Back to School Brain Boosters
By Kymythy R. Schultze, C.N., www.kymythy.com
When your child’s verbal loop switches from “I’m bored, there’s nothing to do” to “I don’t wanna go to school!” you know the time has come to do your parental duty and properly prepare them for another academic year. You’ll buy them notebooks, backpacks, pencils and books. But, are you also putting every effort into insuring that their brain is fully charged? A child with good brain health has the opportunity to be more successful in their schoolwork, and that translates to a better school year for both of you. There are many factors that affect brain health, and in this article we’ll focus on a few things you can do to make a positive difference in your child’s learning and memory function.
Fortunately, there are safe, natural substances that you can use to help fight brain cell damage and increase cognitive function. One of the most readily available compounds are antioxidants. Consuming plenty of these nutrients provides your child’s brain with powerful tools for good health. The best sources of antioxidants are found in fresh vegetables.
Wait! Don’t give up just because we’re using the “V-word” with regard to your child. There are creative ways to convince kids that veggies actually taste good. Experiment with recipes and types of vegetables to find ones that your child will readily eat. And let them in on the “secret superheroes” that veggies contain. Don’t just say they have to eat them because they’re good for them. Give them a short, kid-friendly version about the special nutrients found in vegetables that will help make them Super Smart! You know your child best, so if making a home science experiment with veggies stimulates them to indulge – go for it!
Protein is brain-food at its finest! Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and there are eight essential to health. Animal sources of protein such as meat, fish, poultry, and eggs supply all eight of the essential amino acids. Many of the brain’s neurotransmitters are made from amino acids, so if your child doesn’t consume enough quality protein, brain function and mood are affected. Protein supports energy and nutrient needs, plus it’s very good at satisfying hunger. And that’s a good thing because a hungry child is a grumpy child that lacks focus and concentration. Including ample protein in your child’s breakfast is a great way to start the day.
Another supplement for brain health that has many exciting studies behind its use is fish oil omega-3 fatty acids. The brain is approximately 60 percent fat and most of that is comprised of DHA and AA fatty acids. AA is found in animal products such as meat, fish, eggs and poultry. DHA is found in cod-liver oil and fish body oils. Studies prove that adequate amounts of DHA are vital to learning, memory, and other brain functions. DHA is probably one of the most important supplements you can add to your child’s diet. And don’t despair; supplements have come a long way from our Grandmother’s fishy cod-liver days! There are now fish oils that are deliciously flavored.
Because cod-liver oil contains fat-soluble vitamins A and D, it’s best given during the winter when there’s less sunlight (and thus less vitamin D). During the rest of year, use a good quality flavored fish body oil. Give according to the directions on the bottle. Carlson brand makes both cod-liver and fish body oils that are good enough to pass most kid taste-tests. And remember to tell them about how this supplement helps them have a Super Brain. Every kid likes to have some type of super power!
One more thing you can do to support your child’s brain health is to make sure they get enough exercise. Studies in the U.S. and Japan prove that exercise improves memory and other mental skills. In the studies, people who received adequate exercise scored better on tests and completed them faster than people that did not exercise. So, get your child moving daily. If they’re young enough to appreciate it, tie a dashing cape on them, and let them exercise by zooming around and enjoying their Super Brain super power!
About the author
Kymythy Schultze is a Clinical Nutritionist (C.N.) and has been a trailblazer in the field of nutrition for nearly two decades. Her best-selling books include “The Natural Nutrition No-Cook Book” which contains delicious and healthy kid-friendly recipes and “Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats”. Both are published by Hay House, Inc. Visit Kymythy’s website at www.kymythy.com.