How the brain develops during pregnancy and the initial two years is vital. It cannot be undone. Research has shown that the first 1000 days of life are critical for brain development.
How the brain develops is how it stays lifelong. Development of brain during this period will define how the child’s brain will work for the rest of her life.
So what should you do? The answer is right kind of food that plays important role in brain development.
According to Harvard Health research, ‘Nerves grow and connect and get covered with myelin, creating the systems that decide how a child — and the adult she becomes — thinks and feels.’
‘Those connections and changes affect sensory systems, learning, memory, attention, processing speed, the ability to control impulses and mood, and even the ability to multitask or plan.’
Apart from food, the environment we provide our children, the love, nurturing, caring and safety is crucial for these connections and changes.
Moreover, another crucial factor is breastfeeding. It can also make a big difference. This is because breast milk is the perfect first food but also because of the close contact with the mother that is part of breastfeeding.
11 nutrients those are necessary for healthy brain development include:
Folate – This nutrient is especially important for pregnant mothers. Beans, peas and lentils are rich in folic acid. Liver, spinach and cereals contain folic acid too.
Protein – For vegetarians, foods like idli, dosa that use black gram provides protein. Soaked fermented soybeans are also rich source of protein. Protein can be found in meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, soy products, nuts and seeds, as well as dairy.
Zinc – Nuts like pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, almonds are high in zinc. Interestingly, oysters contains high amount of zinc. It’s also found in many meats, fish, dairy products, and nuts.
Iron – Beans, meats and lentils, dark leafy vegetables, and baked potatoes are among the best sources of iron. Cooking in traditional iron woks also help in supplementing this process.
Choline – Meat, dairy, and eggs have lots of choline, but so do many vegetables and other foods.
Iodine – Seaweed is a great source of iodine, but we also get it from iodized salt, seafood, dairy products, and enriched grains.
Vitamin A – Carrots, sweet potato, and spinach are good sources of this vitamin. Along with liver.
Vitamin D – This is available in plenty especially in morning sunshine. The best time to absorb vitamin D is early hours when the sun is rising and the rays are still red. The best way to get it is to get outside. The flesh of fatty fishes such as salmon have it, as does fish liver oil, and products fortified with it, such as fortified milk.
Vitamin B6 – The best sources of vitamin B6 are liver and other organ meats, fish, potatoes and other starchy vegetables, and fruit (not citrus).
Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.
Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids – An example is omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty fish and fish oils contain omega-3. Some other oils, and many foods are also fortified with them.
For some pregnant women and children, getting all of these nutrients can be a challenge. Families who are vegetarian, may find it particularly challenging.
Ensure that if you are a pregnant woman or have small children, eat all the brain nutrients you and the child needs.
It is advisable for all to eat these brain foods to keep your mind active through out your life.
(The author is Script.)