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How (and Why) You Should Get Your Children to Love Reading

How (and Why) You Should Get Your Children to Love Reading

In the U.S., there is a truly distressing number of adults who are unable to read past an elementary level. In fact, 44 million adults in this country are unable to read a story to their children. Roughly fifty percent of adults are unable to read a book written for the eighth grade level. Almost fifty percent of adults do not read a single book in an entire year. The ability to read and write is the foundation for all other types of education, as well as the ability to perform well in most places of employment.  As a result, there is a proven correlation between illiteracy and income.

Many U.S. adults cannot read at the level required to earn a living wage. As a result of this, many earn an income that is considered to be below the poverty level. Furthermore, illiteracy and crime are quite often intertwined. In fact, the Department of Justice has stated that there is a link between crime and the failure to read. The vast majority of inmates in America’s prisons are unable to read past the fourth grade level.

Encouraging Your Child to Read

There is no denying the fact that encouraging reading within your household will bring about myriad benefits. Getting your child to read is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. Some children love reading from the very beginning, but others need a bit of a nudge toward the shelves.

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Children need literature just like adults do. They need something that stimulates their imagination and deepens their curiosity, love of learning, and the desire to play. Offer them a wide array of books for them to choose from, to give them the most positive experience possible. They need to be scared, amazed, excited, and to have their curiosity piqued. They need something that will make them think, but don’t get so focused on providing educational books that you turn your back on the fun books. Let your child choose which books they want to read. Many children’s books are amusing, stimulating, and contain positive messages. It’s great to provide books that build their reading skills, but to only offer these will kill any love of reading they may already have. Reading is fun, and shouldn’t be challenging all the time.

Remember, the library is a fun place to visit. Take your family on regular trips to the library, and make it a fun and exciting outing. Get your children excited about the fact that there is a book on pretty much any subject they can think of. If they want a book about clouds, there are plenty of books available on the subject. Same goes for dinosaurs, princesses, bugs, horses, cars, zombies, and anything else that is currently holding their attention. Getting your child excited about reading will increase their reading skills. The more engaged they are in the book, the more value they will place on reading and learning.

Ask them about the books they are reading, and encourage a dynamic discussion. They will love spending time with you, and they will be thrilled to share all of the wonderful things they are reading with you. Ask them to read their favorite book to you, and show enthusiasm for what they are reading. This is their absolute favorite book, so you should get just as excited about it as they are.

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Improving Your Own Reading

If your own reading skills are lacking, there are some ways you can start improving them today.

Evaluate your reading habits. Do you tend to mouth the words as you read them, or say them aloud as you go along? Doing these things can slow your reading rate and make it difficult to improve your reading speed and skills.

When you practice your reading, make sure you set aside an ideal spot for doing so. Choose a place and time that will afford you the least amount of interruptions, the most comfortable seating, and ample lighting. Hold the book about fifteen inches out from you, or roughly the distance from your elbow to your wrist. This is the best position for reading, as it’s easiest on your eyes and on your posture.

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Read whole phrases at a time, rather than honing in on every single word. This will increase your reading speed, cut down on you flicking your eyes back to re-read something you already went over, and will boost your reading comprehension.

Build your personal lexicon by reading with a dictionary by your side. If you come across a word you don’t know, jot it down. If you can, figure out the definition based on context clues within your reading. If you’re stuck, refer to your dictionary. Not only is this a means of actively reading, but it will also build your vocabulary.

When you start out, practice reading for fifteen to thirty minutes at a time. Review your comprehension by summarizing what you have just read.

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Benefits of Encouraging Your Family to Read

Learning to read starts long before a child actually enters school. It starts with parents reading to their children, buying their children books, and instilling a love of reading. Those who are not read to, and not encouraged to read, will be less prepared for learning than other children. This will pay off in both the short-term, and in the long-term. The employees that are most likely to be employed in the U.S. have at least a two-year college degree.

Encouraging your family to read will allow them to make more informed decisions about their health, political campaigns, which pets they welcome into their home, which hobbies they take up, and how they will become active in their communities. Additionally, the more households that read, the more likely crime rates are to drop. There is already a proven correlation between adult illiteracy and crime. In fact, the least literate cities have a lower livability score and higher rates of crime. For example, Bakersfield is the least literate city in the United States. The overall crime rate in this city is 66% higher than the national average, with an individual having a one-in-twenty chance of becoming a victim of any crime.

Literacy starts at home, and it starts with you.

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.imgix.net

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

Your brain is the most intricate and powerful organ in your entire body. It’s essentially a super-computer with brain power like a Ferrari.

If you have a Ferrari, would you put cheap gasoline in it? Of course not. You want to put in high-octane performance fuel to get the most out of your investment.

When it comes to the brain, many people are looking for the top foods that will supercharge the brainpower to help focus better, think more clearly and have better brain health.

In this article, we’ll look at the top 9 brain foods that will help create supercharge your brain with energy and health:

1. Salmon

Salmon has long been held as a healthy brain food, but what makes this fish so valuable for your brain health?

It’s important to understand that your brain is primarily made up of fat. Roughly 60% of your brain is fat. One of the most important fats that the brain uses as a building block for healthy brain cells is omega-3’s.

Omega-3’s are essential for building a healthy brain but one of the most important omega-3’s for your brain is DHA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) forms nearly two-thirds of the omega-3’s found in your brain.[1]

Omega-3’s and DHA in particular help form the protective coating around our neurons. The better quality this coating is, the more efficient and effective our brain cells can work, allowing our brain power to work at full capacity.

Studies have shown that being deficient in DHA can affect normal brain development in children, which is why so many infant formulas and children’s supplements are beginning to include DHA.

Being deficient in DHA as an adult can cause focus and attention problems, mood swings, irritability, fatigue and poor sleep.

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2. Blueberries

Blueberries top the list as one of the most beneficial fruits to maximize your brain health and performance.

Blueberries have some of the highest content of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, than any other fruit, which helps protect the brain from stress and promote healthy brain aging.

Blueberries antioxidant content also help reduce inflammation, which allows the brain to maintain healthy energy levels.

Blueberries have begun to receive attention for their connection to brain performance.[2] Studies have demonstrated that eating blueberries on a regular basis can not only improve brain health but also brain performance as well including working memory.[3]

Blueberries not only taste great but are low in calories, high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a very impressive spice that has well-researched and proven to have tremendous benefits for your brain. Turmeric’s main compound that benefits the brain is called curcumin, which is responsible for turmerics bright yellow appearance.

Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-cancer properties.[4]

Curcumin increases the production and availability of two important neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters involved with happiness, motivation, pleasure, and reward.

Curcumin has been well documented to have powerful anti-depressive effects. In one study, it was found to be as effective for depression as popular medications such as SSRI’s like Prozac.[5]

Curcumin has also been shown to:

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  • Increase blood flow to the brain.[6]
  • Increase BDNF production, a powerful stimulator of neuroplasticity.[7]
  • Increase DHA availability and synthesis in the brain.[8]
  • Increase antioxidant levels in the brain to prevent brain aging and inflammation.[9]

4. Coffee

Coffee is the wonderful elixir of energy that many people cherish every single morning. The biggest reason people drink coffee is to get a dose of caffeine.

Caffeine is a natural neurological stimulant that not only gives you energy but also prevents adenosine, a neurotransmitter involved with feeling tired, from binding in the brain.

Many people are surprised to find that coffee actually contains a large quantity of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are important for reducing inflammation in the brain and keep your brain energized. The antioxidants in coffee also provide a neuroprotective effect, protecting the brain from stress and damage. [R]

Coffee can also:

  • Improve alertness and concentration.[10]
  • Help with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.[11]
  • Reduce your risk of depression.[12]
  • Improve your memory.
  • Provide short-term boost in athletic performance.[13]

5. Broccoli

What was your least favorite food as a kid growing up?

Most likely, broccoli was your answer.

Broccoli may not have been your top choice, but it might be the top choice for your brain.

Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been shown to promote the proliferation and survival of brain cells by reducing inflammation and boosting production of BDNF. It has also been shown to boost neurogenesis, the production of new brain cells.[14]

Broccoli is also loaded with important nutrients Vitamin K and Folate. Vitamin K plays a vital role in protecting brain cells.[15] Folate plays a crucial role in detoxification and reducing inflammation in the brain.

6. Bone broth

Bone broth wasn’t just created to combine with soups, you can actually drink bone broth by itself.

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Drinking bone broth has become one of the biggest trends in the health and wellness industry and for good reason. Bone broth isn’t actually a new thing. Bone broth has been used for centuries as a healing tonic to promote health and longevity.

Much of the nutritional benefits and value of bone broth comes from its substantial vitamin and mineral content. Primarily calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

Your gut is called your second brain for a reason. Research continually shows that there is a direct and indirect connection between your gut and your brain. Your gut also houses and stores many important brain compounds involved with optimal brain performance. Therefore the health of your gut is vitally important for your brain health and performance.

Bone broth has become a go-to tool for helping heal the gut and provide the gut with the vital nutrient and resources it needs to heal and perform optimally.

With the vast amounts of nutrients that bone broth contains, it makes the list as a go-to food for your brain health.

Look for high quality, organic bone broth for the best results.

7. Walnuts

Walnuts are one of the top choices of nuts for brain health. Walnuts also look similar to a brain.

Amongst the wide variety of nuts available, walnuts contain the highest amounts of the important omega-3 DHA. DHA, as seen above, is a critical building block for a healthy brain.

Walnuts also contain high amounts of antioxidants, folate, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, which help to lower inflammation.

Melatonin in walnuts is an important nutrient for regulating your sleep. Having low amounts of melatonin can make it challenging to get good quality sleep and getting poor quality sleep can dramatically impair brain health and performance.

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8. Eggs

For years, eggs were put on the nutritional naughty list; but now, eggs are finally getting the credit they deserve. Eggs can provide a tremendous boost to your brain health and longevity.

Eggs, particularly the yolks, contain a compound called choline. Choline is essential for building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays an important role in mood, memory, and intelligence.

Egg yolks contain some of the highest quantities of choline. This is very important because low levels of choline can lead to low levels of acetylcholine, which in turn can cause increased inflammation, brain fog, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

9. Dark chocolate

You’re about to love chocolate even more because chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is great for your brain.

Chocolate boosts levels of endorphins, your brains “feel good” chemicals. This is why you feel so good eating chocolate.[16]

Chocolate also increases blood flow to the brain which can help improve memory, attention, focus, and reaction time.[17]

Dark chocolate contains high levels of magnesium, which has been coined “natures valium” for its ability to calm and relax the brain.

Lastly, dark chocolate has one of the highest antioxidant profiles out of any other food, including popular superfoods like acai berries, blueberries, or pomegranates.[18]

Conclusion

Your brain is a high performing organ and it uses quite a lot of energy, roughly 20% of the bodies energy demands.

In order to maintain a healthy brain, you need the right fuel to ensure that your brain has all the nutrients it needs to perform as well as adapt to the stress of life.

If you want to keep your brain performing well for a lifetime, then you want to make sure you are including as many of these brain health foods as possible.

More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function
[2] Canadian Science Publishing: Enhanced task-related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation
[3] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children.
[4] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin: the Indian solid gold.
[5] Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.: Turmeric, the Golden Spice
[6] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effect of combined treatment with curcumin and candesartan on ischemic brain damage in mice.
[7] Science Direct: Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB
[8] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders.
[9] PLOS: A Chemical Analog of Curcumin as an Improved Inhibitor of Amyloid Abeta Oligomerization
[10] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of Caffeine on Cognitive Performance, Mood, and Alertness in Sleep-Deprived Humans
[11] American Academy of Neurology: A Cup of Joe May Help Some Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
[12] American Academy of Neurology: AAN 65th Annual Meeting Abstract
[13] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of caffeine on the metabolic and catecholamine responses to exercise in 5 and 28 degrees C.
[14] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Hyperammonemia induces glial activation, neuroinflammation and alters neurotransmitter receptors in hippocampus, impairing spatial learning: reversal by sulforaphane
[15] Oxford Academic: Vitamin K and the Nervous System: An Overview of its Actions
[16] Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D: Chocolate and Mood Disorders
[17] Health Magazine: Chocolate can do good things for your heart, skin and brain
[18] Chemistry Central Journal: Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products

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