Raising Healthy Minds in a High-Tech, Fast-Food World By Drs. Ben and Shari Lerner In the age of the brain, scientists are becoming increasingly concerned we may be raising kids who can't use theirs. Of the many potential casualties related to today's high-tech, fast-food, fast-paced world, the inability of tomorrow's children to think may be at the top of the list. Research has revealed that thought and behavior in children and the relative size and weight of their brains is simply not something they're born with: These things are created or developed after birth. There's an intriguing term called neuroplasticity, which means that our brain's neurological tissues are like formable plastic being molded, grown and developed from birth through old age. This allows for two different scenarios: You can develop a small, light, inefficient brain or a huge, heavy, super-smart one. The power of neuroplasticity even goes for the elderly concerned with, or suffering from, Alzheimer's disease. There's always something that can be done to change or improve brain function -- for better or worse. In the war between "Nature and Nurture," the latter has been winning more and more battles. At the very least, we now know it's Nature and Nurture. We're presently aware that genetics don't necessarily determine outcomes. Instead, the physical, mental and emotional environments we're exposed to, how we treat our body and what we feed it have as much or more to say about how smart, happy and healthy we are as our DNA (gene material from our grandparents) does. Alter what a child does with his or her brain, and you change their brain physically as well as their future. With that in mind, our current culture has been leading more and more in the direction of technologies aimed squarely at children. Companies have developed "baby videos" and "talking everything" CD-ROMs claiming to create "Baby Einsteins" out of our children. Science is revealing, however, the results of these "improvements" are not very promising and most likely, very damaging.Building a larger, more functional brain in kids isn't limited to a larger IQ either. It's also about developing fully functioning, emotionally intelligent kids who have these great qualities: Self-control Motivation Everyday problem-solving skills Self-awareness Reflection Spiritual qualities Understanding how information is synthesized Independent thinking Businesses look for self-starters, not just those who need a checklist. Besides, high IQs don't translate well into the real world. Skills such as planning, organization, follow-through, the ability to communicate and using the facts they have absorbed accurately -- nonintellectual intelligence -- are just as important. Ingredients for Building a Big Brain 1. A diet low in refined carbohydrates with adequate nutrients 2. Extreme caution in the use of medication 3. Adult companionship 4. Stimulation from active play, toys, books and games 5. Limiting toxic foods and drinks From the above list, you've probably realized it's up to parents and adults to help children learn how to talk, listen, pay attention and show them how to work through problems. Older folks can show kids, by example, how to do these things pretty naturally through a variety of simple adventures: Music, dance, nature walks, caring for pets and reading stories. Brain development is also closely tied to motor systems and spinal health. Sometimes, recess, playing kickball, climbing on the jungle gym or even a trip to the chiropractor does more for a child's intellectual development than another page of math or history. (It should be noted that a well functioning spine, music, dance and creative play should not to be cut in lieu of yet another physics calculation.) Keys to a Light Brain Academic insensitivity Spinal or cranial injuries Medications Toxins Poor role models from TV, movies and video games (devices that act as non-human surrogates and take time away from the most important needs children have for learning, social interaction, real life experience and creativity) Kids forced to be attentive and grind out another physics lesson -- with little time for activities -- may kick back with inattentiveness. This is normal and not a disorder of any kind. As doctors, we're very concerned about babies and toddlers being addicted to the video world as well as the effect of stress and violent games on brain chemicals. And, even though society stresses the importance of mental function, it continues to feed its children toxic substances. Nearly half of all children are so out of shape, they already have at least one risk factor for heart disease. Eventually, a society gets the children it deserves. Let's work together to deserve the best. Dr. Ben Lerner, along with Dr. Greg Loman, owns Teach The World About Chiropractic, a Chiropractic training company. They have helped build the largest spinal correction clinics in the history of Chiropractic. Dr. Shari Lerner's new book, "Bouncing Back From Pregnancy," is due out Aug. 26.