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The Link Between Sugar Cravings and Autism, ADHD, Learning Delays, and Depression

There is one thing that children with ADHD, Autism, behavioral disorders, depression, and cognitive delays share, and that is food allergies. Food allergies can affect different areas of the body such as the gastrointestinal system and even the brain. Symptoms of brain allergies include hyperactivity, learning delays, anger, depression, and brain fog. One of the top offending foods is Sugar. Many kids literally have brain allergies to sugar.

Typically when we think of sugar we think of brown and white sugar. White Sugar is usually made from GMO sugar beets or sugar cane. GMO sugar beets are heavily sprayed with cancer causing Roundup herbicide. White sugar can also be obtained from highly processed highly toxic sugar cane. (Brown sugar is considered to be "healthier" than white but is often just white sugar sprayed with brown color.) Sugar cane fields are heavily sprayed with deadly pesticides and herbicides. Regular consumption of dangerous pesticides present in sugar can cause neurological, behavioral, and physical health problems.

Aside from pesticide exposure, these Sugars which are added to the majority of processed foods, can literally turn a calm child into a hyperactive child within an hour. But what exactly is causing the hyperactivity? Processed sugars are stripped of their natural fiber and nutrients. Consumption of these sugars results in what's called a blood sugar high. During a blood sugar high (hyperglycemia) glucose floods the blood stream. During this time children often become hyper, inattentive, fidgety, and completely unteachable. After the blood sugar high comes the crash, or blood sugar low (hypoglycemia). During this phase children may seem lethargic, irritable, depressed, or sleepy. When children experience this blood sugar roller coaster day after day the symptoms can result in chronic hyperactivity, irritability, depression, learning difficulties, and childhood diabetes. Autism symptoms will also be highly pronounced on diet high in processed sugars. But sugar consumption presents another big problem.


Similar to cocaine and other addictive drugs, sugar stimulates dopamine release in the brain. Dopamine release triggers a "high" because dopamine is our pleasure/reward neurotransmitter. When we regularly consume sugar, the brain tries to bring dopamine levels down by reducing the number of dopamine receptors, so it will then take even more sugar to produce the same effect. This leads to sugar addiction.

“Research shows that sugar can be even more addicting than cocaine,” says Cassie Bjork, R.D., L.D. “Sugar activates the opiate receptors in our brain and affects the reward center, which leads to compulsive behavior....” "I'm serious when I say that evidence is mounting that too much added sugar can lead to true addiction," says Alan Green, M.D. In fact, many recovered drug addicts testify that they only successfully overcame their drug addiction when they quit eating sugar. When we feed kids sugar we are unintentionally setting up the stage not only for food addictions but also drug addiction and depression because their bodies will get used to dopamine highs (quick fixes) which can no longer be obtained naturally because the number of dopamine receptors have been reduced. When dopamine receptors are reduced, the brain will not have enough dopamine and the child may easily become addicted to whatever gives them a "high".

“Medical addiction changes brain chemistry to cause binging, craving, withdrawal symptoms, and sensitization,” says Greene. “Excess added sugar can do this too, through changes in the same pathways as addiction to amphetamines or alcohol. Sugar addiction could be an even harder habit to break, according to recent evidence about how added sugar affects our stress hormones.”

It is estimated that the average American eats 1/2 pound of sugar daily. How is this possible? Sugar is a common ingredient in breakfast cereals, bagels, breads, waffles, cookies, literally everything. Sugar in the amounts that people consume it today is a toxin. Sugar depresses the immune system and feeds parasites, bad bacteria, and yeast (candida). It robs the body of essential minerals needed for brain function. The sugar we are eating is making our society very sick. Sugar also reduces body pH which leads to Cancer.

Sometimes sugar is replaced with high fructose corn syrup in processed foods. High fructose corn syrup is often labeled as fructose or fruit sugars which is terribly misleading to the consumer. High fructose corn syrup is made from GMO corn and is very liver toxic. Artificial sweeteners are neurotoxic and should not be used for children at all.

How to Wean A Child Off Of Sugar

Dr. Abram Hoffer, author of Healing Children's Attention and Behavior Disorders, succcessfully treated thousands of ADHD children with vitamins and diet. Often his patients were addicted to sugar & junk food and refused to give it up. Its hard to convince an 8 year old to give up his/her favorite snacks. So he cut a deal with his tough patients. For 6 days they had to go on a sugar free diet. On the 7th day (usually a Sunday) they were allowed to eat all their favorite snacks. Often his patients would feel ill on Sundays evenings after eating their snacks and Mondays in school were terrible. Within a few weeks, the majority of the children decided to give up junk on their own. They enjoyed the positive feedback from parents, teachers, and classmates on their sugar free days and overall they felt better physically.

Another option is to slowly cut sugary foods out of the diet. Replace sugar in all recipes with organic raw maple syrup or raw honey. To successfully implement a sugar free diet, ALL junk food must be removed from the house. If its in the house, your kids will find it. Tip: if you want your kids to eat healthy, you set the example. Incorporate healthy foods at mealtimes. Eat dinner with your child. Make sure that your child is eating wholesome meals with foods such as stone ground bread, organic fruits and vegetables, organic chicken. If your child is eating filling regular meals with loaded with fiber and nutrients then the risk of them turning to snacks lessens. A family effort will yield better results.

In nature, sugar is found surrounded by fiber and nutrients. When sugar is processed it loses its fiber and nutrients, thereby causing blood sugar highs. With the rise in the rates of childhood neurological and behavioral disorders, it has become more important than ever to avoid sugar consumption.

Good alternatives to sugar include organic raw honey, organic maple syrup, and pure coconut sugar.

At Joseph's Organic Bakery their cakes and breads are sweetened with organic whole raw maple syrup from small organic farms. Their baked goods are SUGAR Free, Trans fat free, soy free, and corn free.

M.P. Geulah is the author of Managing ADHD Without Medication: From a Mother's Perspective, a book about raising children with ADHD and Autism available at the Bakery or online at Amazon.

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