Back to school time comes around quickly at the end of summer, and suddenly you’re back into rushed mornings, hurried breakfasts, and the busy rhythm of school life. You may be wondering how you can best support your child’s learning potential, or how to keep them from getting ill this winter. Here are my tops tips for children’s health to keep them thriving through autumn.
Oily fish like wild salmon, sardines, anchovies and mackerel are rich in omega 3 fats which boost memory and learning. The brain is made of 60% fats, and Omega 3 fats are also anti-inflammatory so they help protect the immune system. They have also been shown to improve dexterity in children with dyspraxia. Try making fish cakes or fish pie.
Children thrive when their gut microbes work with them, not against them. The bugs in our gut outnumber the human cells in our body by 10 fold, and they interact with our brain and immune system constantly. To feed the bugs in their gut ensure your children are eating a lot of fibre (fresh vegetables, whole grains, pulses). Aim for a varied a diet as possible to ensure a diverse set of microbes in the gut. Blend extra vegetables into pasta sauce, offer fruit salads for desert, or get them involved in making smoothies.
Aim to eat vegetables and fruits from each colour in the rainbow every day to ensure they are getting all the phytonutrients in different plants. You can make a wall chart to get your children involved in ticking off the different colours every day. Look for interesting new fruits and vegetables to expand your family meal time variety.
Eggs are rich in choline which promotes memory and concentration. Kids can eat eggs in pancakes (experiment with almond or buckwheat flour) and they can add fruit toppings. Also omelettes or frittatas are a great way to add some extra protein and vegetables into a lunchbox. Or try swapping out cereal at breakfast for a boiled egg and wholegrain toast.
We thrive when we interact with nature, and children need time to run around and just play. Relaxation is really important for learning. Aim for at least 30 mins of physical movement every day, and as much time in fresh air as possible. Interacting with animals also supports a healthy gut microbiome. Exposure to the sunlight will also help with vitamin D production.
If your children start to get ill when they go back to school look at their diet, down time, and opportunities to move their body in exercise, and think about what you can adjust to help them stay in optimal health.