Nutrition for your children has a direct effect on IQ, learning, concentration, sleep, and behavior. Just as athletes eat a diet to win, children can eat to learn. Foods that contain antioxidants, choline, omega-3 fatty acids, and complex carbohydrates are all particularly helpful in boosting brain power.
Here are some of my food tips to give your children a brain-power boost:
Blueberries, blackberries and strawberries are rich in powerful antioxidants called flavonoids. They help to improve a child’s ability to learn while enhancing their motor skills. Studies have shown improved memory in kids that eat berries regularly. These are a great sweet treat that kids either love or with a little effort will learn to love.
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2. Nuts and Seeds
These are a good source of omega-3 and 6, and crucial to brain and eye development. Nuts also are a good source of vitamin E, which protects brain cell membranes from free radical damage. Cashews and sunflower seeds contain amino acids that helps boost serotonin levels and relieve stress.
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recipe: oatmeal with seeds and nuts
3. Wholegrains: e.g. oats, brown rice, etc.
Wholegrains are complex carbohydrates which provide fuel that the brain needs. This is opposed to simple sugars (pop drinks, candy, etc.) that create blood sugar highs and lows which are not good for concentration and sustained energy. Complex carbohydrates have fiber and provide a slower, steadier release of energy to your child. The complex carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which the brain needs to function. This slow release helps stabilize blood sugars and maintain concentration and attention. Wholegrains are also full of B vitamins and folate which have a strong link to increased memory function.
4. Oily fish: salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, and sardines
60 percent of the brain is made of structural fats. Omega-3 form the building blocks for these structural fats. Growing evidence shows just what diets rich in omega-3 can do. From increasing a childs IQ, to enhancing memory and cognition and improvements in attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD), autism, dyspraxia, dyslexia, and aggression, it really is the wonder food for brains.
Oily fish are a great source of omega-3
Ive included a great recipe for salmon rissoles full of omega-3 that my kids love.
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recipe: salmon burgers
5. Dark, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables
Spinach and leafy greens like kale, chard, romaine and collards, are rich in folate, iron, B vitamins, and magnesium. All of these nutrients are essential to increasing your brain power. They also contain carotenoids which are powerful brain protectors.
While getting your children to eat lots of greens may often seem incredibly difficult, there are some simple ways to do it. My kids’ favorite is including some greens into a smoothie or shake.
Heres a great smoothie recipe they love:
recipe: kidzshake with kale/spinach
Eggs-or specifically the yolk-is a great source of choline. This is the precursor to acetylcholine which is a neurotransmitter in the brain vital to memory and other functions. They are also high in protein, and therefore high in many of the amino acids needed for brain development.
Not drinking enough water has detrimental effects on our brains. When your body lacks water, brain cells and other neurons shrink and biochemical processes involved in cellular communication can slow. Water is great for memory sharpness and to help keep moods stable. Dehydration makes children listless, lethargic, and irritable. So get them to drink plenty of water and snack on high water-content foods like cucumber, watermelon, carrots, celery and tomatoes.
Try this yummy water drink