Morning Rounds: How nutrition impacts school performance

News 3 This Morning is taking action for your health. Dr. Ryan Light with TPMG at Greenbrier Family Medicine dropped by to talk about how certain foods can impact your child's performance in school.

Is there a link between diet and performance in school? 

Yes there are multiple links between diet and performance in schools. Nutrition plays a key roll in development beginning prenatally. The mothers diet influence brain growth and development in the babies. Babies and toddlers need sound nutrition and a well-balanced diet for brain development as well. This link of good nutrition (a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, protein, dairy, and healthy fats) carries through from childhood to adulthood. A balanced diet helps avoid dips in blood sugar, fatigue and irritability. Good nutrition provides the child with a good foundation within the brain for learning.

Do certain foods cause ADHD, inattention, changes in mood or brain function? 

ADHD is a medical diagnosis food does not cause ADHD, but may exacerbate the symptoms. A diet high in sugars and caffeine can cause increased symptoms of ADHD. Nutrition for patients with ADHD should follow the same criteria as the general population. Regular meals comprised of fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, and good fats. Eating irregularly and a diet limited to process foods can affect mood, and attention.

Does eliminating dairy, gluten, food dyes, and other non-organic foods from your child's diet ensure better brain health? 

True food allergies represent a very small percentage of the population. If your child has a food allergy, you should absolutely eliminate the allergy source from their diet. There is no sound science to support removing all dairy and gluten from your child's diet. It is also important to limit processed foods because they typically contain high levels of sodium, sugar, and food dyes.

Take home message?

Eat a balanced meal on a regular basis. Incorporate a variety of healthy foods such as:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Lean proteins
  • Dairy
  • Complex Carbohydrates
  • Healthy fats

This will lead to the best outcomes for brain development and academic success.