The Role of a Healthy Diet for Cognitive Development and Function | Kaydee News Blog

The Role of a Healthy Diet for Cognitive Development and Function

Early childhood development is not just about developing physical skills. It also focuses on cognitive development and function and what plays an important role in cognition is a healthy diet.

We are not talking about diets aimed at cutting out food groups or managing weight. What we are referring to is nutrition as a whole and what the brain needs from our diets in order for it to function optimally.

nutrition and cognitive development

What is Cognitive Function?

Cognitive function refers to a number of mental abilities which include:

  • Thinking
  • Reasoning
  • Memory
  • Learning
  • Problem solving
  • Attention
  • Decision making
  • Awareness
  • Understanding
  • Intuition
  • Judgment

Cognition is the mental process involved in acquiring knowledge and understanding through the use of experiences, thought, and the senses. In other words, cognitive function allows us to interact with the world and people around us.

Our brains are carefully positioned at the center of our cognitive abilities, and as a result, a healthy brain will likely lead to healthy cognitive abilities. But what gives us a healthy brain?

Nutrition and Cognitive Development in Children

Nutrition plays one of the most important roles in developing a healthy brain. What’s important is that a well-balanced diet of healthy foods is given to children from the start. As we already know, our most important years of development are the first three to four years, and this is where we lay the foundation for our adult lives. For this reason, it’s absolutely crucial to make sure your child is getting all the right nutrition they need for their brains to grow, develop, and function now and far into the future.

Although all nutrients are necessary for healthy cognitive function, the following are nutrients that are particularly good during early development:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin A
  • All the B vitamins
  • Choline
  • Iron
  • Vitamin C
  • Iodine
  • Vitamin D
  • Selenium
  • Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids

Foods for a Healthy Brain

With a well-balanced diet, you can ensure your growing child gets all the vitamins and minerals they need to develop a strong, healthy brain.

  • Oily fish
    • Make sure the fish is ethically sourced and of high quality
  • Leafy greens
    • Kale
    • Spinach
    • Cabbage
    • Rocket
    • Chinese cabbage
  • Cruciferous vegetables
    • Broccoli
    • Brussel sprouts
    • Radish
    • Watercress
  • Mushrooms
  • Beans and legumes (these provide high amounts of protein)
    • Lentils
    • Chickpeas
    • Bean varieties
  • Grains
    • Buckwheat
    • Quinoa
    • Oatmeal
    • Brown rice
  • Probiotics
    • Fermented foods
    • Fermented drinks
    • Greek yoghurt
  • Good fats
    • Flaxseed oil
    • Avocado
    • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthy carbohydrates
    • Sweet potato
    • Pumpkin
    • Beetroot
    • Carrots
  • Plant-based protein
    • Tofu
    • Tempeh
    • Seitan

Most of these food items contain a variety of vitamins and minerals as well as carbohydrates, protein, and good fat – all of which are vital for healthy cognitive development and function.

Kay-Dee Educare Centre in Mowbray – Early Childhood Development

We encourage parents to make sure their children are getting a healthy balanced diet both at home and at school or daycare. Healthy foods play a major role in helping your child focus, learn, and grow.

To find out more about our Educare Center in Mowbray, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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