Children come into the world ready to learn.

I know, as a parent, that I want to create a home environment my children can learn, grow, and thrive in, and nutrition is an important part of that environment. Good nutrition is necessary for brain growth and development, mastering social and behavioral skills, and preventing illness.

There are key nutrients the brain needs to develop properly, so it is important to eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods. Focus on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy sources of fats and proteinsuch as nuts and nut butters, yogurt, beans, fish, and lean meats.

A healthy diet can also help with behavioral and social skills. Studies show that when children are well-fed, they tend to feel better, concentrate better, and have fewer behavioral problems. In addition, good nutrition boosts our immune system, meaning fewer sick days, which means fewer missed school days.

Follow these tips to help power up your child’s learning abilities:

Keep Carbs Complex.

Carbohydrates are your brain’s favorite energy source, but not all carbs are created equally. Choose complex carbs from sources such as whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables, rather than the simple sugars that come from sodas and desserts, for lasting energy.

Eat a Variety.
Eating a wide variety of healthy foods helps ensure we get all the nutrients our brains need. This is especially important for growing and developing brains in childhood. This means eating different kinds of foods from each of the food groups every day: grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and protein.

Choose Healthy Fats.
Sixty percent of our brains are made of fatty tissue, so it’s no wonder that healthy fats are important for healthy brains. The best sources of fat for brain health are plants and fatty fish. Choose tuna, salmon, avocados, vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds, and eat some fat with every meal for best results.