A diet low in sugars, fats and processed foods consumed at a young age may increase your intelligence, research finds.
Children under 3-years-old fed diets that are packed full of nutrients and vitamins have higher IQs.
The more healthily they eat, the higher their IQ.
The study followed the wellbeing and health of 14,000 children born between 1991 and 1992 in the UK.
What they ate was tracked up to the age of 8, when they were given an intelligence test.
The results showed that children who ate a health-conscious diet including more salad, rice, pasta, fish and fruit had higher IQs at age 8.
Those consuming more junk food high in fats and sugars had lower IQs.
The study’s authors conclude that:
“…a poor diet associated with high fat, sugar and processed food content in early childhood may be associated with small reductions in IQ in later childhood, while a healthy diet, associated with high intakes of nutrient rich foods described at about the time of IQ assessment may be associated with small increases in IQ.”
There was little effect on IQ from what children ate between ages 4 and 7.
The authors say:
“This suggests that any cognitive/behavioural effects relating to eating habits in early childhood may well persist into later childhood, despite any subsequent changes (including improvements) to dietary intake.
It is possible that good nutrition during this period [under 3 years-old] may encourage optimal brain growth.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (Northstone et al., 2011).