Bread, Behaviour & ADHD

A study conducted in Darwin by Australian food intolerance counsellor Sue Dengate, has established a link between behavioural problems in children and calcium propionate, (preservative 282) commonly used in bread. The study was conducted on 27 children in Darwin, who were given just four slices of bread every day, for three days. Half of the children in the study showed deterioration in their behaviour.

The Darwin research, conducted by Sue Dengate and Dr Alan Ruben was published in The Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 2002 Aug; 38 (4): 373-6. Dr Ruben and Ms Dengate began the study when food regulators denied reports about the possible effects of calcium propionate.

In the study children with behaviour problems were put onto Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital elimination diet, which avoids 50 harmful food additives as well as natural salicylates, amines and glutamates. “The results in the elimination phase of testing were remarkable” said Ms Dengate. “Behaviour ratings for irritability, restlessness, inattention and sleep disturbance dropped from the 95th percentile to the 31st percentile, showing just how badly some kids are affected by a range of chemicals in our food. When kids ate disguised loaves of bread, half of them reacted to the bread containing preservatives. The reactions tended to be moodiness and emotional outbursts, rather than hyperactivity. Speaking loudly, lethargy, growing pains, stomachaches, headaches and bedwetting were also reported.

Nearly all bread in Australia now contains propionates, which is added so that mould doesn’t develop when hot loaves are sliced and put into plastic bags. A different packaging process could avoid mould developing.

Ms Dengate says that food regulators and manufacturers have failed the community when the research to investigate behavioural and learning effects has to be funded by community donations.Where children do have these issues, the solution can be simply changing to organic, chemical free bread. Health Food stores and organic food sellers supply bread, which is chemical free. Another option is to make your own bread, in a bread maker, using organic ingredients. Pre-prepared bread mixes are not recommended.

It is also more beneficial for children to have 100% whole grain bread, which contains B vitamins that nourish the nervous system. Whole meal bread is also good at maintaining blood sugar levels between meals, making mood levels in children (and adults) more even and stable.

The easiest way to avoid chemicals in food is to buy organic food. It is more expensive, but there are great savings to be made on medical treatments. There is now a wide range of organic food available in supermarkets at more reasonable prices than previously.


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