The relationship between nutrition and learning

The positive effects of good nutrition go far beyond providing energy and focus – they contribute to an individual’s academic achievement, too. When people follow a healthy diet, they can focus and self-regulate better, leading to greater success in achieving their educational goals.

Below, we’ve outlined what you should know regarding nutrition and its effects on your adult learners.

Nutrition, mood and learning

What people eat can directly affect their mental capacities.

After eating high levels of saturated fats, the glucose present in the food can cause the body’s energy levels to drop, rather than rise slightly, which happens after taking in good nutrition. After eating too much glucose, a post-eating ‘crash’ can occur where the body begins shutting down to facilitate food processing.

Besides negatively affecting energy and focus levels, too much glucose can cause irritability, fatigue, and poor focus. It can also result in serious health concerns, including kidney, eye, blood vessel and nerve damage.

But high-glucose diets aren’t the only factor influencing one’s mental capacity. An iron-deficient diet can lead to dopamine transmission and negatively impact thought and understanding. Diets lacking vitamins and minerals, specifically thiamine, vitamin E, vitamin B, iodine and zinc, can do the same.

Nutrition and our physical and psychological systems

Unhealthy eating and a lack of nutrition is known to cause mood swings. Having a sufficient intake of water, good fats, amino acids, and complex carbohydrates and sugars helps the our brains to function correctly. As a result, we have improved control of our behaviours and actions.

When one eats healthier, they experience a greater attention span. They’re less distracted, more engaged during class, and attend their programs more regularly. The more nutritious one’s diet is, the more on task they remain. Staying focused creates a more positive learning environment for all learners and improves performance on evaluations and assignments.

Improving learning outcomes for your learners

Your literacy organization can play a huge role in encouraging healthier eating habits. The following tips can help improve your adult learners’ learning outcomes and mental wellbeing:

  • If your literacy organization offers snacks and drinks during sessions or for purchase, ensure only nutrient-rich options are available
  • Provide easy access to fresh drinking water, and encourage learners to bring their own water bottle to class
  • Schedule regular breaks throughout your program where you encourage consuming healthy brain foods
  • Become a positive role model by visibly following your own healthy diet in the learning environment
  • Educate learners on the benefits of following a balanced diet that includes protein, unsaturated fats, complex carbohydrates and natural sugars

Promote Health Literacy in Adult Learners

You want your learners to be successful in your literacy programs, and that starts with following a healthy diet. Our free program on health literacy assists learners in obtaining and understanding helpful health information, like reading food labels at the grocery store and advocating for their heath.

For more information about our range of free literacy programs, check out our website.