Two Nutritional Foundations to Healthy Brain Function

November 08, 2018

Two Nutritional Foundations to Healthy Brain Function

Like every organ in our body, the brain has specific nutritional needs essential to maximising its vital function. We all know that there are certain foods which are better than others at maximising cognitive processes, but which ones?

1. Water

Water is one of the most important “brain nutrients.” When a child is even moderately dehydrated, efficient brain function can be impaired by up to 20%. In the classroom, this can be noted by the inability of a child to maintain focus, and poor concentration. Drinking a full glass of water every two hours can go a long way in minimizing these effects, keeping dehydration at bay.

2. Glucose

Another ingredient to efficient brain function is glucose.
Glucose is crucial to maintaining the body fuelled and ready to go, and when we introduce carbohydrates to our body (such as cereals, grains and fruits), glucose is naturally formed and begins circulating in our blood.
The brain’s metabolism requires that levels of glucose in the blood be constant and regular for maximised efficiency.
It is for this reason that there is so much hype about Low Glycaemic Index (low-GI) foods.
Where foods lead to too high a release of glucose, the glucose gets burnt very fast leaving our brain with an intermittent supply of one of its most important needs.
Eating low-GI foods ensures that we get that required constant and regular glucose supply.

In the classroom, children need to be able to sustain concentration as they are constantly absorbing knowledge throughout the day. It is important to avoid (as much as possible) any foods with have refined sugars as they are high-GI foods which get burned through too quickly for the brain to be able to receive the constant supply of glucose that it needs. Foods with refined sugars (such as lollies and packaged snacks) limit the brain’s ability to operate at a high level of efficiency without interruptions. If an individual has a higher intake of refined sugars for an extended period of time, it can lead to anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, fatigue and deficit-attention problems. These on top of the more known increase of obesity risk.

To reduce the negative impact of an excessive refined sugar intake and associated symptoms, it is enough to just try and avoid any foods containing refined sugars. These would be, for example: fast-foods, industrial sweets, quick “frozen” meals based on industrial flours, white rice, fruit juices which are not freshly squeezed/organic and dairy-based drinks with added sugars. Breakfast cereal companies often add sugars to their cereals, so it is worthwhile checking for this when going a regular shop.

There are many excellent resources online regarding meal-prep ideas for children which highlight low-GI foods as healthy meal alternatives to give children all the energy that they need. I have some of these foods up on my website:

These are just two pillars of health for maintaining our kids happy and active in the classroom. If we pay attention to our kids’ water and glucose intakes we are one step closer to ensuring that we are giving them a rich diet full of sustenance that will both maximise their classroom performance and also set them up to be healthy later in life.


Daniele Ferrari
Daniele Ferrari is a Biologist, specialised in Naturopathy and Phytotherapy with more than 18 years of clinical experience. Daniele receives patients daily in his Complementary Medicine Clinic in Melbourne where he sees patients from all walks of life. He is specialised in treating Auto-Immune Diseases, Chronic Infections, and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Daniele firmly believes that good health is rarely attainable without a targeted and individualised awareness of nutrition, specific to one’s age, health needs and activities.
With two daughters who both attended Montessori schools in Italy, Daniele’s collaboration with Bravissimi reflects his appreciation of the delicate, magic and enchanting period of life that is childhood and the importance of providing our children with everything they need to help them learn and grow. Supporting the healthy development and growth of our children is an important task which we must all undertake so to contribute to the development of healthy and capable future generations.

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