A healthy brain should be a top priority, yet many people take the brain for granted. The more studies done, the more amazing and complex the brain becomes. The health of a child’s growing brain should be of utmost importance to parents. An unhealthy brain causes problems with concentration, focus, memory and learning in general. Conditions such as: ADD, Depression, Anxiety and mood swings can be helped by providing the proper foods, nutrients and a healthy lifestyle.
To protect the health of a child’s brain:
– Monitor blood sugar levels
– Watch intake of chemicals, bad fats and sugars
– Limit use of TV and computers
– Ensure children eat good fats and other brain foods
– Make sure children get enough sleep and exercise.
The brain needs a constant, even supply of blood sugar to keep it running properly. If blood sugar levels get too low, children will tend to become spacey, forgetful, irritable and shaky.
If a child is happy one minute and angry and irritable the next, it could be related to blood sugar. When children consume a lot of sweets (pop, juice and white flour products), this sets them up for conditions like Diabetes and Hypoglycemia. Blood sugar problems in time cause brain damage. Children will have difficulty learning and retaining school work, emotions will be all over the place and they have even linked certain cancers and Alzheimer”s to diabetes.
To maintain a healthy blood sugar level, you must make sure your children eat every 3-4 hours. Include a good quality protein and fiber in every meal. Cut back on sugar (do not substitute Aspartame), white flour products, hydrogenated fats and Trans fats.
The brain is 40-60% fat, so provide good brain building fats and limit the unhealthy fats. Cut back on hydrogenated fats, trans fats and fried fats.
Good fats include:
– Fish oils,
– Flax oil,
– Hemp oil,
– Tree nuts such as almonds or walnuts
When you include good fats in your child”s diet, their cravings for the bad fats will start to diminish. Put the liquid oil into a protein smoothie drink, or get flavored fish oil capsules. These good fats will help calm the brain and nervous system, while helping decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Make sure children get lots of colorful fruits and vegetables. Blueberries, cherries, almonds, walnuts, whole grains and good quality proteins are essential. Avoid sugars and artificial foods that contain chemicals such as Aspartame, MSG, Artificial Colours, Artificial Flavours and Sucrolose. Sugars and simple carbohydrates (donuts, white bread, candy), can increase the chance of Diabetes, which in turn affects the brain health. Certain chemicals act as Excitotoxins, which damage the brain cells.
Give children foods high in B Vitamins. These help alleviate stress, depression and anxiety. Whole Grains, nuts, beans, brown rice, eggs, leafy greens, peas, poultry, wheat germ, organic raisins and blackstrap molasses, all contain B Vitamins.
Breakfast is an important meal to keep the brain working properly, so feed children a well-rounded breakfast.
Studies show that children should spend a maximum of two hours watching TV a day. This also includes computer and video games. For children ages one to three, less than two hours is recommended. TV overloads the developing brain with information and it can cause permanent damage in a baby’s developing neural pathways. Children will become bored more often. ADD has increased with the introduction of children’s Television in the 1950’s (Jean Lotus, “It’s Official: TV Linked to Attention Deficit”)
Sleep is also important for overall brain health. Research proves that sleep improves memory, mood and brain function. Lack of sleep increases the stress hormone, corticosterone; it also decreases concentration and brain cell production. Sleep deprivation also causes children to eat more junk food, usually simple carbohydrates. This in turn will create a blood sugar problem and obesity.
Exercise is needed to keep children fit. Exercise is not just good for bodies but it”s also good for the brain. Exercise increases circulation, including to the brain. This creates extra endorphins and helps prevent obesity. Increased circulation brings nutrients to the brain and pushes waste products out. This increases the level of brain chemicals and encourages nerve cell growth. Memory, concentration and attention are all increased with exercise.
Do not take the brain for granted. Make sure children are getting the proper nutrition, amount of TV, sleep and exercise needed for healthy brain development.