For well over two decades, research has been correlating diet with childhood wellbeing.
Studies have shown that diets containing high quantities of sugar, food additives (preservatives and artificial colouring) or common allergenic foods can have a negative impact on their behaviour and state of health. There was one expert that came up with the best diet for your health.
Some food related symptoms can be attention-deficit disorders (ADD, ADHD), hyperactivity, destructive aggressive behaviour, restlessness, fits, headaches, abdominal pain, and/or skin disorders.
Nutritional deficiencies may also be contributing to these behaviours and symptoms.
Common deficiencies in children
The two most common deficiencies in children are:
An iron deficiency which can cause anaemia and symptoms of tiredness, weakness, weak immune system and impaired brain function (less oxygen reaching the brain). And iron deficiency could also affect growth and development.
Lack of Vitamin D which may cause growth delays in children, rickets (soft bones), and contribute to a weakened immune system.
Other deficiencies may include:
Vitamin B1, thiamin-deficiency which is known to cause aggressive behaviour
Fatty acids deficiency which causes mixed/oily/dry skin and small bumps on the back of the upper arms among other skin-related issues.
Food allergies in children
Research has also shown that changes in diet such as eliminating the culprits and including whole foods (greens, vegetables, and unprocessed foods) can help to correct most of the behavioural issues, food-related health issues and nutritional deficiencies.
Related studies have found that participants who had reported physical symptoms such as abdominal pain and headaches, noticed significant improvements when eliminating food preservatives, food colouring, sugar and allergens from their diet.
Moreover, participants would also relapse into their symptoms during the reintroduction of these foods.
When seeking to determine the root cause of behaviour or other related symptoms, potential food allergens should be eliminated from the diet.
These allergens include milk, eggs, cheese, corn, wheat, pork, beef, peanuts, soft drinks, high fructose syrup, refined/white/brown sugar, chocolate and ketchup among others.
Keep in mind that foods you might consider ‘healthy’ may still contain with food preservatives, food colouring, high quantities of sugar and/or allergens. Always make sure to read the list of ingredients of anything you intend to feed your child to avoid being fooled by marketing strategies and labels.
Ways to improve childhood wellbeing
Four Things you can do now to improve your childhood wellbeing:
1. An Elimination Diet
Your child could benefit from an oligoantigenic diet, also known as the elimination diet, or a modified version of it. Remember, there are foods that contain essential vitamins and minerals needed for optimal growth and development. Always consult with your Naturopathic Doctor before starting these nutritional changes.
2. Add supplementation
Some children may benefit from the supplementation of Omega 3’s, greens, vitamins and minerals.
It’s not always easy to convince children to eat their vegetables and some may be more selective with the foods they want to eat.
Children may need additional supplementation for iron, vitamin D, zinc and more. Consult your Naturopathic Doctor for appropriate supplements and dosage.
3. Active play time
Allowing a child to burn energy is vital.
If a child doesn’t use their energy reserves they can become restless and hyperactive. Focus and sleep patterns can be disrupted.
Children need at least 60min of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. Including vigorous-intensity activities 3 times a week, and bone and muscle strengthening activities 3 times a week. Find sports and activities that your child really enjoys.
4. Read all ingredients lists
Labels and advertisements can be deceiving.
Stay away from processed products that have the words “fat-free” and “sugar-free”. These words just mean they are replacing fat or sugar with chemicals.
Keep in your cart products with ingredients you can read and are 5 or fewer ingredients.
Some of the ingredients to watch out for are blue 1, blue 2, green 3, red 3, red 40, yellow 5, FD&C lakes (combination of colours or dyes), orange B (in sausages and hot dogs casings), BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) & BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole), Sulfites, artificial sweeteners (Aspartame, Acesulfame-K, Saccharin), added sugar (High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), Corn Syrup, Dextrose), Propyl Gallate, Potassium Bromate, Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Olestra (Olean), Heptylparaben and Sodium Nitrate.
This is not an exhaustive list but will help get you started. Have this list accessible when go grocery shopping.
Many behavioural issues and uncomfortable symptoms can be eliminated through dietary adjustments.
Contact Dr Frances Pierantoni, ND for more information on receiving a personalised assessment and strategy for you and your family.
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This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.