Healthy Diet Makes for a Healthy Brain

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Providing my kids with a healthy diet is one of my top priorities as a mom. Honestly, I cringe when I hear about how much fast food and junk some of my daughter's 4-year-old friends eat on a daily basis. We know that quality food helps kids develop a healthy body, but it can also help develop a healthy brain. New research shows that toddlers who eat a diet high in sugar and processed foods may have a slightly lower IQ later in life.

The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, looked at the diets of 14,000 children born in England. One group ate a diet high in processed foods, another had a more traditional diet of meat and vegetables, and the third ("health conscious") group had a diet high in fruits and vegetables. Children were put into one of the three categories based on parent food logs.

According to the results, "Of the 4,000 children for which there were complete data, there was a significant difference in IQ among those who had had the "processed" as opposed to the "health-conscious" diets in early childhood. The 20 percent of children who ate the most processed food had an average IQ of 101 points, compared with 106 for the 20 percent of children who ate the most "health-conscious" food."

Although the difference was small, the researchers believe it is caused by a deficiency in certain nutrients from eating a diet high in processed foods. I want to do everything I can to give my kids a good start in life. So even if the difference is minimal, it's still enough of a reason to provide my children with a healthy diet. It's not always easy, especially when my daughter asks why she can't have Pop Tarts for breakfast like some of her friends, but she understands that I'm trying to do what I think is right for her.

Looking for ideas to help improve your child's diet? Check out A Parent's Guide to Nutrition for Kids.

What do you think? Do you (or did you) have issues when trying to provide a healthy diet for your young children?