Making the Connections to Healthy Brains

Friday, April 16, 2010

It is wonderful that there is an increasing amount of information  (and growing interest) about healthy diets, reducing stress, and the need for physical activity to keep our bodies healthy. However, when doing brain trainings I find this valuable information is often not correlated to the effects on the brain.

At the end of April I will have the wonderful opportunity to co-present at the Georgia Dietetics Conference in Atlanta.  Lauen Zimet from Healthy Insights and I will be conducting a workshop entitled, “What’s Better than Healthy Brains?. This session is designed to provide  valuable information to increase awareness that if something is healthy for our bodies it is also benefiting our brains.
Following are some of the points that assist in creating a realization between what is healthy for the body is also healthy for the brain:

Hunger creates stress hormones because the brain doesn’t have what it needs
  • When the brain is deprived of the glucose it needs this can lead to out of control behavior. A child doesn’t have the capability to deal with the feelings that occur such as: anxiety, agitation, aggression, feelings of panic, and confusion. These feelings may become temper tantrums.
Hunger may also simply lead to a child not having enough energy to learn or play.
  • A child can play and learn very well after eating nutritious foods. When children eat a well balanced meal, especially breakfast, this boosts levels of serotonin (a “feel good” chemical) in the brain. 
  • Ensuring  children have enough sleep also helps keep brain system in balance.  Sleep creates natural calming in the brain which stabilizes children’s moods
  • Physical activity is also needed for optimal brain function. When children are active the brain simply gets more of the oxygen it needs
It is so easy. When the brain gets what it needs, plenty of sleep,  adequate nutrition, and the opportunity for physical activity  (ideally outdoors) it operates at it’s best. All of this results in children that are in better moods, and are eager and ready to learn.

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BRAIN FACT: Playing Stimulates the Emotion Regulating Area of the Brain

Physical play stimulates the emotion regulating areas in the brain.

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