By Fidelia Asogwa
It is true that some groups of people are born genius while some become genius by learning through constant practice. Some people are exceptionally intelligent because their parents are or were intelligent. This way, they got it through the genes of their parents.
But some intelligent couples have be found in many occasions giving birth to very dull brain children and some dull brain parents giving birth to intelligent children. What could have happened that gave rise to this?
Every parent desires a smart and intelligent kid that can learn fast and outshine others both academically and otherwise. But not all are lucky enough to have this kind of kid.
What should one do to have an exceptionally intelligent child?
It is important to know that whatever a woman eats during pregnancy has a great influence in the brain development of her unborn baby. In order words, apart from gene deposits on your baby, the outcome of your baby to a large extent is what you ate during pregnancy.
There are actually some certain foods that a pregnant woman takes that can help improve the baby’s brain power from the womb.
Kate Di Prima says that 70% of brain development occurs while your baby is in the womb. And so what you eat during pregnancy is very important.
As you feed your growing appetite throughout your pregnancy, take a moment to consider the impact that the food you eat may have on your growing fetus. While many mothers-to-be know which foods to avoid, few consider all the potential health benefits that could arise from carefully choosing what to eat. By selecting foods with proven baby brain development benefits, you could set your child up for success simply by eating the right type of food during your pregnancy.
So what do you eat to develop your baby’s brain from the womb?
Here are some of the foods or items that can help develop your baby’s brain from the womb and even after:
- Focus on folic acid: Folic acid or folate is a B vitamin found mostly in leafy green vegetables. Taking green vegetable regularly during pregnancy helps to release this vitamin which helps to improve your baby’s brain development. One can also get this folate through supplements. In fact, taking folate supplements for three months before conception and through the first trimester will drastically reduce the risk of neural tube defects, or problems with the early development of your baby’s brain and spinal cord.
- Choline: Choline is another B vitamin that is connected with the memory centre of the brain. It is present as a natural compound in a number of foods such as egg, milk and lean meat. Choline supplements are also available as capsules and tablets.
- Essential fatty acids: We all know that eating fish is good for us, but while you are pregnant, it’s more important than ever to try to eat enough. Essential fatty acids such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and AA are vital for brain and eye development in babies, especially during the last three months of pregnancy and the first 18 months of life. The best dietary source of DHA includes fatty fish such as salmon and liver. But steer clear of fish high in mercury such as shark, king mackerel or tile fish.
- Iron: There is a link between low iron and poor brain function in babies. So it is essential to have enough during pregnancy. Iron-rich foods include meat and fish as well as whole grain cereals and dark leafy edible vegetables.
- Increase the intake of fish oil, omega -3 fatty acids especially DHA docosahexaenoic acid to support baby’s brain development. Studies recommend that women consume at least 200 milligrams in a pregnancy diet and in breast feeding diet. One or two servings per week is ideal. Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines are excellent sources of omega- 3. You can take omega-3 fatty acids as supplements since you may not get enough from food.
- Powerful Proteins: A diet rich in protein will help keep you healthy throughout your pregnancy and also offer brain building benefits to your child. Protein is a vital nutrient in brain development, and as such, it may be beneficial to boost your protein intake as you move throughout your pregnancy. Protein rich foods such as lean meats, poultry, beans, egg white should be included in your diet throughout your pregnancy period.
- Vitamin-Rich Fruits and vegetables: Many vegetables are rich in an assortment of brain-building vitamins, including vitamins A and B6. Vegetables such as carrots, leafy green and sweet potatoes provide healthy doses of vitamin A, a vitamin tied to baby brain and eyesight development. If you want to upgrade your intake of vitamin B6, try adding some potassium-rich bananas to your diet, as they contain this red blood cell building vitamin, which is vital to baby’s circulation and brain development.
- Zinc-Rich Foods: Zinc is a vital mineral in your baby’s brain development. Pregnant women should take zinc-rich foods and items such as chocolate, peanuts and toasted pumpkin seeds.
- Take enough Milk: Taking sufficient milk during pregnancy will provide you with a good amount of iodine. Iodine is another important nutrient that contributes to healthy brain and mental growth. Studies show that severe iodine deficiency can lead to mental retardation.
- Milk contains a good amount of iodine because of the feed given to milk cows. Adding milk to your pregnancy diet will ensure that your baby’s bones develop properly and it will also contribute to the health and formation of his brain. Three cups of milk each day will help you consume plenty of what you need. Low-fat and skim milk are healthier choices during pregnancy because they are low in saturated fat yet supply enough iodine.
- Nuts and Seeds: Nuts and seeds contain healthy omega -3 fatty acid as well as plenty of brain-boosting micronutrients, such as vitamin B6. This vitamin assists in normal brain functioning by acting as a chemical messenger between brain cells. Simply add a handful of nuts or seeds to your meal plan each day. Walnuts are particularly beneficial because they contain high omega-3 fatty acids in addition to having plenty of micronutrients.
Harmful to Baby’s Brain Development during Pregnancy
- Alcohol: Though fetal alcohol syndrome is associated with heavy alcohol abuse during pregnancy, even moderate amount of beer, wine or liquor can harm a baby’s brain. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to problem with learning, attention, memory and social skills of your baby thereafter.
- Alcohol crosses the placenta and intoxicates the baby. Drinking while pregnant leads to a baby with lower IQ(Intelligent Quotient), poor attention span, poor cognitive skills, poor memory, impulsive behaviour and poor cause-effect reasoning. Heavy drinking during pregnancy leads to fetal abnormalities, such as smaller head with underdeveloped brain and permanent central nervous system damage.
- Age: A study conducted by University of Australia states that becoming a father at 40 or older is linked to baby at a higher risk of schizophrenia(a severe brain disorder in which the victim interprets reality abnormally), autism(a mental disorder, present from early childhood) and syndromes that cause facial and skull abnormalities. The study also found that those born to older dads scored more poorly on a range of intelligence tests that looked at concentration, memory, reasoning and reading skills. In other words, older fathers increase the risk of children having mental illness and poor brain development.
- Inadequate Nutrition: Lack of calcium, iron, iodine and other vitamins lead to baby’s learning disabilities, delay in language development, behavioural problem and lower 1Q. The baby needs iodine to make thyroid hormone, which is essential for brain development. Iron is needed to make red blood cells that transport oxygen to the baby, enhancing the baby’s brain and body development.
- Medication: As a rule, pregnant women are advised not to take medication anyhow especially during trimester of pregnancy. A common medicine like aspirin, for example, can cause bleeding in a child’s brain because of its ability to stop blood clot.
- Mother’s mental state: A fetus is sensitive to and can be affected by the mother’s mental state. It is already preparing for life after birth based on the messages that the mum is providing. Development of baby is best with mum who are either depression-free or had depression before or after giving birth.
- Lack of sunshine: Children whose mothers had low exposure to sunlight during the first trimester of pregnancy may have a higher risk of developing multiple sclerosis (abnormal hardening of body tissue) later in life. Vitamin D in sunlight is important for the fetus’ development of central nervous system.
- Tobacco and smoking: Nicotine from smoke causes constriction of blood vessels, reducing blood flow and nutrition in the placenta. Researchers at Turku University Hospital in Finland found out that children exposed to prenatal smoking have more risk of developing psychiatric problems in childhood and young adulthood because prenatal nicotine exposure interferes with the development of fetal brain cells that are important for normal cognitive development.
- Toxic Chemical: The royal college of obstetricians and gynecologists cautions women to avoid industrial chemicals from paint, fumes, new fabrics, furniture, and cars. They also suggest minimizing use of moisturizers and showering gels. Also taking fresh food than processed food will minimize expose to chemicals in packaging. Some chemicals like lead can be toxic to baby’s developing brain and may cause a number of neurodevelopmental disabilities.