Gut health has a direct impact on mental health. Pandemic times are particularly stressful for children, who are not able to meet their friends and teachers on a regular basis and play freely outdoors.

Eating foods that have a positive impact on their mental health is thus important. A healthy diet rich in nutrients and vegetables can help promote overall sense of well-being in them.

Children are often picky eaters and may not always consume the diet that is right for them.

“A diet that lacks nutrient-dense foods may lead to nutrient deficiencies, especially of micronutrients like zinc and folic acid that have been associated with mental health issues,” says Zamurrud M Patel, Chief Dietician, Global Hospitals, Parel, Mumbai.

food for kids
Toddlers can definitely be fussy eaters, but there’s a way to deal with them. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

A child’s balanced diet requirement starts as early as he/she turns 1. In childhood, diet plays an important role in physical, social and developmental growth. In the early phases of childhood, a child needs food that not only aids physical growth but also in better brain development.

Here are foods that must be included in a child’s diet for better mental health as per Patel.

1. Red and yellow coloured fruits and vegetables like carrots, bell peppers, papaya etc are rich sources of Vitamin A, which is a potent anti-oxidant.

2. Banana is a good source of Vitamin B6 and phytonutrients. It’s also a good source of fibre and keeps the bowel clean.

brain foods for kids
Ensure your kids are consuming a balanced diet. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Garlic and onions have good anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties which keep the inflammation under check and promote good cellular health.

4. Green leafy vegetables contain substantial amounts of vitamins such as A, C, K, and many of the B’s including folate (B9); it is also a source of minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium along with lots of fiber.