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Avoidance TacticsNutrition is the key in all of the conditions mentioned. But first of all we need to be fully aware of what not to ingest. Avoiding food additives is vital. The sheer amount of toxins, chemicals and e-numbers in our food at this moment in time bewilders me. There are over 540 permitted chemical additives in food. We know little about the ‘cocktail’ effect of these pesticides, artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives. Research is currently underway regarding this and we now have up to date information at our fingertips to enable the first line of defence to be in place. The Guardian produced a three-part expose of the toxic overload we have to deal with called Chemical World. It can be viewed at their website: guardian.co.uk/chemicalworld. It is well worth having your own print out of all three parts.
It is well known that childrens behaviour is directly affected by artificial colourings, sweetners and flavourings. Fizzy drinks, sweets and crisps are the main culprits and there are now organic and chemical free alternatives in supermarkets and health food shops. Here are the main additives to avoid:
Flavour Enhancers: Monosodium glutomate (E621); disodium 5-ribonucleotide (E635); Artificial Sweetners: Sodium benzoate (E211); Sulphur dioxide (E220); aspartame; acesulfame K. Colourings: Yellow (E104), Brilliant blue (E113), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122), ponceau 4R (E124), allura red AC (E129) and indigo(!) carmine (E132).
Both sodium benzoate (E211) and carmoisine (E122) are directly linked to hyperactivity and can lead to eczema, asthma, urticaria (skin rash) or rhinitis (6). Many of these additives have been banned in the US, Denmark and Sweden, but have been passed as safe in the UK.
Also note that terms such as ‘flavourings’ or ‘colourings’ are usually chemical compounds that are best avoided. If it says ‘cheese flavoured’, it means it has cheese in it. If it says ‘cheese flavour’ it does not. Look at food labels and learn the chemical names. Knowledge is vital to create good health.
Flavoured crisps are a chemical coctail. Each pack has roughly one gram of salt. Half the recommended daily dose for a six-year-old(7). One third of a pack is pure fat. Researchers in Sweden discovered acrylamide in cooked fatty products including crisps. It is known to cause cancer in animals and could possibly do the same for humans. Crisps might also contain Monosodium glutomate which is linked to serious health disorders (see next section). Disodium 5’-ribonucleotide, another flavour enhancers that is linked to skin rashes and has been banned in Australia. Aspartame, an artificial sweetener is also surprisingly in many brands of crisps. This has also been linked to many serious health disorders (next section).
Nick Giovannelli, of the Hyperactive Children’s support Group, believes that about 5% of children are ‘extra-sensitive’ to additives. He explains that additives clog up neurotransmitters that can lead to difficult and bizarre behavior in children. He also noted how additives prevent the absorption of the mineral zinc, which a deficiency of has been related to hyperactivity (8). Zinc is believed to regulate the supply of the brain chemical dopamine, which improves concentration and lessens impulsiveness. More on supplementation later.
An experiment was shown on ITV’s Tonight with Trevor McDonald on 28th April 2003 which summed up what nutritionists have known for years. A pair of twin boys were put on different diets for two weeks. While Christopher continued feasting on chocolate, crisps and and fizzy drinks full of E numbers, Michael was eating fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and cereals. Before the experiment, they had IQ tests and the results were identical. Two weeks later and Michael was beating his brother in IQ and concentration tests by 15%. Michaels behavior changed radically. He became calmer, more talkative, developed a sense of humour and ‘did as he was told’ more frequently. When the E number ban was introduced to the twins’ class at Dingle School in Crewe, 60% of parents reported improvement in their children’s behaviour, sleep patterns and ability to co-operate.A similar experiment took place at Ysgol Deganwy Primary School in Conwy, Wales that showed similar results. This sort of scheme is vital to bring awareness of the dangers of ‘junk food’ and E numbers. Please talk to your school about setting up similar schemes. Every single school that has performed these experiments has shown a dramatic decrease in bad behavior and an increase in concentration. The Soil Association (soilassociation.org) is working with Food for Life (foodforlife.org) to get organic local food into schools. School cook, Jeanette Orrey pioneered getting mostly fresh organic meals at St.Peter’s Primary School in East Bridgford, Nottinghamshire. To get an action pack check out the websites mentioned. Also check out eostreorganics.co.uk and localfoodworks.org. Many schools now ban sweets and crisps and run a Healthy Snack Policy. To find out how to set up a school based fruit shop, download the form from: food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/fruittuckwales.