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Can food intolerance cause behavioural issues in children?

Almost all of the children and teens we work with at Whole Is Well Monaco, who are struggling with learning, behaviour and social problems also suffer from food sensitivities. If the brain is out of balance, the digestive system dysfunctions and the immune system gets out of balance. This also works the other way around.  This imbalance ultimately leads to these food sensitivities.

That seemingly innocent glass of organic milk in your fridge may have been part of the culprit leading to your child’s meltdown this morning just before going to school. But how can a food like dairy cause this to happen? And are there other foods which can contribute to this type of challenge?

Common Food Intolerances

According to many researchers and nutritional experts, the top common food intolerances include:

  1. Dairy

  2. Eggs

  3. Gluten - Protein in Wheat, Rye, Oats and Barley

  4. Sugar (Particularly if your child has candida, a yeast overgrowth which can affect behaviour, common in children with neurobehavioral disorders like ADHD and Autism.)

  5. Shellfish

  6. Soy

  7. Foods High in Salicylate

  8. Food Dyes, Preservatives, Pesticides, GMO’s (Genetically Modified Foods)

The link between diet and behaviour is an interesting one, especially when food sensitivities are involved. If a child is intolerant to a particular food, an IgG reaction occurs. This reaction stems from the immune system and causes the body to produce inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. Cytokines can inflame the gut, brain or respiratory tract and ultimately affect how your child feels physically and emotionally.

Food allergy and food intolerance are not the same thing.  A food allergy causes an immediate reaction which signals the body to produce histamine. In some cases, this IgE reaction requires prompt medical attention. A food intolerance, on the other hand, results in a delayed IgG reaction that, unlike a food allergy where symptoms occur rapidly, can take one to three days to occur. Therefore, if you are not closely monitoring your child’s food intake or working with a professional, you may not be able to relate the reaction that is occurring to the particular food that is causing this inflammatory response.  Repeated exposure to antibodies over a long period of time can seriously harm the immune system.

Food Intolerances and Behaviour

Behaviour challenges can result when a child reacts to a food to which he or she is intolerant. If your child has a glass of milk and the body begins to product cytokines, the resulting inflammation in the brain can lead to meltdowns, irritability, anxiety, depression, brain fog and more. If your child already has compromised digestion, a food sensitivity is likely the result of leaky gut syndrome and can lead to further exacerbation of the issues.  A leaky gut can cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies due to poor absorption, which can further contribute to learning or behavioural struggles as well as cause additional food sensitivities.

If you suspect your child has a food intolerance, you should seek out the advice of a nutritionist or a dietician. It also helps to keep a food diary for at least seven days and log all foods consumed along with the resulting symptoms and behaviour. Removing an offending food from a child’s diet can make a huge difference in your child’s emotional and physical state. A more convenient way to check for intolerance is having a simple blood test.

Nutrition Balance and Brain Development

A healthy lifestyle that includes a properly functioning immune system, as well as identifying and balancing nutritional deficiencies, plays an integral role in supporting brain development and function. Nearly every child and teen we see with learning and developmental issues has some biochemical imbalances, as well as dietary issues like food sensitivities and vitamin, mineral, and amino acid deficiencies. That’s why recommend taking a nutritional analysis test. Following the test results, we will provide a step-by step program to help nourish your child's brain and gut health to improve their behaviour and focus. Contact us today to learn more!

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