Australian researchers who have been looking into the way children’s diets affect their intelligence, have found a connection between eating well and IQ. Children who were still receiving breast milk at six months and regularly ate foods including fruit and veg, beans and cheese at 15-24 months had a 2% higher IQ by the age of eight than those who regularly ate foods like biscuits, chocolate and crisps, whose IQ had dropped by 2%.
This is not the first study to have found a connection between a child’s early diet and their intelligence later in life. An ongoing British study in 2011 on Parents and Children known as the Avon Longitudinal Study found that toddlers eating more processed and fatty foods developed slightly lower levels of IQ. The more healthy food, such as fish and produce, consumed by toddlers, the higher the IQ scores.
The diets of toddlers aged 1-3 were scored by researchers who found that for every one point more in processed foods that they ate, their IQs at 8yrs were lower by 1.67 points. In comparison to this for each point more in healthy foods, the children’s IQs 8yrs were higher by 1.2 points.
Interestingly it was discovered that if a child’s diet became either better or worse when older than age 3, the IQ’s grew at the same rate. Suggesting there is an important early window where a parent can help their child’s brain become all it can be.
Researchers believe this makes sense as the brain grows fastest during the first three years after birth. This is the period in which connections between cells in the brain are made at the most rapid rate.