Children & Diet
"Of all the health problems facing us today, none concerns me more than the sad state of our children's diets. I've been monitoring research in this area for the better part of my medical career, and the trends that are now emerging paint a very bleak picture," writes Dr. David G. Williams, editor of the health letter Alternatives (tm). In his article, Williams states that nutrition not only affects health, it also is a factor in diminishing IQ scores, criminal behavior, and attention defict hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Williams points out that colleges have recently lowered their entrance requirements because of the overall decline in student performance. While the quality of public school education may certainly be a contributor, Dr. Williams says that evidence also points to nutritional factors. For years, many infants in the US have started with man-made formulas instead of their mothers' milk. These commercial formulas lack nutrients, specifically essential fatty acids, that affect the nervous system and brain development. The omega-3 essential fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is absolutely necessary for nervous system development and function, has been directly linked to intelligence. It and arachidonic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, are the most prevalent fats in the fetal and the infant brain. Williams reports that "infants given baby formula enhanced with DHA and arachidonic acid exhibited significantly higher problem-solving ability after only 10 months when compared to infants' receiving common manmade formula." (Lancet 98;352:688-91) Nursing mothers who eat plenty of fresh fish, nuts, seeds, fresh ground whole grains, legumes and have a tablespoon or two of flax seed oil each day have an abundant supply of these fatty acids in their milk. Essential fatty acids are only one group of nutrients that are necessary for proper brain development and function.
Nutrition also plays a role in criminal behavior. In one study Dr. Stephen Schoenthaler of the University of California took blood tests from 400 prisoners between the ages of 18-25 years. For 15 weeks, two hundred of the prisoners received a multivitamin/mineral supplement, and the rest were given a placebo. Neither the prisoners nor the prison staff knew who was taking the placebo and who was getting the supplement. Prison guards continued their practice of recording behavior Harris' autopsy showed that he had used Luvox (Fluvoxomine), an SSRI typically prescribed for obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression, before he took part in the shooting at Columbine High School in April 1999. O'Meara says that the FDA has approved this drug's use in children "although research shows that a small percentage of patients experience adverse effects such as mania, bouts of irritability, aggression and hostility." Shawn Cooper who fired a shotgun at students and staff of a high school in Notus, Idaho, in April 1999, was taking Ritalin for bipolar disorder. In May 1999, another 15 year-old, who shot six students in Conyers, Georgia, was also being treated with Ritalin.
O'Meara reports that 223 of the children under the age of 3, who were enrolled in Michigan's Medicaid program before December 1996, had been labeled ADHD (Clinical Psychiatric News, July 1998). She adds: "Amazingly, 57% of these children, many of whom are not yet capable of putting together a complete sentence, were treated with one or more psychotropic drugs including Ritalin, Prozac, Dexedrine, Aventyl and Syban. Thirty-three percent were medicated with two or more of these drugs." (added emphasis)
No one knows the long-term effects of these drugs on children, and the practice of combining these drugs increases risks. Jon Rappoport's article includes a quote from Dr. Breggin's book Toxic Psychiatry: "...combining antidepressants [e.g., Prozac, Luvox] and psychostimulants [e.g., Ritalin] increases the risk of cardiovascular catastrophe, seizures, sedation, euphoria, and psychosis. Withdrawal from the combination can cause a severe reaction that includes confusion, emotional instability, agitation, and aggression."
"Doping Kids" by Kelly Patricia O'Meara. Insight Magazine, June 28, 1999 [found on www.freerepublic.com. (&5-99)] -
Traditional Diets & Health in African Tribes
PPNF Health Journal (Spring 1997), published by PricePottenger Nutrition Foundation, contains a wonderful article about the traditional diets found among sub-Saharan tribes in 1935. During his visit to Africa, Dr. Weston Price was able to compare the health of various tribes, who subsisted on different kinds of diets, to the local white populations, who used sugar, white flour, and canned foods. The white populations suffered from many chronic diseases that are common today, including cancer, heart disease, intestinal problems, and endocrine dysfunction. They also had a weaker immune system, as evidenced by their susceptibility to insecttransmitted, infectious diseases. Price rarely found chronic illness or dental malocclusions among the native Africans who ate traditional foods - whether the tribal diet consisted primarily of meat or plants.
During his trip, Price was able to compare predominately meat-eating tribes, to vegetarian tribes, and to a tribe that ate mostly fish and grains. The cattle-keeping tribes (the Masai of Tanganyika, Chewya of Kenya, Muhima of Uganda, Watusi of Ruanda and the Neurs tribes in the Sudan) lived on milk, blood, and meat with small amounts of grains, fruits, vegetables, and sometimes fish. This diet contained plenty of animal fats and fat-soluble vitamins which Price claimed were necessary for proper physical development and a healthy immune system. Using dental condition as a marker of overall health and development, he found very few dental caries among these people, "less than 0.5%." These tribes tended to dominate the vegetarian-agricultural Bantu tribes.
The Bantu ate primarily sweet potatoes, corn, beans, bananas, millet and Kafir corn or sorghum. They supplemented their diet with milk and meat from a few cattle and goats and with small animals such as frogs and insects. Price found that tribes throughout Africa ate diverse insects, including bees, wasps, beetles, butterflies, moths, crickets, dragonflies, and termites. Like other foods from animals, these insects provide fat soluble nutrients. Price found more tooth decay among these people, "usually around 5 - 6%."
Price considered the Dinkas, a Sudanese tribe on the Nile's west bank, the healthiest that he studied. These people were physically stronger and better proportioned than the tallest of the cattle-keeping tribe. The Dinkas primarily ate fish and cereal grains. While Westerners make bread, pasta, or otherwise process their cereal grains, traditional Africans ferment the maize, sorghum, millet, or cassava that they eat by steeping washed grain in water for 24 to 72 hours. The water is then drained from the grain, which gets passed through a sieve to remove hulls. Sometimes more water is added for further fermentation. The water on top is removed, and the remainder can be boiled to make a sour porridge. Fermentation, according to information in a cited article by Marie M. Cassidy et al. (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 34: February 1981, pp 218-228), "increases mineral availability by neutralizing phytic acid, increases vitamin content, predigests starches and neutralizes enzyme inhibitors." Sometimes the watery mixture is eaten without being cooked. This raw, slightly alcoholic 'kaffir bee? contains lactic acid and beneficial enzymes.
Reports during the late 1970s showed that white bread, refined sugar, jam, tea, and peanut oil and cottonseed oil had infiltrated the traditional diets. Doctors began finding diabetes, and more dental cavities among the indigenous peoples who continued to eat their traditional foods. Chronic diseases and obesity continued to be rare. Dr. Michael Gelfand in a 1980 article on Zimbabwe Africans, noted that hypertension is common and had been since the 1940s when he first started his medical practice. He had not, however, noticed any corresponding predisposition to coronary heart disease. The Africans who had abandoned the traditional diet for Western processed foods were subject to the same chronic diseases and obesity as the white populations that Price had observed. Their children were also born with dental malocclusions.
'Out of Africa: What Dr. Price and Dr. Burkitt Discovered in their Studies of Sub-Saharan Tribes" by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD. PPNF Health Journal (A Publication of the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation), Spring 1997. Contact 619- 574-7763.
CSPI Review of Diet and ADHD Research
Center for Science in the Public lnterest (CSPI) has published a 34-page report called Diet, ADHD & Behavior and a pamphlet-sized adaptation of the report called A Parent's Guide to Diet, ADHD & Behavior. Authors of the report, Michael F. Jacobson, PhD, and David Schardt, MS, waded through many studies that investigated the effect of food dyes and other dietary components on children's behavior. They found 23 double-blind studies, 17 of which showed that some children are clearly affected by what they ingest.
As early as 1982, an NIH panel at a consensus development conference on "Defined Diets and Childhood Hyperactivity" problems and prison rule violations. Dr. Williams reports: "Dr. Schoenthaler discovered that the number of discipline violations committed by the prisoners given the nutritional supplements fell 38% during the 15-week period. There were no changes in the placebo group. When Dr. Schoenthaler analyzed the blood samples of the prisoners .... Only those prisoners who were malnourished at the beginning of the study showed any improvement in behavior after receiving nutritional supplements."
If nutrition affects intelligence and criminal behavior, why wouldn't it also play a role in ADHD? Williams suggests that dyes, preservatives, and foods that cause allergic reactions be eliminated from the child's diet. He also recommends that children with ADHD symptoms avoid sugar and high carbohydrate foods. Many of these children have problems with glucose metabolism. Using positron-emission tomography (PET), researchers have found that the adrenal glands of ADHD children release about half the normal amount of catecholamines. Catecholamines counterbalance the release of insulin that occurs when sugar is eaten. Without catecholamines, blood sugar levels plummet. When blood sugar levels drop, brain activity in these children decreases. One study found that "ADHD children unconsciously become physically hyperactive in an effort to force their adrenal glands to release more catecholamines." [Pediatric Res 95;38(4):539421 Williams recommends a product available from Standard Process Products (Phone 800-848-5061) called Drenamin, to strengthen the adrenals. He also uses Standard Process' Thytrophin and a liquid iodine supplement called Iosol to address thyroid imbalance, which is a contributing factor in some children.
Ritalin, the current popular way of dealing with ADHD symptoms, has a frightening similarity to cocaine. Dr. Williams writes: "Researchers at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York found that when Ritalin was injected into healthy test subjects, it had the same pattern of distribution in the brain as cocaine. In fact, when Ritalin was given to cocaine users, they couldn't distinguish the Ritalin high from a cocaine high." Resorting to Ritalin without investigating diet and nutrition seems questionable, at best.
Dr. Williams advocates eating organic foods whenever possible, and cooking and drinking with distilled water. He concludes his article by reminding the reader of the power of example: "It's no mystery that children largely learn by watching adults. And more often than not they're infinitely more interested in what you're eating than what's in front of them .... Choosing organic foods or bypassing the "drive thru" may not seem like significant steps to us, but to the impressionable mind and body of a child, they can make a world of difference."
"Teach Your Children Well" by Dr. David G. Williams. Alternatives for the Health Conscious Individual, September, 1999. For research, call 800-718-8293. To subscribe, cell 800-219-8591.
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