The Student News Site of Eastfield - Dallas College

The Et Cetera

The Et Cetera

The Et Cetera

Nutrition breeds successful habits

Shamya Nelson/The Et Cetera

Balancing studying, coursework and my job as a working college student has often led me to neglect my personal health without realizing how it was impacting my productivity. 

“Health is everything.” We hear this all the time, usually along with some vague advice like “eat a balanced diet” or “exercise to lose weight”, but rarely are we informed of the actual benefits gained from doing so. From a student perspective, I feel the superior argument for focusing on health is how it can improve one’s productivity.

Like many Americans, my lifetime diet has been one of excess salts, saturated fats, additive sugars and much worse. On top of that, I’m dealing with the all-too-common burdens of testing anxiety, stress from trying to find that school-work-life balance and difficulty focusing on coursework. Paying attention was an especially big problem for me, as I’d often find myself missing crucial details only to be reprimanded when asking for clarification.

A study from Microsoft Canada revealed our attention spans have shrunk from 12 seconds in 2012 to 8.25 seconds today – that’s shorter than a goldfish. Modern stressors and technological innovation have been named as likely culprits – but did you know most Americans aren’t drinking enough water? 

According to the National Institute of Health, over 75% of adults suffer from chronic dehydration. Dehydration slows down brain functioning, and can make students miss details in class that may have been important. 

It’s also believed that most Americans don’t consume enough Omega 3-fatty acids. This nutrient found in fish is believed to be one of the most important nutrients for brain health and memory.

Having been one of the many Americans lacking this nutrient, there’s been a noticeable difference since I’ve added Omega-3 into my diet and started tracking my water intake. My memory has improved and I’ve been experiencing less brain fog overall. 

Omega-3 also has anti-inflammatory properties, similar to nuts and whole grains, which are also often missing from the average American’s diet. It’s no wonder then that chronic inflammation is quite common in the states.

Chronic inflammation contributes to depression and overall anxiety and is further bolstered by easily accessible processed foods that contain additive sugars. 

Sugar and processed foods can cause inflammation through not only the body but also the brain, contributing to mood disorders as well as the impairment of long-term cognitive functions.  

Refined sugar, found in candy and other sweets, also contributes to mood swings. Passing up sugar-filled snacks is a good way to improve general mood, but another great method to improve focus and reduce stress outside dieting is exercise.

Exercise is known to increase blood flow, increasing the flow of nutrients to the brain, and leading to improved cognition. This means your health is cascading in both directions, a healthier body creates a healthier mind and habits.

The problem is multifaceted: poor health leads to poor mental health, which leads to poor overall performance both in school and in the workplace. 

When I was searching for a balance between school, work and home life, I found that many of the problems I faced at school carried over. Since improving my general health, a lot of those issues relating to focus, memory and having the energy to get things done are things of the past. 

Luckily, through my journey, I’ve learned a few tricks that have helped me not only improve my overall physical and mental health, but have made me a much more proactive person. 

Firstly, count your calories. Start adding one healthy food at a time and eventually you might just strike a balance. Learn to snack less and aim to satisfy hunger. Read food labels to avoid high amounts of sugar, fat and sodium when grocery shopping.

Finally, before investing in an expensive gym membership, try just taking a short walk. Look up some simple exercises you can easily do from home to start off your day. 

With simple steps alone, I’ve managed to shed 15 pounds and keep the weight off. Not only that, but there has also been a boost to my overall focus and I’ve found a work-life balance that I never knew I could achieve. 

Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that your goal shouldn’t be losing weight for weight loss sake. Rather, the goal should be to break the vicious cycle of poor physical health and low productivity that plagues many Americans, students included.

Now is the opportune moment to adopt a healthier routine and prevent challenges linked to an unhealthy lifestyle from extending beyond your student life.


Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Mattheau Faught
Mattheau Faught, Presentation Editor

Comments (0)

All The Et Cetera Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *