Nutrition and Learning
We all know that eating healthy is important. Today I want to address how nutrition influences learning. Studies show that eating a nutritious breakfast increases concentration, overall academic performance, and improves classroom behavior. While most children eat breakfast, they may not be eating a nutritious one. Better nutrition has a positive impact on students’ academic performance and behavior by increasing brain function, reducing absences, and improving behavior.
Good nutrition improves learning by increasing brain function, cognitive ability, and intelligence levels. Good nutrition involves a variety of nutrients that include protein, fat, healthy carbs, and fiber. Protein and water are important to increase reaction time, thinking, and working memory. Some examples of healthy protein include eggs, nuts, chicken, fish, beef, oats, avocado, cottage cheese and milk. These foods also contain healthy fats that are crucial for a healthy brain by increasing blood flow, rebuilding cells, and neurotransmission in brain function.
Good nutrition will also reduce absences by building a strong immune system. Fats are essential for a healthy immune system. Sugar is the enemy of our immune system. Sugar suppresses our immune system for several hours after we ingest it. Breakfast cereals, juice, sweetened yogurt, and white bread are full of sugar with little or no nutritional benefit. Healthy carbs include fruit and vegetables. Healthy carbs are essential for energy throughout our day.
Behavior is improved with good nutrition. Children who consume unhealthy foods (saturated fats, trans fatty acids, sodium, added sugar, and refined grains) have difficulty focusing, low-energy levels, and higher irritability levels. This, in turn, makes it difficult to learn and can lead to behavior and social problems. Good nutrition improves behavior and a better learning environment with fewer disruptions.
Where do you begin? First, set an example by eating nutritious foods yourself. Introduce new foods slowly. Give children choices, but keep them healthy. Establishing healthy eating habits early in your child’s life can lead to better academic performance and good behavior. These healthy habits will follow them into adulthood. Keep these goals in mind.