Updated: May 19
We all have our focused-and-alert days and our not-so-focused-and-alert days, oftentimes thinking that we have no control of which day it will be when we awaken. Fortunately, we have more control than we realize over how our brains function in the short run and in the long run. Please don’t think that these tips only apply to our kids, they apply to all of us, so read on and choose more of those alert-and-focused days in your life.
A hydrated brain is a sharper brain…Studies have proven that mental acuity and decision making is noticeably diminished with minimal dehydration. The results of dehydration on brain function shows up long before the thirst mechanism kicks in. Have your kids drink water (not dehydrating sugary or caffeinated drinks) throughout the day.
An oxygen rich brain is a clearer brain…Take a deep breath. Did you just realize how long it has been since you have done so. Doesn’t it feel good? Remember to take deep belly breaths throughout the day to keep your brain sharp and your energy level up.
A rested brain is a better brain…Make sure your kids are getting the recommended sleep allowance nightly. Trust me, this is one of the biggest challenges in my own home. Setting a routine that starts earlier than you expect is essential. Also, NO screens for at least a couple of hours before bed. The light interferes with the production of melatonin and makes it more difficult for us to get sound sleep.
A nourished brain is a stronger brain…DHA is a mainstay for brain health, but did you know that having low levels of B-vitamins, magnesium and potassium can cause foggy brain? When we are under stress, we quickly deplete these vital nutrients and can have reduced brain function as a result. Walnuts and avocadoes are great brain foods, as are fatty (wild caught) fish and krill.
A balanced blood sugar level makes for a balanced brain…Ask almost any elementary school teacher – children have a more difficult time in the classroom just before lunch and at the end of the day. This is very often because children’s blood sugar will drop a few hours after eating the high carb meals we are allowing kids to consume for breakfast and lunch…and snacks, too. Healthy fats can help keep blood sugar levels balanced and the brain functioning at a higher level for much longer. Take a look at Melissa’s suggestions for brain-healthy breakfasts and snacks.
A healthy gut means a healthier brain…If you have inflammation in your gut – think imbalance in the microbiome/intestinal bacteria – you will have inflammation in the brain, as well as neurotransmitter imbalance. Your gut and your brain are directly connected via the Vagus Nerve, where 80% of the messaging actually goes from the gut to the brain, hence the term for the intestines being “The Second Brain.” Eat fermented foods and take probiotics daily. Limit sugar intake and microbiome-destroying things like (unnecessary) antibiotics and steroids (in meats and dairy products, too), chlorinated/fluoridated water and GMO foods.
A fit body promotes a focused brain.
Studies have found that exercise leads to a better oxygenated brain which improves memory recall, and helps prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s.
An emotionally-regulated child is better prepared to focus and learn…That goes without saying, but how do we manage to teach it? Please take some time to read Heather Goodwin’s and Cheryl Hensley’s article about Present Time Kids™ and how just 5 minutes a day can help your child learn to be a better learner and participant in life through mindfulness practices.