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Children's Health

by Jon David Miller, M.A., M.Div, wellness educator & author

Parents absolutely need to learn natural methods of improving and caring for their children's health. The long term impact of consuming the usual selection of junk and fast foods has weakened each generation more than the previous one.

Pharmaceutical medicines are targeted toward dealing with symptoms, but almost never address the causes of problems.  Worse, such chemical medicines often lead to other chronic problems.  They tend to interfere with the body's natural process of correcting itself by fighting invaders and cleansing toxins out of the system.  Prescription meds have a strong impact on children.

Some of the greatest common problems in children's health will be raised here with reference to natural methods of care.

 

OBESITY IN CHILDREN

So many kids today spend their time playing video games, watching TV or sitting in front of the computer. Beyond the effect of too many hours in an electronic field, these children are not getting the physical activity that they need to be slim and fit. Excercise is extremely important to the development of their muscles and bones as well.

 
Further, the amount of "empty calorie" junk foods consumed by children is out of control. Many children have routine opportunities to choose poor quality "junk" foods based on taste, packaging, brand advertising, and peer example. Children with disposable funds of their own, purchase an excessive amount of candy, soda pop, chips, etc.

If the amounts of consumed junk food were tracked, and statistics were kept, such as percentage of the diet and the size of the child, important lessons might be learned. To consume large amounts of low-quality foods during the years when a child is growing and developing their organs and physical structure, seems likely to produce a less healthy and possibly overweight body.

 

Weight Problems
About 1 out of 3 children in America is overweight. The number of children at least 20% overweight is double what it was 20 years ago. A qualified physician or other health care practitioner can help determine if a child is overweight.

On average, Black female children, are substantially more likely to be heavy than other children. There seems to be a correlation between that and a Black cultural view that a woman's attractiveness is not lessened by a little extra weight. In a study by the University of Arizona in 1995, Black girls were not as likely to think that heaviness looked bad.

 

Effects
The detrimental effects on health of greater overweight conditions in children include: fatty liver, premature menstruation in girls, asthma and diabetes. The increases in these last two in children are shocking. They are clearly related to the greater obesity.

CLICK HERE to read more about this problem and possible solutions.

 
 
Nutrition Boosts Learning
 
An important double-blind study in Durham County, England has established that nutritional supplements can make a great improvement in the learning abilities of learning-disabled children.
 
Extracts of vegetables and fish were tested on 120 primary school children, ages 6 to 11 years old, to see how it would effect their concentration and levels of learning.
 
Half of a group of students with developmental difficulties including dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and even autism, were given the added nutrition, while the other half received a placebo. Breathalysers were used to test the children's fatty-acid levels.
 
It was found that across the board of various disorders, those students given the nutritional supplements were benefited significantly.  One child advanced four years in reading ability after only 12 weeks on the improved
nutrition.

There was little improvement in the students on the placebo.

The head of the testing, Dr. Madelaine Portwood, a senior county psychologist, calls the results a "landmark".

She added, "The children's social skills seem to be improving because they are more confident. They are becoming more socially interactive and perhaps this increases the motivation to learn."
 
Dr. Portwood's own son, 10 years old, improved in school while taking the vitamin A, evening primrose oil and fish oil.  The fish oil is a source of Omega 3 fatty acids, including DHA, which is needed for good brain and nerve function.

"I wouldn't give them to him if I did not feel they did him any benefit," she said.

The Dyslexia Research Trust in Oxford, England has funded the research.  Equazen Nutraceuticals is providing the nutritional supplements.
 
A problem is that fish oils may be rancid by the time one consumes them, and many fish have high levels of toxins from pollution.  Another good source of Omega 3 fatty acid, from which DHA is derived, is flaxseed and its oil.  
 
Flax oil removed from the seeds goes rancid easily too, and other components of flaxseeds are missed, such as the protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and many of the special antioxidants of flax known as lignans.  Although the whole flaxseed is not very digestible, it may be ground or purchased already milled, and added to a variety of dishes including cereals, salads and vegetables.
 
CLICK HERE for information on superior organically-grown milled flaxseed.
 
 

 

Transforming Our Schools
 
A major change has brought attention to Central Alternative High School in Appleton, Wisconsin.  Teachers are pleased that the students are now well-behaved in a school that just a few years ago was a wild zoo.
 
Before 1997 there were constant problems with discipline, fighting, even weapons in this Midwestern city school.  It was not threats of detention or expulsion, or parent conferences that brought about this remarkable change.
 
It was the introduction of natural foods lunches! In 1997 "Natural Ovens", an outside organization, took over the lunch program of this high school.
                    
Soda-pop and candy machines were taken out.  Salads, fresh fruits, whole grain breads and nutritious meals and pure water were offered.  The old fare -- the fast-food, the junk foods, the sugary drinks and other sweets -- all disappeared.
 
Though many kids complained at the time, most students adapted and began eating what was presented.  Before long, troubles at the school subsided. Academic performance has improved dramatically.  The environment has been a blessing to teachers who are able now to focus on the work of presenting their materials rather than trying to curb poor behavior.
 
Students say they can concentrate better and enjoy getting into the subjects they are asked to learn. Teacher, Mary Bruyette, is pleased to say, "I don't have to deal with daily discipline issues. I don't have disruptions in class or the difficulties with student behavior I experienced before we started the food program."

Principal LuAnn Coenen reports that there are now no problems with flicking school, expulsions, student drop-outs, drugs, weapons, suicides, all of which are concerns at most high schools.  "I can't buy the argument that it's too costly for schools to provide good nutrition for their students. I found that one cost will reduce another. I don't have the vandalism. I don't have the litter. I don't have the need for high security."

The same natural foods program has been moved into the local middle school. "I've taught here almost 30 years. I see the kids this year as calmer, easier to talk to. They just seem more rational," says teacher Dennis Abram.  "I had thought about retiring this year and basically I've decided to teach another year---I'm having too much fun!"

This story was first published in the "Pure Facts" newsletter of the The Feingold Association, a non-profit organization founded in 1976. According to the group's literature, its purpose is to teach the public about the "potential role of foods and synthetic additives in behavior, learning and health problems. The program is based on a diet eliminating synthetic colors, synthetic flavors, and the preservatives BHA, BHT, and TBHQ."

    
Dr. Feingold's work thirty years ago proved that poor foods and chemical ingredients in food created problems for many children. Many have praised his efforts, but the medical establishment put it down in the past.  Vested pharmaceutical interests may have played a part in that.

Now the schools in Appleton, Wisconsin, may become a model for others.  There are vested interests in the junk foods industry to overcome, as well as in the pharmaceutical approach to correction.  Many school programs get a take from the vending machines.  Why not stock them with apples, unsalted fresh nuts, raisins, 100% fruit juices, etc.?


Instead of putting "problem" kids on Ritalin, how about changing their diet to see what happens? Maybe "Attention Deficit" is not a problem with a kid, but with what the child is eating (or not). What about other mental, emotional and behavioral difficulties?  Can many of these be easily avoided? 
 
Perhaps we can coordinate a local group interested in natural foods nutrition and start similar programs in schools around the country.  As a substitute school teacher I can tell you that this is VERY important.  Seeing the disgusting behavior and the poor performance in our schools makes one wonder what our society will be like eventually if we do not turn things around.

 

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