Fresh non-organic produce has been found to have very high levels of pesticides. Although organic food is slightly more expensive, is it worth paying a little extra for that peace of mind? Food co-ops are popping up all over the place. They only put a 10% mark-up on the wholesale price they bought it for. The more we buy organic, the more likely the prices will start dropping, even in supermarkets. And why not start growing your own food? It could be worth it in the long run.
When organic produce is not available, foods that have less pesticides include: aubergines, peppers, frozen peas, cabbages, garlic, leeks, radishes, marrow, turnips and sweetcorn. Eating seasonal produce also reduces your exposure to anti-fungal and anti-bacterial chemicals mainly used to extend shelf-life. Wash ALL fruit and veg, even if it claims to be ‘ready-washed’ (36). Remove the outer leaves of lettuces also. Lettuces need more pesticides and chemicals because they lose their structural integrity quickly.
Which Foods to Eat: Essential Fats
The Government has proposed to spend 300 million pounds on children and adolescents with mental health problems (37). How much of this will go into educating people about basic nutrition remains a mystery. If the government knew about essential fatty acids (EFA’s), basic supplementation and the toxic overload we have already discussed, the money could be spent on things such as setting up healthy canteens at schools, or even employing nutritionists to teach children nutrition and healthy food preparation. (since writing this Jamie Oliver has done something towards this. Check out the website www.feedmebetter.com.
Essential fatty acids are vital in childrens growth. They provide a plethora of nutrition and brain support that exceeds all other foods. Alpha-linolenic acid (Omega 3) and linoleic acid (Omega 6) are the two fats that form two of the 50 essential nutrients our body needs. The rarer and most important oil, Omega 3, can mainly be found in oily fish (sardines, mackerel), flax seeds, hemp seed and other seeds and nuts. It is easily absorbd by the young body when in fish oil form. Junior Maximol is one of the better ‘childrens supplements’ in liquid form. It also contains the natural sweetner Xylitol and Lecithin which encourages proper brain development, amongst other vital nutrients. Omega 6 is found in good quality vegetable oil, nuts and seeds. We usually get more Omega 6 in our diet unless we love fish or flax seeds, but there is one seed (and oil) that holds the perfect balance for humans.
The hemp seed is a unique food. It contains all the essential amino acid proteins in a balanced ratio – which are vital to a vegetarian and vegan diet. Soya comes close, but loses some of these nutrients during processing. The hemp seed shell contains high amounts of dietary fibre, which is vital for digestion. The main nutritional advantage is the balance of essential fats – omega 3, omega 6, omega 9 and GLA, which are useful in hundreds of conditions. Omega 3 is mainly found in oily fish, omega 6 in vegetable oils, omega 9 in olive oil and GLA in evening primrose oil. But hemp has them all in a ratio that is designed for us humans. Hemp oil is “natures most perfectly balanced oil” according to author and nutritionist Udo Erasmus. It also contains vitamin E, minerals and life giving chlorophyll.
Flaxseed (linseed) oil is richer in Omega 3, so a mixture of hemp and flax oil is recommended for children if vegetable oil is already used in the diet. Keep the oil in the fridge after opening. Do not cook with it because it destroys the EFA’s. Use it on salads and dressings. One or two teaspoons per day is enough. Higher Nature produce an Omega 3 supplement for children that is sweetened with Xylitol and has a fruit flavour, called SmartFish. In human brain development and function, scientists and nutritionists agree that essential fats play an important role in helping with conditions such as dyslexia, hyperactivity, ADD, dyspraxia (affects movement and memory), autism and other conditions. All of which are related to the phenomenon of the psychic children. EFA’s have also been found to help correct criminal behavior and show marked improvement in various mental illnesses. Symptoms of EFA deficiency include excessive thirst, dry skin, brittle hair and nails and blood sugar problems. Look out for these with your children.
Which Foods to Eat: Natural Nutrition
In Chinese medicine theory, children with ADHD and related conditions are deficient in Yin. Yin represents the calm and receptive dimension of personality (37). A whole food diet plays a large role in building Yin essence. As we have seen, refined sugar and grains, pesticides, additives, preservatives, colourings and toxins all contribute to these conditions and deplete Yin, and thus need to be eradicated from the diet. Specific nutritional remedies that help, if given on a long term regular basis include sea vegetables (Nori, Arame, Hijiki, Kelp, Dulse, Kombo, Wakame), which supply a wealth of vital minerals essential in calming the body and mind, and can be cooked into stews and soups; also, many ADHD children have benefited from taking kelp tablets on a daily basis (ibid).
Foods such as spirulina, tempeh, almonds and butter help build the Yin essence. Omega 3 oils also can help. ADHD is also frequently made worse by parasitic infections. Colloidial silver and aloe vera gel can help with this; garlic is often used, but can eat up the precious yin essence due to its fiery nature. Children can often grow out of these conditions if proper dietary and emotional support is constantly available. The best book I’ve found that describes all these aspects is Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford (ISBN:1-55643-220-8). Colloidial silver is an incredible anti-bacterial and anti-viral substance, and well worth looking in to.
Micro-algae such as spirulina and chlorella are useful in childhood nutrition. Both are high in Omega 3’s and GLA oils. GLA is important in general growth and development. Spiriluna is recommended for those that were not breast-fed, in order to help hormonal and mental development that may have never occurred because of lack of vital nutrition during infancy (39).
Which Foods to Eat: Vitamins and Minerals
Certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies are prevalent in children with ADHD and related conditions. These include the minerals zinc and magnesium which have been found to successfully treat ADD and hyperactivity. Vitamins B6, B3 (niacin), folic acid and B1 (thiamine) are also often deficient in children with these conditions. It has been found that manganese (not magnesium) causes irritability and difficulty concentrating. Various research has shown that supplementation of these nutrients decreases delinquent behaviour and leads to a significant improvement in academics and behaviour (40).
Zinc is called the intelligence mineral because it is needed for optimal development and functioning of the brain and nervous system. It plays a role in protein synthesis and collagen formation; it is involved in the blood-sugar control mechanism and thus protects against diabetes; it is also needed for a healthy reproductive system. Zinc is a key component in numerous vital enzymes and plays a role in immune system maintenance. Phytates found in soy products, seeds and nuts interfere with zinc absorption more completely than with other minerals (if soaked or slightly roasted nuts and seeds lose the phytates).(41) The therapeutic range for children is 5-10mg. Zinc amino acid chelate, zinc citrate and picolinate are better than zinc sulphate or oxide (42). Foods rich in zinc include ginger root, pecan nuts, haddock, shrimps, turnips, brazil nuts, egg yolk, rye, oats, peanuts and almonds (ibid).
Magnesium strengthens bones and teeth, promotes healthy muscles to relax and is involved in harmonizing the nervous system and energy production (ibid P.311). In some studies of children age 7 to 12, those who took magnesium supplements showed a significant decrease in hyperactivity, compared to control groups who took a placebo (43). Carbonated drinks such as cola and other processed foods contain phosphoric acid, which leaches magnesium from the body. It is best if avoided, so check the labels. The therapeutic range for magnesium is 400-800mg. Good food sources include most nuts and seeds, cooked beans, sprouted grains and beans, garlic, raisins, green peas, wheatgerm, potato skins and crabmeat.
One study that Doreen Virtue mentions in her book found that 95% of ADHD children were deficient in magnesium. It was also found that they were deficient in iron, copper and calcium. The researchers concluded that “It is necessary to supplement trace elements in children with hyperactivity” (ibid). Therefore a good quality multi-mineral is recommended on a daily basis. Neways produce an ionic multi-mineral mineral solution called Maximol Solutions. It also contains an amino acid complex, B vitamins, high-potency fruit juices, phytochemicals and fructooligosaccharides. Its fairly sweet tasting, so children can tolerate the taste. Neways have since developed Junior Maximol that includes omage 3 fish oils, lecithin (helps brain development) and the amazing sweetner Xylitol amongst other vital nutrients.
B vitamins are vital for proper brain function and development and have been used for children with ADD and ADHD. A great source of B vitamins are sprouts such as mung beans, aduki, alfalfa and lentil sprouts. They also contain enzymes that aid digestion and amino acid proteins.
B3 (niacin) is essential for energy production, brain function and has been used successfully in controlling schizophrenia. It helps balance blood sugar levels and aids in digestion. Therapeutic range is 25-50mg for children. It is found in mushrooms, tuna, asparagus, cabbage, tomatoes, mackerel, courgettes, squash and cauliflower.
B6 stimulates serotonin release in the brain. Children who are hyperactive have lower serotonin levels than those who are not. Low serotonin can result in lethargy, depression and cravings for food (ibid P.154). B6 increases seretonin levels in children to a balanced level. It has been reported that tests were carried out that compared serotonin levels with children on Ritalin to those taking B6. The children on B6 maintained the levels even after they stopped taking it, whereas the Ritalin children did not show any raised levels at all. The therapeutic dose for children is 25-125mg. Foods include watercress, cauliflower, cabbage, peppers, bananas, squash, broccoli, asparagus, kidney beans, lentils, onions, seeds and nuts.
B12 is essential if the child is vegetarian. One fifty microgram tablet per week is sufficient. It can also be found in fortified margarine, soya milks, eggs, cheese and Junior Maximol.
These are basic recommendations for children. For a more detailed and personal supplement/diet program, please contact a nutritional advisor.