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13 OYS Parenting: The chemical-behavior connection

As parents we know there are chemicals we should avoid for our kids, but what are they and why?
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

What we feed our children matters. As parents we know there are some chemicals we should avoid, but what are they and why should they be avoided?

Holistic child psychologist and licensed nutritionist Dr. Nicole Beurkens has the answers for us.

"Research is clear that what we feed kids has a significant effect on how their brain grows and develops – including behavior like focus and attention, regulating mood, managing anxiety, and coping with stressors. Feeding kids a whole foods diet (foods in their natural form as opposed to processed foods) not only provides the nutrients they need, but also avoids the chemicals that cause problems for some children," explained Dr. Beurkens.

 What are some of the chemicals to avoid?

•    Artificial food dyes – Things like blue 1 and red 40 are added to give a more vibrant color to foods, but can create behavior problems for some children. They've been banned in many countries because of their known connection to brain-based problems in kids. 

•    Preservatives – These tend to have the words sorbate, nitrate, benzoate, and sulfites in them. They make foods last longer, but have been shown to negatively impact brain function in some children and adults.

•    Artificial sweeteners – Look at labels for names like aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, and others. They are chemicals that add sweetness without sugar, which sounds like a good idea until you see all the research connecting them to increased rates of obesity, diabetes, and mental health symptoms. 

 "It's best to look for food options with simple ingredient labels that you can read and identify, and those are more likely to support your child's developing brain as well as their behavior," said Dr. Beurkens.

For more insights like these, watch the segment and visit Dr. Beurkens website

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