Can What You Eat During Pregnancy Affect Your Child's Intellect?

Here's a "brainy diet" for new moms-to-be

Kavita Devgan

How far does the food you eat affect your child’s brain development? Scroll through the list below to read about “brainy foods” for your baby.

To improve cognition and memory

, eat choline rich foods. This amino acid can potentially help in enhancing your child’s brain development and memory. 
Get it from: Eggs, peanuts, eggs, rice, spinach, wheat

Improve your baby’s IQ with sufficient vitamin D when she’s still in the womb. This nutrient is essential for the cognitive development of the baby. Deficiency or low levels of vitamin D in pregnant mothers is associated with low IQ level.
Get it from: Ample exposure to sunlight (so that the body can make vitamin D), or opt for supplementation.

For improved memory

, eat healthy fats. In fact eating good fat-rich foods like fish, nuts, flaxseeds, during pregnancy can guard your little bundle of joy in your womb from changes in the brain that are known to cause Alzheimer’s disease later on in life. Specially focus on omega 3 fatty acids.
Get it from: Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel) and walnuts and flaxseeds.

To protect neurons from tissue damage

get enough folic acid. This nutrient is essential helps in reducing the risk of neural tube defects and eliminates various heart defects in babies.
Get it from: All kinds of green leafy vegetables (saag) and lentils.

To beat memory loss, 

miracle antioxidant compound punicalagin is what you need. This polyphenol can prevent Alzheimer and even slow its onset and progression later in life.
Get it from: Pomegranate.

For healthy nerve cells and cognitive development

, power up with protein. Formation of healthy nerve cells is important for your baby’s cognitive development in the womb. And for that, your pregnancy diet must include protein rich foods.
Get it from: Lentils, eggs, dairy, fish and chicken.

To build great memory,

eat zinc-rich foods. Zinc is one of the most important trace mineral our body needs. It has a huge say in our brains’ health too and low levels of zinc have been found in people with Alzheimer disease. A pregnant mother must eat enough zinc rich foods.
Get it from: Vegetarians can get it from almonds, peanuts, pine nuts, cashews and sunflower seeds, and the super loaded pumpkin seeds. Chicken and turkey are also good sources.

For a healthy nervous system,

add turmeric to your food. Yes, for our children's’ brains too. It contains a number of natural agents that block the formation of a sticky protein called beta-amyloid that slowly forms plaques and clogs the neurons (thus preventing them from communicating) and obstructs cerebral function. So turmeric in a mother’s diet is a great idea for good cognitive development of the brain.
Get it from: Add a bit to all your curries (just like your grandma did), and every once in a while, stir a quarter spoon turmeric in warm milk and have at bedtime.

Fight memory-robbing proteins with

cinnamon. This wonder spice boosts cognition, certain compounds in cinnamon could help inhibit the function and formation of the tau proteins (memory robbing) associated with cognitive loss and Alzheimer’s disease.
Get it from: Sprinkle a bit in your first cup of tea in the morning, or on your oats or toast during the breakfast. It’s great over puddings and pies too.

Secure sharp memory with

enough vitamin K. It is known to strengthen your child’s cognitive abilities whereas the latter has been scientifically proven to improve memory.
Get it from: Veggies such as cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, soybean, asparagus, cheese and organ meat (liver).

Avoid these


Even moderate amounts of beer, wine, or liquor can harm a baby's brain.


Cigarette smoking during pregnancy is linked with lower intelligence and school scores in children as they grow up. In fact women who smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoke during pregnancy have a higher risk for giving birth prematurely and their children may have learning difficulties.


Mercury contamination in some fish may be harmful. All pregnant women to avoid shark, tile fish, king mackerel, and swordfish completely, since they contain the highest levels of mercury.  


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