CHILDHOOD BEHAVIOUR & DIET
“THE KID LIFE CRISIS”
It’s both common sense and scientifically proven, that if our bodies receive optimal nutrition, they function at their best. However, it’s the connection between diet and brain function that we need to be more aware of. In particular with our children as their behaviour can be very much determined by what they eat and drink.
Childhood should be happy, fun and carefree, however something far more sinister is happening with many young children. Learning difficulties, behavioural issues and social inadequacies are all rapidly on the rise. Recent studies have shown that a quarter of all children between the ages of eight and fourteen ‘often’ or ‘always’ feel stressed. Childhood depression and even suicide are also rapidly increasing.
Surely this can’t be right, can it?
From mild Dyspraxia at one end of the spectrum, to ADHD and severe Autism at the other, all of us can relate in some way to how a family can be impacted by such a disorder.
Let’s look at some of the symptoms that many kids exhibit daily:
Poor coordination, inability to concentrate, mood swings or tantrums, inappropriate emotional reactions, fatigue, digestive problems, poor eye-to-hand coordination, reading and writing difficulties.
In the past, children with such symptoms were labelled as slow learners, weepy & fragile, spoilt rotten or just out of control, but then again that generation of parents and teachers had never heard of ADHD or Dyspraxia or any other behaviour disorders for that matter.
So what do they all have in common with the brain?
Our brain relies entirely on the nutrients with which we feed it. Foetal and early childhood development, are profoundly impacted by the nutrients we supply to the brain. Modern day diet and lifestyle leave us susceptible to nutrient deficiencies. Particularly the junk food diet of high trans fats, high-refined sugars, processed foods laced with artificial colours, flavour enhancers and preservatives. These foods have little in the way of nutritional benefit and are virtually absent of vital nutrients for the brain.
E.F.A. (Essential Fatty Acid) deficiency is common with ADHD. Symptoms include excessive thirst, dry skin, eczema and asthma. Males have a higher E.F.A requirement than females so it’s interesting that ADHD affects four times more boys than girls.
Zinc deficiency is also common leading to a lack of digestive enzymes being produced, which can cause gut permeability or ‘leaky gut’. This is partly the reason for gluten and casein (proteins found in wheat & dairy) aggravating the already fragile biochemistry of a child with ADHD.
This is just a snapshot at how diet and nutrient deficiency can alter brain chemistry and unfortunately lead to a whole host of disorders. If you are a parent of a child with such a disorder and sometimes the attached stigma, then surely dietary intervention and nutritional supplementation are worth looking at.