It’s that time of year again. The days are getting shorter, the warm summer air begins to cool, the leaves turn a gorgeous array of fall colors, and kids go back to school. We learn and perform best when our minds and bodies are strong, nourished and healthy, and this is doubly true for growing children. Changing schedules, the shift in weather and fresh exposure to viruses and bacteria can all affect the health and vitality of our kids, so how can we best support their well-being for learning and growth? We believe there are three fundamental pillars for kids to be nourished, growing, and engaged in learning.
1. Organic, Plant-Focused Nutrition
At Navitas Organics, we believe in the power of whole, organic, plant-based foods for health and vitality. This is even more important for bodies and brains that are still growing. Giving kids’ bodies the nutrients they need for brain and immune health, as well as for growing strong bodies is critical. Protein, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables are all key ingredients for growth and health.
Starting your kids’ day with a healthy breakfast and packing a nutritious lunch enables them to maintain the sustained focus and energy they need throughout their school day. A smoothie made from our Essential Blends, for example, will fuel their body with 12-20 grams of diverse plant protein, 14 superfoods, greens, probiotics and digestive enzymes, with no added sugar! Add some nut butter or avocado for a dose of healthy fat, and you have the recipe for a breakfast that will keep their blood sugar balanced while providing prolonged energy and satiety. Our Power Snacks, nuts, seeds, and berries are all great additions to lunchboxes for healthy, low- or no-sugar snacks.
Additionally, our foods are sustainably sourced and farmed, so feeding your kids healthy foods can also do extra good in the world by supporting organic, sustainable, regenerative agriculture, and leaving a better world for their future.
2. Unstructured Play Time
We likely all understand the importance of physical activity for strong, healthy bones and muscles, and cardiovascular fitness. In addition to the physical returns though, kids also benefit cognitively from play time. As they use their imaginations to create new worlds and characters, their brains are stimulated. The neurons in the prefrontal cortex are changed by play and these changes shape kids’ ability to regulate emotions, make plans and solve problems. Unstructured play time is what prepares young brains for not just school, but life.
3. Adequate Sleep
Last, but certainly not least is a full night’s sleep. Sleep is the body’s time to recover and rebuild from our busy day. Our brains need healthy sleep and dream cycles to help us process our days, and for proper alertness and functioning. Ongoing sleep deficiency can affect growth hormones., so children and teens who lack sleep may suffer from certain developmental challenges. They may also have trouble getting along with others, paying attention in class, making decisions, problem-solving, and controlling their emotions and behavior.
Sleep can also affect our body’s ability to react to insulin (the hormone that controls our blood sugar), as well as ghrelin and leptin (the hormones that control our hunger signals). These two things combined can lead to multiple health issues if sleep deprivation is long term.
Supporting the growth of healthy kids and managing busy schedules is hard work, but following these three key tips will help make this back-to-school season a smoother transition for the whole family. For more tips on how to start everyone's day on a healthy note to ensure lasting energy and focus, read "3 Ways to Start Your Day Without Sugar."
Author Bio: Amy is Navitas Organics' Product Specialist. If you've called or emailed us in the past year, it's probably her that responded to your question. A longtime Navitas consumer whose favorite products are hemp seeds and maca powder, Amy is a nutritionist who is passionate about food-as-medicine and organic, sustainable food in particular.