Today, the ladies from Prescribe Nutrition are talking nutrition andit's impact on kids' brains and learning.
Nutrition has something to do with the ability to learn? You betcha. We can’t believe Summer is right around the corner but before we all go run out and play – here is some information to cap the school year off right!
What do kiddos need learn, think and pay attention to absorb all the information they receive day to day? How about the best and smartest fuel for each and every day? At Prescribe Nutrition we see food as fuel. Like vroooom … fuel. Sure food tastes pretty dang good and is a fun way to gather and celebrate, but what’s more important is its impact on our bodies, our organs and our brains. The brains of the most important individuals on the planet... our kids, our future!
Did you know that the human brain is over 70% fat? So in order to function correctly, we might need what? Fat. The good kind of course. That healthy balance of omega’s, unsaturated and even some healthy saturated fats (hello coconut). Our brains also need amino acids, which are the very building blocks of protein. That is how our neurotransmitters (the brain's chemical messengers) transmit.
With no healthy fats or amino acids on deck, it’s going to be really tough to think, concentrate and retain information. Can you think of a time as an adult where you just felt … blah? A few times? Did it have anything to do with what you put in your body? Think snack chips, dips, maybe a soda (or two), cookies, a little bit of cake or …..?! Sound familiar? It does for us. We’ve all been there. Then what do you want to do after that? If you’re like me, I just want to lie down.
Now there’s nothing wrong with a day like that, every once in a while. Hey, it happens. Even sometimes when we vigilantly plan around it. But what if that is a daily occurrence for your kids? Sugar, creamy dairy and crunchy snack, they tend to love this stuff, right? So consider how you feel you’ve been living off the fast and easy food for a little stint, and then how they may feel- only their bodies are tiny, growing and running a mile a minute compared to ours. Feeling like that would sure make sitting in a classroom pretty challenging, huh?
We want them to learn, grow and thrive in school. That’s our passion. Healthy nutrition made accessible and tasty for growing minds and bodies.
"Each year 17,000 new products hit our grocery shelves. 17,000 new products vying for your food dollar."
– Michael Pollan.
Unfortunately those 17,000 new products are doing less good then we might hope. Incidence rates of almost everything are on the rise – especially things like ADD, ADHD and mood and behavior challenges. This because food that is highly processed interferes with the brains ability for proper cognition. One of our favorite ethos: “The more alive your foods are, the more alive you will feel. The more alive your kiddos will feel!
Ever wonder why we all love those foods so much? In fact, it’s not by mistake. Interestingly enough there are actually addictive principles in some of our most popular foods - like gluten & dairy. If the body doesn’t properly break down those foods, compounds are developed that sit in opiate receptors (you heard that right – opiates) in the brain. This is just one of the reasons we want more and more (in addition to additives and preservatives that are meant to enhance flavor). This is also why many kids and adults alike react behaviorally to food.
Have you observed your kids mood or behavior change after a meal or snack? BINGO. That’s the elements of food at work. How about a really colorful and nutritious breakfast and then the kids just run, play and laugh for hours on end? BINGO. That’s food at work too. GREAT work.
So what else is important to have in the nutritional picture for our healthy learners? Well surely vitamins, mineral and antioxidants, because they turn on all the switches, just like keys to the locks. A very great friend, physician and nutrition expert always uses the analogy of gauges. Like gas gauges – get it? Fuel. Our goal in feeding children should be to fill up their nutrient gauges. When the gauges are full they fire on all cylinders, and sweets and treats become far less impactful on their bodies, because they have a strong foundation.
Here’s how to fill up the tanks so your best gals and guys get the most out of their education:
1) Start the day off right. Think protein! Protein has those amino acids they need for healthy neurotransmitters. Bright fruits or vegetables will provide antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and energy dense carbohydrates. A nutrient packed smoothie or a fun egg scramble where you can get in some greens (yes greens in the am!). Here’s a favorite smoothie at PN we feature in the Kids Rule program:
GREEN MACHINE2 cups spinach (or your favorite dark leafy green - spinach tends to be most mild tasting)
Other fun breakfast recipes you can look forward to during the Kids Rule program - homemade pop tarts (you heard it), sunbutter granola, chocolate zucchini muffins and more and MORE!
2) Mini fuel stops during the day. Let them in on filling up their tanks! Explain the need for great, powerful snacks in between meals. When kids have a better understanding of how the body works, they will better appreciate the power of foods, just like you and I.SWEET CHICKPEAS
3) End the day the same way you started. After a long day in school, running around, sports, activities, etc., it’s important to recharge. Dinner gives their bodies that replenishment it needs. How about a bunch of great ways to create a healthy DIY taco bar!?
4) Hydration is fuel too. Water is the most important element each body needs and far too often kids gets less of it then they need.Let’s wrap this school year off on the right foot - happy, healthy and full of energy!
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