Last November I was asked to become an admin on the UK Specific Carbohydrate Diet group that I had joined. It is a great privilege to use my knowledge of SCD to help people, who are desperately ill, regain good health once more.
I realised how much I not only enjoy helping people, but how much I enjoyed researching functions such as how our body processes lactose; I spent hours researching so that I could provide a simple answer to a question.
So, back in January I decided I needed to do something with this passion; I decided to start studying biology, chemistry and physics (again), so I can enrol on (another) science degree, but this time in nutrition science, instead of geology!
I started off thinking that the link between chronic disease and nutrition is where I wanted to focus, however, I am developing a new interest in the link between nutrition, and neurological and behavioural issues; either directly caused by bad nutrition, or made worse by bad nutrition. Depression, autism, Aspergers, ADHD, ODD, and old age issues such as Alzheimers could be impacted by what we eat (or what we don’t eat)!
Now, I don’t think that all disorders, such as autism and aspergers, are caused by bad nutrition but diet can have a huge impact on symptoms. There is an undisputed link between our gut and our brain – what we eat, impacts our gut flora, which affects brain activity, so it follows…
…what we eat impacts how we feel and how we think.
Children on the autism spectrum often suffer from gastrointestinal issues. I spoke with a mother of a girl who has aspergers, and she told me how her daughter struggled to read, but after 6 months on SCD she is now ‘devouring’ books. This isn’t coincidence; many parents of children on the autism spectrum use SCD or other diets to alleviate some of the behavioural and intestinal symptoms experienced by their children.
Links between depression and food have been researched to death, and there is clear evidence that mood and outlook can be altered by introducing certain foods.
There are countless studies that have looked at effects of increased nutrition on the behaviour of children and adults; Health Benefits of DHA and Effects of nutritional supplements on ADHD for example.
The problems are obvious…
…the diet of the general population is terrible.
Public Health England’s survey (2014) into National Diet and Nutrition indicates;
- Children under 18 are consuming more than 3 times the recommended allowance of free sugars (sugar added to food and drinks), and adults are consuming twice the amount.
- On average, under 24% of adults and only 8% of children manage ‘5 a day’ of fruit and vegetables.
- Oily fish consumption is pathetic; of the 170g single portion we should be having as a minimum each week, children are eating maximum of 29g which basically equates to one portion every couple of months, and adults are eating 87g a week.
So what can we do?
It’s not a surprise we are seeing increasing rates of Alzheimers, depression and behaviour disorders when our diet is so poor. Whilst we wait for a mass awakening of the general population, all we can do is read the labels, think about what we are buying, be conscious about what we are eating and try to feed our families good nutritious food.
Educate yourselves about nutrition and teach your kids how to cook; you will be giving your whole family the best chance for a long and happy life.
If you want to read a little more on this subject, please read this paper on the links between diet and behaviour.