Are my child’s behavioural problems related to their health?

Behavioural problems in children: could they be health related?

Children’s behavioural problems can be a huge challenge for parents. Especially when it seems that everyone else’s little darlings are the perfect model of good behaviour.

But there are many health factors which could contribute to children’s emotional wellbeing and behaviour. The positive? That once addressed, it’s possible to see a huge shift in your child’s disposition.

Food intolerance and allergies

Scientists have demonstrated the clear link between food sensitivities and behaviour. A study in the Netherlands revealed that when children aged 3-7 were given an elimination diet, 62% of them showed a 50% improvement in behaviour.

The biggest culprits? Dairy, gluten and food colouring.

Allergies and intolerance affect children’s behaviour, as they cause inflammation of the brain and digestive system, and can trigger emotional meltdowns, irritability, anxiety and depression.

Many children diagnosed with ADD or ADHD also suffer from food intolerances. In clinic, we’ve found that once intolerances are addressed, many of these kids are able to come off prescription medications like Ritalin.

Conditions like asthma and eczema can also contribute to low mood or behavioural issues as they disrupt sleep and cause pain and inflammation.

Nutritional deficiency

When kids’ bodies are deficient in nutrients, it causes them to exhibit mental and physical symptoms including tiredness, poor appetite or picky eating, stunted growth, irritability, poor co-ordination and conditions like anxiety or depression.

These symptoms are not uncommon among Hong Kong children, where issues of inadequate nutrition have been widely reported.

Factors like poor soil quality and long-haul food importation reduce the quantity of nutrients found in our fresh fruits and vegetables, contributing to this widespread problem.

In addition, modern diets are often loaded with refined sugars and processed chemicals, which actively deplete the body of nutrients which are critical for kids’ health.

Omega 3s, magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin B complex are key for emotional and physical development, and deficiencies can cause an array of behavioural problems. Learn more about how nutritional deficiencies impact behaviour.

Weakened immunity

Our immune system defends us against infection and illness. A weakened immunity can cause fatigue and low energy in kids, causing them to be irritable.

One of the main causes of low immunity is an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in our gut.

Having insufficient levels of good bacteria in the gut can cause mood problems, as feelgood neurotransmitters like GABA and serotonin are made in your digestive system. If the gut microbiome is imbalanced, it can influence neural development, cognition and behaviour. [1]

Sugary foods, antibiotics, diet, lack of sleep and stress can all weaken children’s immunity.

Supplements can strengthen your child’s immune system while remedying nutritional deficiencies.

Digestive problems

Our gut is our second brain, and intimately linked to our emotional wellbeing. When the good bacteria in our gut is out of balance, it strongly impacts our mood.

An imbalanced gut microbiome can cause symptoms like gas, diarrhoea, constipation, which is often accompanied by pain, nausea and discomfort, impacting children’s behaviour.

Antibiotics, sugar, additives, stress and a poor diet can all kill the friendly bacteria in our gut, resulting in an overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria and yeast.

Our gut lining may also be affected by this imbalance and cause conditions like leaky gut which allow toxins, undigested foods and pathogens to enter the body, affecting our brain chemistry, mood and cognitive function.

“Gut and Psychology Syndrome,” also known as GAPS, was termed by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a British neurologist. She and many other clinicians have noted that microbial abnormalities, “leaky gut,” and allergies often appear together and are frequently the cause of hyperactivity, attention deficits, dyslexia, and dyspraxia in children.

Prescribed drugs, toxins, and heavy metals

We are living in an environment surrounded by synthetic chemicals completely foreign to human physiology. Some 296 pollutants are known or suspected developmental neurotoxins, which can affect kids’ behaviour.

Data has shown that infants born nowadays have measurable amounts of up to 200 of these pollutants. This is worsened by the poor air quality in Hong Kong.

We recommend that every child take a simple test for exposure to toxins (including heavy metals such as lead and mercury) so that if they do have high levels of toxins, they can be treated.

Emotional issues

The way our kids behave may also be a cry for help. Bullying, difficulties at school or ruptures in the family may all cause your child to act out.

Our counsellors, psychotherapists and psychologists are trained to support children and help them through any emotional issues they may be experiencing.

In summary

When given the support they need, it’s possible that a child’s poor behaviour can be turned around.

There are certain recommendations which we give to all, like boosting your child’s immune system and filling in nutritional gaps with quality supplements, namely a multivitamin, probiotic and omega oil. Our online shop stocks high quality supplements made for kids, and taste-tested and approved by kids.

In order to get to the root cause of your kids’ behavioural issues, it’s essential to take a closer look at their symptoms and their health. This enables us to create a specialised plan to address your child’s unique health needs. We recommend that you make an appointment with one of our naturopaths as a starting point.

What’s next?

If you think your child’s behavioural issues could be caused by health issues, we can support you in diagnosing and resolving contributing factors.

Return to your natural state of wellbeing with the help of our naturopaths.

Simply call +852 2523 7121 or complete your request below, and we'll be in touch shortly to confirm your appointment.

About Graeme Bradshaw

Graeme is a highly respected Naturopath and Homeopath with over 30 years in clinical practice. He is widely recognised as one of the pioneers who brought naturopathic medicine to Hong Kong in the 90s. His expertise includes gut-brain issues, DNA assessment for disease prevention, and clinical detox programs.

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