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A healthy brain starts with a healthy plate

Teresa Fuller, M.D., Ph.D | 9/13/2013, 6 a.m.
Now that our kids are back in school, they’ll need all the brain power they can get. Would it surprise ...
Fruits and vegetables boost brain power

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Dr, Teresa Fuller

Now that our kids are back in school, they’ll need all the brain power they can get. Would it surprise you to know that our brain function is vitally connected to what we eat? In fact, psychiatrist Dr. Scott Shannon says:

“In order to ensure that your child’s brain is able to function well…you must first ensure that it is being properly nourished.…Poor diet is without a doubt one of the major reasons we’re seeing such an incredible spike in the number of kids diagnosed with and medicated for mental and emotional disorders.”

More and more studies are showing just how powerful food is in the function and growth of the brain. “Brain food” has been shown in studies to improve concentration, creativity and cognition.

So here are three great nutritional brain boosters for your child’s brain (and yours too):

Lots of fruits and vegetables

Our children need at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. But most children eat less than two servings! Being the parent of a picky eater myself, I’ve had to be very creative about getting the fruits and veggies in, such as smoothies and sauces doctored with hidden fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables boost brain power by:

• providing healthy complex carbohydrates for the brain to work optimally

• supplying an abundance of antioxidants which are powerful chemicals that your body uses to fight oxidative stress, thus protecting the brain.

• providing fiber, a detoxifying agent that protects the brain by removing toxic chemicals.

A healthy dose of essential fatty acids

Not all fat is bad; in fact, some fats are essential for good body and brain health. Two are especially important: DHA and EPA.

DHA helps support nerve cells while EPA is responsible for signaling and communication inside and between nerve cells. Good sources of essential fatty acids are:

• fatty fish, such as wild salmon

• nuts (such as walnuts and almonds) and

• seeds (such as pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and chia seeds)

In his book, The Brain Diet, Dr. Alan Logan states “dietary and supplemental omega-3 fatty acids may be the most significant brain insurance policy you can purchase.”

Breakfast and Healthy Snacks

Do your children often want to run out of the house without having eaten a decent breakfast? That sets them up for fatigue, irritability, and poor concentration. Breakfast is a must to kick start the brain, and then the rest of the day should include regular snacking on nutritious foods, such as mentioned above.

You’ll find that strengthening your child’s diet in these ways will boost his/her brain performance and overall health!