Essential fatty acids for brain development
Question : MY five-year-old son is dyslexic and has difficulty paying attention in class. Can you advise on dietary and lifestyle changes?
Answer : DYSLEXIA is a common learning disorder among children. It is an inherent dysfunction involving the language centres of the brain. They may have difficulty in reading, spelling and writing in school. The spoken word may be affected to some degree but the handicap is particularly related to mastering the written word.
Dyslexic children often have problems in converting essential fatty acids into the long-chain fatty acids which play an integral part in the formation of the brain's complex network of 100 billion cells. Thus, incorporating these essential fatty acids and minerals such as zinc and magnesium in your son's diet may be beneficial.
Children with learning disorders have been shown to have lower amounts of arachidonic acid (AA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and gamma linolenic acid (GLA) in their blood plasma and red blood cell membranes.
Essential fatty acids are found in marine fish oil and evening primrose oil. These nutrients are essential in the formation and development of the brain and nerves. Additionally, their diet should have adequate amount of protein, carbohydrates and fats to ensure proper growth.
Have your child eat more peas, beans and nuts like pecans, macadamia, chestnuts, walnuts, cashews and almonds. Let him eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Try to avoid trans fatty acids found in low-fat spreads and other foods because a high amount of trans fatty acids in the diet will reduce the utilisation of long-chain fatty acids.
You should encourage your son to take part in outdoor activities such as team sports and gymnastics. Exercise also can help to develop social skills and improve motor co-ordination.
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