Idea Learning Group

"food" Posts

What we learn before we’re born

Wonderful and fascinating Ted talk by Annie Murphy Paul about the experience of learning from the perspective of a fetus.  “Learning is one of life’s most essential activities, and it begins much earlier than we ever imagined.”

To what extent do the conditions we encounter before birth influence our individual characteristics? It‘s the question at the center of fetal origins, a relatively new field of research that measures how the effects of influences outside the womb during pregnancy can shape the physical, mental and even emotional well-being of the developing baby for the rest of its life.

Science writer Annie Murphy Paul calls it a gray zone between nature and nurture in her book Origins, a history and study of this emerging field structured around a personal narrative — Paul was pregnant with her second child at the time. What she finds suggests a far more dynamic nature between mother and fetus than typically acknowledged, and opens up the possibility that the time before birth is as crucial to human development as early childhood.

Superfoods for Your Brain

Just like our bodies, our brains need special attention in order to remain healthy. Exercise and the right kinds of foods are the top two ways to keep your brain at its best. 

Here are the best brain foods, broken down by age group:

The Best Brain Food for Infants and Babies

Iron. By 5 or 6 months, babies have used up the iron stores they’re born with and need to get iron from food or supplements to support brain development.
Food solutions: 
Iron-fortified cereals. Try these iron-rich recipes.

The Best Brain Food for Children and Teens:

School-aged children should start their day with low-glycemic-index breakfast foods. (They need morning fuel.)
Food solutions: Bran cereals, oatmeal or whole-wheat bagels. Try these oat-filled recipes.

The Best Brain Food for Young Adults:

Got iron? 10 percent of women are anemic, and new studies show that being even mildly iron-deficient affects learning, memory, and attention. Luckily, restoring iron levels to normal also restores cognitive function.
Food solutions: 
Dark leafy greens, beans, meat or soy. Try these leafy green recipes.

The Best Brain Food for Older Adults:

Eat your antioxidants. People who eat more brightly colored fruits and leafy vegetables have less cognitive decline than those who don’t; antioxidants in produce may mop up free radicals and protect neurons from damage.
Food solutions:
 Berries and other fruits, greens and turmeric (which contains curcumin). Try these antioxidant-rich recipes.

The Best Brain Food for Pregnant Women:

Pregnant women who eat fatty fish, such as salmon, during their third trimester of pregnancy have babies who tend to perform better on cognitive tasks. Researchers think the omega-3 fatty acid DHA is needed during this time to build neurons and their connections.
Food solutions: 
Salmon and other fatty fish, DHA-fortified eggs and yogurt. Try these healthy salmon recipes.

Check out these brain-boosting recipes to incorporate all the foods above into your diet.  But smarts are not everything. Here are some rules on how eat for happiness

Feed Your Brain: Best Foods for Employee Training Sessions

When planning your next employee training session, give a little extra thought to the food. Here’s why:

“A new study finds obese people have 8 percent less brain tissue than normal-weight individuals. Their brains look 16 years older than the brains of lean individuals, researchers said today.  Those classified as overweight have 4 percent less brain tissue and their brains appear to have aged prematurely by 8 years.” livescience.com

Given this new evidence maybe it’s time to reconsider the food we bring into our employee training and learning environments. Instead of candy, soda, and the occasional over ripe banana, use the tips below to enhance adult learning:

  • First things first – encourage participants to eat a healthy breakfast.  Ideally it should include protein like yogurt or egg.
  • Provide water (lots of it) instead of soda, juice or coffee. What no coffee!? Okay, okay, maybe you can’t actually get away with that one, but having lots of water available is critical – the brain is composed of nearly 80 percent water.
  • Encourage frequent snacking: too much time in between eating can cause loss of concentration and decreased alertness.
  • Choose snacks carefully; look for low fat, high protein, minimally processed snacks like these: nuts, fresh fruit, carrot sticks, pre-wrapped cheese, whole grain crackers, dried pineapple, apricots, raisins, banana chips, cranberries, blueberries, fruit leather, single serving yogurt cups, pretzels with peanut butter.

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