Nutrition expert Andrea du Plessis gives insight into coping with end-of-year stress and exams


The end of the year brings holidays closer for some of us, but it’s also a time for exams, additional work pressure to get things finished, and planning for family get-togethers or holidays away. This can cause exhaustion, stress and poor concentration, and it’s precisely the time you should be feeding your brain with the right stuff, drinking enough water and getting enough sleep.


“The brain, like any part of the body, needs nourishment, stimulation and proper rest. However, it’s often the most neglected part of the body,” explains Andrea du Plessis, Vital Health Foods’ nutrition expert.


Up to two thirds of employees suffer from burnout towards the end of the work year, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association, and there’s little reason to believe the figures should be very different in South Africa. Two major symptoms of burnout include emotional exhaustion and reduced performance. But there is a way to avoid it: by making small changes to your diet and lifestyle you can become healthier every day, and combat stress and fatigue.


Andrea recommends a diet rich in eggs, oily fish, nuts and seeds to provide the correct nutrients to feed your brain. “Omega 3 fatty acids form part of the brain-cell structure, so it’s essential that foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids are part of your eating plan,” she says. If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough oily fish, which contains this vital element, Vital has the perfect solution with its Omega 3 concentrate vitamin supplement that contains 1000 mg cold-water Norwegian fish oil.


The B vitamins, which include B1, B3, B6 and B9, together support essential functions in the body, such as the immune and nervous systems, the metabolism, and the skin and muscles. “B vitamins are found in eggs, fish, red meat, pulses and legumes but an easy way to get your daily dose is from Vital Maxi B,” Andrea says.


Keeping hydrated during this demanding time is also essential. Not only does proper hydration aid in optimal vitamin absorption, it’s necessary for a variety of biochemical processes that are involved with the brain’s learning functions. And dehydration directly affects a person’s energy levels, as toxins aren’t flushed out of the body and can cause side-effects like mild headaches.


When it comes to exercise, “Take the stairs instead of the lift,” Andrea suggests. “It’s a small effort that will make a difference over time.”


Last but certainly not least, getting enough sleep will enable your body and brain to recharge. Andrea says that even during times of fun, recreational activities and rest, the brain is still very active processing and storing information. She recommends that adults should sleep at least eight hours a night.

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