Ask the expert: what food should I give my child to calm them down?

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Q: Are there any foods I can give my child to calm them down a bit?

A: Nutritional neuroscientist Dr. Rachel Gow, author of Smart Foods on ADHD and Brain Health, says, “Properly nourishing a child’s brain is extremely important because early development of a child’s brain is critical for so many reasons.

“Children who are fed foods that are rich in specific (brain-selective) nutrients, such as healthy and essential omega-3 fats as well as foods that contain zinc, magnesium, iron, iodine, beta-carotene, selenium, B vitamins, etc.” Include better overall scores for health, IQ, social skills, visual acuity, sleep, problem solving, and cognitive performance.

“When you learn how food can affect the brain, you can make more conscious and conscious choices about how to feed a child’s brain.

“Avoiding white, refined sugar (described as ‘kid’s alcohol’ by my good friend Professor Robert Lustig because it activates the brain’s reward circuitry and releases a hit from our brain chemical dopamine, which increases the risk of addiction) are junk and ultra-processed foods of vital importance.

“Children who regularly eat junk food diets have higher rates of problematic and antisocial behaviors and poorer performance on cognitive tests.

“Some healthy foods that can be included in your child’s diet that can help regulate brain function are oily fish, such as wild Alaskan salmon.

“Oily fish and seafood provide essential omega-3 fatty acids that help regulate the neurotransmitters associated with mood and well-being. In addition, the omega-3 DHA is critical to a process called cell signaling that supports communication throughout the brain.

“I would also consider making an organic bone broth / soup that is extremely nutritious and will help repair the gut that we now know is our second brain.

“The gut-brain relationship is known as the gut-brain axis because the gut produces at least 85 percent of our feel-good chemicals, such as serotonin, which are critical to behavior and mood.”

:: Smart Foods for ADHD and Brain Health by Rachel Gow, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers priced at £ 16.99.

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