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Nutritional Intervention for Healthy Children Learning Disabilities

The ADHD Connection – Food Colors and Flavors
It is said that we “eat with our eyes as much as our mouths”.  Cupcakes, gummy candies and beautiful tasty-looking candies are all full of food colors, additives, dyes and high fructose syrup.  Additives have been used for centuries.  Salt, sugar and vinegar were among the first to be used to preserve foods.  However, adverse changes started about 30 years ago when chemicals that were labeled “safe” were added to our food which started affecting our health, our children’s health and even behavior.  But did you know that most food coloring, flavors and additives are derived from petroleum? Would you give gasoline to your child to consume?

Stop using foods that contain dyes and other chemicals.  It’s within our power to protect our children while creating a better and healthier environment for them too.

Improving Memory in Students with ADHD
The school experience of many children with ADHD is challenging. Studies found that when compared to students who did not have ADHD, those with the disorder had persistent academic difficulties that resulted in the following: lower average marks, more failed grades, more expulsions, increased dropout rates and a lower rate of college undergraduate completion. Even after taking ADHD drugs, boys actually performed worse in school than those with a similar number of symptoms who went untreated. Girls who took the same drugs reported more emotional problems compared to those who didn’t.

Although we don’t have clear evidence that ADHD drugs can enhance cognition in ADHD individuals, it seems to have potential improvements on memory, among other cognitive skills.

To be fair, some other studies show that kids with ADHD who are not taking any ADHD drugs did far worse at school compared to those who did take the drugs.  On the contrary, we also know that, for many, there aren’t any long-term residual benefits of using ADHD drugs during childhood (such as, academic achievement.)  However, the long-term side effects are well documented and known.  As a parent, it is not easy to make these decisions.  ADHD drugs may help to some degree with academic improvement, but taking them may not be worth it.  We need to support the overall well being of our children and provide them with a comprehensive approach that includes nutrition, physical activity, learning, and emotional support.

Do You Know if Your Child is Allergic to Environmental Toxins or Foods?

Many studies suggest that children with ADHD have a food sensitivity or food allergies. We usually refer to any food reaction as a “food allergy”, although it’s important to distinguish between a food allergy and a food sensitivity or intolerance. Food allergies and food sensitivity share very similar signs and symptoms, which makes it’s harder to distinguish between the two. Your child may experience an “allergy attack” with a combination of symptoms such as rashes, itchy skin, diarrhea, headaches, runny nose, nasal congestion, hives, nausea or abdominal pain.  Food reactions like these can occur, but symptoms are often due to food sensitivity rather than food allergy.

So what’s the difference? When your child is eating a food that he or she is allergic to, exposure to the allergen will stimulate your child’s immune system and an antibody IgE will be produced. A food allergy is far more severe than a food sensitivity and in some cases it can lead to a severe reaction of anaphylactic shock, which is a life threatening allergic reaction.

Test your child – The most effective way to find out if your child is sensitive or allergic to foods is by conducting an allergy test from a lab that specializes in children with ADHD. RadioAllergoSorbent (RAST) and skin prick tests are good for cases when your child is allergic to a specific agent (food or environmental) and their body has developed immunoglobulin (IgE). When your child is “just” sensitive to specific agents, they will not be picked up on these tests. You have to consider when completing these tests that most labs are looking to find the antibody IgE to determine food allergies, not food sensitivity.

Obviously, food sensitivity doesn’t always trigger an immediate reaction and the symptoms may vary from day to day.  Regardless of the initial results, if your child is showing signs of food sensitivity and nutritional intervention doesn’t take place, issues could manifest in the GI tract,  brain synapses or at the behavioral level.

What Do You Know About ADHD?

  • 2.8 million children receive a prescription for ADHD
  • 90% of children diagnosed with ADHD are prescribed with Ritalin as a cornerstone in the treatment of their ADHD
  • The most common side effects from taking Ritalin and other ADD/ADHD medications are gastrointestinal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, dry mouth, headaches and insomnia
  • Sleep disorders affect people with ADHD 2 to 3 times more often than those without it
  • Up to 30% of children and 25-40% of adults with ADHD have a co-existing anxiety disorder

What do Concerta and Ritalin Have in Common?

  • Both are prescribed to relieve ADD & ADHD symptoms
  • Both contain different levels of methylphenidate, which has many side effects that you need to know about

  Side Effects of Methylphenidate

  • Methylphenidate may increase:
    • Nervousness, agitation, anxiety and insomnia
    • Gastrointestinal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, dry mouth and headaches
    • Risk of cardiovascular disease including sudden death from heart attack
    • High blood pressure
      • Long-term use inhibits growth in some children

Red #40 is in Your Child’s Cough Syrup
When the flu season is knocking at your door and your child has a fever or is coughing, you want to ease the symptoms until he or she gets back on track. One of the solutions is cough syrup!

But did you know that most cough syrup solutions in the market contain dyes, colors and flavors?

Red #40 appears in a number of cough remedies. When you choose cherry, strawberry or “berry” flavoring, you must know that Red #40 dye was added to the product in conjunction with a flavor to cover up the horrid taste of the active ingredient.  If you choose the grape flavor, Blue #1 was most likely mixed with Red #40.

The good news is that dye-free cough syrups exist that our children can tolerate, offering an alternative to the colored solutions. Make sure you buy those solutions instead of colored ones to help keep your child healthy and balanced.

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Food Marketing for Kids

73-80% of food advertisements in schools, TV shows, radio, internet, magazines and video games are targeted at children to get them thinking that fast food, empty calories, edibles with no nutritional value and sweets are not just yummy, but healthy. Companies are spending $1.7 billion dollars on unhealthy food marketing, compared to just $280 million on marketing healthy foods.

Does marketing influence your child’s food choices?
Of course it does! That’s the goal behind marketing and they wouldn’t keep doing it if it didn’t work. It affects your child’s food choices, food purchases, diet and even worse, your children’s health. The American Psychological Association concluded that children under 8 years old are unable to understand the persuasive intent of advertisements.

Be the messaging “filter” for your child’s health and promote healthier eating!