A child’s food choices are related to brain development and growth, immune support, mental clarity, and focus. As parents, we strive to provide our children with an education that will open their future to unlimited possibilities. The emphasis is on the best schools and teachers, leaving the kitchen as an afterthought.
Brain development and immune function thrive with specific nutrient combinations for optimal health. For cognitive thinking, learning, temperament, and creating a strong immune system, essential fatty acids (EFA’s) become the first step towards nourishing the brain and the body. EFA’s are a balanced ratio of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, they need the assistance of vitamins B6, A, C, E, magnesium, zinc, copper, and selenium to successfully affect the body. Ideally, these nutrient combinations are received from foods, as opposed to supplements. EFA’s are readily available in raw nuts and seeds such as walnuts and hemp seeds, wild salmon, avocados, and brussels sprouts.
A typical day for most children includes some healthy choices of fruit and vegetables, but it also includes several “quick alternatives” such as processed and fast food. Sugar, flour, and dairy are all interpreted by the body as sugar and produce false erratic energy that can disrupt our ability to focus and learn.
Sugar, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup are readily available in just about every packaged food item. For sugar to metabolize, the body has to suppress the immune system for a period of time. Sugar and salt secrete magnesium out of the body and into the urine, but yet we need magnesium to metabolize EFA’s (those essential fatty acids mentioned above). Phosphates, which are used as a preservative, block the absorption of calcium and magnesium. And pesticides found in conventional fruit and vegetables interfere with the body’s ability to use Vitamin B6. This all sounds complicated, but it can be kept simple if the focus is directed to whole foods and not their manufactured counterparts.
Nutrients work synergistically to promote learning and development. When a child is at school and has limited snack and lunchtimes, breakfast needs to be high in protein and quality fats to maintain alertness and to increase a child’s learning abilities until they reach lunch. Most strive for a quick solution bringing in processed foods as the answer. If they consume cereal and milk around 7 am, this all metabolizes as sugar and break down rather quickly, they will be hungry around 10 and start to lose attentiveness in class until lunchtime. Alternatively, if they consume eggs and avocado, these things take longer to digest, leaving them satiated until lunchtime. For children, utilizing quality proteins and fats, as the main staple to their food plan, can keep them feeling satiated longer, their energy more stable, and their attention right on point.
Food creates the foundation of health for a child through adulthood. As a parent, the goal is to feed them with the right foods to help them achieve their goals in school, attain a strong immune system, and develop their bodies with health at the forefront. Every morsel of food acts as the fuel to energize the body and to strengthen the body. With summer coming to a close, take this time to redirect the family to make food choices that will assist them in the new school year ahead.
Adita Yrizarry-Lang is a “SuperPower” aficionado and mother of two. Adita’s mission is to encourage individuals to Live Inspired. For more information and to learn more about Adita,