions. Overeating can cause exhaustion and indigestion. You’ll be more likely to crawl into bed than go to the next class if for lunch you stuffed yourself to the brim.
4. Late night snacks are fine as long as they are healthy. An apple with whole-grain toast fairs a lot better on the digestive system than a bag of potato chips and a Hot Pocket in the middle of the night.
5. Conserve on the caffeine and alcohol intake. Caffeine overuse induces a wide variety of effects on the body such as dependency, nervousness, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, and headaches to name a few. (J Toxicol Clin Toxicol, 1988) Alcohol is high in sugar.
6. If you can’t get the suggested eight hours of sleep, get at least five and a half hours per night, core sleep. (Truestar Health, Inc.) College students have been reportedly able to function well in class on just core sleep alone.
These are just a few tips in ensuring good health on campus. More is at stake than one might know when considering nutrition. Its a choice!
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