At birth your child’s brain weighs a mere 450g yet consumes and needs vasts amounts of nutrients– vitamins, minerals, fats, protein and carbohydrates. Here are nutritionist and Alchemy founder Karen Newby’s top tips for feeding our little one’s brain:
1. Healthy fats – Omega 3 and 6
Omega 3 fat DHA plays a key role in development in early years. It is important for mental performance and plays a key role in the growth of your developing baby’s brain and nervous system. It is also produced in breast milk. Four specific kinds of fat (AA, DHA, EPA and DGLA) make up 20% of the brain – if breast feeding then continue to eat oily fish (trout, salmon, sardines, mackerel – stay away from tuna).
2. Keeping the gut healthy is key to supporting brain function. Lots of gentle plant based fibre – be careful not to fill little tummies with bread which is high in gluten (can be hard to digest) and low in nutrients.
3. Boost their antioxidants, especially if they live in a city – plenty of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables encourage trial of different tastes and colours. Phytonutrients found in plants help them to fend off bacteria and fungi and also help our little ones too!
4. Up their protein – to support their growth but also neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers of the brain. It also helps to give them a drip feed of energy which reduces blood sugar lows which can be linked to bouts of irritability and lapses in concentration.
5. Avoid too much sugar and damaged fats – these are not a friend to the brain at any age. Always read the label if buying pre made weaning foods to see what the sugar content is like. Even savoury baby food can be laced with hidden sugar! Current recommendations for 4 to 6 year olds: 19g, that’s 5 sugar cubes. Dried fruit gives you a big sugar hit – they are easy to over-consume – avoid where possible!
Our Morning Elixir can be added to foods to help boost iron, gentle plant fibre and protein. It’s also great for breastfeeding to keep Mama’s energy and nutrient levels up!