The ability to concentrate doesn’t come naturally to kids. Concentration is a skill children learn and develop as they mature but parents can help prime their brains through the right nutrition.Here is a selection of the best brainy food choices to help kids concentrate:
1. FISH, especially cold water varieties like salmon, mackerel, pilchards, kippers, sardines, tuna, and herring. The human body is unable to produce omega-3 fatty acids, making them vital nutrients to include in the diet as healthy blood levels of omega-3 can improve children’s reading, memory and behavior and improve symptoms of ADHD and depression.
2. AVOCADOS have the highest protein content of any fruit and are rich in monounsaturated fat, which contributes to healthy blood flow, which contributes to healthy brain function, according to Dr Steven Pratt, author of Superfoods Rx: Fourteen Foods Proven to Change Your Life.
STAR KIDS tip: Mash an avocado and spread on wraps instead of mayonnaise or cream cheese.
3. NUTS & SEEDS A good intake of vitamin E might help to prevent cognitive decline by protecting nervous membranes. Thiamine helps the brain and nervous system use glucose for energy. Nuts and seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E and also stand out for their significant omega-3 content.
STAR KIDS tip: Add sprinkles of nuts to salads, desserts or breakfast. And don’t be shy to add some extra peanut butter to your children’s sandwiches or smoothies.
Our brains, like the other organs and systems in our bodies, require an adequate, steady supply of energy to function properly.
6. WHOLE GRAINS release glucose slowly into our bodies, which minimises the effects of sugar rushes caused by refined foods. This steady supply of glucose improves alertness, concentration and memory. Whole grains are also a good source of other B vitamins that can also help improve alertness.
STAR KIDS tip: Substitute old favourites like pasta, bread, wraps and couscous for wholegrain varieties. Start slowly by mixing half of the processed variety with half wholegrain and gradually increase the wholegrain ratio.
7. BEANS provide little bodies with energy from protein and complex carbs. They’re also packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals like iron. Just remember to add tomatoes or strawberries to your meal because the iron in beans needs vitamin C to be absorbed.
STAR KIDS tip: Add pureed kidney or pinto beans to stews, pasta sauces and in wraps.
8. EGGS are well-known as a protein source but also provide choline, zinc and vitamins A, D, E and B12, which help memory development.
STAR KIDS tip: Make French toast with whole-wheat bread and top with fruit and honey.
9. LEAN RED MEAT provides children with a tasty source of iron that is easily absorbed. Iron is necessary to help red blood cells carry oxygen to cells throughout the body and is important for brain development. Iron deficiency is extremely common in children and can cause learning and behaviour problems over time.
STAR KIDS tip: Make homemade beef burgers (on whole wheat rolls) and top them with fresh vegetables.
10. WATER Our bodies are mostly made of water and being even slightly dehydrated can make kids listless, lethargic, and irritable. Water is the best option to prevent dehydration and improve short-term memory, focus and decision making.
STAR KIDS tip: Offer water at every meal and make sure there is always a bottle of H2O in their lunch bags.
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