As the month of December approaches, “Exam ka bhoot” starts making your child’s life-a nightmare! Students start feeling tired, stressful just thinking of exams. They have a lot of burden on their minds. They just think about how to enhance and accelerate their child’s learning skills and I.Q. As the exam fever hovers around, the amount of stress each child undergoes can vary from mild to severe. Due to fear of failure in exams, suicidal cases have been reported. Many children have reported irregular disturbed sleep, dietary patterns, mood swings, irritability and body aches. Nutritional support acts as the main supporting pillar to fight against exam stress. Parents can help their children in improving overall examination performances, simply by adapting certain dietary measures like fortification of their daily diet with micronutrient-rich beverages.
Stress causes changes in the cellular mechanisms through oxidation at the cellular level. It was reported in a study that during the stress condition, oxidative damage to DNA and sensitivity to lipid oxidation were significantly increased when compared with the same variants in “non-stress” conditions. A significant decrease in plasma antioxidant activity was observed in students who were under stress. These results suggest that during examinations students are under increased oxidative stress. Every child has to face the condition of stress due to the pressure of examinations during his/her school days. This is because examinations serve as screening tools to assess the performance of a child.
The effect of stress may be either physiological, psychological or both. Moreover, students binge on unhealthy food stuff to satisfy their satiety during exams, which further leads to stress. So, one of the culprits of the stress is unhealthy eating. It has been pointed out that breakfast eaters score well and have no behavioral problems as compared to breakfast skippers. Sometimes students become very fussy about eating .They just want junk foods to suppress their hunger. This unhealthy eating habit is also supported by parents, as they think at least their ward is eating something.
“Low nutrient intakes, environmental toxins, day-today stress, overwork stimulants like alcohol, tobacco and junk foods affect our mental functions. Some people, who normally handle a stressful situation with ease, begin to over react to a similar situation at times. Such overreaction becomes a part of a vicious cycle. You may feel that such a reaction is a part of your personality whereas actually it may be due to lack of nutrients that throws you into a stress response that further damages the health of your brain” says, Dr. Jitendra Nagpal, Consultant Psychiatrist, Vimhans, and New Delhi. “The brain is the largest consumer of the energy that our body produces. To process information efficiently, to access important data, to store necessary information, the brain needs oxygen, glucose and other nutrients. Lack of these leads to short-term memory loss and mental fatigue. Sometimes it can have serious repercussions in the form of mental diseases that involve wide scale, permanent memory loss. For instance, Alzheimer’s disease, senile dementia, etc.” says Dr. Bhavna Barmi, Clinical Psychiatrist, Escorts Heart Institute, New Delhi. So, to relieve stress and its consequences, an effective strategy should be prepared, which includes stress reduction that enhances the potential of the brain and overcoming the nutritional pitfalls.
At the point of examination, students need more positive reinforcement and much of parental support. Holistic perspective should be approached to understand stress. Exam stress i.e.” Exam Ka Bhoot” can’t be avoided but an environment can be created to reduce the pressure and simultaneously nutrition can be programmed to cope with stress. Immune system can be affected, if stress is not diffused. Nutritional support acts as the main supporting pillar to fight against exam stress. Parents can help their children in improving overall examination performances, simply by adapting certain dietary measures like fortification of their daily diet with micronutrient rich beverages. Foods rich in carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals should be included in the diet. Five to six small feedings should be encouraged among students as it helps to keep blood sugar and energy levels steady. Ideally, whole cereals, pulses, nuts, milk & milk products, fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables and fortified beverages should be included in a day’s diet. A study conducted by the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad, suggested that, “The supplementation with a beverage that is fortified with a range of micronutrients could significantly improve mean incremental scores of children on the attention concentration test”. According to Dr. Shahnaz Wazir, Deputy Director with NIN, Hyderabad, “vital purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact micronutrient supplementation have on cognitive functions in school going children and thereby give baseline assessment showing overall effect of such supplementations on mental functions.” So, the study concluded that adequate supplementation with micronutrients in the form of fortified beverage supplementation at the right time can influence important parameters of learning and overall academic performance. Hence, making kids Sharper.
Appropriate fortified beverages consumption rich in fiber and micro-nutrients like vitamins and minerals helps in giving children that extra edge while preparing for their exams as they help not only to combat stress but also increases the memory. But it is important to remember that ‘exam ka bhoot’ exists in fears only. It is best tackled intelligently by adapting a diligent planned study routine, adequate rest, play, together with good nutrition” Says Mrs. Ritika Samaddar, Dietician, Max Multi-specialty Hospital, and New Delhi. So, the overview is that “Exam Ka Bhoot” can be managed in the better way through planning, keeping one self physically and mentally fit and supportive healthy & nutritious eating accompanied with fortified beverage supplementation.
Intake of carbohydrates should be around 350 – 450 g. carbohydrates are the principle source of energy in the body. Examples are whole cereal & grains, their products. Nutritious Health Drinks should be included in the diet Protein intake should be 50-70 g. Vegetarians can eat pulses, legumes and nuts. Intake of fat should be limited to 40 gm of visible fats. Students must avoid high-fat and highly salted fried foods. These causes drowsiness affecting learning and retention. Fats are also deficient in several important nutrients. Avoid fried and smoked meats. Cut down high calorie intake by limiting sugar intake to 3-5 tbsp per day. It is important to maintain vital micronutrients like vitamins and minerals by increasing consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables and juices. Eat foods rich in minerals like Zinc, Iron, and Selenium which include green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, fish etc. Vitamins like B and C are also called anti stress vitamins, sources are milk and milk products, fruits and juices etc.