How Nutrition Affects Children
There are many ways that nutrition affects children. It starts before they are even born. A mothers nutrition while she is pregnant greatly affects the unborn child’s brain development. Brain development is most sensitive to a baby’s nutrition up to around two years of age. Children who are malnourished, not receiving adequate calories and protein in their diet throughout this period do not adequately grow, either physically or mentally. Studies showed their brains are smaller than normal. Inadequate brain growth due to malnourishment as fetuses and infants suffer lasting behavioral and cognitive deficits, which lead to slower fine motor development, slower language development, and lower IQ. Scientists have just begun to understand how nutrition alters the brain and how it can affect intelligence, mood and behavior. All of these factors come into play in educational settings from an early age and can be shaped, in part, by the fuel we put in our bodies. Putting nutrition in our bodies is like putting fuel in our cars. Without the correct balance of nutrients, the brain will not function properly. Positive effects of a good diet can be seen when nutritious meals and snacks are served. Children who are feed healthy meals have better immune systems to fight off disease. Lack of nutrition also can lead to vitamin deficiency, which can affect the teeth and bones, leading to tooth decay and broken bones. Some children have been misdiagnosed with ADHD when the underlying issue was lack of nutrition. It is important that children not only have healthy foods, but that they have adequate amounts of them. When planning meals in a childcare setting or your home, it is so important to include all the food groups. Raising children on nutritious foods will make them healthier adults. A nutritionally sound diet is the best gift you can give your children.