As this school year begins, students should consume the right foods in order to stay on track and boost mental stamina. I spoke with Hanna Kelly, a registered dietitian at Brookside Community Health Center, to see how foods affect the body.
1. What would you suggest an upcoming student to eat?
To maintain good health, every meal should be about half fruits and vegetables, about a quarter starchy foods (potatoes, rice, bread, etc.), and about a quarter proteins (meat, eggs, fish, chicken, beans, etc.).
2. What is your favorite food?
I try to get my patients to eat more vegetarian proteins, such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, tofu. These foods have many of the same things as meats but are much healthier alternatives.
3. What foods do you think teenagers should avoid?
Sugary drinks, like soda, juice, and Red Bull! These do almost nothing for the body, but add extra calories (the things that make you gain weight) and sugar (bad for almost every organ in your body).
4. What is the best diet for someone wishing to maintain focus?
A diet lower in sugar and caffeine, both of which can temporarily provide a lot of energy but are very quickly used up, leaving a person with less energy and a lower attention span than when they started. A balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains (like whole wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal), and proteins works best to keep up energy levels.
5. How much of an effect do you think food has on our bodies?
Food affects everything in the body! Every single thing the body is able to do is because of energy, vitamins, proteins, etc. obtained through food. The entire structure of your body is made up of very small pieces of protein, which you get from eating protein. Without food, a person literally cannot live or exist in the first place. Additionally, most of the common American health issues (diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and more) can usually be prevented by eating a balanced diet. It’s much easier to prevent these than to try to fix them later in life.