At birth, baby’s brain consists of 100 billion neurons (Nerve cells which are responsible to process information through biochemical and electrical signals, thus helping in reacting to the environment). Brain is the most important and the most complex organ of human body; it is marked with the existence of human species. Brain development starts right at the prenatal stage, nearly 4 weeks after the conception. Nutrition plays an integral part in the cognitive function; hence the right nutrition is a prime factor for better cognitive response.
As mentioned above, Baby’s cognitive development is most active between the ages of 2 to 7 years, where the little developing brain is most adaptable, to absorb to its maximum capacity. Childrens’ physical growth and appetite continue in spurts. Mental capabilities and the expanding environment is gradually explored. Nutrition hence, plays a non-negotiable role in the mentioned age group to have optimum mental development and behavioural developments. The below highlighted nutrients will ensure the cognitive development of young brain is at par, if started at the right time.
Omega 3 fats are present in human brain in a concentrated form and play a vital role in formation of cognitive and mental development .Foods like almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, salmon, dark green vegetables like kale and spinach are viable sources of Omega 3 fats .Incorporating listed items at early age are proven to be beneficial for the appropriate cognitive and behavioural response.
Proteins are very much important in growing years for bone and muscle development. Proteins play an important role in synthesis of neurotransmitters( Production of brain chemicals which help in understanding the signals).Food sources rich in proteins involve animal sources like chicken ,eggs ,fish, dairy and its products .Plant sources include beans, pulses, legumes etc.
Zinc is an essential trace element and it plays primary role during growing years ,apart from performing vital role in taste and smell acuity, it is also noted to play prime role in learning and development. Sea foods, particularly oysters are known to be the best source of this trace element. Plant sources like whole grains, almonds, whole yogurt, legumes might provide some reasonable source of this trace mineral.
This mineral plays a very important role in physical and mental development of the child. Researches have suggested children who were fed iodine insufficient diets showed development of cretinism; mental retardation and dwarfism (stunted growth).Food sources depend largely on the iodine content of soil. The major reliable source of iodine is iodised salt which can meet up the entire day RDA for iodine.
With inclusion of highlighted nutrients, a well-balanced diet free from preservatives ands minimal encouragement of junk food consumption has proven to be beneficial for the appropriate cognitive and behavioural response.
Non Nutrition factors like adequate sleep, managing stress and unwinding brain exercises also help in suffice development of cognitive response.