Does Bad Diet Cause Bad Behavior?

This article by Dr. Ingrid Pincott, ND originally appeared in the North Island Midweek.

How is the school year going so far? If you are noticing bad or violent behavior in your children here are a few things to think about to help curb this disturbing trend.

  1. Is your child getting enough sleep? Often this relates to deficiencies of minerals and nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, vitamin D. It is also important to disengage from the mad rush of life one hour before bed such things as as avoiding video games and TV. This helps turn off noisy thoughts to get a good night’s sleep. It is recommended to read a book, take a bath or work on a hobby instead.
  2.  Brains are starving these days due to malnutrition and being exposed to excitotoxins prevalent in the food supply such as MSG and artificial sweeteners. Diet sodas are loaded with artificial sweeteners which have been shown to increase the cravings for sweet and increase the risk of obesity because of its effect on insulin. Fruit juices even though “natural” are not much better due to the sugar content. Instead learn how to make herbal iced teas using stevia or xylitol and show your children how to make them. To help with cravings for sweets make sure your child is getting enough B complex and protein.
  3. B complex is well known to help with irritability and is important at any age. The late Dr. Hoffer, a psychiatrist in Victoria, helped to popularize Orthomolecular Medicine and the use of high doses of niacin to treat psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, attention deficit, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression and bipolar disorder as told by Dr. Saul the co-author of Niacin: The Real Story.  These patients are beyond deficient, they are niacin dependent and must remain on high doses of niacin to remain well. This is much better than relying on pharmaceutical drugs for these conditions. In fact the modern symptoms of pellagra, deficiency of vitamin B3 (niacin) include anxiety, hyperactivity, fatigue, headache, insomnia and hallucinations.
  4. Omega 3 essential fatty acids (EFA’s) found only in  fish oils are known to change the levels and functioning of both serotonin and dopamine, both of which play a role in feeling pleasure. Omege 3 EFA’s increase the blood flow to the brain. People with depression often have compromised blood flow to a number of regions of the brain. There are many good tasting fish oils on the market including herring oil, sardine and anchovy oils as well as cod liver oil. Our brains need cholesterol to function properly so foods such as eggs, coconut oils and healthy animal fats including organic butter, should be part of the regular diet. Dr. Perlmutter a prominent functional medicine neurologist, advocates a high fat diet for the optimal functioning of the brain, providing that the fats are from healthy sources.
  5. Zinc deficiency is linked with angry aggressive and hostile behavior and is found in my customized popular B complex formula. Food sources include red meat and shellfish.
  6. Anxiety is often a component of bad behavior. The above nutrients are critical for the management of anxiety but I also recommend the use of homeopathic remedies. These are easy to take as they are mixed in a water bottle or taken directly into the mouth. Rubimeds are combination remedies that are very effective at balancing mental and emotional conflicts that are subconscious.

Taking enough of the above nutrients to be therapeutic is important so check with your naturopathic physician about optimal dosages for you and your family and inventive ways of getting your child or teenager to take them! Of course when you treat your child the whole family benefits!