Nutrition, education, and food policy affect all of our children. There are so many foods and ingredients that are being put on our grocery store shelves and served at school cafeterias that are banned in other countries. Why are we feeding our children who are growing and developing foods that have 30 plus ingredients and ones that we cannot even pronounce at that? In 2009, the largest recall of peanut products took place because of an outbreak of salmonella that killed eight and sickened more than 500 people, mostly children. More than 125 products were pulled off the shelves. The Washington Post reported that the last FDA inspection of the plant had been in 2001.

A study published found that 20 name brand foods such as Hershey’s syrup and Heinz ketchup contained mercury that was found in high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is an artificial sweetener that has recently come with bad publicity as studies show it linked to neurological conditions, obesity, and heart problems to name a few.  As a chiropractor specializing in pediatric care, I see numerous children with forms of attention deficit disorder and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders).

When I come across the numerous recalls on food and these disturbing studies, it motivates me to educate the community in shaping the future of food policy in this country. Growing up, how many children did you know who were autistic or diagnosed with attention deficit disorder?  Recently, the Centers for Disease Control released a study that stated 1 in 10 children suffer from ADHD, up 22% from four years ago. According to the survey, about 5.4 million children in the United States have ADHD. While there are genetic components involved, environmental factors play a significant role.

Because much of the corn used for HFCS is genetically modified, other health hazards are possible. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are scientifically created to withstand all kinds of conditions that will allow the crop to survive and unnatural ingredients are added to enhance certain nutrients. GMOs are full of unnatural ingredients and pesticides.

A study published by Pediatrics stated that 94% of the 1,100 children tested had residue of organophosphate compounds in their urine, most likely from eating foods that had a high pesticide residue like fruits and vegetables. Those with higher levels of organophosphate pesticide metabolites were more likely to have ADHD than children with lower levels. The study suggests that exposure to these compounds in developing children could contribute to behaviors such as inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

In the 1970’s, the average American was consuming .6 pounds a year of HFCS. Today, that number has increased to 73.5 pounds per person and it is estimated that corn syrup accounts for 1 in 10 calories that an average American eats. The typical diet in the U.S. consists of highly processed foods full of sugar and very few fresh fruits and vegetables. It is no surprise that childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years with it a rise in heart disease, joint problems, low self- esteem, and type 2 diabetes.

I wrote this article not to create fear but to create awareness of what is happening with our nutrition specifically in our children. There are some steps you can take to make your home a healthier place starting with your eating environment. Buy organic food whenever possible and introduce omega-3 rich foods in our child’s diet. Foods high in Omega 3’s include flax seed, walnuts, and cold-water fish. Eat locally and support local farmers and farmer’s markets. Buying local can assure that you know exactly where your food is coming from and have a less chance of harmful chemicals due to the shorter travel time.

Read food labels and avoid those with ingredients you cannot pronounce, as they are highly processed and have little nutritional value. There are so many easy things you can do to assure food safety for you and your family, just dig a little deeper and do your research.  For more interesting links just click here.

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