Some Food Additives Raise Hyperactivity, Study Finds
This morning’s New York Times reports on a study of food additives and hyperactivity confirming that food additives can cause some children to become hyperactive. The study was financed by Britain’s Foods Standards Agency and printed in the very reputable British medical journal The Lancet. Reuters also printed an article.
This is not the first study to confirm such results (and click here). But it has extremely important implications for children and our education system.
In fact, Appleton Central High School, an alternative school in Appleton, WI, has displayed a commitment to good nutrition by providing an additive free diet in conjunction with Natural Ovens Bakery for their students for years. They have reported much improved behavior and learning; click here, here, here, and here.
Eventually, the improved dietary standards proved so successful that the entire school system now uses such an approach.
For me, this study further confirms my own experiences. At three years of age my son was diagnosed with ADHD. At that time pediatricians did not put such a young child on medication. It was a good thing too; otherwise I might never have sought out a book by Dr. Benjamin Feingold, called Why Your Child is Hyperactive (also available here).
Dr. Feingold, an allergist and pediatrician, explained that some children are generally predisposed to be sensitive to certain chemicals which are used as additives in the foods we regularly consume in our modern diet. In susceptible children, such additives can cause behavior, learning, health and motor skills problems.
In addition to his hyperactivity, my son’s problems were numerous; he had trouble staying on the paper when he colored as well as difficulty with drawing shapes. He suffered frequent rashes, headaches and tummy aches. He had persistent bad dreams, mild speech difficulties, and acute sensitivity to low base noises. We had also observed that he couldn’t run but the doctor told us this was actually caused by a problem with his gait when he walked – all of these symptoms were classic signs of the behavior, learning, health and motor skills problems that Feingold had described in his book.
Although the symptoms of the children in the book mirrored my young son’s, it was difficult to accept that these chemicals could possibly be affecting him. Still, I had three years before they’d try him on any medication so I put up everything in our home that Dr. Feingold had identified as a possible culprit and I kept a diary of the experience.
To my astonishment, in three days I had a normal little boy! At first I was very timid to believe that his new diet could have produced such a dramatic change in his behavior. I kept journaling in the diet diary. Soon it became quite obvious that when an infraction occurred his behavior deteriorated and then improved after three days of careful adherence to his new diet.
Our friends and family could see the change in him and were happy for us. Our pediatrician, he never conceded that the diet was of any help – we just agreed to disagree. His new diet was much healthier anyway. Nothing artificially flavored, colored, or preserved. If one reads an MSDS sheet on food additives it is very obvious that we could all benefit from such a diet.
Our son actually wanted to stay on the diet. He didn’t like the way he felt when he ate the chemical additives. He never needed medications. His teachers never complained that he was a discipline problem or nor did he have any scholastic problems. And the little boy who couldn’t run actually received four different college scholarships to run cross-country when he graduated from high school.
I have volunteered for the Feingold Association of the United States for over twenty years now; at times being much more active than in the last few years. Yet, I continue to speak on the subject whenever asked.
The Feingold Association is a tremendous help to families. They publish a grocery shopping list full of foods without chemical additives that the child can eat. It makes finding a cereal, or bread or anything else much easier on trips to the supermarket.
I am speaking about our experiences at the Incredible Families Parenting Conference this Saturday, September 8, at 9:45 am at The Grace Place, located at The Hermitage Church of God, 4316 Central Pike, Hermitage TN.
I hope this new study makes a difference for families. I think such information is one reason why I never cease to believe in the victory of the human spirit.