Improve brainpower of your kids with these diet tips

The kind of stress and competition that our kids face is increasing and getting tougher day after day. It is important that we prepare our kids and make them strong and capable enough to face it.

One way to do that is helping them to focus, concentrate and excel at what they do by boosting their brain power. A proper diet and adequate nutrients are extremely essential in brain health. Here are some tips to make sure that your kids eat healthy-

  • Include whole grains

Like everything else in our body, the brain requires energy (glucose) to function well. Your child can concentrate and focus better when there is a steady and adequate supply of energy. Whole grains like wheat, brown rice, jowar, bajra, etc. help to release glucose slowly in the body, thereby ensuring a sustained supply.

  • Don’t forget the Proteins

Proteins are the building blocks of our body. They are essential for the formation of neurotransmitters which send messages across the brain and nervous system. According to research, the healthiest sources of proteins include lean meats, fish, poultry, dairy and plant based sources such as nuts and legumes.

Animal sources of protein are also rich in B complex vitamins such as thiamin, niacin, B6, B12 and folic acid and choline. These vitamins, especially choline has been linked with boosting memory. If you are vegetarian or vegan, look for fortified foods or opt for supplements.

  • Fats are good

Did you know that almost 70% of our brain is made of fat? It is but natural then that it requires fat for adequate functioning. However, the type and quantity are important. Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA, are essential components for learning and memory. They are found in fatty fish such as salmon and sardines. Plant sources include flaxseeds, chia seeds, almonds, walnuts, etc.

Saturated fat such as ghee, coconut oil, full fat dairy products are also essential.

However, it is important to remember that trans-fat, hydrogenated fat, found in deep fried, bakery and processed foods are harmful, since they cause oxidation and damage to the cells.

  • Include fruits and veggies

Most Indian parents complain that their kids don’t like vegetables or they hate eating fruits. However, apart from being high in fibre, this food group contains loads of antioxidants which are beneficial for preventing oxidative stress, thereby preventing fatigue, drowsiness, irritability, etc.

Make interesting recipes and get them interested in what they are eating.

  • Ensure that they are hydrated well

Dehydration can cause a decrease in brain function by affecting the concentration, causing irritability and a generalised lethargy. Avoid this by making sure that they have enough fluids throughout the day. Water, smoothies, milkshakes, soups will provide adequate hydration. Of course, avoid sugary, packaged, caffeinated beverages, since they do more harm than good.

  • Make them go out to play

Exercise in any form helps to boost the brain function by releasing substances that boost memory, cognitive function and help to process information effectively. It also increases the heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain.

So let them run, skip, hop, jump, play cricket, football-whatever they wish!

A balanced diet with ample play time and less of screen time is beneficial in improving your child’s cognitive development. ‘Practice what you preach’! Incorporating healthy habits yourself will provide a good example to your children and make the implementation easier. Happy eating!

Siddhi Takalkar is a child nutrition specialist in Pune. She is also the founder of NutriWorks and is a Registered Dietitian in Kothrud, Pune with a Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics. She has a vast experience in advising diets for various age groups. She is the best diet consultant for all your Nutritional needs.

Super foods for sankrant

Makar sankranti is a festival dedicated to the Sun God. It falls in January and is the beginning of the Sun’s journey into the Makar (Capricorn) sign. It is celebrated all over India and is known by various names such as lohri, bihu, pongal, etc. It celebrates the harvest season and as is the case with all celebrations, food forms a central part of it!

The beauty of this festival is that it is celebrated with food that has various benefits in the winter season. Some of these super foods include-

  1. Til-also known as gingelly seeds. These are basically oil seeds which provide 563 kilocalories, 18.3 gm protein, 43.3 gm fat per 100 gm of seeds. They are rich in various B complex vitamins and minerals such as copper, magnesium, calcium and zinc. Various studies have shown that til seeds provide relief in Rheumatoid arthritis, help in respiratory disorders, promote bone health, improve hair and skin and are a great stress buster.
  • Jaggery-you might think of the humble jaggery as just a sweetener, but it is a lot more than that. It is rich in antioxidants and minerals like selenium and zinc, which help in scavenging the free radicals in the body. It aids in digestion by activating the various digestive enzymes in the stomach. It can help alleviate the symptoms of PMS in women.
  • Groundnuts-are also oil seeds. They provide 567 kilocalories, 25.3 gm of protein and 40.1 gm of fat per 100 gm of seeds. They also contain magnesium, niacin, copper, oleic acid, and antioxidants such as resveratrol. Eating peanuts in optimum quantities can help in weight loss, healthy heart and prevention of gallstones.
  • Ghee-ghee is a powerhouse of nutrients. It provides energy and contains various minerals and fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. It has anti-inflammatory properties, helps in keeping the heart healthy and also helps to flush out toxins from the body.
  • Seasonal vegetables-contain more nutrients, antioxidants and nutrients which are essential for the body. Seasonal vegetables are allowed to develop fully on the plant itself, thereby enhancing their nutrient value.
  • Leafy vegetables-these are grown abundantly in winters and have various health benefits. They are a great source of antioxidants, minerals and fibre. They help to improve the metabolism, relieve constipation, and have cancer-preventing agents like lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • Bajra-it comes from the family of millets. It contains 361 kilocalories, 12 gm protein and 5 gm fat per 100 gm of the millet. Additionally, it contains complex carbohydrates, resistant starch, magnesium, polyphenols like flavonoids and omega 3 fatty acids. It is beneficial for gut health, diabetes, healthy heart and helps protect against ageing, cancer and metabolic disorders.

Indian festival foods are often those which are grown in abundance during that time and Sankrant foods are no exception. Enjoy these foods, but be aware of the quantity and portion sizes, because ultimately, moderation is the key!

Siddhi Takalkar-founder of NutriWorks is a Registered Dietitian in Pune with a Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics. She has a vast experience in advising diets for various health conditions and is the best Dietitian and Nutritionist in Pune for all your Nutritional needs.

Why does one need a Personal Dietitian?

Why does one need a Personal Dietitian?

Why does one need a Personal Dietitian?

We eat and we eat and we eat. But are we eating the right components? We eat what are grandparents, parents and friends eat do you think that is the ideal situation? Our body gains nutrition from what we consume daily and the necessity of nutrients varies from person to person. A common man is not well informed about the various nutrients his body needs and tends to overlook the situation and does not understand the importance of consumption of the right nutrients.

And this is exactly why Nutritionists exist. A Nutritionist is trained personnel who are capable to understand every unique body and allot the necessary nutrients accordingly. Nutritionist curate personalized nutrition plans for the clients depending upon their age, gender, height, weight, lifestyle, allergies and other aspects. Customization is essential to gain the optimum health and weight status.

The diet plan made by the diet consultant is made by keeping in mind factors such as culture, religion, staple food. Clients have different physiological conditions. For.eg. a pregnant lady requires different nutrients than a lady who is not pregnant.

Other factors such as personal physical health, frequency of exercise and fitness matters while deciding the personal nutrition plan. The diet consultant puts together many factors and then decides the amount and type of nutrient that each client requires. For.eg the diet for a sportsman is completely different than that of an ordinary human. The nutritionist will make sure that the meals are filled with energy and protein giving ingredients.

Factors like money, time also play major role in the level of nutrients we consume via our meals. If the income band is low, people usually settle to eat what fits in their budget and nutritious food takes a back seat. If an individual is always running late and has no time to cook proper meals, he or she ends up eating something quick and unhealthy. For.eg Many youngsters consume maggi as a meal when they are late or are extremely exhausted and don’t want to cook.

This when done once in a blue moon is acceptable but when becomes a routine is threatening to the body in the long term.

Some individuals have higher or lower tendency to absorb certain nutrients. Such people require the guidance of a nutritionist to incorporate similar equivalent nutrient giving via other ingredients which the client is adaptable too. For.eg. for those who are lactose or gluten intolerant the dietician has to be very careful while making meal plans.

The Nutritionist has to make sure that the following points are considered and covered while making a personalized diet plan:

  • The meals must satisfy the daily nutrients demand of the body.
  • Consider economic status of the client.
  • Understand the daily habits of the client.
  • Personal likes and dislikes.
  • Food availability

A generic Diet chart is not suitable for everybody. As each individual is different so is his need of nutrients. If you work towards nutrition today it will work for you tomorrow.