Abstract: Beneficial improvements in cognitive performance are related to the influence of food and drink choice.

Brain performance can be improved by consuming the right food and prevent the brain from becoming dehydrated. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the mental performance of Heriot-Watt students in order to improve their mental ability, which would reflect beneficially on the university by increasing students productivity. We evaluated mental ability of the students according to their food intake and nutritional habits. It demonstrates the importance of some food on enhancing cognitive performance. Result suggests that 89% of the participant their brain is working efficiently. More than 60 % of the participants were drunk less than 4 cups of water every day, which is critically low amount; it could impair their brain performance as result of dehydration. 75% of the participants confirmed that there is insufficient in drinkable water particularly free sources. This suggests that encouraging students to eat the food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance and finding programs to evaluate mental ability of the students in order to improve it.

Key Words: Cognitive performance, memory, concentration, brain drain and water.

Acknowledgment: Many thanks for tutors, who guided me to write this project and the participants from the university students.

Food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance

List of content:
1. Introduction. 2. Literature review. 3. Methodology. 3.1. Subject and participants. 3.2. Questionnaire development. 3.3. Field survey 4. Result 5. Discussion and conclusion. 6. Appendix 7. References

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Food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance

1. Introduction: Scientific examination proves that the relationship between the brain performance and some types of food. There are clear discussions of brain physiology and food that can enhance cognitive performance, improve the mood and sharpen the memory (Potter and Orfali, 1993). Students are a group of people who need specific nutrition which feeds their brain to improve concentration, attention and performance; therefore, it is important to understand their nutritional habits which could help to evaluate and improve their mental ability.

Several studies confirmed that some food may have beneficial effects on mental performance; one of these study argued that the glucose is the primary source of energy for the brain (Bruin and Gilsenan, 2008). Research has been carried out by Colombani, Langhans and Wenk (2002) that showed the effect of carbohydrate on cognitive performance of 15 healthy male students; a tremendous improvement in memory has been noticed after 4th meal rich in carbohydrate.
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However, the brain is a first part of the body may affected by the diet; a poor diet may lead to mental disorder such as depression and anxiety. The aim of this study is to evaluate the brain performance of Heriot-Watt students according to their nutritional habits; and investigate whether or not the university provides food supplement and nutritional consultation, that could help the students to improve their mental performance.

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Food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance

The second part of this research gives a brief review of literature and proves the importance of food on cognitive performance, the third part is method and sample, which explains procedure of collecting data and some information about the participants, the fourth part will present the result, which shows a significant finding by using graphs to facilitate that to the reader. Finally the discussion and the conclusion will be drawn in fifth part.

2. Literature review: This study investigates the beneficial effect of some types of food on cognitive performance. The current section will focus on relevant research conducted in this field. The students differ from each other in many aspects. One of the main aspects is mental ability. Some students have a sharp memory, strong concentration and clear mood which help them to achieve successful progressing particularly in the studying. The brain performance can be improved by improving the diet. The brain is the first part of the body, which could be affected by eating a poor diet. Several researches will be discussed in this section, which proved that nutrients have a strong influence in improving the mental performance and intelligence. Heriot-Watt University has approximately 17000 registered students and one question that needs to be asked is how many of them have a smart brain. The university can exploit the optimal performance of these brains by providing and suggesting some food that can boost the student brain. The mental performance can be evaluated in terms of food intake and nutritional habits.

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Food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance

With regards to the effect of food on mental performance; some food can enhance the memory, which could improve the cognitive performance of student brain. A recent study carried out by Hoyland et al., (2007) suggests that visuo-spatial memory could be affected by macronutrient manipulation. The study suggests that the significant enhancement of the memory is related to changes in blood glucose. The authors highlight that the glucose is a primary source of the brain energy and insufficient supply of glucose could cause a significant loss in mental function. Glucose can be found in food and evaluating food that is consumed by the students could help the university to enhance their mental performance. However, the authors focused on memory in the experiment to show the importance of glucose in improving the cognitive performance and neglected other important aspects such as concentration and attention.

A Previous study by Lieberman (2002) showed importance of some food in enhancing the cognitive performance. It mentioned that food, which contains carbohydrate can enhance the cognitive performance and vigilance. The author describes the effect of energy drink on improving the mood. Carbohydrate can be obtained from the fruits and vegetables. Banana is one of the best carbohydrate sources which provide a slow release of energy to the brain. Recent evidence suggests that a banana has a great influence in increasing brain performance. Bulstrode(2008) mentioned that a study has been carried out on a group of student in Thomas Clarkson College, which the college gave the students banana before the exam. The result showed that the student did very well in the first half hour. After that the performance of the students dropped significantly.

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Food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance

The percentage of the water in the blood accounts for 83%. The water acts in the body as transporter, which is responsible to complete the operation of delivering nutrients to the brain and eliminating toxins from the body. Proper hydration leads to optimal cognitive performance. Drinking at least 2000 ml of water can keeps the body in proper functioning. (Suhr et al., 2004). The author mentioned that dehydration of 23% of body weight could impair the brain performance particularly concentration and psychomotor processing speed. If the university provided plenty of drinkable water sources to the students, they would be fully hydrated in which the university can assure that the student performance is probably strong.

A study by Trevor (2001) discovered that schoolchildren with best results in class are those who drank eight glasses of water per day. Dehydration has an impact on the brain which affects its working substantially below its capacity. Schweiger (2002) points out that improving the availability of water in schools had a potential huge difference to pupils' health and performance. It is important that the University improves the water availability on campus to avoid dehydration, which may affect the student performance.

Much of earlier study emphasized that mental performance is affected by the type of food. A recent Swedish study suggested that fish diet boosts intelligence scores. Toren (2009) found that there is a clear link between frequent fish consumption and higher scores when the teenagers ate fish at least once a week. A recent study carried out by Hoyland et al. (2009) confirmed the importance of breakfast for students in improving mental performance. The authors concluded that

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Food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance the breakfast consumption has totally positive effect on cognitive performance compared with breakfast omission. Moreover, eating a breakfast is linked to increase attendance and reduce absenteeism. However, the authors do not focus on measuring memory and attention, which are main part in evaluation cognitive performance.

It can be concluded that food has a strong influence in improving mental performance of students. Glucose is a primary source of brain energy. The body should be fully hydrated to avoid brain impairment. Carbohydrate has a marked improvement in brain performance and students should eat a diet rich in carbohydrate. A breakfast is recommended as a part of healthy diet, which enhances mental performance of students. In order to improve student mental ability, the university should ensure and evaluate their food intake.

3. Methodology: 3.1. Subject and participants Forty six students were participated in this research from Heriot-Watt University, located in Edinburgh. Thirty-six students filled out the questionnaire and ten students were interviewed face to face. The subject was approved by English language institute. The participants were 28 female and 18 male; with ages between 18 to 30 years. 10 students are smoker and 16 alcohol consumer. The data used in this research has been collected through three-different methods from a questionnaire, face to face interview and field survey. We used three different methods to collect data because the questionnaire was closed questions to know specific information, whereas the interview made to give students a chance to speak, which we used open question in

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Food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance the interview. The knowledge used in this research was acquired through different sources, such as books from Heriot-Watt library, online-journals through using the university network. We were helped by the university librarians to find information about the topic and they guide us for a correct procedure to design and analyze data.

3.2. Questionnaire development
The two page questionnaire was developed by using a similar idea from Potter and Orfali (1993). The first part of the questionnaire concerns general information (gender, smoking and alcohol consumption). The second part included psychological and health information (memory weakness, concentration, mood disorder, depression and mental performance). The third part contains information about the nutritional habits of the students, types of food found on campus and the students satisfaction. Closed question types were used in this questionnaire because it is easy to the participant to fill the questionnaire. The result of the questionnaire will be analysed according to Potter and Orfali (1993). Students got score between 12-15 that means their brain is running on empty. Better to consult the doctor. They need refuel their brain with food. Vitamins and drugs that make them smarter. The students got score between 9-12 that means there brain drain is a danger. They should correct their diet by eating vitamins and brain food. The students got score between 5-9 that means their brain is functioning okay. By eating and drinking smarter their brain can function at optimal levels. The participants were understood most of the question answers. The purpose of questionnaire was explained to the participants, which is written on top of the first page. The questionnaires are collected on 18th of March 2010.
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Food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance 3.3 Interview: We interviewed 10 students from Heriot-Watt University. We used open question in the interview in order to get extra information about their nutritional habits. The questions were about whether or not those students consume a breakfast every day and to know the reason if those student do not eat breakfast. Other question to know the type of breakfast whether or not riches in carbohydrate. We asked the participant a question, if they suggest any changes which could improve their diet.

2.3. Field Survey
We do search on campus to find any information that relates to type of food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance such or diet recommendations as well as evaluating the drinkable water availability, particularly free sources. The search was on main library, student union, university restaurants and some colleges. The food was inspected particularly those provided by restaurants.

2.3. Statistical analyses
The data were analyzed by using computer programs. First part of the questionnaire was analyzed according to Potter and Orfali, 1993.

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Food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance

3. Result:
The percentage of female participants is more than male, which indicates that the female are more interested in this topic.

Figure Figure: 11: Shows classification of the participants according to their gender

39% Male Female 61%

Figure: 2 2: Shows personal information about the participants Fig
40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 No. of Students according gender Smoking Non-Smoking Drink Alchohol Non- Drinking Alchohol

Male Female Total

.

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Food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance

Figure 3: Figure: 3 shows the percentage of students have brain working efficiently compared with those who their brain in danger

11%

0%

Number of Sts have brain working effeciently Number of Sts their brain in danger Number of Sts their brain are working on empty

89%

The data were analysed according to Potter and Orfali, 1993. It shows that a majority of students, who their brain working efficiently accounts 89%. The rest of students were needed nutritional consult which could improve their mental performance.

Figure: 4
90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Memory Concentration Learn new thing Performance

Strong Weak

Figure 4: Shows the mental performance of the participants in terms of memory, concentration, learning a new thing and general performance.

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Food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance

The availability of drinkable water particularly free sources is largely insufficient and tends to be rare. The result found large percent of students are drink less than 4 cups the percentage accounts for 61%, which is probably high percent and it could impair their cognitive performance. Fig 5: shows the opinion of students about drinkable water availability on campus

80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

Figure: 5

The availability of drinkable water in the University The Numebr of cups are drinked by the students every day

Sufficient

Insufficient Less than 4 More than 4

Figure 5: Shows the availability of drinkable water free sources such as water cooling devices and it gives the percentage of water consumption every day by the students. The study found a majority of students were unsatisfied from the food that is provided by the restaurants and shops on the campus.

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Food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance

Figure: 6 Figure 6: Shows the percentage of coffee consumption and the students

90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Students are drink coffee daily Students are satisfied with food on campus

Yes No

A majority of students were unsatisfied with food on campus which could be a reason to reluctant some students from eating the main diet such as the breakfast and the lunch. A majority of the students are prefer to eat a bar of chocolate in snack meal instead of fruit or other healthy meal. The questionnaire was revealed the percentage of the students who prefer to eat chocolate in a snack meal.

Figure: 7

22%

Chocolate Fruits 14% 64% None

Figure 7: Describes the percentage of preferable snack to the students.

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Food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance A high percentage of the participants who mentioned, that they never seen any recommendation or announcements about the right food that could help them to improve the brain performance on the campus.

Figure 8: Shows the percentage of the participants who have not seen
90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Have you seen a recommendation about your diet on the campus? Do you know the importance of Omega 3 to your brain? Yes No

Figure9: shows Students who eat break fast every breakfast every day percentage of student who eat day

30% Yes 50% No Some times 20%

According to the interview with students, the result revealed that some students do not know importance of breakfast in improving cognitive performance.

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Food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance

4. Discussion and Conclusion: The finding suggests that the majority of the students according to Potter and Orfali, 1993 test that the brain performance of the students is functionally excellent. There are approximately 11% of the participants, who their brain in danger. It is true that the percent is slightly low but the university can advise those students to change their nutritional habits. The purpose of this research was to know whether or not the brain of the students is working efficiently according to their diet. We evaluated the source of drinkable water on campus. The result suggests that approximately 75% of the students confirmed there is insufficient in water availability. Critically, the university should find drinkable water sources particularly in places that are far from the market and restaurants; for example, library, otherwise the student could be dehydrated which has an impact on their mental ability. Although the students generally preferred to eat chocolate for snack meal instead of fruits or salad, which indicates that many of those students are needed nutritional consultation about right food that could help them to enhance the brain performance. It is true that the university has other big concerns than students but it can exploits the society on campus and volunteer student to work on advising the students about the right food through varied facilities such as Email, notice board and leaflet. The lake of time was the main obstruction to the researcher, a plenty of time could help the researchers to collect more sample as well as searching a new finding. If the researchers provided by facilities such as computer software for analyzing, the data would be presented more specifically. The students who interviewed are tending to escape from a breakfast meal. According to Hoyland et al. (2009) confirmed the importance of breakfast meal which has a significant effect on cognitive performance. By investigating reasons that cause reluctant of some students

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Food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance from eating breakfast that the price of the meal. Some of those students suggest that if the university provides at least breakfast meal by introducing offer and special price to encourage students to eat this meal as well as providing a meal rich in carbohydrate and some nutrient that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance.

It can be concluded that the continuous evaluation to the mental performance of the students and their diet is important to avoid mental impairment. Finding sufficient drinkable water sources could help the students avoid dehydration. Advising the student to the right food could improve their mental ability. The research suggests that it would be better, if the university develops this study by carrying out some research in the same subject by specialist researcher and try to find programs, which can evaluate the student mental ability in order to improve the general performance of the university.

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Food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance Appendix: 1- Questionnaire :

Evaluate your brain performance.

The result will be given immediately
This questionnaire designed to help the researcher to find solution to improve the quality of food that is provided by the shops in the university in order to improve the brain performance of students in Heriot-Watt University. 1- Put (  ) mark in front of the right choice please: • • •  Male  Smoking  Drink Alcohol Female  None None

2- For each of the following statements check (T) in the box if the statement is true or (F) if it is false. T F                 1- My memory is not as good as it used to be.  2- It is harder to do calculations in my head than it used to be.  3- It is harder to concentrate than it used to be.  4- I often feel fuzzy headed.  5- I can't handle stress as well as I use to.  6- I get depressed more often than I use to.  7- I end the day feeling exhausted more often than I use to.  8- I often have a ringing sound in my ear(s).  9- I often drink so much coffee that I feel nervous and irritable.  10- It is harder to learn new things than it used to be.  11- I some times get lost while driving a familiar route.  12- I often tell the same stories over the same people during short period. 13- I sometimes get confused over what time it is or where I am. 14- I often forget important appointments. 15- Lately I've had difficulty naming objects I'm familiar with.

N.B. If you want to get your score immediately, count up the number of (T) here: Score is ______________

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Food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance

Potter, B., & Orfali, S., 1993. Brain booster food and drugs make you smarter. 1st ed. Delta litho: USA. 3- For each of the following statement put () in front of correct choice please: 1- The availability of drinkable water sources in the university is:  Sufficient  Insufficient

2- How many cups of water do you drink every day?  Less than 4 cups  More than 4 cups 3- Do you eat fruit and vegetable every day?  Yes  No 4- Do you know the importance of Omega-3 to your brain and where can be found?  Yes  No 5- How many meals do you eat every week contain any type of fish: None 2 4  6 6- Do you drink coffee every day:  Yes  No

7- Are you satisfied with the food that is provided from the shops on campus?  Yes  No 8- What type of fruit do you prefer to eat usually?  Orange Banana  Kiwi 9- What is your favourite snake?  Chocolate Fruits  None  Apple

10- Have you seen any information on campus about food that could improve your brain performance:  Yes  No 11- Do you feel depressed, anxious or have difficulty sleeping?  Yes Sometimes  Rarely  No

2- Analysis:

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Food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance

12-15 Your brain is running on empty. Better see your doctor. You can refuel your brain with food. Vitamins and drugs that make you smarter.

9-12 Brain drain is a danger. Check your diet today. You can reduce brain drain with vitamins and brain foods.

5-9 Your brain is functioning okay. By eating and drinking smarter your brain can function at optimal levels.
Reference: Potter, B., & Orfali, S., 1993. Brain booster food and drugs make you smarter. 1st ed. Delta litho: USA.

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Food that has beneficial effect on cognitive performance References:

Bulstrode, M., 2008. Bananas to boost exam results. London: The independent. Availableat:<http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/bananasto-boost-exam-results-830013.html. Accessed on 27/02/2010. Bruin and Gilsenan, 2008. Effects of food energy on cognitive performance, British Journal of Nutrition, 101, 1047–1051. Colombani, et al, 2002. Carbohydrate to protein ratio in food and cognitive performancein the morning, Physiology & Behavior, 75, 411 – 423. Hoyland et al. 2009. A systematic review of the effect of breakfast on the cognitive performance of children and adolescents, Nutrition Research Reviews. 22, 220–243 Hoyland, et al, 2008. Carbohydrate to protein ratio in food and cognitive performancein the morning, Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 32, 72–85. Lieberman, H., 2002. Nutrition, brain function and cognitive performance, MA, 01760 (5007), 245-254. Potter, B., & Orfali, S., 1993. Brain booster food and drugs make you smarter. 1st ed. Delta litho: USA.
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Schweiger, M., 2002. Dehydration affects the children in school. Yorkshire. Available at;:<http://www.ywsonline.co.uk/web/po_rels4.nsf/0/80256BC70032A99B80256BD
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B00334A0D. Accessed on 27/02/2010
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Suhr et al., 2004. The relation of hydration status to cognitive performancein healthy older adults, International Journal of Psychophysiology, 53, 121– 125. Toren, K., 2009. Fish diet boosts intelligence score. Sweden: top new health Available at : < http://www.topnews.in/healthcare/content/-21299fish-diet-boosts0T

intelligence-scores-swedish-study-finds. Accessed on 27/02/2010
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