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by Laura Erlauer
Table of Contents
What we put in our bodies and do with our bodies directly affects the brain and learning. Nutrition, sleep, and physical movement are crucial to the brain's survival, functioning, and learning. Poor nutrition, lack of sleep, and lack of physical activity affects the brain's ability to learn to its highest potential. In addition, if street drugs, misused prescription drugs, or alcohol are present in the body, the brain also does not learn to its highest potential.
Eat your vegetables! Like most young children, you probably heard this command repeatedly from Mom at the dinner table. While those veggies may not put hair on your chest as Dad used to assert, it turns out that Mom had an intuitive glimpse into future brain research. That information now tells us that, indeed, fresh fruits and vegetables are very healthy for the brain. Also good for the brain are high-protein foods, such as fish, lean meats, and nuts (Jensen, 1998). Another tip you have probably heard over time is to eat several small meals each day rather than the traditional two or three big meals at established times. While a bias may be to treasure the big, established dinnertime for the value of conversation between family members, several small, healthy snacks during the day are good for the body and brain. Allowing students a quick healthy snack midmorning and even again midafternoon can give them a bit more energy to pay attention to lessons.
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