Nutrition and Learning
Critical Nutrients for Learning
- Unsaturated fats
- Complex carbohydrates
The brain also needs a wide range of trace elements of:
- Potassium for optimal learning & memory (Wurtman, 1986)
According to the National Research Council, Americans eat too many/much:
- Saturated fats
- Simple carbohydrates (not chips, cookies or candy)
- Too few fruits & vegetables (**carrots, celery) complex carbohydrates (**whole grain crackers like Triscuits, Wheat Thins, and granola bars with fruits or nuts not with candy, peanut butter and/or jelly on whole wheat or multi-grain bread)
What foods are good for the brain?
- Leafy green vegetables (spinach and kale are excellent)
- Nuts **unsalted peanuts (without shells), cashews, mixed nuts, and sunflower nuts, almonds, pecans (check with your child’s teacher regarding class allergies).
- Lean meats **meat sticks, jerky
- Fresh Fruits (Connors, 1989) **apples, grapes, pears, bananas
Yogurt and milk **Go-gurt - frozen overnight, string cheese
**Suggestions for snacks to send to school (from Julie Winkelman, ISD 885 Heath Services Coordinator)
Vitamin and mineral supplements boost learning, memory, and intelligence
(Ostrander & Schroeder, 1991, Hutchinson, 1994)
Did you know...
- The brain is only 2% of your body weight yet uses 20% of the body’s energy?
- The brain gets its energy to learn from the blood?
- Blood supplies the brain with nutrients like glucose, protein, trace elements, and oxygen?
- 8 gallons of blood flow through your brain per hour?
- 198 gallons of blood flow through your brain per day?
- The brain needs 8-12 glasses of water per day for optimal functioning?
- Water provides the electrolytic balance for proper functioning?
- The brain needs oxygen and uses 1/5 of the body’s oxygen?
- The brain gets the body’s freshest oxygen directly from the heart - lung area?
- Physical movement increases the body’s oxygen?
The Brain Needs Water!
- The brain is made up of a higher percentage of water than any other organ
- Dehydration leads to lethargy and impaired learning (Hannaford, 1995)
- When the water percentage of the blood drops, the salt concentration increases
- Higher salt levels raise blood pressure and stress
- Upon drinking water, there is a decline in hormones associated with stress
- Kids need more water, more often than adults
- Soft drinks, juice, coffee, and tea don’t help much
- Encourage water as the primary thirst quencher (Hannaford, 1995)
Based on the work of Eric Jensen, Teaching With the Brain In Mind, ASCD, 1998