Can turmeric milk actually make your brain sharper?
Imagine this: It's exam time, and you are engrossed in books, worried about doing well on your tests. Then, your mom or dad comes in with a warm glass of turmeric milk, irrespective of your liking. We've all been there!
Have you wondered why it’s turmeric milk and not a fancy kiwi or anything else for that matter?
We all know that turmeric has medicinal properties. It also has an active component called “Curcumin”. Studies suggest that curcumin may enhance levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), making it somewhat like your brain’s personal growth coach as it promotes the growth of new brain cells and helps to form new mental associations.
But you must still be thinking, “Can having milk improve my/ my child’s marks?”. Well, let’s explore that. Fascinating research was conducted on Korean students to study the impact of milk intake on their performance in the subjects- Korean, social science and Maths. Intriguingly, it was found that high milk intake was associated with superior academic performance!
Let’s understand some basic biology. Our brains, much like cars, need fuel. In this case, it's in the form of simple sugars produced by breaking down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the easiest for our bodies to process and provide efficient energy. Rich in carbohydrates and proteins, milk contains lactose, a natural sugar that offers quick energy. Additionally, milk's casein protein slows digestion, providing sustained energy during study sessions.
What's intriguing is that from ages 3 to adolescence, our brains are twice as active as those of adults. This heightened activity could explain why turmeric milk, with its potential cognitive benefits, is often given to children. So maybe it’s about time kids finally stop protesting its consumption!
To conclude, extensive research has delved into the impact of our diet on brain function and academic performance. One particular study revealed an interesting link – a negative relationship between high consumption of noodles and verbal memory. In simpler terms, it means the more these items were consumed, the weaker verbal memory was found. Moreover, noodles and fast food are also negatively correlated with reasoning test results.
In summary, it's firmly established that a healthy, well-balanced diet and specific nutrients can have a positive impact on our brain function.
Now, having learnt the importance of food on academic performance, imagine how skipping an entire meal could have an impact. In today's fast-paced world, it's not uncommon for both children and adults to skip breakfast, which is considered as the most crucial meal of the day. According to an article published by Kellogg's on breakfast consumption patterns in India, 1 in every 4 urban Indian, spanning all age groups, tends to skip breakfast. A study conducted on students from grades 4 to 12 reported that cognitive engagement, i.e. the students’ level of attention, involvement, curiosity and engagement in class, and engagement with teachers was lower among the students who always skip breakfast as compared to those who never skip breakfast.
You've probably come across those Snickers commercials; they are great visual metaphors for the potential effects of hunger on people. Holding on to that thought, when students are hungry, their ability to concentrate and pay attention suffers, and their motivation to participate in classroom activities also diminishes due to a lack of energy.
The thoughtful initiative of mid-day meals in public schools ensures that students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds or those without packed lunches don't go hungry, and supports their overall well-being.
Furthermore, there are interesting school lunch programs for students studying in lower grades. Some schools assign a color to each day of the week, encouraging students to bring food items of that corresponding color, or they designate specific food categories for each day, encouraging students to pack lunches with different food items (like- fruits, rice, or green veggies, etc.) throughout the week. These programs go the extra mile to ensure that students receive a well-rounded diet, rich in essential nutrients, ultimately contributing to their cognitive development.
Some schools assign a color to each day of the week, encouraging students to bring food items of that corresponding color, or they designate specific food categories for each day, encouraging students to pack lunches with different food items (like- fruits, rice, or green veggies, etc.) throughout the week. These programs go the extra mile to ensure that students receive a well-rounded diet, rich in essential nutrients, ultimately contributing to their cognitive development.
Let’s understand the importance of a “rainbow diet” among children and consciously contribute towards a healthier tomorrow!
Image source: https://www.istockphoto.com/
Gao C. L, Zhao N., & Shu P (2021) Breakfast Consumption and Academic Achievement Among Chinese Adolescents: A Moderated Mediation Model. Front. Psychol. 12:700989. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.700989
Kim, S. H., Kim, W. K., & Kang, M.-H. (2016, March 2). Relationships between milk consumption and academic performance, learning motivation and strategy, and personality in Korean adolescents. Retrieved from nutrition Research and Practice: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27087904/
Moller, H., Sincovich, A., Gregory, T., & Smithers, L. (2022). Breakfast skipping and cognitive and emotional engagement at school: A cross-sectional population-level study. Public Health Nutrition, 25(12), 3356-3365. doi: 10.1017/S1368980021004870
Petre, A. (2023, February). 10 Benefits of Golden (Turmeric) Milk and How to Make It. Retrieved from Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/golden-milk-turmeric#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2
Reeve, J., & Cheon, S. H. (2021). Autonomy-supportive teaching: Its malleability, benefits, and potential to improve educational. Educational Psychologist, 54-77.
Woodhouse, A., & Lamport, M. A. (2012, November). The Relationship of Food and Academic Performance: A Preliminary Examination of the Factors of Nutritional Neuroscience, Malnutrition, and Diet Adequacy. Retrieved from Christian Perspectives in Education: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1074&context=cpe