Children are constantly growing, both mentally and physically, and their brains require the fuel to operate at peak capacity. This fuel comes from a balanced diet that provides the right mix of protein and carbohydrates, which will ensure brain function isn't impeded. Certain foods provide the nutrients that will ensure your child will stay focused in school. If you have concerns about your child's nutrition, ask your pediatrician if supplements are appropriate.
Glucose and Protein
Brain cells require glucose to manufacture enzymes and neurotransmitters that are carried to nerve endings. Glucose enters the blood stream via carbohydrates. Low levels of blood glucose can leave a child feeling groggy and inattentive, so ensure your child has a healthy, balanced breakfast that will release energy slowly and consistently, as opposed to a sugary snack that causes a burst of high energy followed by a crash. Protein is also important for functions such as metabolism, cell signaling and cell adhesion, all of which contribute to the brain functioning normally. Complex carbohydrates in foods such as whole-wheat bread and oatmeal will provide a steady, consistent level of energy throughout the day that will aid a child's attention span. Eggs any style, meats, dairy products and beans are a reliable source of protein.
One of the dietary solutions that can improve a child's focus is magnesium, as a magnesium deficiency can contribute to a lack of focus and a decreased attention span. Spinach is an excellent source of magnesium. Other foods that are high in magnesium include eggplant, tofu, salmon, bananas, shrimp, rice, yams, sardines, corn and mozzarella cheese. For a magnesium-rich meal, make a cold rice salad with salmon and spinach. Mix every thing together with a creamy dressing to make it appealing to your kids.
Vitamin C plays an important role in synthesizing neurotransmitters, which are necessary for proper brain function. Foods containing vitamin C include citrus fruits, cranberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peas, sweet potatoes and peppers. An excellent way to provide vitamin C is in a breakfast smoothie. Combine orange juice, strawberries, mango chunks and bananas in your blender. Add a few ice cubes and blend until smooth for a vitamin-C rich smoothie.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are "good fats" that contribute to keeping the brain functioning at its peak capacity. These essential fatty acids aren't produced by the human body, and must be ingested via food or nutritional supplements. Fatty fish such as salmon, halibut and tuna contain high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, as do avocados and macadamia nuts. Essential fatty acids are crucial in forming healthy cell membranes that are vital to cell signalling. Include more of these healthy fats in your kid's diet by making a mixed green salad topped with salmon, avocado, tomato, corn and creamy dressing.
The human body requires vitamin B6 to manufacture brain chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine — all of which are are crucial in the healthy function of the human brain. Too much B6, however, may be harmful to a child, so giving vitamin B6 in a supplement should only be administered under a doctor's supervision. A safe way to provide B6 to your child is through foods containing high levels of vitamin B6, which include spinach, bell peppers and turnip greens. Make these B-6 rich veggies more appealing by hiding them in an omelet. Saute some spinach and bell peppers with a bit of ranch-flavored seasoning mix. When the omelet is cooked, drizzle some ketchup or creamy dressing on top.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- ConAgra Foods: Improve Your Day with a Balanced Breakfast
- ADHD Child Parenting: Treatment for ADD and ADHD Medication Not Required
- Health Boundaries Bite: Foods Containing Magnesium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
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