Make Your Kid Brainier with these 5 Important Foods
You might not think it at times, but your child’s brain really is a hotbed of activity.
As the synapses connect throughout childhood, kids brains are growing and learning how to memorise, organise and categorise. They are also learning how to retrieve their stored information, reshape it and apply it in a useful way (unless it has anything to do with making a bed once in a while).
As psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, the co-author of The Happiness Diet says, “These years are critical for brain development, and what they eat affects focus and cognitive skills.”
Food is a very important factor affecting brain development (along with stimulation, exercise, hydration, and a supportive and mindful upbringing).
So here are five foods that help kids stay sharp, and which have positive long-term effects on brain development.
Fish, Seeds and Nuts
These foods contain essential Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids that actively promote mental health by keeping our kids’ brains healthy.
The best sources of Omega-3 are from wild or organically farmed salmon, sustainable tuna (though be mindful of mercury levels), sardines, herring & mackerel, whole anchovies, flax, hemp, pumpkins and chia seeds, and eggs.
The best sources of Omega-6 come from seeds (sunflower, sesame) and walnuts.
Try this Muesli Slice recipe, a great one for lunchboxes
Tip: Measure one part each of sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, along with three measures of flaxseeds into a sealed jar and store in the fridge. Freshly grind one heaped tablespoon of these seeds and add to your child’s smoothie or porridge in the morning.
Eggs contain choline, which is vital for the creation of the memory stem cells formed deep within our brains. Choline also helps our kids to concentrate
Pastured eggs ensure your child is eating the best quality fats. Your child can safely have one egg per day.
Find out my favourite brands of eggs in this post All Eggs Are Not Created Equal and here’s a simple family-friendly recipe for Potato, Feta and Spinach Frittata
Amino acids are life’s building blocks, and protein is where you get them. Amino acids build the neurotransmitters that affect your child’s mood, memory and mental alertness.
Ensure that your child has a 1-2 servings of protein-rich food daily in order to keep their brain humming, and them feeling positive, motivated and energised.
Favourites: Meat, eggs, fish, dairy, lentils, beans, seeds, nuts, quinoa.
Lentils and Rice (Mjadra) makes a cheap, easy and extremely tasty dish the whole family will enjoy.
Fruits and vegetables (especially greens!)
Vitamins and minerals may play a support role in the development and function of your child’s brain. The most important are the Vitamin Bs, Vitamin C, folic acid, magnesium and manganese. They are also full of antioxidants & minerals.
Greens are my favourite because they are full of folate and help ward off dementia later in life.
Tip: Overcome the challenge of getting kids to eat their greens with this Crunchy Kale Chip recipe or by adding finely chopped kale or spinach to omelettes or stir fries.
Complex Carbohydrates come from wholegrains like brown rice, buckwheat, oats or quinoa, as well as the foods mentioned above.
They are low GI and provide the most important food for your child’s brain – glucose – the brain’s major fuel.
Tip: Studies show that fueling the brain with breakfast is important for thinking, acting and learning. Try a slower-releasing breakfast in the form of bircher muesli.
There is no second best when it comes to looking after your kids’ grey matter. As the long term control centre of the body, it really is no surprise that our brains need nourishment just like our bodies do . By focusing on a varied diet rich in fish, seeds and nuts, eggs, protein, fruits and and wholegrains, will ensure that you’re giving your kid’s brain all the nourishment it needs.