Scientific Links Between Healthy Eating and Learning
What's Important and Why
According to EpiNorth and the University of Colorado at Denver's Newsletter for Teaching Excellence, some of the most important nutrients for learning are:
- Carbohydrates (vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grain breads, cereals and pastas)-break down into glucose, which supplies energy to brain cells.
- Proteins (poultry, fish, tofu and low-fat meats and dairy)--are associated with intellectual development; tyrosine, the amino acid found in meats, fish, dairy products and tofu, is associated with mental performance.
- Iron (found in liver, lean red meats, seafood, beans, greens, vegetables, egg yolks, dried fruits)--is essential to cognitive development and learning ability.
The United States Department of Agriculture offers a wealth of information about how to combine foods with these nutrients into healthy, balanced meals and snacks for kids.
Breakfast is a Must
Children cannot learn effectively when they are hungry and when their brains are depleted of nutrients (from not eating since the previous night). Eating breakfast satisfies hunger and helps maintain a steady glucose level, ensuring that the brain is getting the fuel it needs to perform optimally.
According to the Food Research and Action Center, researchers who focus on the relationship between breakfast and school performance have found:
- Children who miss breakfast show increased errors and have slower memory recall.
- Children who eat a complete breakfast (versus a partial one) make fewer mistakes and work faster in math and number checking tests.
- Children who eat breakfast show improved cognitive function, attention and memory, and perform better on demanding mental tasks.
For more information visit KidsHealth.com.