A healthy diet is no doubt good for a child's physical and mental health, and it goes beyond those known benefits. A study found that feeding young kids with healthy food can also improve their reading skills.
A research published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that children with diets composed of fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grain, berries, unsaturated fats, and low in products filled with artificial sweeteners perform better in tests that measure reading skills compared to kids who have poor diets. The study represents a part of two separate reports conducted by research teams from the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Jyväskylä.
Children from Grades 1 to 3 and aged six to eight years old were examined in the study. Dr. Eero Haapala, one of the study's researchers from both universities, said that the link between diet quality and reading skills among children were "independent" of other factors such as "socio-economic status, physical activity, body adiposity, and physical fitness," according to a press release.
Around 161 Finnish children who participated in the study followed healthy diet recommendations: the Mediterranean diet, the Baltic Sea diet, and the Finnish diet. Researchers found that the Mediterranean diet improved third graders' reading comprehension, while the Baltic Sea diet boosted the reading fluency of kids in grades 2 and 3 and better comprehension in all three grades. Youngsters in grades 1 and 2 who followed the Finnish diet, on the other hand, had better reading fluency and enhanced reading comprehension in all three grades.
All three diets have a high amount of fish, vegetables, fruits, berries, and unsaturated fats. These diets shun red meat, sugar, and saturated fats (butter, cheese and other dairy products, lard, cream, and baked and fried foods), the American Heart Association confirms.
Parents can do other ways to improve their children's reading skills aside from feeding them with healthy food. According to The Telegraph, regularly reading out loud to kids and surrounding them with reading materials such as books and magazines can boost their reading comprehension, vocabulary, and decoding skills.
Kids growing up in a family that values reading are likely to take up the habit as well. Establishing a 15 to 30-minute daily reading time when all members of the family read silently can inspire young children to read, too. Parents showing enthusiasm for their kids' reading can also improve the youngsters' reading ability or encourage them to read more.
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