Special Issue "Dietary Intake, Brain Development and Learning"

A special issue of Nutrients (ISSN 2072-6643). This special issue belongs to the section "Nutrition and Public Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Sibylle Kranz
Website
Guest Editor
University of Virginia, Department of Kinesiology, Curry School of Education, Charlottesville, Virginia USA
Interests: diet quality; childhood nutrition; school feeding; feelings of hunger and fullness; diet and learning; dietary guidance
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Julia Blodgett
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Human Services, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia, USA
Interests: children's cognitive abilities; learning, attention/executive functioning; persistence and efficiency with school tasks; well-being
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

Learning is a life-long process. Children are expected to adopt the behaviors acceptable to their social environments and perform increasingly difficult academic skills as they get older. Adults must learn and perform new tasks in their work and our ever-changing environment. While the saying “old dogs can’t learn new tricks” may have been the accepted norm in the past, globalization and continually developing technological advances mandate that individuals continue to learn new skills even into the very advanced years of life.

Many children and adults struggle with learning and possible contributors to this challenge likely include lifestyle factors such as dietary intake habits, physical activity patterns, and sleep hygiene.  For example, diets rich in sugar, fat, and sodium but low in dietary fibers, high-quality protein, and essential fatty acids (the "Western" diet) are consumed by children and adults worldwide, although the adverse physical effects of this diet pattern on physical health, such as metabolic disorders (obesity, diabetes and hypertension) are very  well established.  Could it be possible that physically detrimental lifestyle patterns also affect human's ability to learn?

To date, little is known about the effects of lifestyle factors on the ability to learn and perform cognitive tasks. Considering the role of the brain as a highly energy-dependent organ and the locus of control of human behavior and learning, research on measurable effects on brain development, function, and maintenance is critically needed in our efforts to improve learning outcomes, especially in populations at risk for suboptimal lifestyle behavior choices.  For instance, it stands to reason that diet affects human’s ability to learn in at least two ways: (1) the physical make-up of the brain matter and (2) the energy and nutrients provided to fuel and support the brain’s processing ability.  Also, emerging evidence shows that physical activity and sedentary behavior affect learning and brain function.  Also, lack of sleep or lack of higher quality sleep may negatively affect the individual's behavior to process information and learn.

The objective of this Special Issue on “Dietary Intake, Brain Development and Learning” is to publish selected papers detailing specific aspects of diet, physical activity and sleep on organic or functional performance of the brain as well as people’s ability to learn and/or perform related tasks. Particularly, papers (reviews, epidemiologic/clinical/experimental studies) examining the role of lifestyle factors on learning in humans are sought.

Dr. Sibylle Kranz
Dr. Julia Blodgett
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Nutrients is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Healthy Diets
  • Dietary intake
  • Child Nutrition
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Protein, Dietary Fibers
  • Cognition and Learning
  • Attention and Executive Functioning
  • Academic Performance/School Achievement
  • On-task behaviors
  • Sugars/Added sugars
  • Brain Development

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Withdrawal from Extended, Intermittent Access to A Highly Palatable Diet Impairs Hippocampal Memory Function and Neurogenesis: Effects of Memantine
Nutrients 2020, 12(5), 1520; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12051520 - 23 May 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Background: Compulsive eating can be promoted by intermittent access to palatable food and is often accompanied by cognitive deficits and reduction in hippocampal plasticity. Here, we investigated the effects of intermittent access to palatable food on hippocampal function and neurogenesis. Methods: Male Wistar [...] Read more.
Background: Compulsive eating can be promoted by intermittent access to palatable food and is often accompanied by cognitive deficits and reduction in hippocampal plasticity. Here, we investigated the effects of intermittent access to palatable food on hippocampal function and neurogenesis. Methods: Male Wistar rats were either fed chow for 7 days/week (Chow/Chow group), or fed chow intermittently for 5 days/week followed by a palatable diet for 2 days/week (Chow/Palatable group). Hippocampal function and neurogenesis were assessed either during withdrawal or following renewed access to palatable food. Furthermore, the ability of the uncompetitive N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) antagonist memantine to prevent the diet-induced memory deficits and block the maladaptive feeding was tested. Results: Palatable food withdrawn Chow/Palatable rats showed both a weakened ability for contextual spatial processing and a bias in their preference for a “novel cue” over a “novel place,” compared to controls. They also showed reduced expression of immature neurons in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus as well as a withdrawal-dependent decrease of proliferating cells. Memantine treatment was able both to reverse the memory deficits and to reduce the excessive intake of palatable diet and the withdrawal-induced hypophagia in food cycling rats. Conclusions: In summary, our results provide evidence that withdrawal from highly palatable food produces NMDAR-dependent deficits in hippocampal function and a reduction in hippocampal neurogenesis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dietary Intake, Brain Development and Learning)
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Open AccessArticle
Efficacy of Vitamins on Cognitive Function of Non-Demented People: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Nutrients 2020, 12(4), 1168; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12041168 - 22 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Previous evidence has suggested that vitamins might be beneficial for cognition. This systematic review aimed to investigate the efficacy of B vitamins, antioxidant vitamins, and vitamin D on the cognitive function of non-demented middle-aged or older people. Randomized or quasi-randomized controlled trials of [...] Read more.
Previous evidence has suggested that vitamins might be beneficial for cognition. This systematic review aimed to investigate the efficacy of B vitamins, antioxidant vitamins, and vitamin D on the cognitive function of non-demented middle-aged or older people. Randomized or quasi-randomized controlled trials of individuals aged 40 years or older were included. PubMed/MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library databases, and other grey literature sources were searched up to November 2019. Their methodological quality was evaluated using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool. Twenty-three studies on B vitamins (n = 22–1053; comprising folate, B6, and B12), nine on antioxidant vitamins (n = 185–20,469), and six on vitamin D (n = 55–4122) were included. Taking B vitamins for over 3 months was beneficial for global cognition (standardized mean difference (SMD) −0.18, 95% CI −0.30 to −0.06) and episodic memory (SMD −0.09, 95% CI −0.15 to −0.04). However, antioxidant vitamins (SMD −0.02, 95% CI −0.08 to 0.03) and vitamin D (SMD −0.06, 95% CI −0.36 to 0.23) were not. Antioxidant vitamins were beneficial for global cognition in sensitivity analyses using final measurement data as mean difference estimates (SMD, −0.04, 95% CI −0.08 to −0.01). Taking B vitamins and possibly antioxidant vitamins may be beneficial for the cognitive function of non-demented people. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dietary Intake, Brain Development and Learning)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Energy Restriction Enhances Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis-Associated Memory after Four Weeks in an Adult Human Population with Central Obesity; a Randomized Controlled Trial
Nutrients 2020, 12(3), 638; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12030638 - 28 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Adult neurogenesis, the generation of new neurons throughout life, occurs in the subventricular zone of the dentate gyrus in the human hippocampal formation. It has been shown in rodents that adult hippocampal neurogenesis is needed for pattern separation, the ability to differentially encode [...] Read more.
Adult neurogenesis, the generation of new neurons throughout life, occurs in the subventricular zone of the dentate gyrus in the human hippocampal formation. It has been shown in rodents that adult hippocampal neurogenesis is needed for pattern separation, the ability to differentially encode small changes derived from similar inputs, and recognition memory, as well as the ability to recognize previously encountered stimuli. Improved hippocampus-dependent cognition and cellular readouts of adult hippocampal neurogenesis have been reported in daily energy restricted and intermittent fasting adult mice. Evidence that nutrition can significantly affect brain structure and function is increasing substantially. This randomized intervention study investigated the effects of intermittent and continuous energy restriction on human hippocampal neurogenesis-related cognition, which has not been reported previously. Pattern separation and recognition memory were measured in 43 individuals with central obesity aged 35–75 years, before and after a four-week dietary intervention using the mnemonic similarity task. Both groups significantly improved pattern separation (P = 0.0005), but only the intermittent energy restriction group had a significant deterioration in recognition memory. There were no significant differences in cognitive improvement between the two diets. This is the first human study to investigate the association between energy restriction with neurogenesis-associated cognitive function. Energy restriction may enhance hippocampus-dependent memory and could benefit those in an ageing population with declining cognition. This study was registered on ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT02679989) on 11 February 2016. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dietary Intake, Brain Development and Learning)
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Open AccessArticle
Brain Alterations in High Fat Diet Induced Obesity: Effects of Tart Cherry Seeds and Juice
Nutrients 2020, 12(3), 623; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12030623 - 27 Feb 2020
Cited by 5
Abstract
Evidence suggests that obesity adversely affects brain function. High body mass index, hypertension, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, and diabetes are risk factors for increasing cognitive decline. Tart cherries (Prunus Cerasus L.) are rich in anthocyanins and components that modify lipid metabolism. This study [...] Read more.
Evidence suggests that obesity adversely affects brain function. High body mass index, hypertension, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, and diabetes are risk factors for increasing cognitive decline. Tart cherries (Prunus Cerasus L.) are rich in anthocyanins and components that modify lipid metabolism. This study evaluated the effects of tart cherries on the brain in diet-induced obese (DIO) rats. DIO rats were fed with a high-fat diet alone or in association with a tart cherry seeds powder (DS) and juice (DJS). DIO rats were compared to rats fed with a standard diet (CHOW). Food intake, body weight, fasting glycemia, insulin, cholesterol, and triglycerides were measured. Immunochemical and immunohistochemical techniques were performed. Results showed that body weight did not differ among the groups. Blood pressure and glycemia were decreased in both DS and DJS groups when compared to DIO rats. Immunochemical and immunohistochemical techniques demonstrated that in supplemented DIO rats, the glial fibrillary acid protein expression and microglial activation were reduced in both the hippocampus and in the frontal cortex, while the neurofilament was increased. Tart cherry intake modified aquaporin 4 and endothelial inflammatory markers. These findings indicate the potential role of this nutritional supplement in preventing obesity-related risk factors, especially neuroinflammation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dietary Intake, Brain Development and Learning)
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Open AccessArticle
Bariatric Surgery and Brain Health—A Longitudinal Observational Study Investigating the Effect of Surgery on Cognitive Function and Gray Matter Volume
Nutrients 2020, 12(1), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12010127 - 02 Jan 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Dietary modifications leading to weight loss have been suggested as a means to improve brain health. In morbid obesity, bariatric surgery (BARS)—including different procedures, such as vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG), gastric banding (GB), or Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) surgery—is performed to induce rapid [...] Read more.
Dietary modifications leading to weight loss have been suggested as a means to improve brain health. In morbid obesity, bariatric surgery (BARS)—including different procedures, such as vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG), gastric banding (GB), or Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) surgery—is performed to induce rapid weight loss. Combining reduced food intake and malabsorption of nutrients, RYGB might be most effective, but requires life-long follow-up treatment. Here, we tested 40 patients before and six months after surgery (BARS group) using a neuropsychological test battery and compared them with a waiting list control group. Subsamples of both groups underwent structural MRI and were examined for differences between surgical procedures. No substantial differences between BARS and control group emerged with regard to cognition. However, larger gray matter volume in fronto-temporal brain areas accompanied by smaller volume in the ventral striatum was seen in the BARS group compared to controls. RYGB patients compared to patients with restrictive treatment alone (VSG/GB) had higher weight loss, but did not benefit more in cognitive outcomes. In sum, the data of our study suggest that BARS might lead to brain structure reorganization at long-term follow-up, while the type of surgical procedure does not differentially modulate cognitive performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dietary Intake, Brain Development and Learning)
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Open AccessArticle
Associations between Food Group Intake, Cognition, and Academic Achievement in Elementary Schoolchildren
Nutrients 2019, 11(11), 2722; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11112722 - 09 Nov 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Nutrition plays an important role in proper physical and cognitive functioning. However, there is limited evidence on the relationship between overall diet, cognition, and academic success in children, particularly among low-income and diverse groups. The objective of this study was to examine the [...] Read more.
Nutrition plays an important role in proper physical and cognitive functioning. However, there is limited evidence on the relationship between overall diet, cognition, and academic success in children, particularly among low-income and diverse groups. The objective of this study was to examine the relationships between healthful versus less healthful food group intake, cognitive performance, and academic achievement in a diverse sample of schoolchildren. 868 urban schoolchildren (age 8 to 10 years) participated in the study. Intake of healthful (fruits, vegetables, unsweetened beverages) and less healthful (sweet and salty snacks, sugar-sweetened beverages) food groups was determined via a food frequency questionnaire. Digit Span and Stroop test scores were used to assess cognitive performance. Academic achievement was assessed via standardized test scores. Multiple Poisson and multiple linear regression were used to test the associations between diet and cognitive scores. Multiple ordered logistic regression was used to assess the associations between diet and academic achievement. Potential confounders (age, sex, body mass index (BMI) z-score, race/ethnicity, English language learner status, individualized education plan enrollment, physical activity, and parent education level) were tested for inclusion in all models. The sample included 868 children (56.7% girls; 33.2% non-Hispanic white, 26.2% Hispanic, 17.1% multiracial/other, 8.3% non-Hispanic black; 40.5% overweight/obese). The most frequently consumed foods were fruits and sweet snacks (1.9 and 1.6 servings per day, respectively). There were no statistically significant associations between diet and cognitive test scores. Greater intake of less healthful food groups (sweet snacks, salty snacks, and sweetened beverages) was associated with lower math (OR = 0.91, CI [0.84, 0.98], p = 0.014) and English standardized test scores (OR = 0.87, CI [0.80, 0.94, p = 0.001). Greater intake of sweet snacks and fruits was associated with lower English scores (OR = 0.72, 95% CI [0.59, 0.88] p = 0.001; and OR = 0.75, 95% CI [0.72, 0.94] p = 0.003, respectively). Consumption of less healthful food groups was associated with poorer academic achievement. Further research may shed light on unexpected associations between fruit consumption and achievement. Policies targeting multiple dietary components may positively influence child academic achievement and development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dietary Intake, Brain Development and Learning)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
A Calorie-Restricted Ketogenic Diet Reduces Cerebral Cortex Vascularization in Prepubertal Rats
Nutrients 2019, 11(11), 2681; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11112681 - 05 Nov 2019
Abstract
The antiepileptic effect of ketogenic diets is acknowledged but its mechanism of action is poorly understood. The present work aimed to evaluate possible effects of a calorie-restricted ketogenic diet (CRKD) on brain growth and angiogenesis in normal prepubertal rats. Two groups of prepubertal [...] Read more.
The antiepileptic effect of ketogenic diets is acknowledged but its mechanism of action is poorly understood. The present work aimed to evaluate possible effects of a calorie-restricted ketogenic diet (CRKD) on brain growth and angiogenesis in normal prepubertal rats. Two groups of prepubertal rats were fed with a standard diet (group 1) or a CRKD (group 2) for ten weeks. Then, rats were sacrificed and the thickness for the following structures was evaluated by histology: (1) cerebral cortex, (2) deep cerebral white matter, and (3) substantia nigra. The capillary density was also evaluated within: (1) cerebral cortex, (2) dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, (3) periaqueductal grey matter, and (4) substantia nigra. The results showed a smaller thickness of all the areas examined and a reduced capillary density within the cerebral cortex in the CRKD-treated group compared to the control group. These findings suggest an association between reduced angiogenesis within the cerebral cortex and the antiepileptic effects of CRKD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dietary Intake, Brain Development and Learning)
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Open AccessArticle
Association Between Fatty Acids Profile and Cerebral Blood Flow: An Exploratory fNIRS Study on Children with and without ADHD
Nutrients 2019, 11(10), 2414; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11102414 - 10 Oct 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) biostatus has been proposed as possible attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis biomarker. The present exploratory study aimed to investigate the association between PUFAs biostatus and cerebral cortex metabolism measured by functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) in a sample [...] Read more.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) biostatus has been proposed as possible attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis biomarker. The present exploratory study aimed to investigate the association between PUFAs biostatus and cerebral cortex metabolism measured by functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) in a sample of children with and without ADHD. 24 children with ADHD and 22 typically developing (TD) peers, aged 8–14, were recruited. Linoleic, arachidonic, docosahexaenoic and eicosapentaenoic acids levels were evaluated in whole blood. All children underwent fNIRS while performing an n-back working memory task. Between groups comparisons revealed lower levels of arachidonic acid in children with ADHD and stronger NIRS signal in TD participants, especially when completing more difficult tasks. Correlations conducted between fNIRS activation and PUFA biostatus revealed several associations between hemodynamic changes in the frontoparietal regions and fatty acids profile across participants. This result was also confirmed by the multiple hierarchical regression analyses that remarked an inverse effect of eicosapentaenoic acid levels on oxyhemoglobin values in right frontoparietal region. Such preliminary findings, if confirmed, would suggest that PUFAs could play a role in atypical neurodevelopment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dietary Intake, Brain Development and Learning)
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Open AccessArticle
Acute Kahweol Treatment Attenuates Traumatic Brain Injury Neuroinflammation and Functional Deficits
Nutrients 2019, 11(10), 2301; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11102301 - 27 Sep 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects millions worldwide with devastating long-term effects on health and cognition. Emerging data suggest that targeting the immune response may offer promising strategies to alleviate TBI outcomes; kahweol, an anti-inflammatory diterpene that remains in unfiltered coffee, has been shown [...] Read more.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects millions worldwide with devastating long-term effects on health and cognition. Emerging data suggest that targeting the immune response may offer promising strategies to alleviate TBI outcomes; kahweol, an anti-inflammatory diterpene that remains in unfiltered coffee, has been shown to be beneficial in neuronal recovery. Here, we examined whether kahweol could alleviate brain trauma-induced injury in a mouse model of TBI and its underlying mechanisms. TBI was induced by controlled cortical impact (CCI) and various doses of kahweol were intraperitoneally administered following injury. Contusion volume, brain edema, neurobehavioral deficits, and protein expression and activity were evaluated in both short-term and long-term recovery. We found that kahweol treatments significantly reduced secondary brain injury and improved neurobehavioral outcomes in TBI mice. These changes were accompanied by the attenuation of proinflammatory cytokine secretion, decreased microglia/macrophage activation, and reduction of neutrophil and leukocyte infiltration. In addition, continuous kahweol treatment further improved short-term TBI outcomes compared to single-dosage. Collectively, our data showed that kahweol protects against TBI by reducing immune responses and may serve as a potential therapeutic intervention for TBI patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dietary Intake, Brain Development and Learning)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Beneficial Effects of Walnuts on Cognition and Brain Health
Nutrients 2020, 12(2), 550; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12020550 - 20 Feb 2020
Cited by 4
Abstract
Oxidative stress and neuroinflammation have important roles in the aging process, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and other brain disorders. Amyloid beta protein (Aβ) is the main component of amyloid plaques in the brains of people with AD. Several studies suggest [...] Read more.
Oxidative stress and neuroinflammation have important roles in the aging process, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and other brain disorders. Amyloid beta protein (Aβ) is the main component of amyloid plaques in the brains of people with AD. Several studies suggest that Aβ increases the generation of free radicals in neurons, which leads to oxidative damage and cell death. Aβ can also induce neuroinflammation by increasing pro-inflammatory cytokines and enzymes. Walnuts contain several components that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Animal and human studies from our and other groups suggest that supplementation with walnuts in the diet may improve cognition and reduce the risk and/or progression of MCI and AD. In the transgenic AD mouse model (AD-tg), we have reported the beneficial effects of a diet with walnuts on memory, learning, motor coordination, anxiety, and locomotor activity. Human clinical trials have also suggested an association of walnut consumption with better cognitive performance and improvement in memory when compared to baseline in adults. Our recent study in AD-tg mice has shown that a walnut-enriched diet significantly improves antioxidant defense and decreases free radicals’ levels, lipid peroxidation, and protein oxidation when compared to a control diet without walnuts. These findings suggest that a diet with walnuts can reduce oxidative stress by decreasing the generation of free radicals and by boosting antioxidant defense, thus resulting in decreased oxidative damage to lipids and proteins. An in vitro study with synthetic Aβ showed that walnut extract can inhibit Aβ fibrillization and solubilize the preformed Aβ fibrils, suggesting an anti-amyloidogenic property of walnuts. Because it takes many years for cognitive impairment and dementia to develop, we suggest that early and long-term dietary supplementation with walnuts may help to maintain cognitive functions and may reduce the risk of developing, or delay the onset and/or slow the progression of, MCI and dementia by decreasing Aβ fibrillization, reducing oxidative damage, increasing antioxidant defense, and decreasing neuroinflammation. Furthermore, several animal and human studies have suggested that walnuts may also decrease the risk or progression of other brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and depression, as well as of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Together, these reports suggest the benefits of a walnut-enriched diet in brain disorders and in other chronic diseases, due to the additive or synergistic effects of walnut components for protection against oxidative stress and inflammation in these diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dietary Intake, Brain Development and Learning)
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Open AccessReview
How Lifestyle Factors Affect Cognitive and Executive Function and the Ability to Learn in Children
Nutrients 2019, 11(8), 1953; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11081953 - 20 Aug 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
In today’s research environment, children’s diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle factors are commonly studied in the context of health, independent of their effect on cognition and learning. Moreover, there is little overlap between the two literatures, although it is reasonable to expect [...] Read more.
In today’s research environment, children’s diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle factors are commonly studied in the context of health, independent of their effect on cognition and learning. Moreover, there is little overlap between the two literatures, although it is reasonable to expect that the lifestyle factors explored in the health-focused research are intertwined with cognition and learning processes. This thematic review provides an overview of knowledge connecting the selected lifestyle factors of diet, physical activity, and sleep hygiene to children’s cognition and learning. Research from studies of diet and nutrition, physical activity and fitness, sleep, and broader influences of cultural and socioeconomic factors related to health and learning, were summarized to offer examples of research that integrate lifestyle factors and cognition with learning. The literature review demonstrates that the associations and causal relationships between these factors are vastly understudied. As a result, current knowledge on predictors of optimal cognition and learning is incomplete, and likely lacks understanding of many critical facts and relationships, their interactions, and the nature of their relationships, such as there being mediating or confounding factors that could provide important knowledge to increase the efficacy of learning-focused interventions. This review provides information focused on studies in children. Although basic research in cells or animal studies are available and indicate a number of possible physiological pathways, inclusion of those data would distract from the fact that there is a significant gap in knowledge on lifestyle factors and optimal learning in children. In a climate where childcare and school feeding policies are continuously discussed, this thematic review aims to provide an impulse for discussion and a call for more holistic approaches to support child development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dietary Intake, Brain Development and Learning)
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