Our Toxic World: Who Is Looking After Our Children?

This is the title of a book written by Harold E. Buttram, MD and Richard Piccola, MHA, and available from www.woodmed.com (telephone 1-800-517-9545). Parts of the book can be
downloaded from www.oneflesh.org/Child-TOC.html.

In Chapter 3, the authors review several human studies on the role of food additives in nutrition. In one study, the cafeterias of 803 New York schools lowered sugar and eliminated artificial colors and flavors and the preservatives BHA and BHT. Candy was replaced with fruit, popcorn and peanuts. During this study there was a 15.7% increase in academic rankings of students in these schools above the rest of the nation’s schools which used the same standardized test.

When these same changes were introduced in correctional institutions there was a 47% reduction in violence and other forms of antisocial behavior.

Chapter 4 looks at the impact that monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavoring agent, and the sweetener aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal) have had on hyperactivity in children.

MSG has become one of the most widely used food additives since its development in Japan in the 1940’s. It is now also used in many baby foods and can be difficult to detect on labels as it may be simply listed as “natural food additive” or “textured protein” (this mislabeling should now stop following the introduction of a new law). Aspartame is used in most sugar-free drinks and foods.

In animal experiments MSG was shown to cause damage to the retinal cells of the eye as well as to the hypothalamus and other areas of the brain. According to Russell Blaylock, MD, a neurosurgeon and author of “Excitotoxins, the taste that kills,” MSG and aspartame may result in a continual state of hyperexcitability as well as brain injury.

Other additives implicated in childhood hyperactivity include artificial food colorings and flavorings. Additives not implicated in hyperactivity, but of concern, include nitrites, sulfites and the synthetic antioxidants BHA and BHT. Nitrites are found in bacon and other cured meats, whereas sulfites are often added to cut fruits and vegetables to maintain their fresh appearance (since 1985 the use of sulfites has been partially banned by the FDA).

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