A Healthy Start to School
With the school year about to start, this is a time of adjustment for many families. It’s time to get back into the daily routine of early starts, homework and early nights (hopefully). The re-opening of school again is also the sign that summer is coming to an end, with autumn fast approaching. So having a healthy start to school makes a great difference to children.
Whilst many kids have enjoyed their summer and generally been fit and healthy, the autumn term is usually when colds, coughs and tummy bugs hit their peak. Children tend to pick up all sorts of bugs from classmates and sick days can cause disruption for working parents. There are certain measures that you can take to help minimise this risk. A good diet, regular exercise and certain immune boosting supplements can help to keep your child fit and healthy, and maintain good concentration in class.
It goes with question that a nutritious breakfast is the ideal way to start the day. A breakfast containing protein and complex carbohydrates can help to improve concentration, by maintaining healthy blood sugar levels throughout the morning. Several studies have found that high protein breakfasts resulted in improved IQ scores in children.
You should avoid sugary cereals which are also full of salt and processed carbohydrates which can cause drowsiness. Healthy cereals such as muesli which contain nuts and seeds increase protein intake and help to keep your child alert. These healthy cereals and complex carbohydrates such as porridge help to release sugar slowly throughout the morning, without causing sugar highs and lows. Nuts and seeds provide protein and omega 3 essential oils, which also help with concentration.
An alternative for kids who don’t like eating breakfast is a fruit smoothie, with the addition of blended nuts and seeds and yoghurt. You can make these at home using any fruits in virtually any combination of your choice. Yoghurt also provides probiotics which help to maintain and support a healthy immune system, so your child can ward off colds and coughs.
Colourful vegetables such as peppers, courgettes, red cabbage, tomatoes and avocados have been found to improve children’s IQ scores. These foods also provide good levels of vitamin C which help to maintain a healthy immune system. Colourful fruits and vegetables are a good source of antioxidants which also support the immune system.
Omega 3 oils have been found to improve concentration levels and academic performance. Omega 3 contains two essential nutrients, Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Whilst they are both important for health, DHA is more important for concentration as this essential nutrient is predominantly found in the brain.
Oily fish and flax seed oil are a rich source of Omega 3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are termed “essential” as the body does not produce these fatty acids, and so they have to be obtained from the diet. Fish Oils are also important source of essential fatty acids. They provide higher amounts of EPA than Flax Seed Oil. Other sources of omega 3 oils are sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds.
Children often need to be reminded to drink water. Keeping your child hydrated also helps to maintain good concentration and energy levels.
Outdoor exercise is essential for a healthy child. Regular outdoor playtime helps to keep children alert and get their dose of vitamin D. Research has found that playing in the sunshine reduces the risk of children developing eczema and food allergies. This also has the added benefit of preventing childhood obesity and improving mental alertness.