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When children indulge in sugary foods, they turn feral and bounce off every available surface. This is, as most parents can attest, a fact. In this Special Feature, we ask whether this common knowledge holds up to scientific scrutiny.

You are at a party, and there are around 20 children, aged 3–6. The noise is deafening and the candy bowls are empty. Screams of joy fill the air as parents marvel at their offspring’s sugar-induced bedlam.

But what does the science say? Does sugar increase the risk of hyperactivity in children? Perhaps surprisingly, the data says “probably not.”

This will come as a surprise to anyone who has attended a gathering of children where sweet treats are available, so let’s dive into the evidence, or lack thereof.

Sugar and hyperactivity in children

The question of whether sugar influences children’s behavior started to generate interest in the 1990s, and a flurry of studies ensued. In 1995, JAMA published a meta-analysis that combed through the findings of 23 experiments across 16 scientific papers.

The authors only included studies that had used a placebo and were blinded, which means that the children, parents, and teachers involved did not know who had received the sugar and who had been given the placebo.

After analyzing the data, the authors concluded: “This meta-analysis of the reported studies to date found that sugar (mainly sucrose) does not affect the behavior or cognitive performance of children.”

However, the authors note that they cannot eliminate the possibility of a “small effect.” As ever, they explain that more studies on a large scale are needed.

There is also the possibility that a certain subsection of children might respond differently to sugar. Overall, though, the scientists demonstrate that there certainly isn’t an effect as large as many parents report.

Are some children more sensitive to sugar?

Some parents believe that their child is particularly sensitive to sugar. To test whether this might be the case, one group of researchers compared two groups of children:

  • 25 “normal” children aged 3–5
  • 23 children, aged 6–10, whose parents described them as being sensitive to sugar

Each family followed three experimental diets in turn and each for 3 weeks. The diets were:

  1. high in sucrose, with no artificial sweeteners
  2. low in sucrose, but with aspartame as a sweetener
  3. low in sucrose, but with saccharin — a placebo — as a sweetener

The study included aspartame, as the authors explain, because it, too, has been “considered a possible cause of hyperactivity and other behavior problems in children.”

All three diets were free from artificial food colorings, additives, and preservatives. Each week, the scientists assessed the children’s behavior and cognitive performance. After analysis, the authors concluded:

“For the children described as sugar-sensitive, there were no significant differences among the three diets in any of 39 behavioral and cognitive variables. For the preschool children, only 4 of the 31 measures differed significantly among the three diets, and there was no consistent pattern in the differences that were observed.”

In 2017, a related study appeared in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. The researchers investigated the impact of sugar consumption on the sleep and behavior of 287 children aged 8–12.

The scientists collected information from food frequency questionnaires and demographic, sleep, and behavior questionnaires. A surprising 81% of the children consumed more than the recommended daily sugar intake.

Still, the researchers concluded that “Total sugar consumption was not related to behavioral or sleep problems, nor affected the relationship between these variables.”

Taking the findings together, it seems clear that if sugar does impact hyperactivity, the effect is not huge and does not extend to the majority of children.

Why does the idea persist?

At this point, some readers might be asking, “If there is no scientific evidence that sugar induces hyperactivity in children, why does it induce hyperactivity in my children?” Some of the blame, it is sad to say, may fall on parental expectations.

A study that underlines this point appeared in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology in 1994. The researchers recruited 35 boys aged 5–7 whose mothers described them as being behaviorally “sugar sensitive.”

The children were split into two groups. They all received a placebo, which was aspartame. Half of the mothers were told that their children had each received a placebo, and the others were told that theirs had each received a large dose of sugar.

The scientists filmed the mothers and sons as they interacted and were asked questions about the interaction. The authors explain what they saw:

“Mothers in the sugar expectancy condition rated their children as significantly more hyperactive. Behavioral observations revealed these mothers exercised more control by maintaining physical closeness, as well as showing trends to criticize, look at, and talk to their sons more than did control mothers.”

Also, the media plays a part in perpetuating the myth. From cartoons to movies, the term “sugar rush” has entered common parlance.

Another factor is the setting in which a child might be given excess sugar. The classic scenario is a room full of children at a birthday party. In this environment, they are having fun and are likely to be excitable, regardless of the candy consumed.

Similarly, if candy is a special treat, the simple fact of receiving a delicious reward might be enough to generate a boisterous outburst of high-octane activity.

Where did this idea begin?

The health effects of sugar have been discussed widely over the last century. Even today, much research is dedicated to understanding the full details of this sweet chemical’s power over human health.

In 1947, Dr. Theron G. Randolph published a paper discussing the role of food allergies in fatigue, irritability, and behavioral problems in children. Among other factors, he described sensitivity to corn sugars, or corn syrup, as the cause of “tension-fatigue syndrome” in children, symptoms of which include tiredness and irritability.

In the 1970s, sugar was blamed for reactive or functional hypoglycemia — in other words, a dip in blood sugar following a meal — which can cause symptoms such as anxiety, confusion, and irritability.

These were the two prominent theories that underpinned the belief that children’s behavior is negatively impacted by consuming sugar: It is either an allergic reaction or a response to hypoglycemia. However, neither theory is now backed by the data.

Another lay explanation is that sugary snacks cause a brief spike in blood glucose, an effect called hyperglycemia. However, the symptoms of hyperglycemia include thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, irritability, and nausea. They do not include hyperactivity.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was a fresh surge of interest in the sugar–hyperactivity theory. A number of studies appeared to show that children who were the most hyperactive consumed more sugar.

However, these studies were cross-sectional, meaning that they studied one population of children at one point in time. As the authors of the meta-analysis cited above explain, from these findings, it is impossible to know whether sugar causes hyperactivity or whether hyperactivity drives increased sugar intake.

Ongoing research

Since the 1990s, studies looking at hyperactivity and sugar have trailed off, with most experts considering the case closed. In one domain, however, studies have continued.

For the vast majority of children, sugar will not cause hyperactivity, but the jury is still out for one group of youngsters: those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Scientists have approached this topic from two angles; some studies ask whether a high-sugar diet could increase the risk of developing ADHD, while others investigate whether sugar could exacerbate symptoms of ADHD in kids with the condition.

From the first camp of research, a study published in 2011 followed 107 fifth-graders and found “no significant association […] between total volume of simple sugar intake from snacks and ADHD development.”

Looking for longer-term effects, a systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2019 assessed “evidence of the association between dietary patterns and ADHD.” The authors concluded that “a diet high in refined sugar and saturated fat can increase the risk” of ADHD and that a diet heavy in fruit and vegetables is protective.

However, they acknowledge that the evidence was generally weak. For instance, of the 14 studies that found a relationship between diet and ADHD, 10 used a cross-sectional or case-control design, both of which are observational and can have methodological problems.

Cross-sectional studies cannot tease apart which came first, the cause or the effect, because they determine the prevalence of both at the same point in time.

Case-control studies provide stronger evidence, as they look back into potential causes, or risk factors, after working out who has the health issue in question. The researchers then explore the occurrence of the risk factors in a similar group of people who do not have the health problem.

However, information about potential causes can be affected by memory bias — for example, people with ADHD may be more likely to report that they had a sugary diet because the association is expected.

The authors of the meta-analysis make another important point; there is some evidence that people with ADHD are more likely to binge eat than people without it. This might mean that increased consumption of foods that activate reward networks in the brain, such as sugary snacks, might be the result of ADHD, rather than a factor that increases the risk of ADHD.

An important final word

Sugar, it seems, does not cause hyperactivity in the vast majority of children. In the future, larger, longer studies might detect a small effect, but current evidence suggests that the association is a myth.

This, however, does not discount the fact that a diet high in sugar increases the risk of diabetes, weight gain, tooth cavities, and heart disease. Monitoring children’s, and our own, sugar intake is still important for maintaining good health.

Herbal teas have long been known to have medicinal benefits as well as being tasty to drink! Some of my favourite teas are chamomile tea, jasmine tea and ginger tea. Each of these has a distinctive taste as well as health benefits.

Chamomile tea is a favourite herbal tea that many use if they have trouble sleeping. It has natural sedative, anti inflammatory and antispasmodic properties so is also good for cramps. Due to its calming benefits, it is often used to help relieve anxiety. It is rich in essential oil and can help the digestive system function properly. Chamomile is also very good for your skin and you can wet a cloth in the tea and use it as a skin cleanser or compress.

Jasmine tea is a combination of green tea leaves and jasmine flowers. It has a lovely jasmine scent and flavour with all the wonderful antioxidant properties of the green tea. Jasmine tea has long been used for its relaxing and warming qualities and is also soothing to the digestive system. This tea also may help lower cholesterol according to recent studies and may even help with longevity.

Ginger tea has powerful medicinal properties. It is reputed to be an aphrodisiac and can help freshen your breath! It has anti fungal and antispasmodic properties and can help soothe stomach upset by neutralizing acids and aiding digestion. Ginger is also reputed to help relieve nausea, motion sickness, dizziness, flatulence and even help to ease muscle pain.

To properly make herbal tea, use 1 tea bag per person or, if you are making it from the dried herbs, use 1 teaspoon of the herb. Add boiling water to the herb mixture and let sit for 5 minutes. Don’t let it sit for too long or it will start to taste bitter. Don’t drink it too soon or the herb won’t have imparted its flavour into the water enough. Typically herbal teas are taken “black” but you could add a little milk or some sugar or honey to taste if you like.

In functional medicine, we believe that every system in the body is connected. Your digestive and hormonal systems, for example, aren’t independent of one another. At the center of it all is a properly functioning digestive system.

When your gut is unhealthy, it can cause more than just stomach pain, gas, bloating, or diarrhea. Because 60-80% of our immune system is located in our gut, gut imbalances have been linked to hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, eczema, rosacea, and other chronic health problems.

I believe the gut is the gateway to health, and the first step I take with all of my patients regardless of their diagnosis is to heal the gut. I use a system called The 4R Program, which is a simple approach to repairing your gut and restoring your body’s balance.

10 Signs You Have an Unhealthy Gut:

1. Digestive issues like bloating, gas, diarrhea

2. Food allergies or sensitivities

3. Anxiety

4. Depression

5. Mood swings, irritability

6. Skin problems like eczema, rosacea

8. Autoimmune disease

9. Frequent Infections

10. Poor memory and concentration, ADD or ADHD

The 4 R Program

1. Remove

Remove the bad. The goal is to get rid of things that negatively affect the environment of the gut, such as inflammatory foods, infections, and irritants like alcohol, caffeine, or drugs.

Inflammatory foods, such as gluten, dairy, corn, soy, eggs, and sugar, can lead to food sensitivities. I recommend an elimination diet as the starting point to identify which foods are problematic for you, in which you remove the foods for two weeks or more and then add them back in, one at a time, taking note of your body’s response.

Infections can be from parasites, yeast, or bacteria. A comprehensive stool analysis is key to determining the levels of good bacteria as well as any infections that may be present. Removing the infections may require treatment with herbs, anti-parasite medication, antifungal medication, antifungal supplements, or even antibiotics.

2. Replace

Replace the good. Add back in the essential ingredients for proper digestion and absorption that may have been depleted by diet, drugs (such as antacid medications) diseases or aging. This includes digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and bile acids that are required for proper digestion.

3. Reinoculate

Restoring beneficial bacteria to reestablish a healthy balance of good bacteria is critical. This may be accomplished by taking a probiotic supplement that contains beneficial bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacillus species. I recommend anywhere from 25 -100 billion units a day. Also, taking a prebiotic (food for the good bacteria) supplement or consuming foods high in soluble fiber is important.

4. Repair

Providing the nutrients necessary to help the gut repair itself is essential. One of my favourites supplements is L-glutamine, an amino acid that helps to rejuvenate the gut wall lining. Other key nutrients include zinc, omega-3 fish oils, vitamin A, C, and E, as well as herbs such as slippery elm and aloe vera.

No matter what your health issue is, the 4R program is sure to help you and your gut heal! I have witnessed dramatic reversal of chronic and inflammatory illnesses in a very short period of time by utilizing this simple approach.

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People ignored good and healthy eating in the past and instead concentrated their efforts on treating illnesses and diseases. This has been found to be counterproductive as it is cheaper to prevent a disease than to treat it.

Now that we all are becoming more enlightened as to the reasons why we should pay more attention to what we eat, we need to do the best within our strength to achieve a state of positive health by investing on good food, no matter what it would cost to do so.

But what actually constitutes a good food? What types of foods should we or should we not eat?

Top 5 Foods You Should Be Eating Daily For a Healthy Living

  1. Green Beans

Green beans is a proteinous and high-fiber food, which is highly recommended because of its ability to prevent weight gain and also help you lose weight without dieting. Increasing one’s intake of green beans helps in losing weight. If you increase your fiber by 8 grams for every 1,000 calories you take, you will lose about 4½ pounds in the long run.

But should we recommend green beans only because it helps you in losing weight? No, of course! These peas have several health gains which you should benefit from. Studies have shown that green beans can cut the risk of diabetes, obesity and heart disease, including death rates.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, one cup of canned snap green beans has: 2.6 grams of fiber, 28 calories, 1.94 grams of sugar, 5.66 grams of carbohydrate, 0.55 grams of fat, and 1.42 grams of protein. It equally has some quantities of magnesium, potassium, calcium, Vitamin A, folate, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamin K.

Research by the Oregon State University shows that green beans contain chlorophyll, which is capable of blocking the carcinogenic impacts of heterocyclic amines produced when meats are grilled at a high temperature.

If you have never given green beans a thought, this should really interest you. Research conducted by the Harvard Medical School showed that green beans have the ability to promote fertility in women due to its rich iron content.

A cup of green beans gives you about 10 percent of folic acid and 6 percent of the iron your body needs. Since these are both needed for a viable pregnancy to be sustained, eating green beans remains a good source of getting them.

  1. Spinach

Spinach is one of the plants that can easily give you  omega-3 fatty acids and folate, which play a significant role in preventing stroke, heart diseases, and osteoporosis. In addition, folate helps to improve blood supply to the hindmost parts of the body, thereby assisting in guarding you against sexual problems that are related to age.

Besides, spinach contains lutein, a compound that plays a role in preventing the degeneration of muscles; hence it is referred to as the muscle builder. Lutein is equally believed to assist in sex drive. Taking a cup of fresh spinach or half a cup cooked daily would help to do the magic for your body.

Similarly, a recent study showed that “women with hair loss have considerably lower vitamin D2 and iron levels than age-matched controls. Spinach is equally perfect for fighting hair loss because it’s rich in iron and high in vitamin C, which helps in iron absorption.

You may not be lucky enough to have spinach in your area. In that case, alternatives you can take include romaine lettuce, kale, and bok choy.

  1. Tomatoes

We have seen how useful spinach is. Another highly useful vegetable our body needs is the tomato. They are used in different sauces at home. From stew to salads, fried eggs, sandwiches, and other dishes, tomato plays a role in giving them their palatable tastes.

But that is not why we really need lots of tomatoes in our daily meals. Red tomatoes (which are the preferred ones) contain a lot of antioxidant lycopene, which plays a role in reducing cancers of the prostate, bladder, stomach, and skin. Moreover, lycopene lessens the risk of coronary artery disease.

Processed tomatoes also contain high amounts of lycopene, which the body can easily absorb whether from the fresh or processed sources. A glass of tomato juice or 22 mg of lycopene daily is enough to take care of your body needs. If tomatoes are hard to get in your location, you can get lycopene also from pink grapefruit, guava, Japanese persimmon, Red watermelon, and papaya.

  1. Eggs

Eggs are known to contain high-quality animal proteins as well minerals and vitamins. Eggs contain almost everything needed to make a balanced diet. They easily fill you up and stop you from eating those junk foods that hardly have anything beneficial to add to your body.

Just an egg or two in the morning taken with whole grain toast or fresh fruit is enough to provide your body all it needs to kick start the day and keep going.

An egg has vitamin A, vitamin B2, B6, and B12, vitamin D, vitamin K, calcium, folate, zinc, phosphorus, selenium, essential fatty acids, protein, and other trace nutrients. This is why doctors and nutritionists recommend that a child should have at least an egg a day.

One other thing about egg is that it contains biotin and B vitamins that assist in minimizing hair loss. Since egg contains high-quality proteins, it plays a role in helping the hair to grow faster and healthier.

  1. Oats

Oats have a high level of soluble fiber, which helps in reducing the incidence of heart disease. They are approved by the FDA because of their numerous health benefits. Oats have plenty carbohydrates, but the fibers ensure that the sugars are released slowly, thereby reducing the possibility of developing diabetes.

Half a cup serving of oats contains 10 grams of protein, which helps in delivering energy that’s friendly to the muscles.

Similarly, Oats are rich in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and zinc which help to stimulate hair growth, making it healthy and thick.

You don’t have oats in your area? Don’t worry! You can get its same benefits from wild rice, quinoa, and flaxseed.

Conclusion

If you really want to enjoy a healthy life, you need to eat good foods daily. Money alone or drugs cannot give you guaranteed health, only the practice of eating super foods or quality diets can.

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Pineapples are some of the most popular tropical fruits in the world. They are sweet, juicy, and delicious. More importantly, they are very healthy and nutritious. It is no wonder many people who want to have a healthy lifestyle include these fruits in their diets. To know more about them, here are some of the many health benefits of eating pineapples.

Packed with vitamins and minerals

Pineapples are loaded with vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. It is also rich in fibre and calories. On top of it all, this fruit is low in fat and cholesterol. All the nutrients it contains promote good health.

 Prevents cough and colds

Since pineapples are rich in vitamin C, it can fight off viruses that cause cough and colds. Even when you are already infected with such ailment, pineapples can help you. These fruits have bromelain, which is effective in suppressing coughs and loosening mucus. Eating pineapples while taking the right medications prescribed by the doctor for your sickness can help you recover more quickly.

 Strengthens bones

Pineapples are also popular for their ability to build and maintain strong bones. This is because these fruits contain manganese, which is a trace mineral that your body needs to build bones and connective tissues. In fact, if you consume a cup of pineapple, you can already get 73 per cent of your total body requirement for manganese.

 Keeps gums healthy

People are always very concerned with their teeth that they sometimes fail to give importance to the gums, which are equally essential since they hold the teeth in place. If a person has unhealthy gums, his/her teeth would be in bad condition, and eventually will fall out. Eating pineapple will strengthen your gums that will help keep your teeth healthy and strong.

Lowers risk of macular degeneration

Pineapples are known to prevent different kinds of ailments. One example is macular degeneration. This disease, which is the primary cause of vision loss in adults, is caused by damage to the retina. Reading, recognising faces, and doing daily activities can become a lot more difficult because of this problem. Including pineapple in your diet can lower risk of this disease by as much as 36 per cent. This is because this fruit contains beta carotene that is good for our sense of sight.

 Alleviates arthritis

Since these fruits have anti-inflammatory qualities, eating pineapples can greatly alleviate the pain of arthritis while at the same time improve the condition by strengthening the bones. Apart from arthritis, it can also improve other similar conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome and gout.

 Improves digestion

Bromelain found in pineapples work to neutralize fluids to ensure that they are not too acidic. It also helps regulate the secretions in the pancreas to aid in digestion. Apart from that, since bromelain has protein-digesting properties, it can keep the digestive track healthy.

Nutrition.com