•In a group of overweight, previously sedentary school-age children who engaged in a 3 month study that included 40 minutes of vigorous physical activity after each school day – intelligence scores increased an average of 3.8 points with measurable improvements in math skills and enhanced activities in areas of the brain involved with complex thinking and correct social behavior. (Health Psychology, Feb 2011) This study adds to a robust body of science that shows physical activity can improve behavior and boost academic performance.
•In a study that followed the dietary habits of about 4,000 children from age 3 to age 8, those who consumed a “processed food diet” at age 3 (described as high in fats and sugars), had lower IQ scores at age 8 regardless of whether the nutritional quality of their diet improved thereafter. In contrast, children who ate a “health conscious” diet at age 3 (described as high in whole foods, like fruits, vegetables and grains), had a higher IQ score at age 8. A child’s brain undergoes the fastest rate of growth during the first 3 years of life and diet quality during this critical period of brain development can have a lasting impact for good or for worse on intellectual capacities. (Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health Online, Feb 2011)
•In a clinical trial involving 100 young children diagnosed with ADHD, of those placed on a 5 week “restrictive” diet (no processed food!), 78 percent experienced an improvement in their ADHD symptoms vs no improvement in the control group of children simply given “advice” on healthy eating. The only foods allowed on the restrictive diet were fruits, vegetables, meats, water and rice. (The Lancet, Feb 2011) (For more on this topic, check out my Brain Health Grocery List.)
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