Food Additives Affect Behavior
On average 30% of foods in our daily diet are processed foods. These are foods that come in a box or a can and have many ingredients that are hard to pronounce, containing food starches, gums, preservatives, and colorings. Many processed foods have to be enriched, adding inorganic minerals and vitamins to compensate for the nutrition lost in the processing of the food. Some people believe enriched foods are good enough, and we will be able to absorb their nutrients sufficiently to benefit from them. But what about the great increase in type II diabetes in the past few years, seen especially now in children? What about the increase in Attention Deficit Disorder and behavioral problems in schools? Adults are now getting symptoms of Alzheimer's more quickly than before, and are suffering from chronic diseases earlier in life.
The first suggestion I tell parents who are struggling with a hyperactive child is to stay away from any food colorings, especially the added colorings in juices, cereals, snacks, and vitamin supplements. These food colorings affect the functioning of the nervous system. Our liver cannot break down these chemicals and they affect our neurotransmitters, and eventually our thinking ability. It is amazing the amount of food coloring found in processed foods. Significant increases in hyperactivity occur after getting 20 mg. of food coloring per day, which is much less than the amount found in many processed foods today.
The FDA generally regards each of these food additives as safe, at least in small quantities. But when combining them in foods and then looking at the potential cumulative effect, we have to realize that the more preservative and food additives we get on a daily basis, the more our liver has to detoxify. That is why headaches and bloating are common symptoms of too many food additives.
Among the many factors that shape the lives of children, nutrition often plays a critical role. What children eat during their growing years has a great effect on the way they think, learn, and act. Many studies have found, for example, that children with higher intakes of antioxidants, B vitamins and minerals do better in school than those children whose diets are lower in these nutrients. Others studies show that children who are exposed to too many environmental chemicals or heavy metals in the air and water have more trouble learning and remembering, and have more nervous system disorders.
The Feingold program is a children's nutritional program that recommends a diet based on foods that do not contain artificial flavors, preservatives, and food colorings. Numerous research studies found that symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder improved between 50 and 70% of the time while children followed this nutritional program.