Well-meaning parents and teachers rely on psycho-stimulant drugs to deal with children who might otherwise be unmanageable. But perhaps the cause and the cure of ADHD can be found at the dinner table and in the school cafeteria.

In 1997, the student body of Central Alternative High School in Appleton, Wisconsin was out of control and getting worse. On a typical day, the faculty would cope with discipline problems, drug use, truancies, expulsions, dropouts, and weapons violations. A police officer was on staff to help maintain order.

That same year, Natural Ovens Inc. of Manitowac, Wisconsin began a 5-year study to find out if healthy nutritious foods could make a difference in reducing behavioral problems and improving academic performance at the school. The company took over providing meals and managing the cafeteria. Junk food was banished.

Gone was the typical cafeteria fare of pizza, burgers, tacos, and fries. In their place, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads, and entrees free of chemicals and additives. Natural Ovens had its own cooks prepare recipes the old-fashioned way. Students learned, maybe for the first time in their lives, how to eat properly. And the changes were dramatic.

Teachers reported that their students were calm and well-behaved. Dropouts and expulsions became almost nonexistent and students who were on a downward spiral turned their lives around. Academic achievement went up, while discipline problems went down. Students became more focused in class and had more concentration to study.

The old argument that administrators used to justify feeding children junk food – “We might as well, because they’re only going to eat it outside of school anyway” – proved to be unfounded. Once students made the connection between nutrition, learning, and behavior, the change stuck. They weren’t running to fast food joints after school for a junk-laden fix.

We can all learn a lesson from the young people in Appleton, Wisconsin. Bad food leads to bad behavior. And even worse – to a lifetime of failures and health problems.

Michael Masterson has observed that children all over this country have a metabolism that is off balance and burdened with toxins and chemicals from processed foods, too much sugar, and dangerous additives that affect neurochemistry. Our solution has been to mask the problem with even more dangerous chemicals in the form of prescription medications.

How can we call this a cure?

It’s time we paid attention to nutrition as the first and most important influence on health. If you have a child with ADHD or another learning or behavioral problem, take this article to your next PTA meeting. Join other concerned parents and lobby your school district to offer fresh nutritious meals that are free of additives and genetically modified ingredients.

Start making the same dietary changes at home. Stop buying junk food. Spend the money, instead, on organic produce and grass-fed meats. Your grocery bill may even go down!

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