Want to increase your child’s energy levels and make sure he does even better at school? A well-balanced diet with all the right nutrients, together with some fresh air and outdoor play, will help you do just that. Nutritionist Sheeba Majmudar shows you how.
BALANCED BLOOD SUGAR (GLUCOSE) Blood sugar is the brain’s main fuel. The trick lies in keeping it on an even keel. To do so, help your child stay away from chocolates and soft drinks. Give him only whole-grain carbohydrates like multi-grain bread, instead of white bread. Don’t send him to school without breakfast, and when he is at home, offer snacks like fruits and nuts – carbohydrates and proteins help balance blood sugar levels.
ESSENTIAL FATS OMEGA-3 AND OMEGA-6 Fat helps to reduce the risk of allergies, asthma, eczema and infections, and also promote good mental health. A deficit can result in depression, attention deficit disorder, fatigue, as well as behavioural problems. Give your child three servings of fish a week, or supplement meals with fish oils. For vegetarian sources, try flaxseed, hempseed, walnut and borage oils, and pumpkin seeds, sunflower and sesame seeds.
PHOSPHOLIPIDS The “intelligent” fat in our brain, these chemicals provide a smooth passage for all the signals in the brain to enhance mood and mental performance. To increase supply, include eggs, soya beans, peanuts and other nuts or lecithin granules in your child’s diet.
PROTEIN These are the building blocks of life. The body converts some proteins into neurotransmitters, or “chemical messengers”, for the brain. A good supply of protein is essential for a child’s brain to function properly. So, try to include some protein in every one of your child’s meals, like chicken in pasta, or nuts and seeds with cereal. And if your child is eating animal protein, choose free-range eggs, fish or lean meat, or go organic whenever possible.
VITAMIN AND MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS Vitamins and minerals are the key players in building and rebuilding the brain and nervous system, and they can help a child to process information faster. Studies confirm that meeting the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) levels of vitamins and minerals boosts IQ by 4.5 to 10 points on average. But be careful about how you choose them.
ANTIOXIDANTS Free radicals or oxidants are a by-product of our normal body processes. Pollution and bad food choices all add to the toxins in the body. Antioxidants effectively help douse these free radicals that are produced, thus protecting your brain from damage. Most vegetables and fruits provide a range of antioxidants like vitamins E, A, C, so be sure to serve them to your child. Other foods that are good for him include mushrooms, seafood, nuts and seeds.
EXERCISE AND HAVE FUN! Research has shown that exercise and physical games boost mental power, and children perform better after exercise.
BE HAPPY This is the key to your child’s good mental health. Happy hormones lift the mood, increase creativity, improve concentration and help your child process information more rapidly.
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