Give your child’s growing brain the important experiences and nutrients

We all know that a nutritious, healthy diet is essential for physical and mental well being. A simple look at traditional food habits will tell you why we eat the way we do. It’s something parents have been doing in various forms for centuries. Yep, except that this time we have a lot more solid science to back our claims, and not just old wives’ tales.

To be fair, the science has been around for some time. We all know that to grow strong and tall, with healthy bones, good teeth and great hair, what nutrients our body needs. Very often, after the first year of supplements (remember the iron and vitamin drops that you put religiously into your baby’s tiny mouth every day?) that your paediatrician prescribed for your baby, you’ve forgotten -- almost -- that a child’s brain needs supplements along with home cooked food.

Here are a few things you need to know about your child’s growing brain.

  1. Food not only powers physical strength but is largely responsible for everything that the brain does and that includes everything from sharp thinking to being active, to being happy.
  2. The first 1000 days of your child’s life are immensely important and this is literally when the brain shapes itself -- almost 90 percent of the human brain develops in the first six years.
  3. In the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections are formed every second. Connections proliferate and prune in a prescribed order, with later, more complex brain circuits built upon earlier, simpler circuits.

Food for thought, literally

We give our children fruit and vegetables for good eyesight, to avoid vitamin deficits; eggs to counter low energy. The list goes on. Could you entertain the possibility that some nutrients that our brain needs are just not present in adequate quantity in the food we consume?

But before that, step away a little from food and see how complex the brain really is. “Healthy, engaged parents are the best brain supports a child can have. There is a connection between touch, the skin and brain development. Tactile stimulation by caregivers, and even expectant mothers rubbing their abdomens, aids brain development. The caregiver’s behaviour is transferred to the child and affects the lifelong health of the infant. The trajectory is set very early on.” Just as an insistence of good food habits needs to be set very early on: the brain’s journey starts very early.  

Here’s an experiment we’d like you to conduct. Log every meal your child eats, whether it’s at home or outside. At the end of every day, take a look at the list of foods for the brain, (according to the nutrient content) that’s in the following para. See how many nutrients are present in your meal and in what quantity.

Brain food

Here’s a comprehensive list of what your child definitely needs by the age of two, if not beyond for her to have a brain that develops in a healthy manner. It’s very likely that some days you cover all of it, on other days you miss a few.

  • Protein,Zinc,Iron, Choline, Folate, Iodine
  • Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12
  • Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Like DHA. An example is omega-3 fatty acids. These are most easily found in fatty fish and fish oils, but can be found in some other oils, and many foods are also fortified with them.

Even on the days that you’ve adequately incorporated these nutrients, there’s a pretty big chance the nutrients that you are looking for didn’t actually reach your child. This could be due to multiple reasons, a few of them being that washing vegetables after they’re cut or over cooking them. It could be that there is little or no guarantee that the fresh produce we buy these days is actually safe and healthy. Yet another reason could be that you just don’t know what the right portion size to consume.

What are your options then?

Research says DHA is essential for brain growth in the first six years of a child’s life. “In infants, DHA is important for optimal visual and cognitive development. The usual intake of DHA among toddlers and children is low and some studies show improvements in cognition and behavior as the result of supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids including DHA.”

Among the many products available in the market, we believe you can consider Junior Horlicks along with a regular diet for your child.

It has DHA, Choline and other brain nutrients that help in brain development and its scientific formula helps in physical development.

Don’t believe us? Check out Junior Horlicks’ brand new TVC if you want to know more and try out the product yourself.

Disclaimers: Junior Horlicks is a nutritional food powder which as part of a balanced daily diet helps meet your child’s nutritional requirements.This product is not an infant milk substitute or infant food for less than 2 years old.

#Brain Nutrients ( iron, zinc, iodine, choline, DHA and B group) as a terminology has been collectively used to depict the nutrients having a role in brain function and development.

1Brown T el al. Brain development during the preschool years. Neuropsychol Rev. 2012 ; 22(4): 313–333

 

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