Nutrition and Brain Development

The first few years of an individual’s life are critical years for development, as all experiences and environmental effects play an important role in shaping development for the child. They play an especially important role in regulating the way the brain forms, affecting neural connections and synapses. One of the most important regulatory environmental effects that have an effect on the human brain are the effects of nutrition and healthy eating.

The development of the brain depends on the nutrition the child obtains even when in the womb. It has been long shown that drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes often result in offspring that are afflicted with a cognitive disorder. A healthy diet for pregnant women including essential nutrients like folic acid are necessary for successful brain development for children at a young age. Mothers have to take this responsibility upon themselves so that their children will have relatively stable nervous systems by birth.

Infants and young children too need to continue to obtain a healthy supply of food and nutrition to ensure that their brains continue to grow, and to ensure that the number of synapses increase while the neurons prune effectively. Not getting enough nutrition or vitamins (For example refusing to breastfeed babies) will lead them to being immunocompromised, and the microglia in the nervous system will be ill-equipped to defend the brain from infection. It is thus very important that nutrition for children is watched from the very beginning, even during pregnancy and through infancy and childhood.