The Top 5 Foods to Improve Focus in Your Kids & Teens

 photo credit: @theonlyaggie

photo credit: @theonlyaggie

You are what you eat. So often people tell us that but understanding what that means when you head to the grocery store or prepare your child’s lunch is another thing. Most of us forget that what we eat and when we eat it can affect our energy, mood, and overall productivity! So imagine what it can do for your child. Foods can help not just give your child the right energy but also help with their focus, mood, memory, and even concentration! In this series of articles, we are going to be paying close attention to various studies that shed light on the benefit of nutritional intervention on focus, behavior, and overall productivity!

Here we will be paying particular attention to foods that help foster your child’s attention span. So….just what are the best foods to feed your kids to help nurture focus?

 photo credit: @theonlyaggie

photo credit: @theonlyaggie

(1) BLUEBERRIES

At the top of the list--we rank blueberries as number 1 on our list of must-have foods for your child’s diet. Blueberries are the perfect snack or addition to your child’s lunchbox. Blueberries are easy to buy, easy to store and easy to eat. They are low in sugar but rich in anti-oxidants. In fact, blueberries are richest in anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants are those agents in food that help us fight free radicals. Humans naturally produce free radicals during the metabolic process.

Why is are they good for focus?

Studies now show that blueberries improve working memory function, reduce depression and lower blood pressure. So why is this important? Well, when trying to understand what foods will best support learning….blueberries should be at the top of your list. According to a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, blueberries helped a group of elderly adults studied to improve their cognitive function. The adults studied were tested on balance, gait, and memory. While the study showed no improvement on balance or pace, the investigation did reveal marked improvement in cognition for those adults. They were able to switch from task to task more successfully as well as recall with less effort.

How to eat blueberries

It is always best to eat raw because it retains its nutrients. Your second best choice is to cook them. Remember, canned or frozen blueberries will lose their nutritional value as they are not fresh. For lunch or dessert recipes for your kids, click here.

TERMS TO KNOW:

Anti-oxidants: According to Collin’s Dictionary, an antioxidant is a substance that slows down or reverses the damage caused by environment, chemicals and age.

Free radicals: an atom that has a free roaming or unpaired electron. In its unpaired state, it can be extremely damaging!

(2) AVOCADOS

What is another important fruit to feed your child? You might already know that avocados are rich in fats and Vitamin K but did you know why that would be beneficial? Fats are great because they help send signals to the brain that we are full. It helps naturally send a message to your brain to turn off feelings of hunger. Eating fats also help with the digestion of sugar because it slows the breakdown of complex carbohydrates found in foods like apples and peaches.

 photo credit: @theonlyaggie

photo credit: @theonlyaggie

Avocados make us Happier

Avocados are also beneficial because they lower our risk of depression. Avocados are rich in folate which helps with the reduction of homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid that can impair brain function and increase your risk of heart disease. Did you know that depression in mood is correlated to high levels of homocysteine. Avocados produce folic acid which can reduce homocysteine and thereby reduce the causes of depression.

(3) LEAFY GREEN VEGETABLES

 photo credit: @theonlyaggie

photo credit: @theonlyaggie

Leafy vegetables like kale and spinach are also rich in folic acid. Folic acid aids in the improvement of brain function and mood. Deficiencies of folate acid have been linked to depression. Foods like spinach and other leafy vegetables are rich in Folate! What does that mean? Well, foods like spinach, kale, and Brussel sprouts can help ward off not only the blues but also major depression. Leafy green vegetables are also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which aid in the fight against depression. In a comparison of three depression studies, each of the three depression studies revealed “highly significant results of omega-3”. In one such study, after just one month of Omega-3, 8 out of 10 patients achieved a 50% reduction in depression symptoms! Leafy green veggies help you regulate your mood which only helps with focus! When we can adjust our happiness, we can always regulate our productivity because they are always correlated.

(4) FATTY FISH

The next most important food for improving focus is Fish. Fatty fish species like Salmon and Tuna help boost your bodies Omega-3 Fatty Acids. As stated above, when we increase our intake of Omega-3 we have the power to improve our kids’ moods, memory, and focus. There is even evidence of the correlation between higher amounts of Salmon and Omega-3 fatty acids with lower incidences of depression. In a study of inhabitants of Germany, New Zealand, France, and Japan, as the consumption of fish went up, the incidents of major depression went down. It has even become the basis of dietary treatment in patients suffering from mood disorders.

(5) NUTS

 photo credit: @theonlyaggie

photo credit: @theonlyaggie

There is also a lot of talk of the importance of nuts to our diet. But, what is all the fuss about nuts? Nuts are being tied more and more to the reduction of cardiovascular disease. The better your cardiovascular health, the better your brain health. A study of women over the age of 70 revealed that they retained high cognitive function when they ingested nuts at least 2 or more times per week. The women who only ate nuts every other month or once a month showed a decline.

OTHER FOODS THAT ARE GREAT FOR FOCUS

Chocolate is another great food to keep on hand. While you might be scratching your head wondering why we included chocolate, cocoa contains something called flavanols which reduce cognitive impairment! That’s great news.

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Bibliography:

Miller, M G, et al. “Dietary Blueberry Improves Cognition among Older Adults in a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” European Journal of Nutrition., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28283823.  .

Folstein, M, et al. “The Homocysteine Hypothesis of Depression.” The American Journal of Psychiatry., U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2007, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17541043.  

Osher, Y, and R H Belmaker. “Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Depression: a Review of Three Studies.” CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19499625.

Gómez-Pinilla, Fernando. Nature Reviews. Neuroscience, U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805706/.