The end of school holidays is near. No more busy kids running your home. But before you breathe a sigh of relief and kick your feet up – now you’ve got nutritious lunches to worry about. A friend in crisis from Cape Town wonders what brain foods she can give her kids to make sure that they excel in school in 2022.
Jason van Heerden is a registered dietitian from Pretoria who also specializes in child and sport nutrition. He joins episode 24 of Sisters Without Shame to unpack brains foods for kids.
Much like taking supplements the food we eat can have profound effects on our brains and body function. “A healthy diet helps with the optimal functioning of your children’s brain,” he says. “Whatever food you eat needs to consumed with a balanced diet as a foundation.”
Setting the right foundation
According to van Heerden, setting a healthy foundation for your children needs a whole lot of nutrition versatility. For a healthy balanced diet, include:
Starch: “Our brain uses approximately 30% to 40% of the sugar in our blood, so if your child does not have sufficient and stable blood sugar levels that is going to have a profound effect on the functioning of their brains,” he says.
The best starches include:
- Mielie pap
Protein: Besides just making you full faster, van Heerden says protein is very important for your kids as it helps them grow.
“Insufficient protein supply has been proven to have detrimental effect in malnourished children, and no brain stimulating foods have the power to boost these children’s brains besides sufficient protein consumption.”
The best sources of protein for kids:
- Peanut butter.
Good fats: “One of the biggest contributors to our brain, nervous and eye health is essential fatty acids – which is known by many as Omega3. Omega3 is what is needed for the healthy covering of the nerves which work very closely with our brain.”
The main source/base for Omega3 is fish (Salmon fish) but van Heerden says this fish is expensive and people can substitute it by consuming fatty fish like tined fish – tuna, pilchards.
Foods like these are very important for your kids:
- lean meat
- vegetable oils,
According to van Heerden, these are just the main three important elements of a healthy diet for your children, but they also extend to vitamin B foods like wholegrain, fruits and vegetables, and things like nuts and raisins, as well as water.
Listen to the full interview on Sisters Without Shame
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