FIVE TIPS FOR A HEALTHY BRAIN

Lauren Zimet

Lauren Zimet explains the principles of brain health to a youngster.

Everyone is born with about 100 billion brain cells. You may know that we form new synapses or connections between these cells throughout life, but did you know that your experiences and your nutrition contribute to these connections and the overall health of your brain?

With the Jewish New Year fast approaching, what better time than now to take a moment and reflect on what you can do to take better care of your (and your child’s) brain?

Here are five tips to help enhance brain health:

  1. Eat a rainbow:

    It’s no secret that the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables are numerous; eating a colorful array of fruits and veggies each day provides antioxidants, vitamins and minerals needed to nourish and protect your brain. These are the healthy colors (also known as phytonutrients) created by Hashem.

    If your children are resistant to eating produce, plan a shopping trip together so they can select something new to try. Then let them help wash, platter and prepare – children are more likely to eat something they’ve helped make!

    Having a rainbow at the Shabbos dinner table can become a brain-healthy tradition for years to come.

  2. Eat omega-3 brain food:

    Omega-3 fatty acids are critical for brain development and nourishment and are needed for optimal overall health. While fish, nuts and seaweed are good omega-3 sources, kids (as well as some adults) typically don’t gobble down these foods.

    Experts agree that the safest, most reliable source of these important fatty acids (EPA and DHA) is a high-quality fish oil supplement. Fortunately, there are purified, molecularly distilled fish oils that are available for infants, children and adults.

  3. Happy brains are hydrated brains:

    Drinking water can increase mental and physical performance, remove toxins from the body and keep skin radiant and healthy.

    Today, most nutritionists agree that we need more water in our daily diets. To estimate how many ounces of water you should drink daily, divide your weight in half and aim for that number of ounces per day.

  4. Move and groove, and relax the right way on Shabbos:

    `While it’s true that exercise boosts brain power by providing increased oxygen to the brain, it’s also important to relax.

    Balancing activity with relaxation is important for adults and children. Teaching children early on the benefit of setting goals, working towards those goals and giving their brain and body time to relax are important life skills.

    When it’s time to relax, turn off the TV and teach your child that taking a walk in nature (or even just around the block), reading a book or drawing are great ways to unwind. Deep breathing is also an excellent practice to teach children of all ages.

    Maybe another new Shabbos activity can be quiet time for deep breathing, yoga or just a mindfulness moment that families share together.

  5. Think positive…be a problem solver, not a complainer:

    What we put out into the world has a great effect on what we get back; your thoughts directly influence your life. Reflecting on our own thoughts and teaching children to reflect on theirs is a powerful life skill.

    Your brain is your thought-maker…when you make a mistake, ask your brain to make a “Band-Aid” thought, learn from the mistake and then move on. We can all benefit from slowing down. Take a deep breath.

    The things we think over and over again gain more power each time they are thought, heard or believed. So, as we approach the Jewish New Year, why not bring more positive thoughts, visions and brain-healthy habits into mind and practice?

Wishing everyone a happy and brain healthy new year!

Editor’s note: Lauren Zimet, CCC/SLP is the founder and co-director of The Healthy Foundations Program – facilitating brain health, nutrition education, self-regulation and social thinking to children of all ages and abilities. For more info, call (404) 944-9561.

By Lauren Zimet
For The Atlanta Jewish Times