He stress it is one of the most widespread disorders in today's society. We may think that stress is out of our children's lives, but no matter how small, stress and anxiety can be a reality for them, and food may be making them worse. Do you want to know what are the foods that cause the most stress in children? Take note!
Just as there are foods that are characterized by their calming effects and that can be very useful at dinner time, there are others that, due to the type of compounds they contain or the metabolic pathway they use, produce the opposite effect: they cause stress in the body, especially in the little ones.
- Refined sugars
Sugar is, unfortunately, present in almost all the products that we offer to our children, however, it is not naturally present in all of them, and it is these that we must avoid if we want to keep stress and anxiety under control. While sugar will not cause stress by itself, its consumption exaggerates anxiety symptoms, preventing the body from handling stressful situations as it would normally.
According to some studies, gluten intolerant people have, in some way, a higher risk of suffering from stress, anxiety or depression, so it is advisable to be vigilant; but also, foods that contain this protein, with wheat leading the way, have been revealed as triggers of these symptoms, even in children who have not been diagnosed as gluten intolerant or celiac. Although the reasons are still unknown, it seems that this protein can be difficult to digest for some children, even if they are not celiac, causing physical stress in the body that causes certain routes to be blocked and that the body cannot cope with situations stressful effectively.
In addition to the amount of sugar they contain - or artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, also related to headaches, anxiety and mood swings - carbonated soft drinks can contain caffeine, one of the main compounds to avoid in stressful situations in adults , even more so in childhood.
Yes, I understand that nobody or practically no one thinks of offering a cup of coffee to a 3-year-old child, but caffeine is not only in coffee. Almost all bakery products, ice creams, or coffee-flavored drinks contain caffeine, so this flavor is totally ruled out if we want to limit the foods that increase stress and anxiety in our children's diet.
Just as coffee contains caffeine, cocoa also contains it naturally. Plus, it contains theobromine, another stimulant compound that can cause the same symptoms as caffeine, such as nervousness and anxiety. Soluble cocoa, depending on the brand, can be caffeine-free, but loaded with sugars, so it is convenient to study in depth the labeling of the chocolate that we offer to our little ones.
In addition to being harmful to health, salt directly affects blood pressure and, if the heart works excessively, the body suffers and becomes stressed. Furthermore, according to recent research, excess salt can affect some neurological pathways, and therefore cause an increase in stress and anxiety levels in children.
- Processed foods
Processed foods are usually rich in two ingredients already mentioned, salts and sugars, in addition to containing refined flours, and without forgetting the long list of additives such as colorings and preservatives. Unfortunately, foods rich in salts and refined sugars are harmful to the intestinal microbiota, and, today, its importance as the first line of defense of the immune system is well known. In addition, according to recent studies, the intestinal microbiota also has a close relationship with the control of anxiety and stress, so it is better to look for less processed or homemade alternatives to these products.
- Dairy products
Except for fermented products, which are much easier to digest, dairy products are not always easily assimilated, putting extra stress on the body, which can increase adrenaline secretion and, therefore, anxiety levels.
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