We teach our children how to eat, how to walk and talk, how to get the most out of what they’re learning at school. We give them as much love and attention to enable them to develop physically, mentally and emotionally. We read books about parenting, we try not to make the same mistakes our parents made, we struggle over choosing the right school to support our child through the process of becoming an adult and finding their way in the world.
But through all of this, do we really take into account the fact that every step a child takes – whether it’s their first toddle on the kitchen floor, or their sudden plunge into emotions and relationships as teenagers – depends on how well their brain is working? And that, in turn, depends in large part on how well their brain is nourished?
From plate to brain
Whether your child is one year old or 15, you want to know what you can do to help them be all they can be – and you’ll discover how in these pages articles. Armed with more than 20 years’ experience of working with children, we are going to show you, step by step, what optimum nutrition for your child’s mind really means.
At long last, governments and schools are cottoning on to children’s need for a truly well-balanced diet rather than the junk-food afterthought they’ve had to put up with. Society is waking up to the fact that schools have a moral responsibility to give children good food, aware – through media exposes such as Jamie Oliver’s – that the quality of school dinners has long been too low a priority.
Why has this grim state of affairs persisted so long? Simply because food has been misperceived as fuel – so that, if a child is full after a meal and isn’t showing obvious signs of malnourishment, it’s seen as “good enough”.
But the true picture lies in how you read the signs in a child’s behavior or appearance. Take intelligence. Somehow embedded in our culture is the false idea that this is inherited, and there’s nothing you can do about it. As the brain is essentially made from the food we eat, I was already wondering back in the 1980s whether giving children extra vitamins and minerals could boost their intelligence.
Working with secondary school head Gwillym Roberts and Professor David Benton from the University of Wales in Swansea, we proved that you can dramatically boost a child’s IQ just by making changes in their nutrition – an experiment showcased in a 1988 BBC documentary. In the study, we measured the IQ scores of 90 schoolchildren and then gave 30 of them a high-dose multivitamin, 30 a dummy pill and 30 nothing. After eight months we re-evaluated their IQ. Only those children on the vitamins had a staggering increase in their IQs of over ten points!.This study, the first of its kind anywhere in the world, raised a new question: How can you keep your child’s mind optimally nourished?
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