Here at Open Colleges, our students tend to live busy lives. Whether you’re busy with your day job, parental life or grinding towards a new career. Trying to care for yourself and fit in online study can be hard to find time for.
Unfortunately, poor health can also trigger poor mental performance. Studies have linked diets rich in junk foods lower mental performance and reduced motivation. While there are professionals in Australia whose role it is to help people change their lives through nutrition, it’s important that day-to-day students also stay on top of their physical health in order to perform.
We’ve put together these quick tips to help you live a happier, healthier life by adjusting your nutrition. You don’t need to follow all, or anyof these, but each serve as achievable, scientifically-backed ways to boost your health and subsequently, your mind.
- Consider intermittent fasting
No, don’t worry this is not a fad diet or crash course. Intermittent fasting, or IF, is often confused with other ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ health trends, but is actually a well-researched way to promote physical health.
A simple form of intermittent fasting is best, where you reserve a ‘window’ for eating all of your day’s calories in an 8-hour period. For example, you would only consume water or other calorie-free drinks such as black tea or coffee outside of 12pm-8pm, and in that time you’d eat everything you’d have eaten in a standard day.
Of course, IF isn’t going to help if you follow an unhealthy diet, so the next tip could be combined to really optimise your health.
- Avoid sugars and refined grains
Whether you’re an omnivore, vegetarian, vegan or other dietary choice, there is little to no evidence supporting the consumption of ‘refined’ grains or sugar. Avoiding both in your diet is fairly easy, buy foods that don’t add sugar, switch to alternatives such as Stevia and always choose wholegrains rather than white bread and rice etc. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up at this, but generally sticking to wholefoods will improve your day to day energy and avoid the ‘insulin spiking’ effect caused by sugars.
- Replace processed snacks with fruit and nuts
While processed sugars are bad for you, fruit is overwhelming good for you if eaten in moderation. Fruit is high in antioxidants, provides fast energy and is high in fibre. Nuts, on the other hand, provide a protein-punch that keeps you feeling fuller for longer and curbs cravings for other foods. Don’t eat too many, though, as a handful of nuts contains plenty of fats. While they’re ‘healthy’ fats, it’s important not to eat too many.
- Consume lots of vegetables
Vegetables should be the cornerstone of all healthy diets. They’re packed full of phytonutrients, contain dietary fibre and an increased vegetable intake is associated with reduced risk of almost all major cancers. If you’re not nearing 5 portions of vegetables a day, you can always start experimenting with smoothies and other creative dishes can help you up your intake.
- Cut down on processed meats
Processed meats have been directly linked with increased incidences of cancer. Every 50 grams of processed meat eaten per day increases the risk of bowel cancer by 1.18 times. The cancer council of New South Wales recommends cutting out processed meats all together. To replace the protein intake you’d get from it, consider healthier alternatives such as chicken, fish and tofu.
Ultimately, your health influences your happiness. A healthier student is a more motivated one, so follow these tips to increase your energy and hopefully enjoy a more satisfying life. If you’re interested in learning more about nutrition and helping others with your knowledge, you can study our HLT43015 Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance (Nutrition and Dietetics) course online at your own pace.