Do this, Be Smarter

Hey everyone!

I'm a Pantry Fuel AmBADASSador and a huge advocate of Pantry Fuel for many reasons. I believe that food is fuel and I value the importance of eating balanced and nutritious meals to stay energized throughout my week. I also love supporting a small business that has strong core values, uses PNW sourced ingredients and builds the community around them. 

Switching gears, I recently wrote a paper for one of my graduate nurse anesthesia classes about the importance of healthy food and how it affects our brains, daily performance and even academics! I would love to share a little about what I have learned since you all seem to find value in maintaining healthy habits!

The impact of diet on academic achievement seems to be a hot topic and growing area of research. Current evidence shows that your diet affects mental functions such as recollection, thinking, contemplation and psychomotor coordination (Bellisle, 2004). One recent systematic review I found included seven studies, five of which reported small to moderately significant positive associations between diet and academic achievement (Burrows, 2017). Another recent study explains that various dietary components, including micronutrients such as folate, iron, and omega 3, have essential roles in brain development and functioning (Gomez, 2008). Food is fuel and our brain requires significant and regular amounts of energy to function at an optimal level. The type of food we intake between nutrient rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and nutrient poor foods, such as junk foods will dictate how efficiently we are capable of functioning based on the amount essential micronutrients in our tank. Does this make you think twice about what you eat!?

My dad always says, “Live food, live body.” That always haunts me when I’m occasionally making poor dietary choices like pizza and ice cream...but hey everything in moderation! On that note, another recent study advises that  >50% of fast food meals exceed recommendations for sodium, <25% of these meals met guidelines for trans fats, less than 1/3 of fast food meals provided adequate calcium and iron, and <20% provided adequate vitamin A (O’Donnel, 2008). YIKES! 

Skipping breakfast is another dietary habit that may have detrimental effects. Several studies emphasize the importance of eating breakfast for cognition and learning due to the gradual release of energy for brain function and intakes of micronutrients, particularly iron, iodine, and vitamin A (Mahoney, 2005, Benton, 2010). I know it’s hard to get a balanced breakfast in with our ever crazy busy lives but hopefully I'm helping convince you that it is so essential to function at our best!

One last study I found, focused on whether or not diet had an effect in two hundred twenty two female undergraduate students who had an overall initial diet quality score that was considered poor (Khan, 2017). When diet quality scores were compared with combined GPA scores using linear regression analysis, a positive association with a p < 0.05 (correlates with statistical significance) was found, indicating that as diet quality improved so did the student’s combined GPA and vice versa (Khan, 2017). If you're in school and want to excel academically, you must fuel your body with healthy food!

Eating healthy actually makes a difference in so many ways! After all, don't take my word for it, trust the data.

I hope you found some of this information informative and you continuing enjoying your scrumptious Pantry Fuel meals! I've found that fueling my body with healthy food improves not only my health but my well-being and ability to give my best to all areas of life.  

Adrianna Silva, BSN, RN, CCRN, SRNA
Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice Candidate
Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center / Gonzaga University
American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Student Representative 
Bellisle F. Effects of diet on behavior and cognition in children. Br J Nutr 2004;92:227-232.
Benton D. The influence of dietary status on the cognitive performance of children. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010;54:457–470.
Burrows, T.; Goldman, S.; Pursey, K.; Lim, R. Is there an association between dietary intake and academic achievement: A systematic review. J. Hum. Nutr. Diet 2017, 30, 117–140. [CrossRef]
Gómez-Pinilla, F. Brain foods: The effects of nutrients on brain function. Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 2008, 9, 568–578.[CrossRef] [PubMed]
Khan, H. (2017). Effect of diet quality on academic achievement among female college students. Progress in Nutrition, 19(3), 272–279. https://doi.org/10.23751/pn.v19i3.5108
Mahoney CR, Taylor HA, Kanarek RB, et al. Effect of breakfast composition on cognitive processes in elementary school children. Physiol Behav. 2005;85:635–645.
O’Donnell SI, Hoerr SL, Mendoza JA, et al. Nutrient quality of fast food kids meals. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;88:1388–1395.

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