Eating for the brain

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Dietitian Keri Strachan and her sons, Samuel and William, at their Hillcrest home. Picture: DOCTOR NGCOBO

Durban dietitian Keri Strachan recently led a mom’s store tour aimed at helping mothers decipher labels, spot foods packed with vitamins and nutrients, and shop for nutritious snacks.

The tour focused on brain food – an ideal topic as exams approach.

Here are some of the tips she shared:

* Avoid long gaps between meals with small well-planned nutritious snacks, such as low fat yoghurt, fruit, small portions of nuts, two to three pieces of dried fruit or low GI starchy foods, eg ProVita, RyVita, low GI muffins and low GI bread.

The brain relies on glucose for fuel and despite its small size in relation to the body draws about 20 percent of the body’s glucose.

Eating regularly, starting with an early breakfast, promotes better concentration as well as sustained mental and physical performance.

* Choose low GI, unrefined, high-fibre foods as the basis of most meals. Low GI foods are more slowly digested, thus releasing glucose at a steady rate over a longer period. They include oats, durum wheat pasta, bulgar wheat, quinoa and barley.

* Include a large variety of colourful fruit and vegetables to ensure a good intake of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, boost immunity and help protect us from disease.

Include all available colours in your weekly diet and at most meals and snacks. For example fruit at breakfast and as snacks, and vegetables or salad with lunch and dinner.

Serve vegetables in a variety of ways; veg sticks, stir-fried vegetables, roasted or fresh steamed vegetables.

All plant foods are also good sources of fibre, which promote regular bowel function.

* Omega 3 fats are also shown to improve brain function.

It is recommended to have two to three servings of oily fish a week to get an adequate intake of omega 3. Alternatively omega 3 supplements can be taken daily.

 

* Mom’s Store Tour is a free service offered by the Woolworths Education Programme. It begins in January 2013.


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