The Center for Science in the Public Interest, based on data from the Food & Drug Administration, has just issued a press release about the high amounts of food dyes in beverages and foods eaten by children. For example, Little Debbie Swiss Rolls, are colored with 32 milligrams (that’s a lot!) of Yellow #5, Red #40 and Blue #1 per serving. These dyes are used to color the product brown because it only contains 2% cocoa!!! These products are made with sugar, water, flour, and oil.
Black Cherry soda, owned by Dr Pepper Snapple Group, is colored with Blue#1, Red #40, and Yellow #5. Betty Crocker’s Black Decorating Icing has 80 mg of dyes per serving–Blue #1, Blue #2, Red #40, and Yellow #6.
C’mon companies. Do what’s right for American children and replace the artificial dyes (made from petroleum by-products) with natural ones NOW as they have done in the European Union!
The benefits of exercise for children (or adults) with ADHD are many! For example, researchers compared the responses to 3 types of treatments: the participants, ages 7 to 12 years, walked for 20 minutes in a park, 20 minute walk in the neighborhood, and 20 minute walk in a
well-kept city environment. These events took place 1 week apart and were completed in a random order. Children who walked in the park had better concentration than in the other 2 environments! The researchers concluded, “‘Doses of nature’ might serve as a safe, inexpensive, widely accessible new tool in the tool kit for managing ADHD symptoms.” Walking in the sunshine for 20 minutes will also help your child make vitamin D which is often low in children with ADHD!
Read more about exercise and vitamin D in my new book, Solving the Puzzle of Your ADD/ADHD Child: Natural Solutions for Hard-to-Raise Children. Remember, it’s cheapest if you go to Google Books!
Did you know that getting enough restful sleep is very important for your child and his/her ADHD? (Well, it’s really important for all children and all adults). But studies have shown dramatic improvements in children with ADHD after “fixing” their sleep problems.
Here’s the amount of sleep your child should be getting according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics:
Ages 3-5 years: 10-13hrs/night including naps
Ages 6-12: 9-12 hours/night
Ages 13-18: 8-10 hours/night
Many children will sleep better after improving their diet and practicing “good sleep hygiene.” Other children have specific sleep disorders and will need the help of a sleep psychologist and/or sleep doctor. Many large medical centers offer such help for sleep problems in children, but start with your own doctor. Try to work on good sleep hygiene this summer so you’re ready for the fall and the start of school.
For much more about sleep in children please see my new book, Solving the Puzzle of Your ADHD Child, pp.95-105. It’s cheapest at Google Books!
Did you know that exercise may help your ADHD child? This has been shown in rats that are models for ADHD, in children, and also in adults with ADHD. In the rat model exercise was found to be just as helpful as Ritalin and Strattera in reducing behavior problems and social interaction! Another study compared the effects on children with ADHD of walking on a treadmill or reading a book for 20 minutes. This one time exercise event temporarily improved electrical brain activity, reading comprehension, and math scores! As predicted, reading did not have any effects. So next time your child is struggling with his homework suggest he exercise moderately for 20 minutes, then tackle his homework again.
For more information please check out my new book, Solving the Puzzle of Your ADHD Child: Natural Solutions for Hard-to-Raise Children. It’s cheapest at Google Books!!
A new study from the University of North Carolina at Asheville published in Clinical Pediatrics reports that 350 products (out of 810) that are marketed to children contain artificial food dyes–you know, Red #40, Yellow #5 and Yellow #6, Blue #1 and a couple of others–colors made from petroleum by-products! That’s a whopping 43% of all the products marketed to children! These have been shown to cause hyperactive and inattentive behaviors in some children. In the European Union products that contain these dyes must have a warning label for parents. But not in the US.
This new study reports that 96% of candies, 95% of fruit-flavored snacks, 90% of drink mixes and powders, and 86% of frozen breakfast foods drink mixes and powders contain these dyes. The researchers identified 66 companies behind the products with Kraft Foods producing the most. In some products, dyes were used to make the product look like healthy foods. For example, in some foods Red #40 and Yellow #5 were used to give the impression that carrots or orange juice were present! That’s outrageous and fraudulent if you ask me!
So read all your labels! Don’t be fooled by these food manufacturers! Choose healthy foods for your child and don’t buy those products containing dyes. They are very rarely found in healthy foods, and they could be adding to your child’s behavior problems.
What do these disorders have in common with ADHD? As I have been researching autism, CFS, and FM I’ve been struck by a common theme: helping someone with one or more of these disorders is like solving a jigsaw puzzle. You have to uncover which pieces of the puzzle are important for a given patient. That became clear to me when I wrote my latest book, “Solving the Puzzle of Your ADD/ADHD Child: Natural Solutions for Hard-to-Raise Children.”
What’s interesting is that many of the puzzle pieces for ADHD children are shared with autism, CFS and FM–and many other health problems. As I searched for medical journal articles about magnesium, essential fatty acids, vitamin D, zinc, food sensitivities, pollens, chemical sensitivities, problems with the gut microbes, and so on in ADHD children I found many references to these other disorders. Now I am researching them so that I can write about them in the future!
If you cannot listen to the Webinar tomorrow, I highly recommend a new online publication called, “Seeing Red: Time for Action on Food Dyes.” It’s published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). I think you will really find it fascinating. It’s all about the history of food dyes, both the early and more recent studies of the adverse effects of food dyes on behavior in children with ADHD, the response of European countries to this research and the lack of action on the part of the American government. Let me know what you think!
The Center for Science in the Public Interest will host a webinar on Friday at 2-3 ET about artificial food dyes in foods, beverages, and candies in the United States. The European Union has already taken actions that are virtually ending the use of most food dyes throughout Europe!! The EU requires a warning label on all foods and beverages that contain artificial food dyes stating that the product “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” This is based on several studies that show that artificial colors can increase hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity in some children even some without ADHD. Early studies did not show this relationship but when researchers increased the amounts of dye given each child a greater proportion of them reacted!! No such action has been taken in the US. However, many food manufacturers have decided to pitch the artificial dyes which are derived from petroleum by-products and use natural colors instead.
How do you know whether a dye is artificial or natural? It’s easy. All the dyes with numbers are artificial–Red #40, Red #3, Yellow #5, Yellow #6, Blue #1, and so on. There are 9 of them approved for use in the US but only 7 are used regularly. So read all your labels not just on foods and beverages, but also on personal care products like toothpaste and mouth wash, and on prescription and over-the-counter medications.
You’ll find much more info and help in my book, Solving the Puzzle of Your ADD/ADHD Child on pages 59-63. I even tell you how you can test your child to see for yourslf if he/she is sensitive to the dyes!
You will not believe the activity going on in your child’s digestive system! It’s busier than Grand Central Station at rush hour before a holiday! There are more than 100 trillion workers–yes, that’s trillion–bacterial, fungal, helminth (worms) microorganisms that make up your microbiome. Some are helpful while others are harmful!
This gut microbiome protects you from harmful germs, breaks down food for energy, and produces some vitamins (vitamin K and biotin, a B vitamin)! They appear to be involved in cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and many chronic illnesses. They produce many chemicals that affect both the immune system and the brain! These are critical for good health, normal behavior, memory, and learning ability just to mention a few of their tasks. In fact, some researchers refer to your microbiome as a “second brain.”
Research into the microbiome is in its infancy. However, the White House just announced that the National Microbiome Initiative will extensively study these micro-organisms. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also will be involved in the effort. This is extremely important news! There is so much to be learned and research scientists will now have funding opportunities for their research projects.
Yes, the microbiome is critically important for ADHD and autism and your child especially if your child has taken antibiotics. For more, see the chapter, “Gut Flora and Leaky Gut Syndrome” in my new book, Solving the Puzzle of Your ADD/ADHD Child: Natural Solutions for Hard-to-Raise Children.
I have great news! I’ve been concerned about the price of my new book since it first came out. Unfortunately, like most authors, I had no say in the final price. I was afraid those who would want and need it could be turned off by the $35.99 price tag. I just learned this morning that the e-version of my book at Google Books has been reduced to $19.77 and, of course, no added shipping costs! Just do a Google search, enter “Charles C. Thomas ADHD” and scroll down until you find Solving the Puzzle of Your ADD/ADHD Child: Natural Solutions for Hard-to-Raise Children. If you have any questions just click on Contact above and I’ll try to help.