Better Nutrition

Food for thought

Safe brain boosters for kids

- By Michael T. Murray, ND

rain cells are the most complex, long- living, and nutritiona­lly demanding cells in the body. Studies show that intelligen­ce, memory, behavior, and concentrat­ion are all infl uenced by proper nutrition, and this is especially important to the developing brain.

The goal should be to help children bathe their brains in “super nutrition,” because high nutritiona­l status equals higher mental function. And that means that what kids don't eat can be as important as what they do. Foods to avoid include smoked or cured meats, fried foods, any source of trans- fatty acids, junk food, refi ned sugar, and highfructo­se corn syrup.

In general, the same ideas associated with healthy eating in adults apply to kids— lots of fresh fruits and veggies. If kids turn their noses up at leafy greens, getting a juicer and mixing in apple and carrot juice can camoufl age the taste. But kids generally do like a number of brain- supporting veggies such as carrots, yams, and squash. For fruit, focus on berries. In animal studies, researcher­s have found that blueberrie­s especially can help protect the brain and promote improved memory.

Giving kids a daily dose ( 25– 50 mg, though there’s no problem with doses up to 100 mg) of grape seed or pine bark extracts is also a good idea. One study found that one month of daily supplement­ation with Pycnogenol ( a proprietar­y pine bark extract) at a dose of 1 mg per kg of body weight improved attention and concentrat­ion in children with ADHD.

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