Which foods are great for a healthy development of your child’s brain?

By: - 27th February 2019
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The brain is the most important part of the human body. It is vital to pay attention to the brain development of a child from the moment of conception. This is because a healthy development of a baby’s brain depends on the good nourishment of the mother. After birth, between the age 3 and 5, 90% of the brain development happens. The first three years will entail a fast development of neural connections, and hence proper nutrition is an essential factor. Therefore, it is necessary to provide foods that contain major nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats and minor nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.

Carbohydrates

Although it is said that the energy needed for a child between age 1 and 3 is 1100-1400 calories per day, this can differ from child to child. It is essential to provide children this age with all the nutrients they need in 3 main meals and 2 snack meals.

Protein

Protein is one of the most essential nutrients for the brain development of a child. Fish, meat, sprats, mung beans, chickpea, kawupi, eggs, and soya are some of the foods that can fulfill your child’s protein requirements. It is important to have at least two kinds of protein-rich foods for a child this age.

Fat

Fat is essential for the good health of the child, and hence it is necessary to provide externally as well, in addition to the fatty acids that are produced in the body. Omega 3 and 6 are such fatty acids that must be given to children to strengthen their brain development. The( fatty acid, Omega 3, which also is in mother’s breast milk, is an essential factor for the brain and intellectual development of the child.

Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids – Skipjack Tuna (balaya), Yellowfin Tuna (kelawalla), Trenched Sardinella (hurulla), Frigate Tuna (alagoduwa), and foods containing fish oil. These two fatty acids can also be found in small amounts in leafy greens.

Omega 6 fatty acid – soya, kavupi, sunflower oil.

Vitamins and minerals

Vitamin A, D, E, Folate and Choline are known to support healthy development of the brain. Iron, Iodin, and Zink are among the most important minerals that are needed for children’s brain development.

Vitamin A rich food – Eggs, milk, butter, fish oil, milk with the cream, meat, yellow colour vegetables and fruits, and dark green leafy greens.

Vitamin E – Cashews, peanuts, grains with oils such as sesame seed, beetroots, leafy greens, fresh vegetables/fruits.

Vitamin D – Fish oil, fish, meat, liver, eggs, and mushrooms.

Folate – Fresh vegetables and fruits, chickpea, dhal, mung, kavupi, and other types of grains.

Choline vitamin – Egg yolk.

Iron – Fish, meat, egg yolk, dark green leafy greens.

Iodine – Small fish, dried sprats, prawns, dried fish, crabs, and other seafood

Zink – Fish, meat, milk, cashews, peanuts, and other types of grains and nuts.

Having sufficient amounts of balanced meals daily is highly impactful on your child’s physical growth as well as brain development. There are various factors that decide a person’s intellectual development. Mainly, they are nutrition, genetics, and environment as well as daily life experiences. It is your responsibility to create an environment that allows the child to stay freely without being forced in anyway. It is also vital to create opportunities for your child to mingle with other children in the same age group.

Prepared in consultation with Dr Mahesh Kumbukage, Registrar in Community Medicine at the Family Health Bureau.

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