Top 10 Brain Food for Kids
Do you as parents want your child to do well in school? Take a look at their diet there are certain brain food to boost brain growth, enhance the memory and concentration of the child
The brain is very essential and a hungry organ of the body. It absorbs the essential nutrients from the food we eat. Though kids have their own preferences, they also follow the examples set by their parents and peers. It is important to display good eating habits as trend-setters for our kids. Let’s take a look at the essential habits and foods valuable for the growth of the brain in the children.
1. Whole Grains
It provides a constant supply of glucose to the brain. The fiber regulates the release of glucose into the body. The whole grains have B-vitamin which nourishes a healthy nervous system.
Whole grains are rich in fiber, and many of these items are fortified with folate, B vitamin utilized to make memory cells in the brain. The other B vitamins that these products are enriched with also provide benefits with regards to improved alertness.
Choose to give children whole wheat or whole grain choices, such as whole-wheat bread, whole wheat tortillas, whole wheat crackers, and of course whole wheat Rotis (i.e. flatbread). These can be used to make wholesome sandwiches for children’s lunches, or otherwise
2. Nuts and Seeds
They are a powerhouse of nutrition. They provide protein, essential fatty acids, and vitamins and minerals and promote a healthy nervous system and elevates mood. Nuts and seeds can be consumed as is, roasted, in butter form (e.g. almond butter), or be incorporated into a recipe. There are many varieties of seeds and nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, melon seeds, sesame seeds, etc.), but please ensure that your child is not allergic to nuts before serving. Also, check http://www.natural-cure.org/diet-and-nutrition/is-your-diet-nutritious/
3. Greek Yogurt
The full-fat version of Greek yogurt is rich in healthy fats that are essential for brain health in children. It is also a valuable source of protein, as it has more than most other yogurts. Fat is crucial for brain development, with respect to neuron activity and cell membrane malleability. You can serve yogurt as is, or add some toppings that kids enjoy such as chocolate chips.
4. Green Vegetables
Vegetables as kale, spinach, collard greens, and lettuce are sometimes difficult to incorporate in children’s menus but are nonetheless packed with nutrition. Kale for example has compounds such as sulforaphane, and diindolylmethane (which detoxify and help grow new cells respectively). It can be incorporated as part of healthy smoothies, added in stir-fries or salads.
Purple Cauliflower contains compounds called anthocyanins, which help to reduce inflammation. Purple cauliflower is also low in sugar, has good levels of fiber, and is loaded with folate and vitamin B6, which help to improve mood, memory, and attention span in children.
Be creative in ways to serve this, maybe roasted, pureed into a dip, or cooked with herbs and spices.
Loaded with fiber oats keeps the child’s brain fed for a long time. It is also a good source of vitamin E, B-vitamins, potassium and zinc, which makes their body and brain function at the optimum. It helps to lower cholesterol and keep the arteries of heart and brain clean of plaque build-up. Research also shows that oatmeal helps to boost the memory of kids.
6. Apples and Plums
These contain a compound called quercetin, which is an antioxidant. This will help in cognitive function in children. These fruits also have natural sugars, which is what kids crave when energy is running low. They are of course also packed with vitamins and minerals, which promote the overall health of children and adults alike. As a lot of the nutrition is in the skin, try to buy organic and have apples and plum with the skin on. Remember, that most fruits are great for children to consume, as they are very rich in nutritive value.
Turmeric is an ancient spice from the East, with rich yellow color, and unique taste. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which has many properties, such as anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, anti-bacterial, etc. Curcumin dwarfs inflammation, and blocks plaque formation, in the case of Alzheimer’s disease. Turmeric can be incorporated in an array of dishes such as curries, lentils, stir-fries, soups, etc. http://www.natural-cure.org/health-and-wellness/health-benefits-of-turmeric/
Milk is rich in protein, vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus. Unless a child has a milk allergy or is milk intolerant, it is advised to include it in their diets. Milk can be flavored by adding chocolate/strawberry syrup. Milk alternatives also exist, such as almond, rice, hemp, soymilk, etc. These are often fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Except for children under the age of two, low fat or 2% milk is recommended.
9. Peanuts and Peanut Butter
Peanuts are rich in vitamin E and antioxidant that protects the nervous membrane and the thiamine to help the brain and nervous system to use glucose as energy.
Water is often overlooked and many children don’t drink enough water. Lack of or lessened water consumption can lead to mild to severe dehydration. Dehydration can make children restless, lethargic, irritable, and can create false hunger in them. Therefore, be sure to give children water as part of their healthy beverage allowance, and especially after an active day. Soft drinks and artificial juices are not a substitute for water.
Tips for good eating practices in childhood:
- Eat together as a family. Try to have at least one main meal of the day, together as a family unit. Eat at the dining table, instead of in front of the TV. Make it a comfortable and happy environment that the kids look forward to.
- Eat home-made meals rather than take-out or restaurant food. Eating at home defines a healthy meal, along with a safe setting for children. Restaurant meals are generally not very considerate of sodium, sugar and fat content, and should be reserved for special occasions.
- Involve your kids in the process. Children are like sponges, and absorb everything that they see, hear, and do. Kids can help all the way from grocery shopping to the cooking process. They can even put together small meals for themselves as they get older.
- Give healthy snacks. Replace the soda, chips, and cookies with healthy snacks such as fruits, vegetables, whole grain snacks, and nutritious drinks (e.g. water, milk, 100% fruit juice). Try to limit snacks to two times a day, so that they have room for their main meals. Also, try presenting fruits and/or vegetables in an appealing manner (e.g. decorate on top of cereal; create a food collage; incorporate in fruit smoothies; add into baked goods, etc.)
- Portion control. Always be mindful of your child’s appetite. Don’t force food down, or use it as a bribe/reward.
- Limit sugar. Though this can be a challenge, it is essential to do so. The American Heart Association’s recommendation is three teaspoons (i.e. 12 grams) of sugar per day for children. Most baked goods, canned foods, frozen foods, ketchup, and fast food have a large amount of sugar content. Aim for fruits and vegetables which not only contain fruit sugar but also added vitamins and minerals, along with fiber.
- Don’t eliminate sweets completely, it will initiate cravings and promote overeating of sugar items.
- Modify recipes to incorporate less sugar.
- Avoid or eliminate sugary beverages. Sodas are notorious for having very high sugar content (about 10 teaspoons in a 12 fl. oz. soda). Also, high caffeine levels can leave kids with anxiety and depression when it wears off. Freshly squeezed fruit juices, or 100% fruit juices are a better option. You can even try making popsicles with 100% fruit juices, by freezing them in ice-cube trays with wooden sticks to hold.
- Reduce processed foods. Cakes, white bread, cupcakes, etc., all make your blood sugar fluctuate, and therefore are energy zappers for kids.
- Serve fruits instead of sweets, either fresh or frozen as dessert.
- Limit salt. Salt is often hidden in many items that we purchase for children. The maximum intakes are as follows (per day): 1,500mg (for 1-3 year old); 1,900mg (for 4-8 year old); 2,200mg (for 9-13 year old), and 2,300mg (for 14-18 year old).
- Avoid processed food, restaurant, and fast food. Processed foods include canned soups and frozen dinners. Both these and restaurant food are very high in sodium, so they should be limited or avoided completely.
- Use fresh produce, instead of frozen or canned vegetables.
- Reduce salty snacks like chips and pretzels.
- Consciously choose low or reduced-salt products.
- Have variety. Introduce children to a variety of foods, from a young age. Make them experiment with different flavors, textures, types, colors, and shapes of food. Also, remember that children take time to acquire certain tastes, so the same food has to be introduced multiple times (e.g. 15-20 times) before the child may accept it, so don’t give up if they are picky at the beginning. Variety in foods also ensures that children get a variety of nutrients, from different food groups. So, change it up!
- Avoid junk foods. This is often difficult to do, as the temptations are many. It is best to substitute them with healthier options.
- Substitute French fries with baked or grilled fries.
- Substitute ice cream with low-fat frozen yogurt; fresh fruit smoothies and sorbet.
- Substitute doughnuts with whole-grain bagels; English muffins; home-made goodies with reduced sugar and fat content.Substitute potato chips with air-popped popcorn or baked crisps.
These are some general guidelines that can set a standard for healthy eating habits for our young children and will carry forward with them lifelong. Not going into the actual nutritional needs of each age group of children, we will look at what foods are good for children from a general point of view. The following list is a short compilation of the foods that will help kids stay energized and alert all day long, and help brain function/development. The list is by no means complete and is meant to serve as an informative piece.
Try incorporating some or all of these foods into your and your children’s diet. The key to the healthy brain development of the child is a combination of good nutrition, good eating practices, as well as a constructive environment to thrive in, with positive role models, and teachers. Investing in our children today will ensure exemplary adults in the future.
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