“I wish for the health of each student studying in this university to be exemplary. To achieve this purpose, I suggest that you arrange the healthiest food for the students and provide an environment healthy enough for their nourishment”. Stated the chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University in his very first speech in the university.
Students depend upon various resources, but nutritious food holds the most vital importance among all. Carrying those heavy book-loaded bags, rushing in the mornings, and returning exhausted at night, those sleep-less nights, and occupied weekends. Education requires a lifetime dedication! But amongst this bustle, how much are we contributing to the crucial most element? What are we doing to sharpen the sword of our brains every day? Are we caring enough for the most powerful organ we have? Those easy-to-grab burgers in lunch to save time for the assignment is certainly not helping.
Choosing every day to be healthy will prove to be an asset in the future. However, there is not one magic food that will unleash your brain’s superpower, for that you need to have the correct combination of foods. Nutritionists emphasize that the most important strategy is to follow a healthy dietary pattern that includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Try to get protein from plant sources and fish and choose healthy fats, such as olive oil or canola, rather than saturated fats.
For our kids, the first 3 year’s of their lives are the most crucial in brain-development – and food plays an important role. These years define how the brain will perform for the rest of a person’s life. While the brain may only weigh 2% of the body weight, it consumes 20% energy from the food we intake. The following are some essential nutrients for brain development that prove to be a healthy fuel.
Protein – Found in meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, soy products, nuts, and seeds, as well as dairy.
Zinc – Found in meat, fish, dairy products, and nuts.
Iron – Found in meats, beans and lentils, fortified cereals and breads, dark leafy vegetables, and baked potatoes.
Choline – Found in meat, dairy, vegetables, and eggs.
Folate – This nutrient, which is especially important for pregnant mothers, can be found in liver, spinach, fortified cereals, and breads.
Lodine – Found in iodized salt, seafood, dairy products, and enriched grains.
Vitamin A – Found in liver, carrots, sweet potato, and spinach.
Vitamin D – This is the “sunshine vitamin,” and the best way to get it is to get outside. It is also found in flesh of fatty fishes.
Vitamin B6 – Found in liver and other organ meats, fish, potatoes and other starchy vegetables, and fruit (not citrus).
Vitamin B12 – Found in animal products, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.
Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids – Found in fatty fish and fish oils, but can be found in some other oils, and many foods are also fortified with them.
Choose a diet every day with food that are balanced with these nutrients to prevents excess or deficiencies to enable a healthy growth of your child’s brain. According to the listed nutrients and their sources, here is a list of some foods that should be included in your daily diet plan, as well as your child’s lunchbox.
- GO GREENS.
WHAT – Leafy greens such as broccoli and spinach.
WHY – Contains brain healthy nutrients (like vitamin K lutein, folate, and beta carotene). And according to researchers these plant-based foods may help slow cognitive decline.
- FISH FANNING.
WHAT – Fatty fishes and those that specifically suit your individual health.
WHY –Boosts brain skills.
HOW – The omega-3 fatty acids, and healthy unsaturated fats prevent the protein (beta-amyloid)that forms damaging clumps in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
- COLOR RICH FOODS.
WHAT – Berries, grapes, fruits with vibrant colors.
WHY – Their brilliant hues help improve memory drastically.
HOW – These fruits are rich with antioxidants that help to prevent the iron in our body to oxidize that lead to brain dysfunction.
FACT – Studies found that women who consumed two or more servings of strawberries and blueberries each week delayed memory decline by up to two-and-a-half years.
WHAT – All nuts especially walnuts.
WHY –Improves brain health and provides healthy fats and proteins. Omega-3 fatty acid helps in building and maintaining brain cells.
HOW – They are high in a type of omega-3 fatty acid (alpha-linolenic acid – ALA) that have been linked to lower blood pressure and cleaner arteries. That’s good for both the heart and brain.
WHY – It boosts serotonin and dopamine, both of which improve mood. It could improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. It helps improve memory in people with Alzheimer’s.
HOW – It has an active ingredient called “Curcumin” that enters directly into brain and benefit the cells there as it can cross blood-brain barrier. Curcumin clears the hallmark of this disease from the brain (amyloid plaques).
- EGGS ESPECIALLY THE YOLK.
WHY –Vitamins B6 and B12, folate, and choline regulates mood and memory. Vitamin B12 is involved in synthesizing brain chemicals and regulating sugar levels in the brain. Folic acid can help minimize age-related mental decline.
- GREEN TEA.
WHY – Boosts brain function, memory power and helps you relax. It is also rich in nutrients (polyphenols and antioxidants) that could protect the brain from mental decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Having known this, we need to plan our child’s lunch box in a way that contains of food helping their brain power to boost. following are some healthy lunch-box ideas that are both brain-friendly and taste buds-friendly.
Fish sandwiches, with chopped carrots or baked potato.
Fish soup with chopped vegetables or green leaves such as broccoli.
Fish patties or balls.
Egg burritos that are also a grab-and-go option.
Scrambled eggs in toasted bread sandwich.
Devil’s eye boiled eggs – with egg yolk mixed with cheese and spices like turmeric.
- Peanut butter.
Peanut butter fruit salad.
- Whole grains.
Crepes, tortillas, breads and wraps all can be made out of whole grains and substitute all-purpose flour.
Oats are an easy lunch idea both for the mother and the child. These can be made in different flavors like honey, chocolate, cinnamon or just a simple banana.
Just fruits especially berries are also a smart idea for lunch box. These naturally grown candies are easy, healthy, and tempting altogether.
Sprinkle beans over salad and top with salsa.
Mash vegetarian beans and spread on a tortilla.
Mash or fill a pita pocket with beans — and add shredded lettuce and low-fat cheese.
Add beans to spaghetti sauce and salsa.
Mashed beans with applesauce.
- Milk and Yogurt.
Yogurt cup layered with nuts and berries, almond or peanut butter, and chopped nuts. Sprinkle on some dark chocolate chips to add interest and an extra dose of antioxidants.