The role of nutrition in the intellectual development of humans is very crucial, right from pregnancy. This is the reason pregnant women are advised to strictly ensure that they are well-fed during this period, as whatever they eat has a strong effect on the life of the child in their womb. Undernutrition for a pregnant woman is therefore an aberration that must not be allowed to happen.
Many experts have said that adequate nutrition is vital to normal brain development. Nutrition is especially important during pregnancy and infancy, which are crucial periods for the formation of the brain, laying the foundation for the development of cognitive, motor, and socio-emotional skills throughout childhood and adulthood
The development of a child’s brain is greatly determined by the kind of food he or she eats. During childhood, undernutrition has been reported to lead to the loss of energy and interest in learning in children. This development also affects their cognitive faculties and academic performance. It also negatively affects physical growth, maturation and the child’s general wellbeing. It is therefore essential that children receive the best nutrition possible to enable them develop into healthy adults.
Anything that hampers the provision of adequate nutrition to a child distorts his or her mental, emotional and cerebral development. Children raised in war-torn areas, where hunger and starvation reign supreme have always shown the propensity to become disoriented and psychologically fragmented adults due to the deprivations caused by the state of their environment. They even lack good self-esteem and are always withdrawn, feeling inferior and timid. Such characteristics do not encourage the acquisition of knowledge.
Even in adulthood, the role nutrition plays is very significant. Adults who don’t have adequate nutrition, due to economic or lifestyle factors may not be able to pursue noble intellectual heights. Eating balanced diet and taking nutritional supplements have been proven to support general wellbeing and increase a person’s chances of having a strong immune system, which automatically helps him or her to ward off infections.
A healthy body is tantamount to a healthy mind. Without a healthy mind, the assimilation of knowledge is greatly threatened. Depriving our bodies of the right combination of food and mineral nutrients may lead to disease conditions that would in turn prevent us from learning and engaging in other intellectual activities.
Lifestyle factors, such as alcoholism, substance abuse and smoking are food to some people who cannot do without them. While the whole world is grappling with the challenges brought about by the sophistications of technology and human civilisation, mankind is also faced with socialisation-related challenges, which have thrown up so many aberrations that have come to be accepted as the norm.
For instance, the level of ingenuity that youths continue to demonstrate in abusing drugs will leave even some scientists and behavioural experts shocked. Clinical drugs like tramadol, codeine and Rohypnol have been converted to supplements by our youths. Alcoholic beverages are mixed with any or all of these drugs and taken. Some even use the mixture to bake cake.
The fundamental question is: how can people who consume such cocktails concentrate and have time for intellectual pursuits? They can only end up as dropouts or manage to pass through school without acquiring any meaningful knowledge. An education-related website (Study.com) highlights the damage substance abuse can do to a youth’s quest for academic excellence thus: “Substance abuse is the harmful, excessive use of drugs such as alcohol, prescriptions, over-the-counter medicine or some other type of chemical substance. Such use brings a multitude of health risks like mood swings, high blood pressure, organ damage, and lack of focus and concentration. All of these can affect your general health as well as your performance at work or school. Unfortunately, these risks are even greater for young people because their brains and bodies are still developing during the adolescent years”.
A couple of years back, a popular academic in one of the federal universities cut short his life in a ghastly motor accident caused by overconsumption of alcohol. Even before then, his life as an academic had been a huge struggle because his overdependence on liquor limited his chances of attaining higher pedestals in his career. Many of his associates on campus believe that he was even lucky to have reached the stage he was before he died. Their belief was based on the recklessness with which he consumed alcohol.
For all who aspire towards intellectual glory, good food, enough rest, less worry, abstinence from drugs and alcohol and above all devotion to God are the basic ingredients they need. Healthy nutritional habits and a healthy lifestyle, complemented with healthy spiritual food (the Word of God), will lead to the attainment of uncommon intellectual heights.