- Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. These foods are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which are beneficial for brain function. Research has shown an increased IQ in children who have consumed these foods along with home prepared meals in infancy. Choose fruit or vegetable sticks for snacks instead of biscuits; add lettuce, beetroot and grated carrot to sandwiches; freeze bananas and then blend to make a quick and easy icy dessert to replace ice-cream.
- Move your body – keep active and fit. Recent studies show that physical fitness in children improves academic performance, with aerobic type activity having the most effect. So, play a sport, run around, walk the dog – not only can it help improve grades, it can reduce feelings of stress and improve sleep.
- Eat food at a table with the family. Being distracted while eating, such as playing computer games or watching television, can lead to an increased amount of food eaten and as such lead to overeating and obesity, as we are not taking note of our body’s natural signal for fullness. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that being distracted while eating a meal, caused less satiety which resulted in more snacking 30 minutes after eating, compared to those who were less distracted while eating. And memory recall in the distracted group was reduced compared to those not distracted while eating. Meal times should be relaxed and enjoyable, a time for families to come together and talk.
- Increase your good fats, particularly the omega 3 fats. These are anti-inflammatory in the body and are found in high amounts in the brain and are particularly important for nervous system function including behaviour. Omega 3 fats are found in oily fish such as sardines, atlantic salmon, walnuts, and chia seeds.
- Drink plenty of filtered water, especially in the hot summer months. Even being mildly dehydrated can affect cognitive function such as short term memory, alertness and concentration. Substitute fruit juices, cordials and soft drinks with water.
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