Healthy Eating and Brain Development

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Healthy Eating and Brain Development

Axia College of University of Phoenix

Healthy brain development has a direct relationship with proper nutrition. Toddler’s need a well balanced diet that will help with their brain development and achievement for the future. Poor nutrition before birth and the first few years of life can lead to neurological and behavioral disorders. For children under the age of two, healthy eating has a positive impact on the development of their brains. Healthy eating and nutrition plays an important role in the brain development of young children; improving their motor skills, academics, and immune system. In order to understand why healthy nutrition in young children is so crucial we also need to understand how rapidly the brain develops in the first few years of life, and what the different parts of the brain do. The brain is different from other body organs in that it has a growth spurt during the prenatal period through the first few years of life. The brain will reach half its mature weight as early as six months and 90% of its final weight by the age of eight. (Rutter and Rutter, 1993) A newborn’s brain has millions of neurons waiting to be developed and used. Experiences in childhood help determine which neurons are used and which ones will eventually die off. These are the critical periods of the earliest years: emotional control, ages 0-2; vision, ages 0-2; social attachment, ages0-2; vocabulary, ages 0-3; math and logic, ages 1-4; music, ages3-10 (Begley, February 19, 1996) Above one can see how important proper nutrition is to the development of the young child’s brain. Healthy nutrition is needed during the ages of 1-2 to aid in the development of vision, language, motor development, and how well he or she will perform in school. Vitamin C aids to strengthen the immune system and can be found in most fruits such as oranges, mangoes, and bananas. The D vitamin provides calcium which is excellent to build strong bones and teeth along with nerves to work in conjunction with muscles within the body. Foods that contain vitamin D are cottage cheese, egg yolk, milk, and tuna. The most important vitamin needed for brain growth is iron. This vitamin allows oxygen to the cells and the oxygen is sent on to the muscles. Iron can be found in chicken, oatmeal, cereal and hamburgers and other red meats that one can consume. For example a study performed by the Medical Research Council [U.K.] has proved that nutrition plays a key role in early brain development. The first part of the study assigned 400 preterm babies from birth to 18 months old and split them into two equal groups, one receiving standard formula the other a nutrient enriched formula. The most obvious difference between the two groups was in motor skill development along with mental scores. The children who received the enriched formula preformed better than the ones who received standard formula. The second part of the study, the same infants was tested again at the ages of 7 ½ and 8 years old. The babies that were fed standard formula had reduced verbal IQ while those fed the nutrient enriched formula performed much better. (Midwifery Today Vol 1 Issue 24, June 11, 1999)

Consequently under nutrition in early childhood can have lifelong results. Problems that occur from malnutrition include an increased risk of adulthood diseases, delayed motor skills, and poor performance in school. Studies done by Marie Ruel show that under nutrition in children have lasting affects into adulthood such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Other links to malnutrition include delayed motor skills, cognitive development and lower achievement on tests in school (Marie Ruel Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Under nutrition February 2008).

Additionally, with physical issues under nutrition will end up costing in a monetary sense and increase healthcare needs and to the healthcare system. Children who suffer a significant deficiency in...
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