Healthy School Year: Food and nutrients for brain power

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Many studies have shown that healthy, balanced diets can help improve focus and concentration throughout the day. In fact, children who suffer from poor nutrition during the brain's most formative years tend to score much lower on tests of vocabulary, reading, comprehension, arithmetic and general knowledge. Foods that are high in fat and/or sugar actually slow brain function and tend to make you more sluggish; therefore, it is important to read nutrition labels and avoid these types of foods.

Making sure your child receives a balanced breakfast and lunch, paired with healthy snacks, is especially important to keep them focused throughout the school day. Breakfast should include some form of carbohydrates, such as whole-grain cereal or toast, along with a form of low-fat protein, such as eggs or turkey bacon and a serving of fruit and/or vegetables. Lunch should also include carbohydrates and lean protein, such as a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, along with another serving of fruit and/or vegetables. Snacks are also important to keep your child energized and focused. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products, like yogurt, serve as great, healthy snack options.

It is also recommended to incorporate foods that contain a lot of antioxidants into meals, as antioxidants have been linked to improved memory function. Foods like blueberries, beans and peppers, that contain antioxidants, also contain vitamin B12 and folate, which promote brain health as well.

Parents with picky eaters and/or those who want learn more about proper nutrition for their children may benefit from a consultation with a registered dietician. Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center has an exceptional team of registered dieticians dedicated to educating families on nutrition and helping them develop healthy meal plans.

Spokesperson Background:

Megan Hadley is a registered dietician at the Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center. Hadley received a Bachelor of Science in Biology at NC State University in 2001 and a Master of Science in nutrition from UNCG in 2014.