The fast paced lifestyle of today’s parents makes it difficult to find the time to think about what their children are putting into their bodies. Often breakfast is a pop-tart eaten on the way out the door, and lunch is whatever the school is serving that day.
The truth is that children have to have proper nutrition for optimal brain power. If we expect them to do their best in school, then it’s our responsibility to give them what they need to live up to our expectations. Think of it as providing the right tools for the job. Here are some key sources to achieve that goal.
The number one necessity for the brain is glucose which comes from starches, carbohydrates, and sugar. The brain can’t store glucose so it must be replenished during the day. If you can’t get your child to brown-bag a lunch, at least send them off with a snack bag containing raw carrots, dark, whole wheat bread, walnuts, rice cakes, dried fruit or a whole grain bar. And in a note for parents, if you’re having difficulty remembering, learning new things or concentrating, you are probably depriving your brain of these vital sugars.
Fiber works hand in hand with glucose. Its job is to regulate when sugar is released into the bloodstream. Kids can start their day with a bowl of whole grain cereal with blueberries or whole grain bread spread with cream cheese. Send the kiddies off to school with a little package of sunflower or other seeds to serve as an afternoon snack.
These are considered building blocks of the brain and are produced when the body breaks down carbs or protein. But there is a difference and understand it will help you provide what your child needs. Carbohydrates become a type of amino acid called tryptophan which produces a calming effect. These might help the child with ADHD, a teen worried about an upcoming test or a bedtime snack for the child who has difficulty sleeping. Complete proteins, on the other hand, break down into tyrosine, which energizes! For the sluggish child, provide a breakfast of meat, eggs, cheese or yogurt.
Essential Fatty Acids
Fatty acids omega 3 and 6 are essential in building brain cells and can spike intelligence. In fact, science indicates that deprivation of these can lead to brain disorders so try to work some of these into your child’s menu. Make them a salmon or tuna fish sandwich or maybe some shellfish with lemon and garlic dipping sauce. Any leafy vegetable with cherry tomatoes and boiled eggs topped with flax seed oil and a sprinkle seeds.
Your child’s brain cells need protection from free radicals and antioxidants will do the job. Find these in berries, broccoli, squash, peppers, tomatoes, red and pinto beans. Hide tarragon, turmeric, cloves, saffron or cinnamon in other foods. Other sources are dark chocolate and tea, and for Mom and Dad, strong coffee and wine.
Help your child to develop a strong, healthy brain and you will give them the possibility of achieving anything. That’s good parenting!