Friday, April 4, 2008

Good Nutrition for Good and positive Behavior.

Critics of labeling children with attention disorders have long claimed that good nutrition can solve the problem just as well as drugs, without the harmful side effects (see “Ask Natural Life,” March/April 2006.) And a new British study confirms that.

The study involved 20 “persistently disruptive” 12- to 15-year-olds at Greenfield Community Arts College in the UK. Some of them were assessed as having ADHD and the rest with short attention spans or high impulsivity. They were calmer and better able to concentrate after taking daily supplements of fish oils for three months. They were also less impulsive and kinder towards their parents, according to the research. The supplements were a blend of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.

Dr. Madeleine Portwood, a senior educational psychologist and lead researcher on the trials, describes the results as “stunning.” She says, “These trials were undertaken with a group of potentially vulnerable students with persistent behavioral difficulties and who were at risk of exclusion. By taking the fatty acid supplement, those aspects of their behavior which put them at risk of exclusion improved dramatically.”

The good news is, parents can help their children maintain a healthy weight by encouraging physical activity and healthful eating habits.

Maintain a Healthy weight--increase physical activity

Children, like adults, gain weight when they eat more calories than they use during daily activities. But unlike adults, growing children should not restrict calories to achieve a healthy weight. Restricting calories and nutrients can retard or stunt growth and impair learning. Instead, children should focus on increasing physical activity and eating appropriate amounts of a variety of foods.

Physical activity--health benefits galore

Physical activity provides important health benefits, including weight management, increased strength and coordination, and stress reduction. Physical activity also builds self-confidence by helping children feel good about themselves. Regular physical activity, continued throughout life, can help reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Physical fitness--fun for everyone

To get children off the couch and onto the playing field, parents can involve the whole family in physical activity. After all, every family member can benefit from daily physical activity. If your family has not been active, introduce activity gradually. For example, you can start by taking relaxing family walks after dinner.

Parents can encourage children to engage in safe free-play after school with friends, or join school or community athletic teams. Help children select activities that focus on fun since they are more likely to be active if the experience is enjoyable.

Other ways to increase your children's physical activity: Plan family hikes, nature walks, camping and canoeing trips.
Teach kids to swim and bicycle at a young age.
Substitute physical activity for television watching.
Have children help with chores, such as gardening, shoveling snow, and raking leaves.

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