Are Undiagnosed Food Allergies Affecting your Child’s Academic Success?  3 Things to Consider

Are Undiagnosed Food Allergies Affecting your Child’s Academic Success? 3 Things to Consider

Back to school – Some Food for Thought – Are Undiagnosed Food Allergies Affecting your Child’s Academic Success?  3 Things to Consider…

Well it’s that time of year again – the busiest month of the year for parents in my opinion – September!  New schools, new teachers and new routines as parents all hurry around to get their kids settled into the school year.

We as parents want to set our kids up for success with a new year of classes but sometimes the simple subject of food choice, can throw a huge wrench into our child’s academic success.   Here are 3 things for you to consider…

  1. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – Health Canada recognises September as “Breakfast for Learning” month. A poor breakfast or no breakfast at all is lousy for our brains, giving us a diminished capacity to learn.  Although the brain uses sugar as fuel, it likes it in small predictable doses.  Junky cereals or simple carbs like bagels and jam give the system a big hit of sugar and then a crash an hour or so later, leaving kids sluggish and cranky.  A protein source at breakfast is a great way to insure that sugar gets to the brain in smaller amounts and sets the body and mind up with building blocks for proper energy and chemistry.  An egg, some yogurt or a turkey breakfast sausage, barring any allergies, are all decent choices.  So are leftovers from last night’s dinner for that matter.  Breakfast does not have to be typical if your child will eat dinner for breakfast in order to get in some good nutrition.
  2. Food allergies affect learning – We are all aware of serious food allergies to items like peanuts that require children or parents carry an EpiPen. There is a lesser form of allergies called “delayed allergies” or “food intolerances” that although not life threatening, still are cause for concern health wise.  Poorly digested food items in the dairy and grain categories, for example, cause a release of histamine and morphine-like compounds which essentially can sedate our kids and render them inattentive.  Other chemistry in these foods like glutamates for example, can rev up the brain and nervous system such that kids are “swinging from the chandelier”.  Whether your kid is tired and spaced out or going 100 miles an hour – both issues can potentially be related to food.
  3. Conventional food allergy testing will not catch these delayed food allergies – A visit to the GP or allergist for allergy testing uses what is called a “scratch test” to assess. This test is only good to identify those immediate food allergies that often require medical attention.  They are produced by an antibody called IgE.  Delayed food allergies or food intolerances do not show up on a scratch test because they are produced by a different antibody – IgG.  These IgG allergy tests are not normally run and are often utilized by naturopathic doctors to determine this form of allergy load.  It is a blood test instead of a “scratch test”.  Delayed food allergy testing does not require a conventional blood draw these days.  A finger stick blood sample is all that is required.

Over the course of the last 14 years in clinical practice, I have collaborated with many teachers, SEAs, and tutors to help determine why a child is having academic challenges.  I have been humbled by the number of times food allergies end up being a key factor.  If your child is having a tough time at school, perhaps food allergy is the reason.

Please contact the clinic with further questions or to book an appointment.

My best wishes for a great school year!


In Health,

Dr. Cameron McIntyre

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