I can always tell when food and drug companies send out press releases, and when a corporate-sponsored conference has just wrapped up. Suddenly, the news on all channels is featuring the latest nutrition “innovation” or attempting to downplay risks associated with our current dietary habits. In the coming month, expect a blossoming of discussion around the educational importance of government-sponsored school breakfasts, and a sudden “mainstream” realization that nutrition has a massive impact on fertility.
These were topics at a recent dietician conference. The school breakfast one makes me shake my head because I actually know what the government standards are for that meal. The requirements will provide calories, but very little in the way of nutrients a child requires to behave and learn properly. The nutrition-fertility link one makes me sigh, because there is nothing new about it. I can’t imagine how many women have undergone extensive, expensive and invasive fertility therapies rather than start with nutritional changes. (Does it work for all? Of course not. But it’s certainly an easier place to start!)
I am, admittedly, spoiled rotten by Nature’s Sunshine and their education opportunities. When it comes to educational and professional conferences, I expect presentations and sessions that are on the leading edge, yet never forget the lessons of the past. I’ve learned from top physicians, toxicologists, osteopaths, and biologists–folks recognized nationally and internationally for their research and practice.
Alas, because the information is new, I’ve also come to expect those who haven’t yet learned of it to give me funny looks at best and professional insults at worst. Despite the body of research linking low levels of Omega-3 intake in children with impaired cognitive function, a physician told one of my clients fish oil wouldn’t do anything more than snake oil would. Alternative medicine practitioners have long advocated improving gut health in order to improve mental and emotional conditions, and have been labeled as quacks. I’ve had dieticians tell me I was woefully uneducated for claiming artificial sweeteners aren’t “healthy” alternatives to natural forms of sugar.
Here’s the truth: it takes years for cutting-edge research to wend its way into the “mainstream,” and often years more for clinical guidelines–those lists doctors and dieticians use to decide treatment–to change. And those changes are impacted by the interplay of corporate sponsorship, government programs, practitioner ego, and science.
And the sadder truth: it is far more likely for a pharmaceutical drug linked to pancreatic and thyroid cancer to be accepted–openly advertised on television, and continuously prescribed–than it is for a dietary intervention or vitamin/mineral supplement to be acknowledged as potentially helpful.
Back in 2009, I taught a workshop on the links between behavior and nutrition for the Nature’s Sunshine national convention. As I speak with parents and school officials today, I realize how little of the research I included in my presentation has made it into the offices of physicians and counselors. The clinical guidelines still include only two options: behavior therapy and drugs. There is no mention of nutritional interventions despite increasingly supportive evidence and low risk of associated problems. (I’ve never had an ADHD-diagnosed child suffer health problems from no longer having Pop-Tarts for breakfast.) By the time the standards change, your child will be grown. Those years will be lost.
Waiting for the medical industry to approve the broad range of healthy, research-supported options will rob you of time, experience, and health.
That’s why I’m writing A Hungry Brain Cannot Behave. Right now, information on things that work are out there–but scattered around many resources, interspersed with expensive and unhelpful options, or buried in complex or wordy texts. Hungry Brain will give you the streamlined version of evidence-supported actions you can take to help yourself or your child with behavioral and emotional challenges. Like Choose Well, it’ll be inexpensive, fully referenced, and available as an ebook or a paperback.
Hungry Brain is currently slated for release in January 2014, and I’ll be offering a new seminar on the topic as well. Bookings are available beginning in February 2014. If your group or organization would like to schedule a Hungry Brain seminar, check the Seminars and Speaking link.