Your child’s brain on banana’s: Best foods to support your child’s learning
Recently I had the pleasure of being invited to do a webinar for my friend’s tutoring business Beyond the Classroom (http://beyondtheclassroom.ca/). My topic: Your Child’s brain on banana’s: Best foods to support your child’s learning. In this presentation I provided some nutrition education around what our brains need for learning and shared some “brain” power foods. Here is a synopsis of what I talked about.
Our brains run on glucose. Without glucose our brains can’t function normally making it essential to consume for learning. Where does glucose come from? Many of us know that glucose come from carbohydrate foods. Often when I ask clients what foods break down into glucose they list all the grains and starches that they know – bread, pasta, potatoes, donuts, pastries. But they also come from vegetables and fruit, milk, yogurt, and beans and lentils. Other sources of carbohydrate include sugary foods like candy, pop, cookies and cakes. However, all carbs are not equal. The sugary foods digest very quickly, get into the blood stream quickly and are used up as energy quickly – leaving us feeling sometimes more tired in the long run. Your best bet to fuel your brain is to eat carbohydrate containing foods in the top 3 arcs of the Canada’s Food Guide rainbow.
Did you know that our bodies need a minimum 130g of carbohydrate per day? That’s equal to 6 ½ bananas. Without it our bodies, and our brains, won’t function well.
What about other nutrients?
Foods with fibre and protein help to keep us fuller longer and slow digestion. This results in a slower release of glucose to provide fuel to our brains for a longer period of time. For students, who need a constant source of fuel to learn, protein and fibre are therefore beneficial.
Other essential nutrients for learning:
|Iron: Iron makes red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body. Without oxygen going to our brains we can’t learn as well. Food source of iron include: meats, chicken, fish, legumes, oatmeal, cream of wheat, dried fruit, broccoli and spinach.|
|Omega 3 Fatty acids: Help with brain development in infants but may also be important in transmission of signals in the brain which helps us learn. Food source of Omega 3 fatty acids: fatty fish (salmon, trout, sardines), walnuts, flax seed (Ground), omega-3 eggs, soybeans and tofu.|
|B-vitamins: B-vitamins are often referred to as the helper vitamins because they help metabolize carbohydrate foods and therefore help make energy from carbohydrate foods. As stated earlier without glucose our brains won’t function very well. Food sources of b-vitamins are found in all the foods groups including whole wheat and enriched wheat breads and cereals, pork, sunflower seeds, milk, yogurt, mushrooms, and baked potatoes.|
|Water: Water is essential to keep us hydrated and make sure that our bodies function normally. Even slight dehydration can negatively impact our mental alertness making it more difficult to learn. We should drink water but other sources of water include all of our beverages as well as some of our high water content foods including vegetables and fruits, soups, milk, yogurt and smoothies.|
How we eat is as important as what we eat:
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! It gets our brains primed for learning by providing us with a source of glucose to start our day. Anything is better than nothing BUT having a breakfast that has CHO, fibre and protein is the most ideal. Children who abstain from breakfast may have a more difficult time in the classroom.
Setting your child up for success:
- Encourage breakfast daily
- Encourage 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day to refuel the brain
- Aim to include high fibre carbohydrate foods and some protein at meals
- Increase omega 3 fatty acids, iron, daily
- Pack a water bottle
My top ten foods for learning (in no particular order):
- Flax seeds (ground)
- All Fruit
- All Vegetables
- Legumes (Beans/lentils)
Check out this link for the taped webinar: https://beyondtheclassroom.adobeconnect.com/p9qmg1lz3zg/?launcher=false&fcsContent=true&pbMode=normal
Contact me to invite me to speak at your event.