Food for Academic Brain Power

By R. “Ryan” Patel DO FAPA, OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

brain food pingminghealth

End of a semester is a demanding time for most students.

Most OSU students would agree that academics are generally a demanding exercise for your brain. So it makes sense to fuel your body in a way that maximizes your success.

While many regard the Mediterranean diet as a staple for delaying dementia, the following foods have been shown in studies to be beneficial for various elements of brain functioning (1):
• Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon, walnuts, flax seeds, avocados, etc. (2 3, 4)
• Green vegetables.(5,6, 7, 8)
• Citrus fruits (9)
• A good balance of healthy proteins and carbohydrates to provide calcium, zinc, selenium (10, 11, 12)
• Nuts. (5, 6)
• B vitamin supplements (15)
Are these part of your eating plan?Like many college students, do you find yourself reaching for caffeine, sugar, soda or junky refined foods, breads, pasta, etc.? You may benefit from OSU’s nutrition coaching service offered to students.
How much is bad nutrition making you feel bad and holding you back?
Could improving your nutrition help you feel good and perform well academically?


Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

1. Source: Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Fernando Gómez-Pinilla Nature Reviews Neuroscience 9, 568-578 (July 2008) doi:10.1038/nrn2421
2. van Gelder, B. M., Tijhuis, M., Kalmijn, S. & Kromhout, D. Fish consumption, n‑3 fatty acids, and subsequent 5‑y cognitive decline in elderly men: the Zutphen Elderly Study. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 85, 1142–1147 (2007).
3. Hashimoto, M. et al. Chronic administration of docosahexaenoic acid ameliorates the impairment of
spatial cognition learning ability in amyloid β-infused rats. J. Nutr. 135, 549–555 (2005).
4. Calon, F. et al. Docosahexaenoic acid protects from dendritic pathology in an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model. Neuron 43, 633–645 (2004).
5. Wu, A., Ying, Z. & Gomez-Pinilla, F. The interplay between oxidative stress and brain-derived neurotrophic factor modulates the outcome of a saturated fat diet on synaptic plasticity and cognition. Eur. J. Neurosci. 19, 1699–1707 (2004).
6. Perkins, A. J. et al. Association of antioxidants with memory in a multiethnic elderly sample using the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Am.J. Epidemiol. 150, 37–44 (1999).
7. Holmes, G. L. et al. Seizure-induced memory impairment is reduced by choline supplementation before or after status epilepticus. Epilepsy Res. 48, 3–13 (2002).
8. McCann, J. C., Hudes, M. & Ames, B. N. An overview of evidence for a causal relationship between dietary availability of choline during development and cognitive function in offspring. Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev. 30, 696–712 (2006).
9. Wengreen, H. J. et al. Antioxidant intake and cognitive function of elderly men and women: the Cache County Study. J. Nutr. Health Aging 11, 230–237 (2007).
10. Schram, M. T. et al. Serum calcium and cognitive function in old age. J. Am. Geriatr. Soc. 55,
1786–1792 (2007).
11. Ortega, R. M. et al. Dietary intake and cognitive function in a group of elderly people. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 66, 803–809 (1997).
12. Gao, S. et al. Selenium level and cognitive function in rural elderly Chinese. Am. J. Epidemiol. 165, 955–965 (2007).
13. Gomez-Pinilla, F. The influences of diet and exercise on mental health through hormesis. Ageing Res. Rev. 7, 49–62 (2008).