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Teenage survival guide – keeping your body healthy and brain on fire!

Teenage years can be challenging at the best of times. This post is for all those teenagers out there going back to school to face the joys of the classroom, many with key exams in the coming months!

My guess is it’s going to be quite a shock to the system, so here’s some top tips to help make sure they stay healthy, physically and emotionally.

My 10 top tips for teenagers:

1. Keep hydrated – aim for 2 litres of water a day and even more if heavily exercising or during very hot weather, which clearly doesn’t apply at the moment. You only need to lose 2% of your body weight fluid to reduce physical and mental performance by 25%, so don’t wait until you feel thirsty before grabbing your water bottle.

2. Keep to regular mealtimes, breakfast, lunch and dinner with 2 snacks if needed. This is so important to keep your blood sugars in balance and stop you from feeling ‘hangry’! If you skip meals, your blood sugars will become unbalanced and leave you feeling dizzy, lightheaded and struggling to remember all that information you’ve been learning.

3. Include good fats in your diet. You find these in foods such as oily fish, as well as nuts and seeds. Good fats are rich in omega 3 and are important to support your brain health and also your skin. Did you know approx. 60% of your brain is made up of fat!

4. Including a handful of protein at each main meal will help to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Proteins also play a key role in balancing your hormones as many of your important hormones in your body are made of protein, Animal sources of protein include meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy. Plant based sources include quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, beans, peas, tofu, oats, nut butter, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, sweet potatoes,

5. Obviously, everything in moderation is fine but try not to OD on sugar and processed foods (sorry but it has to be said!). These foods can lead to inflammation in your body which can then negatively impact both body and mind.

6. Include iron rich foods. This is essential for growth, energy and concentration. 60% of 11 to 18- year-old girls (and 9% of boys) have iron intakes below the recommended levels. This can lead to tiredness, stress and poor concentration. Iron rich foods include lean red meat, oily fish, eggs, nuts and dark green leafy vegetables.

7. Include foods rich in B12. This is important for a healthy nervous system and is found in animal products such as meat, fish, eggs and chicken and also B12 fortified cereals.

8. Include foods rich in the mineral zinc. Almost a fifth of 11-18 year-olds don’t reach their lower recommended levels of zinc, putting them at risk of deficiency. Zinc, needed for energy and skin health, is found in meat, shellfish, nuts and seeds.

9. As this is a time of growth, make sure you are getting your recommended intake of calcium, essential for bone growth and strength. Nearly a fifth of girls and just over 10% of boys aged 11 to 18 are not obtaining their recommended levels. Calcium is found in dairy products, soya beans, almond milk, sardines, nuts and the good old favourite…..leafy green vegetables.

10. Finally, the importance of regular exercise and getting out in nature can not be emphasised enough for its benefits to both physical and mental health – so not matter how busy you are, make sure you prioritise this one!

Look after yourself as you head back to the last part of this school year by taking on board just some of the points above. Remember, a healthy body and healthy mind is key to every future success. Wishing you all the best of luck!

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