Written by Achiever Foods Nutrition Unit
When a child is growing healthy and strong it does not only bring satisfaction to the parents but it equally ignites joy in the child. It’s interesting to discover that the first 2 years of the life of every child is very important to their brain development. How the brain develops at this stage determines how it works for the rest of their lives.
WHO reports that under nutrition is associated with 45% of all child deaths globally. Most often because the brain is the first organ in the body to receive nutrients from the food we eat, it suffers most when the body is under nourished.
In the early years of a child, the mother is expected to exclusively breast feed him or her (in the first six months) so as to ensure the baby gets the necessary nutrients for optimum growth and development. After the 6 months period, mothers are encouraged to give their babies complementary foods with continued breastfeeding until 2 years and beyond.
Complementary foods (solid foods) are introduced when the need for sufficient energy and nutrients exceeds what the breast milk can provide. They should however be administered with strict hygienic measures. (WHO).
Mostly from the time the baby starts to eat complementary foods, all necessary measures should ensure that the food is well balanced and contains very key nutrients that will boost their brain performance. Here are some few nutrients that should be part of your decision in choosing healthy foods to feed your children as they grow;
1. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fats are important components of the membranes that surround each cell in the body and the brain is one of them. Foods that contain Omega 3 fatty acids helps to improve mental skills, learning process and enhance a sharper mind. Most fishes like salmon, herrings, sardine are very good sources. Other sources include soybean, flax-seed and canola oils, etc.
Depending on how your child feeds. You can give them these fishes by baking them in sauces or like cakes and mashing them. You can also bake or dry them and mill them into powder to be added to their porridge and cereals.
Most kids are naturally attracted to colourful things. This trait can really influence their choice of food and duration of eating. Studies show that the appearance of food can affect certain neurons in the brain that regulates appetite and can ignite certain glands in the mouth to begin to salivate in preparation to eat.
For example, one study revealed that those who ate food in red plates seem to eat less. Another research also revealed that, green colours make food more appealing and ignites healthy appetite by Dr. Albers.
Vegetables are full of vitamins and antioxidants that helps in the growth of new brain cells. Aside their nutritional benefits, adding them to meals enhance its appearance and makes food become more appealing. Sources like carrots, tomatoes, spinach, kale etc are good.
Most kids depending on their age may require that we mash these veggies into their meals and serve them in very chopped forms for maximum digestion and absorption. You can also add Daliha Powder to enhance the taste of their vegetable mixes.
3. Iron Rich Foods
When women get pregnant. One of the main food nutrients they demand more is iron. This is because iron is key in making red blood cells which helps in the formation of the baby.
Pregnant women who do not get enough of this nutrient usually give birth to babies who have deficiency issues and are of low birth weights.
Meanwhile even after childbirth, breastfeeding mothers are still encouraged to feed on iron rich food to enrich their breast milk.
When it comes to the brain, the body prioritizes getting more oxygen to the brain. Iron is a key nutrient in transporting oxygen to the brain cells to be used for its function. When you have enough iron in your body it helps in relaxing the brain arteries contributing to enhance brain function in the developing years of the child.
Iron also helps in the production of neurotransmitters which balances moods and boost concentration. Eating iron rich foods that helps with brain function includes Daliha Foods, beans, berries like turkey berries, almonds, lean meat, quinoa, sweet potatoes, iron fortified flours and cereals etc.
4 Protein rich foods
Protein helps in brain function and repair of brain cells. Almonds, walnuts and flax seeds help increase intelligence quotient in children.
Protein foods like eggs contain a chemical called choline which is a neurotransmitter the body uses to regulate mood and memory. Most especially it enhances the brain’s power. Choline is found in the yolk of the egg. You can include eggs into kids’ foods by boiling them and breaking them into small pieces so they can easily swallow and digest. Depending on your child’s healthy cholesterol needs an egg a day is advisable.
5. Milk Foods
Milk from the breast of a child’s mother is the best source of nutrients for building the brain tissues and immune system of the child. Every mother is supposed to breast feed their babies to ensure they are well nourished for 6 months from birth. After 6 months the mother is permitted to include other food sources to supplement the child’s growing demands for nutrients.
Good baby formulas that are milk based can be included into the child’s diet. Low fat milk especially is the best. Yoghurts (full fat) are also good. Milk generally contains vitamin D which is good for the memory and enhanced learning. You can add milk to Daliha Immune Boosters and enjoy it anytime to boost your immune system especially in this times of Covid-19. This is especially important for nursing mothers.
In many situations however, some children at 3 years or above may develop resistance to lactose in milk. This can make it difficult for them to digest the lactose in milk resulting in a condition called lactose intolerance. Parents should be on alert when their children experience bloating, gas and cramps after 30mins to about 2 hours of taking milk or related products. Always ensure you observe how your children react to milk or milk containing products.
6 Good Grains
Grains are very good source of carbohydrates that provide glucose for energy for the brain. They contain B-Vitamins and antioxidants that reduce inflammation and improve blood flow in the brain cells etc.
The best source of energy for the brain are found in foods that provide a slow release of energy. This obviously means kids should be given whole grains (unrefined) to enhance the maximum usage of glucose from them. Glucose from sugary foods should be limited for children as it can cause diseases in later years of their lives.
Foods like oats, wheat bran, whole wheat bread, brown rice, tom-brown, are very good for the brain’s activity.
To enrich cereals for kids, you can add dried fruit or powders to their cereals to make it more nutritious and appealing for them to eat. Daliha Powder is a great source of vitamins and antioxidants to be added to food for kids.
The Bottom Line
Giving your child the best foods that will boost their health can have ripple benefits in the long term. This can result in having kids that are mentally sound and free from many deficiencies. This will boost their performance and overall output in later years of their life.
If your child is not feeding well you should seek your Doctors advise on this.
We can’t wait to celebrate with you when your kids are all up and healthy.
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