You can not deny the great feeling of independence you get from living away from home for the first time. For a lot of students (especially ‘freshers’) this often means shopping and cooking for yourself for the first time. Furthermore, healthy eating is usually the last thing on your mind with Pot Noodles, beans on toast and the usual take-away chains all providing unhealthy but cheap options. Add excess alcohol and lack of sleep to this equation and you have a health recipe for disaster!
Here are my top tips to give you the best chance of avoiding fresher’s flu, over hangovers and remembering your Monday morning lecture notes. No promises, but my student health advice below might even get you back home at Christmas in one piece!
1. Omega 3 Fatty Acids for Brain Power
Essential omega-3 fatty acids – found predominately in oily fish (veggies can get their walnut oil and flaxseeds / linseeds) – are high in DHA (low levels of which have been linked to poor memory). In addition, fish are also a good source of iodine – known to improve mental clarity. Since fresh fish can often be expensive, students might find it cheaper to get their essential fats in supplement form. The odd tin of tuna here and there does not count unfortunately!
2. Pumpkin Seeds
A helpful of these a day should give you your recommended daily amount of zinc – vital for enhancing memory and thinking skills. Since zinc’s good for the immune system too, it could even help keep fresher’s flu at bay.
Not only does broccoli taste great in soups, it also provides a serious vitamin punch; particularly Vitamin K – known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower. The good news is that it is relatively cheap on the fresh veggie scale.
A lot of people do not realize that the main symptoms of being hungover – being tired, headaches, dry mouth are all down to being dehydrated. Since it’s free, there’s no excuse to not drink water regularly. If you can afford it, freshly squeezed fruit juice can help replace lost vitamins .
‘Acetaldehyde’- the toxic chemical produced when alcohol breaks down alcohol in the liver – is another cause of hangovers. Probiotics (ie the good bacteria found in natural yoghurt) can help to neutralize acetaldehyde. But if yoghurts are too much of a luxury, sometimes the best way to get your probiotics fix in capsule form where it’s far more concentrated.
6. Do your shopping right.
High in nutrition, but low in price. Here are my top student shopping basket fillers:
- Bananas are a great source of fiber, potassium and manganese. Taste almost like ice cream after they’ve been in the freezer for a while … almost!
- Beans. Excellent for protein and fiber. Nothing quite beats baked beans on toast, but you can be inventive and try other beans too.
- Canned tomatoes are the foundation of countless recipes across the world; without the humble tomato, most sauces, soups and stews would not exist.
- Carrots. Not just a side at Wetherspoon’s as part of your Sunday pub lunch, carrots are super cheap and extremely versatile: Eat them raw, roasted, braised, in soups, and mixed with other foods.
- Lentils. Excellent source of fiber, protein, iron and B vitamins. This true superfood is very cheap. Learn to master a good lentil soup recipe and you’ll keep your housemates happy.
- Porridge Oats. Forget about all of those processed breakfast cereals with expensive packaging. They’re nutritionally inferior to this slow-release carb favorite.
- Sweet potatoes (yams). A lot tastier than the regular potato (in my opinion) and with greater nutritional value too: lots of fiber and more Vitamin A.
Featured Image: eFaqt