Better Nutrition for Better Behaviour – Nuzest NZ

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Better Nutrition for Better Behaviour

Kids Nutrition, Lifestyle Advice,

The most important meal of the day

That’s right, breakfast! If you’ve ever run out of the door without breakfast on a workday, you’re probably familiar with the distraction that hunger can cause. This is no different in children – attention and memory are improved in children that have breakfast compared to those who don’t, and some types of breakfast seem to improve attention more than others. For example, children who ate low GI (or glycaemic index – a measure of how quickly your blood sugar rises after a meal) breakfasts saw greater improvement in attention than those who had high GI breakfasts.1 Common high GI breakfast foods are white bread, high-sugar cereal and baked goods like muffins and pastries, whereas low GI options include oatmeal, eggs and wholemeal toast.

 

Turn High GI into Low GI

 

Examples of how to turn a high GI breakfast into a low GI one below:

High GI

How to make it low GI

White toast

Swap the white bread for wholemeal and top with a boiled egg, nut butter or baked beans

Sugary cereals

Swap cereal for porridge (rolled or steel cut oats rather than instant or quick oats) and sprinkle with chia or hemp seeds

Chocolate milk

Make a smoothie with Rich Chocolate flavoured Kids Good Stuff, veggies and/or fruit and nuts

Muffin

Swap for a homemade granola bar with nuts and dried fruit (see recipe)

 

Of course, it’s a little reductive to say that it’s only breakfast that is important when thinking about attention and behaviour in children. Making sure children eat regularly through the day and focussing on low GI foods ensures they have sustainable energy to focus and helps to reduce the poor behaviour that often arises from hunger.

 Specific Nutrients to Help

Specific nutrients to help

As well as ensuring that children eat regularly, it can be helpful to ensure adequate intake of a few key nutrients.

  • Magnesium, in concert with Calcium, helps calm the nervous system by regulating nerve firing and reducing over-excitation of the nervous system. For diets low in magnesium, supplementation might help to reduce anxiety.2
  • B Vitamins support all areas of health and mood; in particular B6 supplementation (with magnesium) has demonstrated improvements in symptoms of hyperactivity and aggressiveness in children.3
  • Iron deficiency in children has several symptoms, one of which is poor behaviour, and treatment with supplemental iron can reverse the behavioural symptoms.4 There’s no harm in increasing iron-rich foods in the diet (for example spinach, beans, lentils, tofu and red meat) as our bodies are very good at regulating iron from food sources; however you should only ever give children iron supplements if your doctor has identified an iron deficiency.
  • Zinc insufficiency is associated with a number of behaviour problems including anxiety/depression, withdrawal, emotional reactivity, attention problems and aggressive behaviour.5 Including more beans and lentils, seeds like hemp or pumpkin, nuts like cashews or almonds and dark chocolate can give your kids a boost of zinc in their diets.
  • Omega-3s have been found to improve problems like inattention, hyperactivity and oppositional behaviour in children, both with and without a diagnosis of ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder).6 As well as oily fish, omega-3s can be found in seaweed, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax, walnuts and beans.
  • Protein keeps them fuller for longer, helping to avoid afternoon ‘hanger’ tantrums!

To help achieve the levels of nutrients kids needs to thrive, try adding a Kids Good Stuff multi vitamin smoothie to their daily routine. It contains over 50 ingredients including magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, naturally occurring iron, zinc and protein.

 

Foods to avoid

 

Things to avoid

Experiment with removing artificial colours, flavour enhancers and preservatives to see if this makes a difference in your child’s behaviour (some children are more sensitive than others); these include:

Category

Name (ingredient code)

Artificial colours

Tertrazine (102), quinoline yellow (104), sunset yellow (110), carmoisine (122), ponceau 4R (124), allura red (129)

Flavour enhancers

Glutamates (including MSG) (620-625), ribonucleotides (627, 631, 635), hydrolysed vegetable protein (HVT), textured vegetable protein (TVP)

Preservatives

Sorbates (200-203), benzoates (210-213), sulphites (220-228), nitrates/nitrites (249-252), propionates (280-283), antioxidants (310-312, 319-321)

 

This can be an overwhelming task and it’s best to work with a professional (like a dietician, nutritionist or naturopath) when making restrictions to a child’s diet.

 

Allergies and intolerances

Allergies and intolerances don’t always show up as the classic symptoms of rash, itchy throat, bloating or diarrhoea. Behavioural problems can also be a sign of an undiagnosed allergy or intolerance. Speak to your doctor if you suspect this and they can arrange an allergy test for you.

 

 

 

References

  1. Adolphus K, Lawton CL, Champ CL, et al. The effects of breakfast and breakfast composition on cognition in children and adolescents: A systematic review. Adv Nutr 2016;7(3):590S-612S.
  2. Boyle NB, Lawton C, Dye L. The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017;9(5):429.
  3. Mousain-Bosc M, Roche M, Polge A, Pradal-Prat D, Rapin J, Bali JP. Improvement of neurobehavioral dis-orders in children supplemented with magnesium-vitamin B6. I. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. Magnes Res. 2006;19(1):46-52.
  4. Mahajan G, Sikka M, Rusia U, et al. Iron profile in children with behavioural disorders: A prospective study in a tertiary care hospital in North India. Indian J Hematol Blood Tranfus 2011;27(2):75-80.
  5. Liu J, Hanlon A, Ma C, et al. Low blood zinc, iron, and other sociodemographic factors associated with behaviour problems in preschoolers. Nutr 2014;6:530-545.
  6. Hibbeln JR, Gow RV. Omega-3 fatty acid and nutrient deficits in adverse neurodevelopment and childhood behaviours. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am 2014;23(3):555-590.
Kids Good Stuff

Kids Good Stuff

225g (15 Servings)

$45.00 NZD

The information provided in this article is intended for educational purposes only and is general advice. It should not, nor is it intended to be, relied on as a substitute for individual medical advice or care. If the contents of this, or any other of the blogs in this series raises any concerns or questions regarding your health, please consult a qualified healthcare practitioner.

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