Back to School and Back to Health!

With a new school year around the corner, families are returning to their usual
routines of earlier mornings and homework-filled evenings. This is a crucial time to get your kids into a healthy eating routine and implement brain-nourishing and stress-reducing practices to support a successful school year.

Step 1: Protein-Packed Breakfast

It’s important to make sure you and your children are well prepared for the new school year, and the first thing to implement is proper nutrition. Protein is one of the body’s main sources of energy and is necessary to ensure learning ability and concentration levels are optimal throughout the day. Making sure children have time for a healthy protein-packed breakfast is extremely important, as it has been proven that children who are well-nourished perform better in school. Along with protein, a breakfast chock-full of vitamins including B12 and folic acid will sustain them longer, and provide the nutrients they need for proper learning.

Smoothie Power

It can sometimes be difficult to get enough protein and nutrients especially for children who are picky eaters or for those of us who have limited time to make a complete meal in the morning. Supplementing with a protein powder is an easy way to get the amount we need and can be a tasty and time saving addition to our diet. Protein supplements in the form of whey or vegan blends come as a powder to be used in shakes and smoothies. All you need is a blender, a liquid of your choice such as water or almond milk, and tasty additions such as berries, nut butters, and raw cacao powder to make a delicious, nutritious breakfast. Click here for some yummy smoothie recipes with PGX fibre.

If you’re even more strapped for time, meal-replacement powders provide protein as well as vitamins and minerals, and some even include servings of fruits and vegetables as well as fibre. All of these components are essential for starting our day off right and by helping balance blood sugar, they have a direct effect on brain functioning and mood. Of course nothing is better than the real thing, so choose meal replacements wisely and make it the exception rather than the norm.

Whole Earth & Sea Fermented Organic Protein & Greens is one I enjoy using, as it gives me all the nutrition I am looking for, a taste that can’t be beat, and one that I can tolerate well. Because of its fully fermented state it has been “pre-digested”, making its nutrition easy for us to absorb and utilize, and helps our good bacteria thrive in our intestines, which we now know play a role in brain health.

Step 2: Fattening up the Brain

With fat being the second most abundant component of the brain after water, it makes sense why essential fatty acids including Omega 3s have been at the forefront of brain health for years now. Omega 3 fatty acids include one called docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA for short. DHA can be directly obtained from fish oil, or from algae for those looking for a vegetarian source. A deficiency in DHA in the brain has been associated with cognitive decline and children with mood and attention disorders can also benefit from DHA making it a ‘no-brainer’ for brain health.

Step 3: Support a Strong Foundation for a Healthy Year

A healthy foundation is a must for anyone- student or not. Just like you cannot build a house without a strong foundation, you can’t expect a healthy body without all the basics covered. For kids who are growing, this is an even more critical point. To support this, I recommend a child-specific multivitamin and mineral formula such as Big Friends Children’s Multis. They provide all the goodness kids need, obtain their vitamins and minerals from non-GMO sources, contain natural whole food concentrates, and naturally taste great! For further foundational health and to support kids’ immune systems, Big Friends also has a Vitamin D supplement that can be taken daily to maintain healthy levels.

Step 4: Prepare for Stress

A change in routine can be stressful especially for young children. On top of this, many kids experience pressure to do well in their academic and extra-curricular activities. Establishing a morning routine before school starts will make the back-to-school transition that much easier. Safe natural health care products for combating stress include homeopathic remedies and an amino acid derived from green tea called L-theanine. Rather than causing a sedating effect, L-theanine calms the mind by supporting alpha brain wave activity. Chewable forms of L-theanine are available for children at half the adult dose, but always check with your health care provider before using any supplement in children.

Step 5: Stronger Brain Support

For the student in college or university, or for us adults who want to preserve our cognitive abilities for as long as possible, there are herbs, amino acids, and antioxidants that support the brain. Ginkgo biloba is probably one of most well known herbs to help boost circulation to the brain to keep it nourished and hence provide it nutrients. Acetyl-L-carnitine is an amino acid that can cross the blood brain barrier and has anti-oxidant and neuro-protective actions that have shown to be effective in people with Parkinson’s disease. Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a phospholipid that has beneficial effects on cognitive function by acting exclusively on cell membranes and aids in nerve transmission. Be sure to look for a non-GMO source. Green tea extract is a strong antioxidant that quenches free radicals that cause damage to tissue including susceptible brain cells.

Incorporating good nutritional practices and using brain-supporting supplements in your daily regimen can help with attention, concentration, focus, and memory. So don’t forget these tips and good luck in the upcoming school year!

The information in this article is not a substitute for medical advice. Please seek the care of your health care practitioner when starting a supplement regimen. Dr. Jennifer Dyck, ND has a special interest in digestive health, hormone balancing, brain support, and natural pain relief. More information about Dr. Jen can be found at http://www.DrJenniferND.com

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