Hyperactivity and the Sugar Connection


It’s that time of the year again.  Halloween is a handful of weeks away and the bags of candy about to be collected are top of mind for many parents, especially those with a child or children that experience hyperactive behaviors. 

Hyperactivity means having increased movement, impulsive actions, a shorter attention span, and being easily distracted.  Many children exhibit these symptoms, so it takes a trained professional to diagnose a hyperactivity disorder.  A diagnosis is based on the presence of persistent symptoms that have occurred over a period of time and have been most noticeable over the past six months. 

There is much research and most studies have shown that consuming sugar for a majority of kids isn’t generally problematic. However, for some children, sugar intake can exacerbate and increase hyperactive symptoms.

Symptoms of Hyperactivity

Hyperactivity can look different at different ages, and it can vary from child to child.  Here are some common symptoms:

  • Fidgeting or constantly moving
  • Excessive talking
  • A tendency to interrupt or blurt out
  • Impulsive
  • Difficulty Focusing/Inattentive
  • Lack of follow-through
  • Easily distracted
  • Impatience

The Effect of Sugar on the Hyperactive Brain

Sugar and hyperactive disorders like ADHD are a poor combination. Sugar causes a release of dopamine in the brain, similar to stimulant drugs. For children with hyperactive behavior, sugar can further disrupt an already dysregulated brain.

A spike in blood sugar results in a spike in insulin and soon thereafter, you can experience hypoglycemia, which worsens inattention. For children with hyperactivity, a sugar crash can be particularly disruptive when they’re in the classroom. (Example: a sugary breakfast may cause a child to crash in the classroom mid-morning.)

Sugar Swaps and Substitutes

There are many sugar swaps and substitutes that won’t spike blood sugar.  Here are a few ingredients and candy brands that offer healthier versions of sweet treats:

Try a few recipes using healthier sugar swaps or purchase some treats for your Halloween candy basket that are delicious and better for you.

How Chiropractic Care Can Help Kids Experiencing Hyperactive Behaviors

Focusing adjustments on the cervical and sacral regions of the spine increases the efficiency of the parasympathetic nervous system – the nervous system responsible for rest, digestion, and overall downregulation – to do its job.

This decreases the stimulation or hyperactivity your child may be experiencing and puts their nervous system into a state of calm/relaxation. Keep in mind that it takes more than just one adjustment to make a significant impact on children with hyperactivity. The key for hyperactive kiddos is frequency and consistency!

Schedule a visit for chiropractic care at Vaida, and chat with Dr. Lydia + Dr. Bethanie to find the best treatment schedule for you and your family.

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