Nutritional Health Foods for Kids and the Effect on Behavior

After a night of “trick or treating” the amount of sugar in children’s bloodstreams is higher than normal. Any parent or elementary school teacher will tell you that sugar clearly effects children’s behavior, and will give you anecdotal examples of situations that illustrate this. If you are a parent or teacher, it may surprise you to hear that the effect of sugar intake on children’s behavior is a hotly debated topic in pediatrics

The belief that consumption of refined sugar can lead to behavior disturbance or hyperactivity in children is widespread. Wolraich and colleagues reviewed the literature to evaluate this purported association in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The authors conclude that no effect of sugar on behavior or cognitive performance in children has been proved based on studies to date. However, placebo-controlled trials have shown that parents believe sugar has a negative effect on their children’s behavior, and this belief may be hard to counter. (Wolraich ML, et al. The effect of sugar on behavior or cognition in children: a meta-analysis. JAM 1995;274:1617-21.)

Having just witness the post Halloween frenzy of a group of five year olds that I know well, it seems hard to believe the study above. Here were a group of children who regularly play together, and though active, are rarely extreme. This Halloween evening they were running in circles around the house for a full hour, screeching and laughing and climbing all over each other and the furniture. Given that this is not the normal behavior for this group of children and given that they’d each eaten at least 4-6 pieces of candy prior to the behavior, it makes logical sense that there’s a relationship.

In the literature from more alternative sources, the effect of sugar on behavior has been found to be true. At the Natural Health and Longevity Resource Center website, http://www.all-natural.com/add.html, Dr. Allen Buresz agrees with the importance of nutritional health foods for kids. In an article entitled Attention Deficit Disorder & Hyperactivity Success, Dr. Buresz states, “it’s a known fact that the elimination of food additives and refined sugar produces dramatic improvements [in symptoms of ADD & ADHD].”

If you’re concerned about diet, nutrition and your child’s behavior, a wonderful option is to visit a naturopathic physician. Naturopaths specialize in treating the whole person, and recognize the importance of nutritional health foods for kids. They will spend a large amount of time with you and your child, gathering information on everything from physical symptoms, emotional presentation, diet, sleep, behavior and other areas. From that history and an exam your Naturopathic physician will prescribe some combination of herbs, homeopathic medication, nutritional health foods, nutritional supplements, or specific techniques, to address your child’s problem area(s). To learn more about naturopathic physicians and to locate a licensed naturopathic physician in your area, check out the website at http://www.naturopathic.org.

An important part of a nutritional program for both children and adults is the addition of a liquid nutritional supplement to your diet. Liquid nutritional supplements are more effectively assimilated by the body as compared with pills, which means you get more nutrition for your money with liquid nutritional supplements. Many liquid nutritional supplements actually taste good, which means your children will want to take them. Some recent nutritional health foods are juices which combine a few different fruits, berries and herbs into a good tasting drink. A product like this would be a great nutritional health food for kids, since they would be getting many different types of nutrients in one beverage. Make sure you read the labels on products like this to look for any added sugar or chemicals. Some beverages pose as “healthy”, when in fact they are loaded with added sugar.

Adding nutritional health foods for kids to your child’s diet can only be beneficial. Even if you are not addressing any specific behavior issues, good nutrition is a wonderful gift to give to your loved ones.