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Friday, February 16, 2007

Fish, Food and the Brain

We have to be very thankful for the Swiss naturalist Jean Louis Agassiz. He lived between 1807 and 1873. He absorbed the idea of the German philosopher and physician, Bulchner, (1824-99) who learnt that the brain contained phosphorus. He said: “Without phosphorus there is no thought.” It was left to the French chemist, Dumas, (1800-84) who confirmed that fish are a natural source of phosphorus.

So generations of children have had to eat fish because it is: “Good for the brain.”

If your eleven plus child does not like fish then it would be very unwise to tell him or her that phosphorus occurs in many rocks and minerals of the earth. It would also be unwise to go into detail about the amount of phosphorus in other fruit, meat and vegetables. You may never ever be able to force a plate of fish down the throat of your child.

Naturally there has been a multitude of studies about fish and brain power. This has gone on for around a hundred years. It is a sobering thought too that parents and educators will be promoting the eating of fish for the next hundred years.

What happens when children and adults live on fish for much of the family’s life? Some children could be eating between ten and twelve fish meals a week. This diet is not selected by anxious parents promoting the eleven plus examinations but by families living on a island or beside a river.

We know that a lack of some types of food can lead to a deficiency - but a balanced diet should satisfy all the requirements of the body. It looks as if children need to eat fish about twice a week. It seems that the best fish to eat are the oily fish like:

fresh tuna (not tinned)

So it took a Swiss naturalist to understand the point that a German philosopher was making. The investigation of a French chemist consigned all our poor children to eating fish. The Eleven Plus examination is uniquely English. This is real European collaboration!

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