You Can Help Nourish Your Child’s Academic Success!
The start of the new school year is a perfect opportunity for parents to rethink their children’s nutrition, as well as other lifestyle habits that have been shown to have a direct impact on classroom performance.
A sensible eating and exercise regimen not only helps a child maintain a healthy weight, it affects a child’s energy levels, ability to concentrate and even his moods and behavior. Adequate sleep is also key to a child’s academic success and to his general well-being.
High Weight, Low Self-Esteem?
Left unchecked, obesity raises a child’s risk for early adulthood diabetes and heart disease. In the short term, obesity increases the risk of developing a variety of conditions, including:
· Insulin resistance (a forerunner to diabetes)
· Elevated blood pressure
· Elevated cholesterol levels
· Type-2 diabetes
A seriously overweight child may also struggle with self-esteem issues that are often reflected in poor school performance, anxiety, behavioral issues, and even depression.
Eating for Success
Beyond promoting a healthy weight, an eating regimen based on the well-known Mediterranean diet–which focuses on vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains, fish, lean protein and monounsaturated fats (from sources like olive oil and avocados) – has benefits that can directly affect a child’s school performance and behavior:
The Omega-3 found in fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel has been shown to promote emotional well-being and concentration. (For reluctant fish eaters, supplementing with a high-quality fish oil is appropriate and beneficial.)
The amino acids from protein–healthy sources include eggs, fish, lean poultry, low-fat dairy and nuts ñ are used to make the neurotransmitters that enable brain cells to network and communicate. (A good-tasting whey supplement can help young macaroni addicts meet their protein requirements.)
The high levels of magnesium – the “anti-stress mineral” – in such foods as nuts, avocado, and dark green leafy vegetables have been shown to have a calming effect.
Whole grains help keep blood sugar stabilized. (An imbalance in blood sugar levels may cause a variety of symptoms, including fatigue and lack of mental focus.)
Starting the Day Right
Many studies have shown that children who eat a healthy breakfast every day are able to concentrate better, solve problems more easily and perform better on exams. The ideal breakfast consists of whole wheat bread, a quality protein (such as eggs) and some fruit or vegetables. Sugary cereals and breakfast bars may produce a temporary boost in energy, but are likely to lead to a blood sugar crash later in the day.
Providing kids with nuts and fruit for snack time will also help them maintain the mental equilibrium that sugary snacks and beverages can easily upset.
Moving For Mental Fitness
When it comes to exercise, it’s helpful to remember that the important thing is to get the body moving. That doesn’t mean that a ten-year-old has to hit the gym every day; enjoyable aerobic activities like biking, jumping rope, dancing, and swimming will yield great results.
Asleep … in the Classroom
Studies have shown that getting more high-quality sleep is associated with better academic performance. Yet, according to the National Sleep Foundation, more than two-thirds of school-aged children experience sleep problems at least a few nights each week and are falling short of the ten to eleven hours recommended by experts. At an average of 10.4 hours per night, pre-schoolers, too, are not getting enough sleep say experts, who recommend as much as two and a half hours more snooze-time each night.
In general, children in this country get an average of one hour less sleep than they did just 30 years ago. And while an hour or two may not seem like much, child sleep expert Avi Sadeh, of Tel Aviv University, found that getting just one hour less of sleep each night affects student performance by as much as two grade levels.
So get your children off to a great academic start this year. Resolve to help nurture their scholastic performance with three key ingredients: a healthy diet rich in brain-boosting nutrients, plenty of exercise, and a good night’s sleep.
liezer Gruber, CN is the founder/proprietor of Nutri-Supreme Research. To contact Mr. Gruber, call the Nutri-Supreme Reseach Center at 718.853.0644.