Feeding Your Sprout’s Brain

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Fall is definitely one of my favorite seasons.  I love the cooler weather, the smell of pumpkin and apples, the harvest from my garden and going back to school.  Yes, I said it.  I love back to school time.  Now maybe I can say that because I don’t have kids in school yet, but when I was younger I secretly loved going back to school (nerd alert) and still miss it a little bit every fall.  I probably made a fuss and complained about it but deep in the recesses of my heart I was longing for a classroom and structure and learning.  There is just something about new notebooks and pencils, new classrooms and teachers, and new things to learn.  I love learning.  In another life I’m going to be a professional student (is there such a thing?), but for now I just have to gain knowledge from my podcasts and nutrition journals.  Since learning has been such a huge part of my life, I want it to be an important part G’s life as well, but part of that is providing him with the nutrients his body needs to be able to learn. I love that I can help improve his learning abilities by feeding him a healthy diet.  Here are a few examples of foods that can help your little one learn as well.

Protein: While carbohydrates provide your kiddos energy, protein helps them focus and learn.  Feeding your kids protein at breakfast can help them concentrate during those early morning hours at school and enhance learning.  Aim for a lean protein such as eggs, canadian bacon or greek yogurt.  

Folic Acid: We’ve talked about how important folic acid is during pregnancy and fetal development, but did you realize that it’s important for your growing sprouts as well? Folic acid is needed to make red blood cells, which are used to carry oxygen to the brain.  Oxygen in the brain leads to better brain function, which we definitely want for those developing minds.  Folic acid is supplemented in many foods you’ll find on the grocery store shelf like cereal, bread and pasta, but you can also find folic acid in oranges, beans, spinach, and peanuts.

Iron: similar to folate, iron plays an important role in oxygen transport to your child’s brain. Because iron plays such an important role in brain development, low levels may lead to learning and behavioral problems. Not what we want for those little minds. Iron is found in fortified cereals, green vegetables, beans and meats. For more information on iron, go here.

Vitamin C: vitamin C is not only a great antioxidant, it is involved in the physiological process that changes tryptophan to serotonin. Serotonin is one of the chemicals in our brains that make us feel happy and confident, definitely emotions that are conducive learning. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, green peppers, strawberries and a variety of other fruits and vegetables.

Omega-3 fatty acids: we’ve talked about how these help boost your little’s mood but did you know they can also boost brain power? Omega-3’s are involved in cell production and help build your littles central nervous system. Additionally, studies have shown decreased reading ability in children with low levels of certain omega-3’s. So where can your kids get these magical fats? Fish is a good one but there are lots of other options including ground flax seed, chia seeds, walnuts, soybeans, and supplemented foods including eggs and yogurt.

Choline: choline isn’t really a vitamin but it is an essential nutrient for your little ones learning ability. Choline helps with normal brain development to help your sprouts continue to learn as they grow.  Your kiddos can get choline in their diet from eggs, meat, chicken, fish, peanuts, broccoli, and dairy products.
Hopefully this will help give your kids a healthy kickstart as you send them off to school each day. Encourage learning and brain development by encouraging a healthy diet and your sprouts will be sure to be lifelong learners!

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