Feed­ing kids fish helps pro­mote both bet­ter learn­ing and healthy sleep through the night

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - Mi­ami Her­ald (TNS)

A new Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia School of Nurs­ing study found that chil­dren who ate fish reg­u­larly scored nearly five points higher on a stan­dard IQ test that mea­sures cog­ni­tive func­tion in chil­dren. The kids who fa­vored fish over tra­di­tion­ally kid-friendly items like, say, chicken fin­gers and fries, also slept bet­ter and had fewer sleep in­ter­rup­tions.

The study of 541 boys and girls in China, ages 9 to 11, who com­pleted a ques­tion­naire about how of­ten they con­sumed fish in the past month, was pub­lished Dec. 21 in Sci­en­tific Re­ports.

The re­sults found that those who said they ate fish once a week scored 4.8 points higher on the Wech­sler In­tel­li­gence Scale IQ test than those who sel­dom or never in­cluded fish in their di­ets.

“This area of re­search is not wellde­vel­oped. It’s emerg­ing,” said Jianghong Liu, the lead au­thor on the pa­per and an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of nurs­ing and pub­lic health, told the school’s Penn News. “Here we look at omega-3s com­ing from our food in­stead of from sup­ple­ments.”

Even th­ese chil­dren who ate fish only oc­ca­sion­ally ben­e­fited with bet­ter ver­bal and non-ver­bal skills and scored an av­er­age of 3.3 IQ points higher than those who turned their noses up at fish. The link be­tween omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish — but not all kinds of fish — and bet­ter brain func­tion has been found in many stud­ies over the years.

How­ever, Sheah Rar­back, a reg­is­tered di­eti­tian on the fac­ulty of the Univer­sity of Mi­ami Miller School of Medicine, ques­tions the Penn­syl­va­nia study’s con­clu­sions. She said the study of th­ese kids who kept a food di­ary and took an IQ test should not be con­sid­ered cause and ef­fect — as in an eat-fis­hand-you’ll-be-smarter cer­tainty.

“You have to be care­ful to say ‘eat­ing fish will cause bet­ter in­tel­li­gence.’ It’s an as­so­ci­a­tion. There could be other things fac­tor­ing in there so it’s not cause and ef­fect,” Rar­back said.

“That said, fish is a good, nutri­tious, lean pro­tein for kids and adults,” Rar­back said. “They are prob­a­bly ze­ro­ing in on the omega-3 fatty acids. There are fish that have higher amounts and, of th­ese, is a fish kids love — tuna. Tuna is a great source of lean pro­tein.”

The study’s re­sults didn’t sur­prise Rar­back, though. “This is not sur­pris­ing be­cause omega-3 fatty acids are con­cen­trated in the brain and play a role in brain neu­ro­log­i­cal func­tion. So I would say this is an in­ter­est­ing study. But it’s as­so­ci­a­tion, not cause and ef­fect.”

Other fish that are high in the ben­e­fi­cial omega-3 fatty acids are sal­mon and sar­dines. Since most kids like tuna, that’s an easy dish to serve in sand­wiches, sal­ads or by it­self. Sal­mon burg­ers could also be a healthy and en­tic­ing op­tion for kids.

“Fish oils are also very good anti-in­flam­ma­to­ries and so many root causes of dis­ease are in­flam­ma­tion. So you can’t lose by eat­ing more fish. But what I say is im­por­tant, par­tic­u­larly with kids with de­vel­op­ing brains, is to go for lower mer­cury fish,” Rar­back cau­tions.

If you’ve been mean­ing to get back to reg­u­lar ex­er­cise and haven’t had the time or the mo­ti­va­tion, you’re cer­tainly not alone. Try­ing to get in shape while jug­gling the rest of your pri­or­i­ties can feel over­whelm­ing.

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Do each move for 40 sec­onds, rest­ing for 10 sec­onds as you tran­si­tion to the Push Move. Do the Push Move for 20 sec­onds af­ter each ex­er­cise, rest­ing for 5 sec­onds be­fore start­ing the next move. Do the cir­cuit twice.

Half jack with knee lift: Stand tall with your feet to­gether and your hands on your hips. Hop your feet apart and raise one knee to­ward your chest. Re­verse the move and re­peat on the op­po­site side.

Start smart: If this move is too hard on the knees, sim­ply step side to side.

Long jump: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your abs en­gaged. Bend your knees and swing your arms be­hind you, then swing your arms over­head and jump for­ward as far as you can with both feet. Land softly in a squat, keep­ing

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