Guide for Health and Success at School 08.24.08 Search

How to enhance success in school and stay healthy

Joy Bauer

Kids who want to ace their next exams may need to do more than cram before class. Studies show that what a child eats has a direct effect on test performance. Children who routinely consume sweets  and junk food may suffer from brain fog at crunch time. But there are solutions. Well-known cookbout author Joy Bauer explains how to do it.

Kids who want to ace their next exams may need to do more than cram before class. Studies show that what a child eats has a direct effect on test performance. Children who routinely consume sweets  and junk food may suffer from brain fog at crunch time. But there are solutions. The following food tutorial won’t guarantee all A’s, but it will help you keep your kids’ memories sharp.

Power Up Before Exams
Whether it’s a morning or afternoon exam, pre-test meals should consist of high-fiber carbohydrates plus some lean protein. This winning combination leads to an awake and alert student. High-quality carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are rich in fiber and prevent blood sugar from soaring and then crashing like it does with sugary carbs. They also provide the brain with glucose, its preferred form of fuel. Adding in a bit of protein like turkey, chicken, eggs, or beans further stabilizes blood sugar and helps stop distracting hunger pangs.

For mornings before exams, cereal is the easiest breakfast to prepare. But choose wisely, because so many types are chock-full of sugar. Your best bet is oatmeal topped with berries or sliced banana or a cold cereal that contains three or more grams of fiber and no more than six grams of sugar per serving. Try to use skim milk, or at least low-fat. Other breakfast options are an egg sandwich (one or two scrambled eggs on a whole-wheat English muffin), a breakfast burrito (a whole-grain tortilla stuffed with scrambled egg, shredded low-fat cheese, 1/2 cup black beans, and optional salsa), or waffles with peanut butter and banana.

For afternoon exams, a turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread with a side of baby carrots makes for a simple and healthy lunch. Cold whole-wheat pasta mixed with chunk light tuna is another good choice. Chicken stir-fry from last night’s dinner or a bowl of lentil soup with whole-grain crackers are two more tasty options. Water or seltzer to drink and fruit for dessert will have your little Einsteins raring to go.

Make Healthy Munchies
Because it’s not just exams that require focus, kids also should snack wisely in order to breeze through their homework. Healthy and tasty snacks that don’t create a mess but will fuel the mind include apple slices with peanut butter; soy crisps; baby carrots, celery, or pepper sticks dipped in hummus or salsa; string cheese; low-fat yogurt; edamame (lightly salted soybeans); raw almonds, walnuts, or cashews; low-fat popcorn; and any kind of fruit—try frozen grapes!

Keep Kids Active
When it comes to overall brain health, encourage kids to exercise, eat berries, and increase their intake of foods rich in omega-3 fats and folic acid. Exercise is important because it improves circulation, which increases oxygen flow to the brain.

Blueberries and other berries are powerhouses for young noggins. They’re among the best sources of anthocyanins and flavanols—chemicals that have been shown to increase connections between brain cells, enhancing learning ability and memory. Blueberries also are rich in antioxidants.

Numerous studies on omega-3s have shown that these essential fatty acids help fuel brain power and may be effective in reducing the risk of attention-deficit disorder and dyslexia. Omega-3 fats are especially abundant in salmon, sardines, fortified eggs, ground flax seeds, and walnuts.

Folic acid, a.k.a. folate, is a B vitamin that helps keep your memory sharp by lowering levels of homocysteine, a substance that can damage blood vessels and impede blood flow to the brain. Serve up an Ivy League-inspiring bowl of hearty soup brimming with lentils, beans, and broccoli, and you’ve hit the folic-acid trifecta.

Joy Bauer is a registered dietitian and the author of several best-selling books, including “ Joy Bauer’s Food Cures” and “Cooking With Joy.”

5W Editor's Note
Avoid soft drinks -- they are acidic and leach Calcium from bones, making fractures more likely. Drink pure water.

Wash your hands regularly and use hand sanitizer. Germ-laden places: other people's hands, keyboards, door handles, railings, etc. Keep your fingers out of vulnerable areas of the body.

Eat more vegetables and less meat, which is acidic. Cancer thrives in acidic environments.

Perhaps a third of male oral (mouth, tongue) cancer can be traced to oral sex with HPV-carrying females. Don't do it. It's not safe, nor is anal sex. Always use prophylactics.

Reduce your intake of sugar and salt -- you get more than enough without adding more, and too much is hazardous.

If you are hungry, eat an apple. If you are not hungry for an apple, you are not really hungry.

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