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​A WARM WELCOME

CONTENTS 04

Creating, Imagining, Innovating

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Habits of MindTM Activities

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​ hy Mindfulness Will Become W a Normal Part of Parenting

Jennifer Aniston, actress, film producer and businesswoman, says parenting is one of the hardest jobs on Earth. I bet almost all parents would agree with her. I certainly do.

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This issue (Issue 2) of Smart ParenTHINK is themed “Food for Body, Mind and Spirit”. It looks at various approaches, traditional and innovative, to provide the ‘fuel’ young kids need to grow physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.

World’s First Artificial Intelligence Learning Programme

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Character Story ​Resilient Debra is not easily discouraged

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Art Therapy as a Tool for Building Emotional Resilience

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Helping Children Play

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Nutrient Levels in our Foods are Declining. What Can We Do?

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Character Story Hardworking Herman believes in the virtue of hardwork

​ his is the second issue of T Smart ParenTHINK, a new magazine designed specifically for parents of young children.

For example, we explore the topic of mindfulness, written by long-time friend and colleague Graham Watts, who was at one time the global director of MindUP. The organisation is supported by Goldie Hawn’s foundation and is arguably one of the largest in the field of mindfulness. The good thing about mindfulness is that both you and your kids can learn and benefit from it, making, we hope, your parenting job a wee bit less hard. I hope you enjoy this issue with its other, no less important, articles, and parenting tips and information.

Published by: Dr Henry Toi CEO, Nurture Craft International (A member of Global EduHub)

Nurture Craft International Pte Ltd ​73 Bukit Timah Road #02-00 Rex House Singapore 229832 www.nurturecraft.com email: info@nurturecraft.com


Students brainstorming © Viacheslav Iacobchuk | Dreamstime.com

Creating, Imagining, Innovating ​​Arthur L. Costa, Ed.D. and Bena Kallick, Ph.D. Creativity is a survival skill! The brain is always looking for something that it did not know before, that is not being taught to it, and to find a way to figure something out. Creative thinking has always been essential for human survival. According to Charles Limb, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at John’s Hopkins University, “Our brains are hard-wired to seek creative or artistic endeavours forever. We don’t need it to survive, you wouldn’t think, and yet the brain wants it and seeks it. The brain is an organ and some of its functions are geared toward generation of unpredictable 4

ideas. That’s just how it’s meant to function.”

Thinking: Divergent and Convergent The word divergent is partly defined as ‘tending to be different or develop in different directions’. Divergent thinking refers to the way the mind generates ideas beyond prescribed expectations and rote thinking, what is usually referred to as ‘thinking outside the box’ and often associated with creativity. Convergent thinking, on the other hand, requires us to restrict ideas to those that might be correct or the best solution to a problem. Both are necessary

in creative thinking. However, too often, we seek the one best solution before we have allowed ourselves to think about new and different ideas. Perhaps our emphasis on testing for right answers has reinforced this mindset. When we are young children, our capacities for divergent thinking operate at a genius level. However, our inclination to think divergently tends to fade as we get older. Divergent and convergent thinkers need to become alert to situational cues, to know when to use which and then to use good judgment. There are times when


convergent thinking is appropriate: following rules, taking tests, needing to be precise and drawing on factual information. There are other times when divergent thinking is necessary: in problembased learning, when finding solutions to difficult problems, when old ways no longer work for you. Ideally, divergent and convergent thinking work in harmony with each other.

Some Strategies to Enhance Your Capacity to Think Creatively Go Ahead, Take A Risk!

the environment for play and experiment.

Laughter - The Best Medicine For Enhancing Creativity Albert Einstein once said, “If at first an idea doesn’t seem totally absurd there’s no hope for it.” Innovators move toward the absurd, the ‘seemingly’ irrelevant, in order to create new insights rather than taking an ‘obvious’ direction. Humour has been found to liberate creativity and provoke such higher-level thinking skills as anticipation, finding novel relationships, visual imagery and

Observe how your brain becomes ‘loose’ as you allow your minds to go ‘off track’. Before you judge any of the ideas, observe your process. What was happening for you as you were brainstorming? Were you listening to one another and feeding off each other’s ideas? Were you laughing but not judging? Did you feel your mind opening up? Think about what you might do with some of these ideas. If we are to solve the problems we are facing

Humour typically involves novel associations and relationships, and stimulates creativity VGstockstudio / shutterstock

There is no such thing as a mistake. When you try something and it does not turn out the way you hoped, it is not a failure. Rather, it provides a rich opportunity to analyse what went wrong, to learn and to generate alternative strategies. Once we are less afraid to make mistakes, we open up

making analogies. When you are having fun with ideas, you begin to see possibilities. You begin to take on new and interesting ways of seeing.

Brainstorming - In Groups

today, we will need both new ways of looking at things and people who will invent and innovate. As Alan Kay of Apple Computer said, “The way to predict the future is to invent it!”

In one minute, think of as many uses as possible for a paperclip. 5


Habits of MindTM Activities Fun with Puns The pun, also called paronomasia, is a play on words that have the same sound (homonyms) but have different meanings, and is used usually for comic relief. Identify the pun in the sentences below and write the original and intended meaning of the words in the boxes provided: 1. Dreamers often lie.

Actual meaning:

__________________________________________________________

Alternate meaning:

__________________________________________________________

2. He used to be a banker but he lost interest.

Actual meaning:

__________________________________________________________

Alternate meaning:

__________________________________________________________

3. I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. It’s impossible to put down.

Actual meaning:

__________________________________________________________

Alternate meaning:

__________________________________________________________

4. I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

Actual meaning:

__________________________________________________________

Alternate meaning:

__________________________________________________________

5. “Nice to meet you.” “Yeah, it was nice to catch up.”

Actual meaning:

__________________________________________________________

Alternate meaning:

__________________________________________________________

[pic of hot dog talking to tomato ketchup]

Brain Teasers Based on the sixteen facts below, determine: A. Who drinks the water? B. Who owns the zebra? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

There are five houses. The Englishman lives in the red house. The Spaniard owns a dog. Coffee is drunk in the green house. The Ukrainian drinks tea. The green house is immediately to the right of the ivory house. 7. The Old Gold smoker owns snails. 8. Kools are smoked in the yellow house.

9. Milk is drunk in the middle house. 10. The Norwegian lives in the first house. 11. The Chesterfields smoker lives next door to the man with the fox. 12. Kools are smoked in the house next to the house with the horse. 13. The Lucky Strike smoker drinks orange juice. 14. The Japanese smokes Parliaments. 15. The Norwegian lives next door to the blue house. 16. In each house there is one nationality, one pet, one cigarette smoker and one liquid drink. (Taken from users.erols.com/geary/psychology/assessment.htm)

Answer: The Norwegian drinks water, and the Japanese owns the Zebra. Check out mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/55627.html for the explanation!

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LO VE

LIF E LIV E

IT!


From the moment you hold your new-born child for the very first time and look into those twinkling eyes, you know you will do all that you can to protect, keep safe, and bring happiness to your family. But as our children grow, a parent’s ability to be the one who solves all problems, soothes all upsets, and constantly ensures happiness and joy in their lives, becomes more difficult. An alternative is to equip our children will the

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knowledge and skills they need to self-regulate their emotions, to find calm and focus, to manage stress and anxiety, and to become empowered to respond mindfully to how they feel. With concerns about children’s mental health being flagged around the world, it seems that now, more than ever, our children need to learn how to take charge of their feelings and emotions rather than being shaped by them.

From Intervention to Prevention For too long mental-health problems have been stigmatised, help up as evidence that something has gone wrong for a child, that a child is not coping, that the family needs help, and that external agencies must become involved. As parents, we have been told that mental health should be left to health-care professionals with qualifications in the field,


and that they alone can improve a child’s wellbeing. This attitude is changing. Rather than waiting for things to go wrong or for professionals to become involved, many parents are exploring how they can prevent mental-health problems from occurring in the first place. As parents, we know when our children are stressed or anxious; we know when our children can’t sleep at night due to worries or fears; and we know the pressures that the media puts on our children by telling them what they should like and what they should buy. It makes sense to talk to our children about the reality of the world they are growing into, and share some strategies that help them be calm, overcome nerves, savour happiness, and be able to sleep when they have so many things running through their minds.

So How Can Parents Help? Secular Mindfulness, based on the ideas of Dr. Dan Siegel and discussed in his international bestseller “Mindsight”, offers strategies that help children (and their parents too) recognise how they are feeling; decide if they like feeling that way; and, if they don’t, how they can change how they feel. This sounds incredibly simple. After all, the human mind is autonomous — there is no computer software controlling our thoughts and no mouse clicking our emotions on and off at whim. Yet, we may be lying in bed

knowing we need to get to sleep, but a worry or past embarrassment may be running time and time again through our minds preventing us from sleep. Mindfulness helps us detach from past embarrassments or future worries to connect to the present moment and to find joy and happiness in the here and now. This can be achieved by taking charge of your emotions and choosing your attitude. This works for both children and adults.

Putting Mindfulness into Practice Let’s take a simple mindfulness practice and consider its use. When our children are ruminating about a worry or feeling stressed about a forthcoming test, we can overcome this unnecessary mental chatter by moving focus to another activity, one that helps us calm the mind and relax the body. A core practice in mindfulness is breathing mindfully:

Step 1: With your child, practice breathing in slowly and deeply. Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth. With very young children, suggest they put their hands on their tummy so they can feel it rise and fall as their breath goes in and out. Step 2: Ask your child to focus on one thing: her breath. Ask her to feel her tummy rising and falling as she slowly inhales and exhales. This means feeling the breath as it moves through the body.

Step 3: Invite your child to close her eyes if she feels comfortable doing so. Step 4: Using a calm tone of voice, invite your child to begin mindful breathing with you. With young children start with just 10 breaths and work your way up to 3 minutes of mindful breathing. Step 5: As you and your child breathe mindfully, remind her that she need only focus on her breath and nothing else. Say it is OK if her mind wanders, and, if that happens, she should try to bring her focus back to her breath. Step 6: After 3 minutes of mindful breathing ask your child how she feels. Often children will use words like relaxed, calm, still, quiet, etc, after just a few minutes of mindful breathing. Try repeating episodes of mindful breathing several times a day. Mindfulness offers us as parents the opportunity to help our children from becoming overwhelmed with emotions that are not positive or constructive. It will take time for the potential of mindfulness to be understood around the world, but I think that within 10 years, parents will be wondering how an earlier generation ever managed without practising mindfulness at home. 9


burden children with difficult curriculums and instructional methodologies that have no significant effect on their performance. Learning should be a fun activity, not a strenuous task, if we want children to get the most out of it. It was this problem that led Dr Ng in 2016 to develop NeuroLAT, the first such programme of its kind.

World’s F rst Artificial Intelligence Learning Programme Proven to Accelerate Learning in both Children and Adults Jonathan Chua ​​Senior Consultant & Trainer, Seacare NeuroLAT Pte Ltd Have you ever wondered why different children perform differently in class? The same content is delivered yet one student scores a distinction while another scores below average. Furthermore, it is no surprise to realise that the underperforming child may even be spending much more time studying than the top performing child is — with little to show for all that extra effort. What determines how well they score? The answer lies with their learning abilities and cognitive skills. 12

The Problem There is a high chance you know a child who cannot focus in school, progresses very slowly in learning despite tuition, cannot catch up with other classmates, performs poorly in exams, or has academic grades that disqualify them from entering their school of choice. This might even be your child. This problem might seem out of your control; some even call it a problem of genes. From what we have gathered, this simply isn’t the truth. Contrary to widespread belief, a child’s learning ability can be improved. Unfortunately, most training programmes

Neurolat A good part of the programme is developed from the research of Karl Witte, a German philosopher and pastor who lived in the 19th century. Witte believed that understanding a child’s learning environment and method of learning are crucial to the child’s success. Witte implemented this training to his child who ended up fluent in six languages by the age of nine and got two PhDs by the time he was 16. His son is listed as having the ‘youngest doctorate’ in the Guinness Book of World Records. As the need for every child differs, sometimes greatly, NeuroLAT combines this research with artificial intelligence (AI) to give the child a personalised approach. It is important to note that NeuroLAT does not teach the school curriculum but multiple learning abilities to help the learner process academic content more efficiently and effectively. In other words, the programme helps the child (from age 3 onwards) grasp curriculum more effortlessly.

Features Artificial Intelligence

The AI software can assess


MindAnalysis while students with special needs or with 1Qs of 120 and above are enrolled in the Therapy Interventionist Programme.

Success Stories

Screenshot of NeuroLAT programme

the child to determine her cognitive level and, at the same time, generate IQ questions customised for the child’s current learning ability. When the child has mastered a learning ability the AI programme smoothly transits the child to the next level of difficulty. As the child is undergoing training, the AI programme diagnoses the strengths and weaknesses of the child’s learning ability, and generates comprehensive reports for the supervisor (ie, parents) to review. The good thing with AI programmes is that there is no bias or human error to deal with.

Convenient Access

The programme requires you have a desktop, laptop or tablet with an Internet connection. You can access the programme at any time. Each lesson takes 20-30 minutes, and it’s strongly recommended the trainee does at least one lesson (and maximum three) daily.

Fun-filled

The programme comes with many great modules that make it enriching, exiting, and something to look forward to. Learners also get to earn rewards along this captivating

journey.

Why NeuroLAT? This programme focuses on improving five key areas: cognition (the ability to understand information received through the senses), memory (the ability of the mind to store and remember information received through visual and auditory senses), evaluation (the process of using information provided to make judgement and decisions), convergent production (the ability to produce logical answers to a problem), and divergent production (the ability to process and generate unique ideas by exploring many possible solutions). Furthermore, more than thirty learning abilities are taught so as to help learners process content faster and better. This in turn results in higher academic performance. For NeuroLAT to have the desired results, learners are required to be consistent in their training. The AI software is able to adjust to a child’s cognitive levels if she misses a lesson or two, but it is recommended that all lessons are completed on time. Normal mainstream students are enrolled in the Standard Programme with

The programme works. At first there is a lot of scepticism as the programme incorporates AI — a field that has not been explored before in training cognitive skills — but the results speak for themselves. Currently the programme has successfully helped more than 1,200 students improve their learning abilities and cognitive skills. For example, when 11-year-old Eden from Singapore enrolled in NeuroLAT, the highest he had scored in a Maths exam was 66%. After only 4 months of consistently doing the

Your child can access NeuroLAT anywhere you have an Internet connection and a PC / tablet. © Jean Schweitzer | Dreamstime.com

programme, Eden got a ‘best improved’ award after he scored 100% in his mid-term Maths test. This is just one success story of many. Wei Zhe is a 13-year-old from Singapore who had an IQ score of 67. After his parents bought him the NeuroLAT basic programme, his IQ score rose to 88 after just two months; after 4 months, it had jumped to 111.

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Resilient Debra

After the family dinner, Debra watches her sister play the piano and becomes interested to learn it.

Is Not Easily Discouraged

Mum, I want to learn to play the piano.

Sure, Debra, would you like to have a piano teacher?

My dear, you do have rather short fingers.

At the first lesson, the teacher makes a comment about Debra's hands.

Yes Mum.

Debra, you need to practise more to improve your playing. After the fifth lesson, the teacher expresses a little disappointment with Debra's progress.

Debra, do you feel the teacher is too hard on you? Would you prefer a different teacher?

No, Mum, he is right. I will work harder.

After some months...

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Debra, you have made wonderful progress. You make a good student because you are not easily discouraged.


Art Therapy as a Tool for Building Emotional Resilience By Amanda Chen, MA-AT Founder & Art Therapist at Art for Good Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy, facilitated by an art therapist, which uses art materials and art making as part of the therapeutic treatment. It does not rely on artistic knowledge or ability and there is no right or wrong way of expressing yourself through art. By accessing imagination and creativity, it focuses on the process and not on the finished product. The art therapy experience encourages the exploration of self through art making. Art therapy is often used in building emotional resilience, especially in children. It works best by using ‘directive-based intervention’, guiding the child to use an art activity to overcome negative experiences which have been causing pain or creating blocks. The art itself becomes a non-invasive approach to enable the child to talk about sensitive and deep emotions through her artwork. Art is often used as a tool for self-expression, allowing the child to get in tune, consciously and subconsciously, with her emotions. The art therapist assists in allowing the child to be aware, via the expression of art, of what may be lying in her subconscious. It allows the child to be more self-reflective;

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Art Therapy session titled “Octopus Family” by girl aged 13. Amanda Chen

the therapist guides her in the reflection, perhaps introducing new perspectives. The therapist helps the child process these observations and experiences during the art-therapy session. One activity I often use for a group art-therapy session on resilience uses the theme of

spirit animals. Spirit animals, originating from Native American culture, are symbolic: they represent the strengths, values, attributes, etc, the child hopes to embody. The use of spirit animals allows children to positively reflect on themselves and to understand their perceived strengths, building up


their concept of self and selfesteem. After group members have picked their spirit animal, they proceed to create a home for it, one where the spirit animal will thrive. They then share all this with the group. This exercise allows participants to explore what is important to them, what makes them happy, and what is essential for survival. During this activity, we carefully employ positive psychology to reinforce the traits required for true, sustainable happiness. Finally, participants are told to hold on to their spirit animals while their homes are shuffled and distributed among the

group. Now the spirit animal will have a foreign home. The final instruction to the group is to come up with improvements to the new home so as to make the home more suitable for the animal. This exercise allows participants to reflect on how they solve problems, adapt to new situations, and overcome difficulties. The resilience-enhancing capacity of art expression are not found in any one art-based activity, but are inherent in the characteristics of art-making itself, and come about from the relational dynamics (the nature of the relationship) between the individual and therapist.

Resilience exists in every individual; children, particularly, are naturally resilient. Sometimes, all you need is a well-meaning adult (parent, teacher, therapist) to point this out, to highlight a child’s strengths. Art therapy provides an opportunity to think about resilience, about how different individuals have different coping strategies and mechanisms. Art therapy fulfils the necessity of nurturing, enriching and absorbing beneficial experiences, in both children and adults, so that neurological pathways (pathways in the brain) are primed with good feelings.

Art Therapy session titled “Spirit Animal in Habitat� by girl aged 13. Amanda Chen

Please contact us if you are interested in having art-therapy workshops or sessions at your school, workplace or organisation. Art for Good is a social enterprise which advocates providing mental-health support through art therapy. More information can be found on www.artforgood.sg.

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Helping Children Play Advertorial for Zenxin Travel

Zenxin employee riding on a pole to demonstrate the traditional way of making noodles, during the Zenxin Noodle-Making Workshop. Zenxin Travel Zenxin employee talking about soils and weeds during a farm tour of Zenxin Organic Park Zenxin Travel

Play is essential for children. It provides opportunities for children to nurture emotional intelligence, build life skills, learn about the world around them, and increase wellbeing. How can parents help their children develop through play?

Creating More Opportunities for Children to Socialize Through Playdates Parents can actively create more opportunities for children to socialise with their peers outside of school by scheduling playdates. The more children interact and gain awareness of others who think and feel differently from themselves, the greater the emotional intelligence, empathy and kindness they develop. Playdates also provide a safe environment for children to continuously practise important life skills. Through fun and games, children express 18

themselves, share, take turns, negotiate conflicts and problem solve. This is especially beneficial for shy children, by allowing them increased chances to nurture friendships and helping them to feel more relaxed around other people. By preparing your children from young with emotional-intelligence and social skills, you are setting them up for a smoother journey through life.

Being Available for Guidance and Conflict Resolution During Playtime Parents play important roles during children’s playtime as well. They provide structure and support as children practise their budding social skills. Let children know that you are always nearby to help. In the beginning, children may need assistance with initiating play and adult assurance to feel comfortable with each other.

As play progresses and children experiment with their roles and with relating to each other, conflicts may naturally arise. At this stage, parents can guide children to talk about their feelings and to hear out one another. Prompt children to identify the problem and discuss solutions but be patient in allowing children to come to their own solutions. This is a learning process that helps children build conflict-resolution skills.

Using Play to Help Children Connect with the World Around Them A result of urbanisation is that today’s children spend less time outdoors than children of the past did. Increasingly younger children are also spending much isolated time on electronic devices, becoming disconnected with their natural environments. Parents can use play as an opportunity to help children discover and relate to the world around them.


play provides opportunities for children to exercise motor skills, increase fitness, and expend energy. A timed and appropriate amount of sun exposure for the manufacture of vitamin of D is essential to children’s wellbeing. The healthful grounding effect that comes when children’s feet connect with the ground, and the negative ions found abundantly in nature, also mean happier and relaxed children, more resilient to stress, and more primed for better performance in school.

An easy place to start can be through the growing trend of food education, where children have fun learning where food comes from and also nurture lifelong healthy-eating habits. Most children’s experience with food sources is limited to the supermarket, with food already wrapped and stacked onto shelves. An activity idea for the whole family can be a fun farm visit, where children can experience hands-on how food is cultivated, making the connection between food origins and nature. This helps children begin to conceptualise the idea of global citizenship, that we are all connected to and responsible for the sustainability of the earth, which fosters empathy and compassion.

Scheduling Frequent Outdoor Play Essential for Children’s Wellbeing Out of all types of play, getting outdoors is especially important for children. Outdoor

Besides physical benefits, the outdoors provides children with opportunities to socialise with other children and give them plenty of space to run wild with their imagination and games.

Visit Zenxin Organic Park The first open-to-public organic farm in Malaysia, Zenxin Organic Park, is open for educational and recreational visits. The scenic 100-acre farm located in Kluang, Johor, can be explored on foot or by bicycle. Learn about and experience organic farming in a variety of fun activities for a memorable experience for you and your children!

Explore Two New Exciting Features Weeds Wonderland Join your children in exploring the fascinating world of weeds! It is common to think of weeds as a nuisance that invades, multiplies and infests. Did you know that they instead play a crucial role in ecological succession? Have you ever smelt the light fragrant aroma of organic-weed tea? Tasted rice rolls filled with organic weeds and flowers? Come learn about

how weeds improve soil quality, and serve as a soil indicator, as compost material, and as companions.

Chef Garden DIY Noodle Workshop Involve your children in some hands-on fun trying out the traditional “Jumping-method” for extra chewy noodles. You get to bring home the noodles you make. Get mentored by the heir of a noodle-making family with a history of more than 50 years in the business, using an organic noodle-making process that uses fresh organic vegetable puree. Too busy to organize? Engage Zenxin Travel to organize your children’s outdoor playdates and wholesome tours. Contact us for a fun-filled bonding day with family and friends! Zenxin Travel Pte Ltd STB Registration No. TA02963 WhatsApp / Call: +65 96453892 Email: travel@zenxin.com Join fully-inclusive day trip from Singapore to Zenxin Organic Park on the following dates: 17 Mar (Sat) 28 Apr (Sat) 19 May (Sat) 16 Jun (Sat) 21 Jul (Sat)

7 Apr (Sat) 1 May (Tue) 2 Jun (Sat), 7 Jul (Sat) 4 Aug (Sat)

Zenxin Organic Park 47A & 47B, Batu 9 Jalan Batu Pahat, 86000 Kluang Johor, Malaysia www.zenxin.com/park Daily : 9am to 6.30pm Call : +607-7595196 WhatsApp : +6019-7738985 Email: zenxinorganicpark@gmail.com 19


People always wish to lose weight, have shinier hair, feel better, look better, and be happier. One solution can help you realise all these goals: Nutrients. Our bodies need nutrients to survive. Besides the common nutrients such as protein, carbohydrate and fat, vitamins and minerals also play important roles. Vitamins, for example, facilitate many of the body’s mechanisms and perform functions which cannot be done by any other nutrient. They maintain your health in general and give you peace of mind. Foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids are not only super healthy but also they can increase happiness, lessen symptoms of depression, and quell anxiety. Vitamin and mineral consumption is important at any age, but some of us face special challenges in maintaining appropriate nutrient levels. For example, medication and chronic medical conditions may diminish your ability to absorb certain vitamins from foods. When it comes to obtaining sufficient vitamins and minerals, health experts typically prioritise diet over supplements, but is food alone sufficient today? Is there, for instance, any nutritional difference between apples from the 70s and the apples we find today?

Scientific Studies Several studies of fruits, vegetables, grains, and animal products have shown a significant decline in their nutritional levels over time — 20

and the reasons are not as simple as soil depletion. Donald Davis and his team of researchers from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Texas at Austin, US, published a major study on the topic in December 2004 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition1.

Nutrient Levels are What can

USDA nutritional data from 1950 and 1999 for 43 vegetables and fruits were studied. “Reliable declines” were found in the amount of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C over this past half century. The declining nutritional content has been chalked up to the fact that most agricultural practices are designed to improve traits like size, growth rate, climate adaptability and pest resistance, and not nutrition. In other words, we have been breeding crops to grow bigger, more rapidly, and more successfully, but their ability to manufacture or uptake nutrients from soil has not kept pace. There have likely been declines in other key nutrients such as magnesium, zinc and vitamins B6

and E, but they were not studied in 1950 and more research is needed to find out the declines of these vitamins and minerals. In 2011, Davis and his team again compared the nutrients in US crops from 1950 and 20092, and found notable declines in five nutrients in various fruits, including tomatoes, eggplants and squash. While there are several other issues involved — changes in farming methods, the extensive use of chemical fertilizers, changes in food processing and preparation, etc — it is clear we have broad evidence of the nutritional decline in the crops we grow for food.


in our foods declining. we do?

Most agricultural practises are designed to improve traits such as growth rate and yield but neglect nutrition. © Nikita Leushin | Dreamstime.com

nutrient-dense foods: organic farmers, local producers who shorten the food-supply chain and thereby deliver fresher foods with more nutrients. In our home, we can minimise unnecessary food processing that might be detrimental to food nutrients. Storing our food at the optimal temperature can reduce nutrients loss. Finally, if you still feel you are not getting sufficient nutrients from your diet, consider supplements. The nutrition industry has an enormous range and variety of supplements developed to boost vitamins and minerals in your body.

For example, multivitamins are often considered a great option for improving overall health, especially helpful if you have a job or lifestyle where you skip meals, eat at irregular hours, or reluctantly have to take the same food often. With declining nutrient levels in our crops today, there is a serious case to be made for supplements. The right supplement(s) can go a long way to ensure that your body has all the vitamins and minerals it needs to function optimally. References Changes in USDA Food Composition Data for 43 Garden Crops, 1950 to 1999 by Donald R. Davis, PhD, FACN, Melvin D. Epp, PhD and Hugh D. Riordan, MD. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 23, No. 6, 669–682 (2004) 1

Impact of Breeding and Yield on Fruit, Vegetable, and Grain Nutrient Content by Matthew A. Jenks, Penelope J. Bebeli and Donald R. Davis 16 MAR 2011 2

What Can We Do? It’s unlikely that we, as nonfarmers, can quickly improve soil quality or change modern, industrial agricultural practices. Modern fruits and vegetables are still useful sources of nutrients, especially the beneficial phytochemicals we can’t get from other sources. It is still true that for most of us, we can improve our health by consuming more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and beans, and by eating less refined sugar, unhealthy saturated fats and oils, and white flour and rice. As consumers we can choose to buy foods from producers who pay attention to producing

Organic, nutrient-dense food served at a party. © Milkos | Dreamstime.com

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Herman, his sister, Hermione, and his parents are having a nice dinner at home.

This pie Mum made is really good!

But all that is worth it because I am doing it for my family.

Did you know that it needed 5 processes and lots of painstaking effort to make it?

Hard work always pays off. My boss worked very hard when he first started his business. Now that it is doing well, he can spend time to play golf and enjoy life.

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OK Dad, I will study hard now so one day I can play golf and relax!


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