Diet Impoverishment Can Cause Mental Disorders

Diet Impoverishment Can Cause Mental Disorders Diet Impoverishment Can Cause Mental Disorders

Nearly 50% of mental disorders develop before the age of 14, and 75% before the age of 24. The brain is far more impressionable (neuroscientists use the term plastic) in early life than in maturity. This plasticity has both a positive and a negative side. On the positive side, it means that young children’s brains are more open to learning and enriching influences. On the negative side, it also means that young children’s brains are more vulnerable to developmental problems should their environment prove especially impoverished or un-nurturing.

“The abstract and rational decision-making areas of the brain also develop in young age,” said Habibollah Masoudifarid, deputy of social affairs at the State Welfare Organization (SWO), the Persian language ‘Iran’ newspaper reported.

Masoudifarid pointed to the importance of diet and the significant role of micronutrients in the growth of children’s brains as they make a major contribution to the development of the brain’s nerve cells. During the early years following birth, humans manufacture an estimated 250,000 neurons per minute and then spend the next few years wiring them together. Traditionally, it was assumed that this neural plasticity settles down by adulthood. At birth, almost all the neurons that the brain will ever have are present. However, the brain continues to grow for a few years after birth. By the age of 2 years, it is about 80% of the adult size.

Correct functions of different cells require specific nutrients to play their particular roles; the neurons and other brain cells can’t escape this rule. Hence some dietary deficiencies can alter cerebral function. Human physiology, and thus the brain, requires substances of dietary origin called nutrients: vitamins, macro elements such as carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, calcium, and magnesium; trace elements such as iron, magnesium, selenium, iodine; as well as copper, zinc, manganese, 8 essential amino acids; and 2 essential fatty acids, without which life would be impossible.

The brain thus needs nutrients to build and maintain its structure, both to function harmoniously and to avoid premature ageing, he said.

Masoudifarid pointed to expanding health investments by 2025, by which children’s health, especially those below three years, is to be promoted with the coordination of families, educational institutions and the media. In rural and deprived areas, significant allocations will be made for adding a hot meal in kindergartens for rural children, he added.