Optimizing brain health in children does more than ensure good grades and provide the groundwork for a sound future. It is the physical link to the most important gift any parent can bestow upon their child - the best chance to achieve peace and happiness. Anxiety and depression, the opposites of peace and happiness, very often have a physical link. There are key minerals linked to depression and there are important essential fats involved. The brain requires fats. in fact, it is 60% fat by dry weight. The low fat, no fat, 98% fat-free food fads of the last couple of decades have done little for brain health. In fact, the reduction of fat in our diets has sponsored an unanticipated craving for carbohydrates and the over consumption of carbohydrates has further compromised brain health.
Diabetes is now often termed the coming plague as one in three Americans are now pre-diabetic.and there is a powerful link between insulin resistance and Alzheimer's. Diabetes is sometimes called Type 2 Alzheimer's. Toxins are the other issue impacting the health of our children's brains. In this article we will consider prime brain foods, toxins to avoid and strategies to dump the junk and tone our children's brains.
Mercury and the Brain
Mercury is the most toxic substance of all and we are increasingly subjecting ourselves to this poisonous metal. It has become a major pollutant of fish and shellfish, it is a leachable component of amalgams and it was used as a stabiliser for many years in vaccinations. This heavy metal tends to accumulate in specific locations in the human body and unfortunately the brain is the major repository. There is a mercury link to ADHD and autism and vaccinations have often been the culprit. Thimerosol is a mercury-based stabiliser that was widely used in vaccines. It has been shown to shut down the glutamate removal capacity of a child's brain. Glutamate is an amino acid that becomes a neuro-toxin when it is over supplied. Gluten contains 46% glutamate and the milk protein, casein, contains 23%. This is why ADHD children respond so well to a gluten-free, dairy-free diet. The reason why the mercury stabiliser did not negatively impact all children who received vaccinations appears to be linked to pre-existing mercury lodes (based upon the mothers mercury status).
The most effective way to detox mercury involves a common herb called coriander (or cilantro). This plant is at least as effective as EDTA chelation for the removal of mercury but there are a couple of cautions. The first of these relates to a phenomenon called re-toxification where free mercury released into the system can be re-absorbed through the gut lining if it is not mopped up by intestinal absorbent. The best of these absorbents is chlorella but bentonite clay can also be used. The coriander detox involves two tablespoons of coriander pesto, twice a day for two weeks. A heaped teaspoon of chlorella in a glass of water should be consumed with each dose of coriander.
The second caution with this herbal detox relates to pre-existing amalgams. If you have more than two amalgam fillings there is a potential that the coriander detox can sponsor increased release of methyl mercury from your amalgams. The WHO has recently determined that amalgams release between 3 and 17 mcg of methyl mercury on a daily basis and there is no safe dose of this heavy metal. It is not a good idea to speed this release with coriander, particularly if you are not using an intestinal absorbent.
Avoiding Aluminiun and Lead
Aluminiun and lead are the two other major brain toxins that can impact children. Aluminium is the principle ingredient in all anti-perspirants. In fact, it is the only thing that will shut down sweat glands. Condition your children to avoid anti-perspirants. They can use deodorants if they choose but not the neuro-toxic aluminum. Fluoride has recently been identified as a trigger for aluminiun to commence it's nasty work so it would also be a good idea to avoid fluoridated toothpaste. Supplementing with calcium silicate is more effective for tooth protection than fluoride (the main two minerals in tooth enamel are calcium and silica.
Lead is still found in our environment but can be avoided. Old paint has a sweet flavour that appeals to children so make sure that you paint over lead paint and remove any visible paint chips from the ground. Cheap Chinese dinner sets are notoriously contaminated with lead which can leach directly into food. Some imported canned food is housed in cans that have been constructed using lead solder and they should be avoided. Finally, we are one of the remaining countries that still allows lead contaminated "super" petrol.
Food for Thought
Unlike all other cells in the human body, brain cells do not replace themselves. We die with the cells we are born with so they require special attention. They must be nourished and protected to last a lifetime. Fat is a primary brain food and the most important fat is omega-3 fatty acids. The modern diet contains just 15% of the omega-3 fats found in our Grandparents' diets. This is largely due to food preparation and food marketing because omega-3 fats are more prone to damage from heating, cooking and food processing. Chia seed (ChiaTone™ from NTS Health) is the highest plant source of omega-3 containing 62% omega-3 fatty acids. Chia has an amazing nutrient profile including a high mineral and fibre content and it is a remarkable source of brain-protective antioxidants. It can be added to fresh juices where it rapidly forms a gel consistency which is appealing to children. Flaxseed contains 57% omega-3 fats and it is an ideal choice as a salad oil as it has a very pleasant flavour.
Fish oil is the other essential for children's brains. It is great strategy to include a couple of teaspoons of cod liver oil in a glass with fresh lemon juice each day in your children's diets. You may have to add a little stevia to make this supplement a little more appealing but if you are successful you will also deliver luxury levels of the important brain nutrients, vitamin A and vitamin D. These fat soluble vitamins are required for optimal brain functioning. In an interview with Australia's oldest man before his death last year at 106 years of ages, he stated his secret of longevity. He had perfect brain function and had never visited a doctor and he attributed this remarkable resilience to his one and only daily supplement - a tablespoon of cod liver oil each day since he was a young child.
The brain requires more than omega-3 fats, it needs a whole spectrum of healthy fats involving omega-6 fats (sesame, corn, safflower and sunflower but never sourced from margarine), EPA and DHA (salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna and eggs), GLA (evening primrose oil, borage oil and black current seed) and arachidonic acid (meat, butter, eggs and squid). Here is a good recipe for fresh, undamaged essential brain fats that will be beneficial for the health of your child's brain:
Brain Food Recipe
Combine the following in a sealed jar:
- 100 grams of sesame seeds
- 100 grams of sunflower seeds
- 100 grams of pumpkin seeds
- 200 grams of flaxseeds
- 100 grams of chia seed
Keep the jar in the fridge away from light, heat and oxygen.
Simply grind one heaped teaspoon of the above mix each morning in a coffee grinder and add the seed meal to your child's breakfast (it would also be a good idea to include this with your own breakfast).
Phospholipids and Memory
Phospholipids are the other chief component of the myelin that sheaths all nerve cells. Phospolipids enhance mood and mental performance and protect against age related memory decline and Alzheimer's, so they are equally important for all age groups. There are two kinds of phospholipids – phosphatydl choline and phosphatydl serene. In one study, mother rats given choline during pregnancy consistently produced super brains in their offspring.
Egg yolks and organ meats are the richest source of phospholipids. I guess we can learn from the carnivores here. Lions always eat the organs and brain first. Eggs are a tremendous brain food and the richest dietary source of choline. this is why Chinese mothers-to-be commonly consume 10 pickled eggs a day in the last month of pregnancy. They are only permitted a single child so they give it their best shot. It is a myth that the cholesterol content of eggs accumulates in our bodies. There has never been any evidence of this accumulation in these women consuming over 300 eggs in a month! The key with eggs is to hard boil or poach them rather than frying. If you keep your own chickens then you have a unique opportunity to value-add those eggs and to create even more dynamic brain food. If you source bags of dried kelp meal and flaxseed from your local rural store you can include a handful of each in the chook food to produce eggs with luxury levels of omega-3 fats and iodine.
We have reached a point in our social evolution where it is time to reclaim responsibility for our own health and the health of our children. There is an urgency with the issue of children's brain health and our need to intervene. The potential for a happier, more peaceful society will be in the hands of the younger generation and we need to equip them with the tools to maximise the positive potential. There is no better starting point than ensuring optimum brain health in your children. It will greatly benefit them, as it will you and the community of which you are part.
Disclaimer: All advice in this article is for information purposes only. You should seek professional medical advice before undertaking any procedures and supplements included in this article.