“Let food be our medicine and medicine be thy food.”
- Good nutrition impacts the developing child’s brain and body, and supports attention, behavior, learning and self-regulation.
- Lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue. A mere 2% loss is body water can trigger fuzzy short-term thinking. Children need 4-6 glasses of water per day, so should have a water bottle available to them at all times.
- Protein deficiency can result in muscle weakness, slowed responses, mood instability and attention problems. 1/3 of each meal should be a good quality protein (preferably organic) choosing from eggs, beans, cheese, fish, meat, poultry, nuts, and some seeds. Quantity is recommended to be palm-size. With children it can be helpful to serve the protein first, telling the child “We need to eat ‘brain food’ first, then we can eat our energy food’ (carbohydrates)”.
- Vitamin deficiency impacts the brain, as each vitamin (A, B complex, C, D, and E) plays a different but critical role in brain functioning. Every day, children should eat from as many parts of the color spectrum as possible. A daily multivitamin-multimineral supplement is important for children of all ages. Check out Environmental Working Group at ewg.org to view the top 10 “dirtiest” fruits and vegetables that should be bought organic whenever possible.
- Mineral deficiencies can trigger sensory abnormalities (especially auditory and taste), as well as motor restlessness, tics, weakened immune system, and appetite loss. Calcium, magnesium, and zinc are the minerals most important to neurological functions. A diet of highly refined and processed foods are most likely deficient in minerals. A daily multivitamin-multimineral supplement is important for children of all ages.
- Fatty acid deficiency can result in frequent thirst, as well as problems learning, attending, behaving, and regulating mood. The good dietary fats (essential fatty acids) that feed the brain are Omega 3 fats found in fish, flax, and borage. No other brain foods have as much scientific evidence behind them as fish and fish oil. Countries with diets high in good fats, such as Japan, have almost no ADHD, however Japanese children who ate a western diet had higher rates of ADHD. Although Omega 3’s are increasingly being added to foods, the labeling of “with Omega 3’s” may actually be an insignificant amount. Strive to get Omega 3’s into your child’s diet, whether it is through nuts, lean meat, fish, flax, dark leafy greens, or an Omega 3 supplement.
- Allergies and underlying biochemical challenges need to be understood in children with sensory, developmental, learning, mood, and/or attentional difficulties. Such challenges include metabolic issues, gluten intolerance/gluten sensitivity, asthma, lactose intolerance, yeast-leaky gut cycle, and many more. By understanding underlying biochemical issues, effective strategies can be implemented to support both body and brain functioning.
- Food coloring can be associated with hyper activity, low concentration, memory loss, anxiety, and depression. Avoid the top 10 food toxins which are: food dyes (anything with a #), aspartame, MSG, BVO (bromated vegetable oil), nitrites, saccharin, sulphites, TBHQ, BHA, and BHT. Check out Environmental Working Group, EWG.org for detailed information and research related to food additives, pesticides, and hormone-altering chemicals.
- “Natural” does not necessarily mean it is “the real thing”.
- Always shop the perimeters of grocery stores for the healthiest and most nutritious foods.
- Nutrition, along with sleep, activity, and environment, influences our biochemistry, our bodies, our brains, and our functional performance in every day life.