It’s back-to-school time, and scientists tell us that the first organ to suffer from temporary malnutrition is the brain! Our brains use at least 20% of the body’s energy, more than any other organ. An ongoing nutrient-poor diet can lead to less than peak performance and contribute to psychological, behavioral, and learning problems.
A lack of nutrients can disrupt the brain’s chemical balance and impair concentration.
Iron is needed for energy and attention span. It is believed to be the most prevalent world-wide nutrient deficiency, including America, and the most frequent cause of anemia.
A study at the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University showed that young adolescents with iron-deficient anemia had significantly lower scores on school achievement tests than non-anemic students, and they also exhibited a greater frequency of conduct problems, including restlessness, irritability, and disruptive behavior.
The Rockefeller University and the University of Colorado both found that the motivation to persist in intellectually challenging tasks is lower, attention span is shorter, and overall intellectual performance is diminished when students are iron deficient.
Make sure that you and your children start your day with brain food. Egg yolks contain iron, as well as beans, peas, and lentils. How about an egg and refried bean burrito for breakfast? Be sure to use tortillas from whole-grains made without hydrogenated fats. Ezekiel 4:9 makes a sprouted grain tortilla. Add some salsa for the vitamin C, which is needed to properly absorb iron. Or, eat a whole orange, which offers vitamin C, fiber, and immune-boosting benefits.
Other healthy sources of iron include sesame and pumpkin seeds, dried apricots, raisins, and prunes, almonds, Brazil nuts, and pine nuts. These can easily be mixed together in snack-sized containers for school lunches or after-school snacks (to boost the brain for homework). Look for varieties without added sugar, salt, and oils.
Whole grains naturally contain iron before they are processed. White refined flour has had the germ and bran removed, which contain the majority of the iron. Refined breads, pastas, and cereals are enriched with synthetic iron, which is poorly absorbed.
Make a salad part of your daily menu. Not only are leafy greens, spinach, and kale good sources of iron, but they also contain vitamin C. Add some salmon to your salad for additional iron. For creative ways to add greens to your meals, check out www.weelicious.com.
It’s best to get iron from food. Always check with your health care provider before taking an iron supplement.
I often give my grandchildren chlorophyll water (they like to call it leprechaun juice). It’s extracted from iron-rich alfalfa and is great for cleansing the blood. I just squirt a teaspoonful into 4 to 8 ounces of water. My 5-year-old grandson, Levi, who had a liver transplant before he was a year old, craves the stuff. You can order it from www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com
Keep learning to be healthy!
Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist, CNHP
1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”
www.learningtobehealthy.com (Download your free 10 Simple Steps to a Leaner, Healthier You!)
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.