Study associates organic food intake in childhood with better cognitive development
Published: August 6, 2021
Category: Organic News
Photo: Robo Wunderkind / Unsplash
A study analyzing the association between a wide variety of prenatal and childhood exposures and neuropsychological development in school-age children has found that organic food intake is associated with better scores on tests of fluid intelligence (ability to solve novel reasoning problems) and working memory (ability of the brain to retain new information while it is needed in the short term).
The study, published in Environmental Pollution, was conceived and designed by researchers at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal)—a centre supported by the “la Caixa” Foundation—and the Pere Virgili Health Research Institute (IISPV-CERCA).
The explanation for this association may be that “healthy diets, including organic diets, are richer than fast food diets in nutrients necessary for the brain, such as fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants, which together may enhance cognitive function in childhood,” commented lead author Jordi Júlvez, a researcher at IISPV-CERCA who works closely with ISGlobal.
The study, titled “Early life multiple exposures and child cognitive function: A multi-centric birth cohort study in six European countries”, used data on 1,298 children aged 6-11 years from six European country-specific birth cohorts (United Kingdom, France, Spain, Greece, Lithuania, and Norway). The researchers looked at 87 environmental factors the children were exposed to in utero (air pollution, traffic, noise, various chemicals, and lifestyle factors) and another 122 factors they were exposed to during childhood.
The study found that the main determinants of fluid intelligence and working memory in children are organic diet, fast food diet, crowdedness of the family home, indoor air pollution, and tobacco smoke. To date, there has been little research on the relationship between type of diet and cognitive function, but fast food intake has been associated with lower academic development success and some studies have also reported positive associations between organic diets and executive function scores. “In our study,” explained Júlvez, “we found better scores in fluid intelligence and working memory with higher organic food intake and lower fast food intake.”
Environmental Pollution, Volume 284, 2021, 117404. doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2021.117404
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Organic & Non-GMO Insights August 2021