If you want your children to do better in school this year, holistic pharmacist and author Sherry Torkos suggests that you evaluate their diet and lifestyle. Kids’ ability to remember and concentrate in the classroom, as well as their behavior, can be influenced by how they eat, what they eat, how well they sleep at night and even how much they play. In her latest blog, Torkos smart strategies for optimizing kids’ brain power. Her tips include using Sunfiber and Suntheanine.
To boost back-to-school brain power, Torkos advises parents to:
● Provide a brainy breakfast: “Dozens of research studies have proven that children who eat a high-protein breakfast perform better in school. Her examples of a good breakfast include a fruit and veggie smoothie, or Greek yogurt with blueberries.” Since kids with tummy troubles may not be able to concentrate on learning, sprinkle Sunfiber in their smoothies, yogurt or oatmeal to support their digestive health without changing the taste or consistency of their breakfast.
● Raise a grazer: “Grazing, or eating small frequent meals and snacks, is good for the brain because it helps to steady blood sugar and energy levels. When children run out of fuel, their blood sugar dips.”
● Feed fish: “Research suggests that children who get omega-3 fats plus protein have better school performance. Recent studies have also shown that omega-3 fish oil supplements can improve learning and concentration in kids. Look for a quality fish oil supplement designed for kids.”
● Cut the sugar: “Discourage your child from eating these ‘dumb foods’ such as candy, soft drinks and convenience foods.” Torkos warns that these foods, which may contain sugar, MSG, aspartame and dyes, may cause mood swings, headaches and behavior problems, in addition to compromising overall health.
● Make sleep a priority: Torkos explains that the amount of sleep required depends on a child’s age. “Children aged five to 12 need 10-11 hours of sleep; and those 12 to 18 years old require 8 to 9 hours per day. Not getting enough sleep can affect a child’s behavior, concentration, memory and ability to do well in school.” She also points out that, “Poor sleep quality is a common problem among children diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). To improve sleep quality, try to get your child into a good sleep routine by doing relaxing activities in the evening such as reading (no video games), going to bed and waking at approximately the same time, avoiding sugar/caffeine and making your child’s room quiet and dark. For children who struggle with sleep, talk with your healthcare provider about supplemental support. One option to consider is Suntheanine. This clinically studied amino acid helps to improve sleep quality, while also improving daytime focus and concentration. One study of boys with ADHD ages 8 to 12 found that supplementing with Suntheanine improved sleep efficiency scores with no significant adverse effects.”
● Ensure adequate hydration: Water is critical for brain health. “Dehydration can cause fatigue, and impair memory and concentration,” writes Torkos.
● Run, play and have fun: “Exercise improves blood flow to the brain. This is like watering and fertilizing a garden. More blood means more nutrients.” She points to a Danish study that found that, “kids who cycled or walked to school, rather than traveling by car or bus, performed measurably better on tasks demanding concentration, such as solving puzzles. The effects lasted for up to four hours after they got to school.”
Torkos, who is also a busy mom of a young son, also gives tips in this blog for implementing each of these suggestions.