Back to School
By Kymythy R. Schultze, C.N.
When your child’s verbal loop switches from
“I’m bored, there’s nothing to do” to “I
don’t wanna go to school!” you know the time has come to do
your parental duty and properly prepare them for another academic year.
You’ll buy them notebooks, backpacks, pencils, and books. But,
are you also putting every effort into insuring that their brain is
fully charged? A child with good brain health has the opportunity to be
more successful in their schoolwork, and that translates to a better
school year for both of you. There are many factors that affect brain
health, and in this article we’ll focus on a few things you can
do to make a positive difference in your child’s learning and
Fortunately, there are safe natural substances that
you can use to help fight brain cell damage and increase cognitive
function. One of the most readily available compounds are antioxidants.
Consuming plenty of these nutrients provides your child’s brain
with powerful tools for good health. The best sources of antioxidants
are found in fresh vegetables. Wait! Don’t give up just because
we’re using the “V-word” with regard to your child.
There are creative ways to convince kids that veggies actually taste
good. Experiment with recipes and types of vegetables to find ones that
your child will readily eat. And let them in on the “secret
superheroes” that veggies contain. Don’t just say they have
to eat them because they’re good for them. Give them a short,
kid-friendly version about the special nutrients found in vegetables
that will help make them Super Smart! You know your child best, so if
making a home science experiment with veggies stimulates them to
indulge – go for it!
Protein is brain-food at its finest! Amino acids are
the building blocks of protein and there are eight essential to health.
Animal sources of protein such as meat, fish, poultry, and eggs supply
all eight of the essential amino acids. Many of the brain’s
neurotransmitters are made from amino acids, so if your child
doesn’t consume enough quality protein, brain function and mood
are affected. Protein supports energy and nutrient needs, plus
it’s very good at satisfying hunger. And that’s a good
thing because a hungry child is a grumpy child that lacks focus and
concentration. Including ample protein in your child’s breakfast
is a great way to start the day.
Another supplement for brain health that has many
exciting studies behind its use is fish oil omega-3 fatty acids. The
brain is approximately 60 percent fat and most of that is comprised of
DHA and AA fatty acids. AA is found in animal products such as
meat, fish, eggs, and poultry. DHA is found in cod-liver oil and fish
body oils. Studies prove that adequate amounts of DHA are vital to
learning, memory, and other brain functions. DHA is probably one of the
most important supplements you can add to your child’s diet. And
don’t despair; supplements have come a long way from our
Grandmother’s fishy cod-liver days! There are now fish oils that
are deliciously flavored. Because cod-liver oil contains fat-soluble
vitamins A and D, it’s best given during the winter when
there’s less sunlight (and thus less vitamin D). During the rest
of year, use a good quality flavored fish body oil. Give according to
the directions on the bottle. Carlson brand makes both cod-liver and
fish body oils that are good enough to pass most kid taste-tests. And
remember to tell them about how this supplement helps them have a Super
Brain. Every kid likes to have some type of super power!
One more thing you can do to support your
child’s brain health is to make sure they get enough exercise.
Studies in the U.S. and Japan prove that exercise improves memory and
other mental skills. In the studies, people who received adequate
exercise scored better on tests and completed them faster than people
that did not exercise. So, get your child moving daily. If
they’re young enough to appreciate it, tie a dashing cape on
them, and let them exercise by zooming around and enjoying their Super
Brain super power!
R. Schultze is a clinical nutritionist and has been a trailblazer in
the field of nutrition for almost two decades. The recipe above is from
her new book “The
Natural Nutrition No-Cook Book: Delicious Food for You…and Your
Pets!” She is also author of the best-selling book “Natural
Nutrition for Dogs and Cats: The Ultimate Diet.” Both
books are published by Hay House, Inc. For more information go to www.kymythy.com