03 Sep WHAT’S EATING OUR KIDS? (It may be what they are eating!)
For over the past fifteen years, our society has seen a considerable increase of childhood “dis-ease.” Today, it is more commonplace than not to hear about a child that has been diagnosed with either attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or even schizophrenia. Additionally, many of today’s children seem to have more manic and depressive tendencies as well as more aggressive predispositions.
So what is causing these serious and debilitating issues? And more important, what is the answerto eliminating these problems? Contingent upon whom you are talking to, you will get a myriad of professional and “Monday quarterback” answers to both of these questions. Many suggest that the problems with today’s children stem from the breakdown of the family infrastructure, while others fervently profess that it is rap music, television, and the overall lack of morality in the media. Our avenues of blame are as vast as the problems themselves.
Most recently, however, one recurring issue that has been reported to be significantly linked to the onset and recurrence of children’s physiological and behavior issues is one simple word–nutrition. So what about nutrition? Naturally, through the course of our education we have all seen the infamous food pyramid. We all have heard that we need to eat fruits, vegetable, meats, drink milk, etc. But let’s just suppose for a moment that much of what we think we know about our nutritional needs is incorrect.
So let’s look at some quick facts with regard to the kinds of food that our children ingest. A primary example is a typical child’s school lunch, which contains approximately 950 calories, 29 grams of trans-saturated fats, and 10 grams of saturated fats. (This one meal alone contains more trans and saturated fats than an adult should eat in a week.) This same meal has approximately 2000 milligrams of sodiumand 118 grams of carbohydrates as well as an astronomical amount of refined sugars and cholesterol. This combination is nothing more than the equivalent of injecting a slow acting, deadly poison into the human body–your child’s.
Not only are there dietary considerations regarding school lunches, there is another issue plaguing our children’s bodies–that of irradiated meats. Yes, the FDA has approved irradiation as a safe and effective way to sterilize meat. However, research has found that this process significantly alters the chemical composition of meat and can cause tumor growths as well as other physiological problems. Interestingly, irradiated meats must be labeled in the grocery stores. However, schools (and restaurants) are not obligated to inform their consumers.
Children’s bodies are very sensitive to what they are using as their fuel source. Loading a child up on refined sugars, chemical preservatives, saturated fats, white flour, and sodium is a recipe for behavioral and physiological disaster. Refined sugar alone can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. More seriously, some of these “foods” have been linked to the decrease in dopamine levels in the brain. The chemical results of a child’s eating these “foods” can then present themselves as false symptoms of ADD, ADHD, or other diseases. Not only do these foods affect the child’s immediate well-being, but they can also lead to the onset of debilitating dis-eases later such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity as well as countless other psychological and health-related issues.
Parents, educators, and communities are feeling the effects of what our children are eating through direct and indirect measures. Unfortunately, our fast-paced society has answered the needs of these children with prescription drugs instead of health and nutritional changes. The old saying, “You are what you eat” still holds vehemently true. Children who eat excess amounts of refined sugars orwhite flour or drink carbonated beverages and sweetened drinks can have a tremendous amount of health challenges whether they are physical or psychological. These “foods” create a number of issues–everything from mineral deficiencies to serious, damaging chemical changes in the brain. Healthy dietary choices such as fruits, vegetables, low-fat proteins, water, and daily exercise equate to healthy, happy children.
If you or someone you know is experiencing challenges with their children, it is important to exhaust your options before committing the child to a lifetime of pharmaceuticals. Take the time to analyze your child’s eating habits, monitor their food intake, and if the budget allows—see a nutritionist to help you understand your child’s dietary needs. Most important, model healthy eating! These small efforts alone will significantly impact your child’s moods and behaviors for the best. Of course in some cases, nutrition may only be one underlying factor contributing to a child’s challenges–but it is certainly a healthy starting point for lifelong, positive changes.