Research shows direct link between poor nutrition and behavioral disorders

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couple-yelling(NaturalHealth365) Numerous studies have shown that behavioral disorders and aggressive behavior are directly linked with poor nutrition. While junk food seems to foster behavioral issues in both children and adults, good nutrition consistently leads to a more balanced mood and increased overall wellbeing.

For example, ‘something radical’ happened to students at Appleton Central High School in Wisconsin, when they made big changes to the school lunchroom. In fact, the school principal – LuAnn Coenen said, “since we’ve started this program, I have had zero weapons on campus, zero expulsions from the school, zero premature deaths or suicides, zero drugs or alcohol on campus. Those are major statistics.”

Fact: You are what you digest – physically, mentally and emotionally

Criminologist Stephen J. Schoenthaler adjusted the diets of prisoners in a Virginia jail to see how their diet influenced their behavior. In the first phase of the study, the prisoners ate a diet comprised of foods like bread, greasy meats, fried potatoes, sweets and soft drinks. The second phase involved the prisoners eating whole grain bread, leaner meats and fish, fruit and vegetables. The third phase of the study had the prisoners back to eating traditional prison food.

The results were stunning! In the phase that included healthy meats and vegetables, violent and anti-social behavior fell dramatically. Convicts were 86% less likely to reoffend, and drug addicts had a reduction in relapse of 72%. In the other phases, behavioral disorders and aggressive behavior rose again.

The key to success: Cut out refined sugar, make room for quality nutrients

The influence of good nutrition on behavior and mood are undeniable. Schoenthaler has repeated this study in numerous prisons over the course of more than ten years. Cutting sugars while increasing the vitamins and minerals consumed always leads to a decrease of the number of physical and verbal violence, escape and suicide attempts in prisoners and ex-convicts.

Similar positive results from good nutrition were reported in schools. Schoenthaler put a group of six to 12 year olds on a diet that included more vegetables, fruits and omega-3s. These students showed less aggressive behavior in class, more respect for their teachers, an improved ability to concentrate, and a higher level of cooperation with other students. Their IQs were slightly increased as well.

So, no doubt, healthy food does improve mood, behavior and wellbeing. The brain is as much an organ as the kidney or liver and can become sensitive to nutrient shortages. A 2008 India study showed a link between magnesium levels and the functioning of conscience and impulse control. Shortages of folic acid, thiamin (B1), selenium and iron can also influence behavior adversely.

Don’t forget omega-3s for good brain health

Fatty acids seem to offer a panacea of health benefits. A shortage of them leads to lowered serotonin and dopamine – which are key neurotransmitters for mood, focus and overall wellbeing. A deficit of these key nutrients can lead to behavioral disorders, aggressive behavior, ADHD, depression and a lowered IQ. It can even contribute to the onset or exacerbation of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The foods highest in omega-3 fatty acids include oily fish like salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines. Other fish and seafood choices like halibut and trout make the list. But, of course, always be careful about the source of your food supply.

For the vegans out there, flaxseed and nuts offer another excellent source, as do vegetables like spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts and watercress. Bottom line, with consistent effort, a healthy diet (and the avoidance of toxins) can go a long way toward maintaining good health.

References:
http://www.newmediaexplorer.org/sepp/2003/10/15/crime_and_nutrition.htm
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/may/02/comment.prisonsandprobation1
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738337
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17392137

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  • pam r

    This is so true. If you have children you can easily observe behavior issues after eating to much sugar. Than whenever their cranky it’s usually due to hypoglycemia(low sugar) feed them and 20 minutes later crankiness gone. 80 % of the population gets low sugar and this is what causes people to get irritated, angry and upset. If you eat a balanced diet without a lot of sugar your sugar level will remain more stable and so will your mood. Of course better nutrition will keep away depression also.

  • Hal Weston

    The brain needs fat and the low-fat craze in not helping. The new thinking is forget cholesterol and cut sugar. Scientific research shows low-fat, low-cholesterol, and zero-fat is an abomination. Actually, it is the cause of many of the conditions not the cure.