Kitchen & Garden, Medicine Chest, Out & About

A naturopath’s guide to balancing your child’s energy levels

With such a sedentary lifestyle these days, an active kid is something that I love to see as a naturopath.

Kids should be eager to explore and experience the world around them!

However, there is also a time and place for our young one’s need to slow down, relax, concentrate and learn. As someone with a family full of teachers, I hear this regularly!

Today, I have some tips to help balance your child’s energy levels. The right diet can keep your kids going and going… and also to help them slow down when they need to.

Keep refined sugars low.

Foods high in refined sugars and carbs are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. A rise in blood sugar is followed by a subsequent crash.

Low blood sugar levels in kids (and adults) can present with headaches, moodiness, irritability and dizziness. Not fun!

Stick to complex carbohydrates like wholegrain bread, brown rice and starchy vegetables. Fresh whole fruit is also a perfect option to sweeten meals or have as a snack.

Think zinc!

Zinc is an essential mineral that we need for numerous functions in the body, including nervous system development and function.

Zinc deficiency is closely correlated with a wide range of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression and ADHD.

Luckily, we don’t need a huge intake of zinc to meet our needs. Some of the best sources include pumpkin seeds, spinach, beef, beans, oysters and egg yolks.

Fill up on fats!

In particular, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids found in fatty fish, including mackerel, trout, sardines, salmon, nuts, seeds, oils and eggs.

The omega-3 fatty acids ALA, EPA and DHA all play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development.

Even at low doses, EPA and DHA have been reported to modestly improve cognitive function and behaviour in children with ADHD.

Pack in protein.

Protein is made up of amino acids and numerous amino acids have a significant effect on our nervous system, affecting sleep, mood, anxiety and stress.

  • Glutamine increases the production of GABA – a soothing and sedative neurotransmitter.
  • Tryptophan, tyrosine and phenylalanine are precursors for the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, all of which affect the brain helping with mood stability, focus and impulse control.

For these, and many more reasons, it’s important to include protein every day! This may include meat, eggs, tofu, cheese, oats, beans and/ or legumes.

Hydration.

One of the (many) pearls of wisdom to come through my family of teachers is to ensure adequate hydration for your kids throughout the day. This may seem like a no-brainer, but one easily forgotten.

Studies have identified that even mild dehydration can produce negative changes in cognitive function, concentration, alertness, and short-term memory. Drink up!

This article also appeared on IQuitSugar.com

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