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Children with Learning difficulties and the Modern Day Diet….

Childhood should be a happy time- to enjoy play and have fun! However, trends show that children with learning difficulties are increasing! More and more children are having  learning difficulties such as ADHD and autism as well as problems with behaviour and socialising, so why is this the case?

A survey undertaken by London’s City University found that a quarter of all children ‘often’ or ‘always felt stressed. Symptoms such as inability to focus, reading and writing difficulties, visual perception problems and poor hand eye co-ordination are distinctive of too many children. In essence, these factors are all linked to the brain; optimal nutrition during preconception and pregnancy has a massive impact upon foetal development: the brain, learning and behaviour.

Sadly, many of the most important nutrients required for brain development is missing from the modern day diet, such as essential fats, fat soluble vitamins and zinc. These nutrients have been replaced by high sugar foods, refined wheat and high processed fats.

ESSENTIAL FATS AND ADHD!

It is commonly known that many children with ADHD are deficient in essential fatty acids, causing dry skin, eczema, asthma and thirst. Also, males who have a much higher EFA requirement are more effected than females as 4 out of 5 ADHD sufferers are male. Research obtained by Oxford University proved the value of these essential fats in a trial carried out; 41 children aged 8-12 years with ADHD symptoms and specific learning difficulties. Results portrayed that children receiving extra essential fats in supplements were both learning and  behaving better within 12 weeks.

AUTISM: ‘THE CASE OF THE MISSING A”

Moreover, children with Autism are lacking in Vitamin A, essential to aid vision. It is also essential to build healthy cells in the brain and in the gut. Essentially, the best sources of vitamin A are as follows: breast milk, milk fat, organ meats, fish and cod liver oil, often replaced  in the modern diet with formula milk, multivitamins and fortified milk. Many of which actually contain altered forms of retinol (vitamin A). Thus, if children are not obtaining enough natural vitamin A, the potential of allergies, digestive problems, effected vision and lack of brain development increase. Both brain and visual differences are hallmark to Autistic children.

SUGARY FOODS ON THE MIND?
Many studies have proven that hyperactive children have high sugar diets in comparison to other children. Glucose is the main fuel for brain and body and when blood glucose levels increase wildly all day long, on refined carbs, sweets, stimulants, fizzy drinks, chocolates, juices it is not astonishing to see concentration, activity, behaviour and focus levels fluctuate as depicted in children with ADHD.

Nourishing the Next Generation….

Ultimately, not everything may be blamed on nutritional deficiencies and diet, just as modern living is stressful for adults it is also for children. Too many children are pressured to perform well in everything, ‘perhaps living out their parents dissatisfactions. Children go from school, to piano, to extra tuition, with no time left to play. Accompany these psychological factors with diet and you have a recipe for health problems. Thus, along with optimum nutrition, children require love and support.

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Are we being manipulated by the Food industry?

Everyday we hear of people complaining about putting on weight, I myself am a culprit of this. We make loads of excuses for us putting on weight, it’s my sedentary job, I’m still growing, it’s my slow metabolism.

In fact, it’s not our fault we are overeating, we are victims of the food industry. This industry uses our psychological needs to promote addictive, unhealthy foods. Do you ever wonder why just one bite isn’t enough? We have this NEED to have some more chocolate or just one more bite of that cake.

All around us are triggers for eating and choosing the wrong foods.

That irresistible smell of freshly baked cakes when you walk into a supermarket. Or that huge poster showing the great details of donuts and ice cream.

Dr David Lewis, co-author of ‘Fat Planet’ days all these are just cues that cause us to eat more. In fact there are a whole team of chemists, neurologists and marketing executives working behind the scenes to ensure you buy a food product.

“Everything from aromas, to colours, to sounds- a pringle for example snaps in such a way to sound fresh and healthy like a vegetable and this triggers a  response in the brain to eat more.”

This is also why one Krispy Kreme is never enough.

When you have sugar, it floods your brain with feel good chemicals, to get that same buzz you need to eat more and more sugar.

This doesn’t mean we have no hand in the choices we make. In fact, our choices are affected by stress and a lack of sleep. When you are sleep deprived and stressed, your brain goes for the most rewarding choice- this is usually an unhealthy one.

The solution you make ask.

Getting to bed early is the key, just one hour of sleep deprivation can lead to a compensation of 500 calories through food. Exercise is also very important. Not for weight loss but for its anti inflammatory and mood boosting effect.

We need at least one hour of daily walking to have any beneficial effect. Also it’s hard to eat less when we use big plates. One way to trick your brain into thinking there’s more food is by using smaller plates.

One last point of advice. Snacking usually occurs when you are stressed, ie before starting a report or sitting down for work. The trick is to hide your treats, put them away in a drawer or far away from reach. Study by Dr Lewis showed that chocolate consumption was reduced by treats being shut away compared to when they were in front.

The food industry may be tricking us but we need to step up our game and fight back!

Ps. I know the image of treats below doesn’t help. But how cute does the fruit look?

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Vitamins and Nutrition Supplements can be unsafe.

Recent news has shown that nutrition supplements are not very safe to consume if you get cheap and not very well known brands.

Decisions regarding vitamins and supplements cannot be left to us alone. Therefore, I feel it is important that everyone should know the results of the experiment carried out by Katinka van de Ven and Kyle J.D. Mulrooney of University of Kent.

They stated that reading the label might not help with informing about content of supplements. Nutrition Supplements are part of a huge industry which is highly unregulated. As supplements are considered to be foods therefore they are regulated under food laws by the Food Standards Agency and the Department of Health (FSADH). Unless a medical claim is made by the manufacturer, supplements are not regulated as a medicine by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

This means that supplement manufacturers do not need prior approval from the MHRA before producing or selling their product and there is no requirement for supplements to be licensed. Furthermore, supplements sold in the UK have not been subjected to the same scientific scrutiny as medicines and are not as strictly regulated. They are also not tested on product safety, quality and efficacy before they hit the shelves because there is no legal obligation for supplement manufacturers to take part in testing products.

Contamination

There is a growing body of research which indicates that many supplements sold in the UK may be contaminated with “banned” and often dangerous substances. A 2004 study, for instance, tested 634 supplements purchased in 13 countries from 215 different suppliers. Of the 634 samples analysed, 94 (14.8%) contained anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS), 18.8% of which were purchased in the UK. Further, a study in 2008 found that 10% of supplements and weight loss products purchased and tested in the UK were contaminated with steroids and/or stimulants. A more recent study tested 24 products sold in fitness shops in the UK that were suspected of containing AAS. Of the 24 products tested, 23 contained steroids including known anabolic agents.

There is mounting evidence that in addition to being contaminated with illegal substances, several supplements have also been found to contain ingredients not listed on the label, or cheaper alternatives and fillers – such as grass, wheat or rice – substituted for ingredients that are often used to bulk up herbal supplements and may cause allergies.

Some have false and misleading claims surrounding the health benefits of the product. Care should be taken when choosing a brand. Choose one which is well-known and has been tested.

Chronic use

The contamination of nutritional supplements is a risk. The chronic consumption of such products could unwittingly expose users to significant health risks. Where supplements are mislabelled or contain fillers, users may be subject to mild to severe reactions as a result of unlisted ingredients. In the case of athletes, using contaminated supplements may result in a positive doping tests, having detrimental effects on their athletic career. Consequently, there is considerable risk of accidental or inadvertent doping through the consumption of supplements. In fact in 2012, the UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) reported that approximately 44% of positive dope tests in the UK were thought to have been the consequence of prohibited substances in supplements.

Minimising risk

Regulation is clearly necessary to ensure the safety and quality of supplements for everyday consumers and athletes alike. But supplement users can employ strategies to minimise their risk.

The first is abstinence – is supplementation necessary, or is it beneficial?

You may be better off considering what they eat and whether they can get the same benefits from eating a proper diet. In addition to this, the perceived benefits of certain supplements have been called into question by many in the medical community and that the excessive use of supplements may be linked to certain health risks.

If individuals decide to use legal supplements, they should ensure they choose products that contain only the substance they require – and purchase supplements from a reputable manufacturer.

Take extra care when choosing supplements and be safe!

Till then take care and I’ll be back with more information…

2015 World Health Day

World Health Organisation was established on 7th April 1948, 67 years ago. This day arose from the recognition that healthy populations require the focus and attention of all nations and wider global community. It’s the responsibility of everyone. Even you and me.

This year’s theme is Food Safety. Not all of us pay attention to food safety but this is an important aspect for infection control, Nutrition availability during the critical periods of once life: pregnancy, childhood, puberty and elderly.

Safe food is a vital contributor to healthier women, children, and societies. Women who have access to safe food in sufficient supply during pregnancy are more likely to survive labor and delivery, and to deliver healthy babies. When food supplies are safe, fewer children suffer from diarrheal or other food-borne diseases, allowing them to survive and thrive as they grow. Well-nourished children also are less like to be stunted (suffer from debilitating malnutrition with life-long implications), less likely to be absent from school, and are better able to learn while they are in school.

For these reasons and many others, World Health Day once again reminds us that our individual health is inextricably linked — across families, communities, and countries.  On this occasion, I invite you to reflect on how food safety can be maintained in our homes and societies.

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