Behavioural problems in children: could they be health related?

Behavioural problems in children: could they be health related?

Children’s behavioural problems can be one of the biggest challenges for a parent. It can be exhausting and a source of embarrassment when everybody else’s little darlings are the model of good behaviour. But did you know that there are many physiological factors that can heavily influence a child’s mental state and day-to-day behaviour?

Food intolerance and allergies

Previous studies have demonstrated that the link between food sensitivities and behaviour is clear. A study in the Netherlands revealed that 62% of children aged 3 to 7, when given an elimination diet, showed a 50% improvement in behaviour. And the biggest culprits in food intolerance?  Dairy, gluten, and food colourings.

Many children diagnosed with ADD or ADHD also suffer from food intolerances, which, when addressed, enable many to come off medications.  Atopic disorders like allergies, eczema, and asthma can also affect children’s mood and behaviour as they can contribute to sleep disturbance, pain and overall inflammation.

Nutrition deficiency

Modern-style diets, loaded with refined sugars and processed chemicals, provide a low-quality nutrition profile. Refined sugars deplete the body of nutrients that are critical for neurological health. These nutrients include the Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C, minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc and omega-3 oils. When the body is deficient in these nutrients, it will exhibit both mental and physical symptoms such as tiredness, poor appetite, failure to grow, emotional disorders, irritability, and poor coordination. These symptoms are not uncommon among children in Hong Kong where issues of nutrition generally have been widely reported.  Lifestyle factors and nutrition are key issues in this region, which, when left unchecked can become a significant health and mental well-being problem.

Digestive disturbances: “Gut and psychology syndrome”

Some people call the gut our “second brain” because digestive disturbances often strongly impact our mood. Antibiotics, sugar, food additives, stress, and poor diet can kill the friendly bacteria in the gut, resulting in an overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria and yeast. Our gut lining may be affected, leading to a “leaky gut” that allows toxins, undigested foods, and pathogens to enter the body. It has a multi-faceted effect on the body, including brain chemistry, mood, and 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 much hyperactivity, attention deficits, dyslexia, and dyspraxia in children.

Weakened immunity

Our immune system defends us against most infections and wards off illnesses. Many factors in modern lifestyles, such as consumption of sugary foods, antibiotics, an imbalanced diet, lack of sleep, and stress can weaken children’s immunity. One of the many ways to strengthen immunity is through high quality health supplements, including multivitamins, probiotics, and fish oils that are specially designed for children.

Conventional 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 behaviour. Data has shown that infants are born nowadays with measurable amounts of up to 200 of these pollutants. This is especially relevant in Hong Kong given our poor air quality. We recommend that every child take a simple test for exposure to toxins (including heavy metals such as lead and mercury), and seek appropriate treatments based on their results. Visit a naturopath to find out more about these tests at IMI.

What next?

Whilst improving your child’s diet and giving supplements may help bolster their immune system generally, our approach at IMI is to treat each child individually by finding root causes of your child’s  health condition. For a simple nutritional, digestive and environmental assessment, we suggest you book a consultation with a Naturopath in the first instance. Alternatively you may want Counselling or Psychological support.

For bookings and enquiries: Call 25237121 or email

We believe in supporting good health naturally and holistically and have sourced premium grade supplements from around the globe, so you don’t have to.  To buy supplements online, please visit or visit our Dispensary in person.

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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