Friday, December 10, 2010

Can food additives affect ADHD?

Percent of Youth 4-17 ever diagnosed with Atte...Percentage of youths with ADHD Image via Wikipedia Are your Fruit Loops driving you to distraction?

According to CNN, researchers think the cause of ADHD is largely genetic. But it is tempting to look for dietary factors that could be making symptoms worse.
In particular, a possible link between ADHD and certain foods -- including food dyes and preservatives -- has been suspected since the 1970s. Still, despite decades of research, experts can't agree on whether eliminating dye-containing foods from a child's diet can ease ADHD symptoms like hyperactivity and impulsivity -- except in perhaps a few special cases.

a 2007 study published in The Lancet found that a mixture of four artificial food colors plus the preservative sodium benzoate aggravated hyperactivity in two groups of children without ADHD -- 3-year-olds and 8- to 9-year-olds. 
But a second mix didn't have as great an effect on the 8- to 9-year-olds, even though it also contained sodium benzoate and two of the same colorings, albeit in lower amounts.

Part of the controversy lies in the fact that most food products contain more than one dye or preservative (some candy products have as many as 10 dyes). And most studies have looked at blends of additives, not single ingredients, making it difficult to sort out the culprits.

"There's no way to know at this point which is the problem dye. Is only one of them a problem? All of them a problem?" says Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban all food dyes because of hyperactivity concerns.

So, what to do?  Dyes and sodium benzoate are in everything.  Yet, nothing is conclusive;  when I look at anything to do with the environment and developmental disorders, I get a whole lot of waffle words.  Nobody will say there is absolutely no effect and there is no consensus by scientific authorities to point the finger at the culprit(s).    This is true whether you are looking at studies of nutrition and adhd or autism or environmental culprits such as BPA, etc.

Never mind  the fact that we have lost faith in governmental bodies to issue authoritative guidelines that we can all trust to be impartial.  Many people see the FDA, and the EPA as having been corrupted by special interest groups and big business.

So, what to do?  For me, as a lazy green, it is listen to my body.  My tummy gets really annoyed when I eat a lot of processed food... so, I try to avoid it.  My nerves get jangled from more than one can of Coke (tummy hates Coke, too).   I feel very nice inside eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables (tummy nods in approval).  So, go with the flow.
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