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The Impact of Diet on Learning: Part One

December 5, 2017
How diet impacts learning - image

Everyone knows that we should eat a healthy diet. Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains get the thumbs up. Fried and fatty foods should be avoided or minimized. But how many of us follow the the rules of proper diet?

In this country plagued by an obesity epidemic, eating unhealthy food runs rampant. For children, that’s particularly dangerous, and not just because their growing bodies need serious nourishment. Bad eating habits make it harder to learn.

Studies show that poor grades, low test scores, lack of attention in class, and even frequent absenteeism can all be linked to improper diet. According to a report from the CDC (Center for Disease Control), changing dietary behavior to include healthier food can improve overall academic performance and give any child a boost to become a better learner.

Insufficient amounts of vitamins A, B6, B12, calcium, iron, and zinc are associated with low grades, as is a lack of healthy carbohydrates and fats. Hunger has also been shown to play a part in impairing the ability to focus and learn.

So What Can You Do?

Keep plenty of healthy, easy-to-eat snacks around. To appease that sweet tooth, fresh raspberries, strawberries, grapes, and baby carrots are all good choices for healthy munchies (Scott Doty, BrainStorm’s co-founder, claims beets are his favorite healthy sweet).

Put away the potato chips. Walnuts, almonds, and peanuts are rich in nutrients and will satisfy a salt craving.

No chance for organic, hormone-free milk with dinner? Try kefir, cheddar cubes, or yogurt smoothies– or explore the glories of coconut milk or the nutty “cheesiness” of nutritional yeast.

Healthy carbohydrates are a must. Substitute whole grain bread for white bread, wheat muffins for chocolate chip, multigrain bagels for plain. Potatoes (including sweet potatoes) are also an excellent source of carbohydrates. Since potatoes can be prepared in so many different ways, even the most picky eater can be enticed.

Don’t go emptying out your cabinets just yet though. By gradually introducing healthy foods into everyday life, you can instill good eating habits that will last– for better grades and better living.

Reference:
https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/health_and_academics/pdf/health-academic-achievement.pdf


This entry was posted in Brain Food, BrainStorm’s resource center for parents.
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