Smart foods to boost learning
At a glance
- If you want your child to think more clearly, give them a breakfast high in protein such as eggs and milk.
- Mother Nature is full of foods that help children and adults think and feel better.
- Exercise is good for thinking because it supplies oxygen to the brain.
- Avoid white squishy things like chips, white bread and cakes.
A diet high in carbohydrates is good for sustaining energy in your kids throughout the school day, but if you want to give them an extra brain boost, try serving them a breakfast of proteins such as eggs and milk.
"Having a higher protein, lower carbohydrate breakfast enhances concentration and memory," says Andrew Fuller, a fellow at the University of Melbourne's departments of Psychiatry and Learning and Educational Development.
What you're trying to do is avoid white squishy things ... these aren't the things that really love us University of Melbourne
Andrew says eggs in particular "literally lay down learning" because of the nutrient choline found in them, which helps to improve thinking and memory.
Mother Nature is full of foods that aid smarter thinking and help kids and adults alike live longer – richly coloured berries to improve your child's mood, avocado on toast to calm them. It all comes down to regularly eating foods that supply nutrients which support specific brain and body functions, Andrew says.
"What you're trying to avoid is white squishy things, so basically chips, bread, cakes – these aren't the things that really love us long term," he says.
"If you want your kids to be on top of the game, they need to have an optimal brain and you only get an optimal brain if you sleep well, eat well, live well."
In the mood for food
Learning, concentration and memory: eggs; dark coloured vegetables such as silver beet, spinach, broccoli and beans; and oranges. Exercise is also good for thinking because it gets the blood flowing.
Happiness and sleep: almonds; cottage cheese; richly coloured berries such as strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries; lean beef; milk; pumpkin seeds; and turkey.
Pleasure, motivation and concentration: chicken; dairy such as milk, yoghurt and cheese; fish such as wild salmon; oats; and chicken.
Energy and memory: chicken; dairy such as milk and yoghurt; lima beans; peanuts; and sesame seeds.
Calmness: avocado; eggs; grape juice; peaches; peas; and sunflower seeds.
Longevity: think Mediterranean diet such as olive oil and tomatoes.
Children with learning problems and behavioural issues often show substantial deficiencies in vitamins when assessed, Andrew says.
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