Common Food Sensitivities and How They Impact Childhood Anxiety

Food allergies and sensitivities are on the rise and undiagnosed food allergies can have a direct effect on a child’s mental and physical health and well-being. The antibodies produced when a person consumes food that they have an intolerance to can trigger inflammation in the brain, which can lead to a variety of mental-health symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms are depression, anxiety, mental fogginess, insomnia, irritability and hyperactivity. Physical symptoms that may indicate a food allergy include: acne or eczema, digestive upset, asthma, joint paint, congestion, and/or a weakened immune system.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common undiagnosed food allergies and their relationship to anxiety:

Common Food Allergies

Dairy – Intolerance to dairy is incredibly common, and it is most often due to the inability to digest casein (a protein found in milk). Casein is extremely difficult for the body to break down. Dairy intolerance has been shown to be a direct cause of mental health symptoms, including anxiety.

Wheat/Gluten – Gluten is tied to a variety of mental health issues. In fact, many children diagnosed as autistic have been reported to show drastic improvement after gluten and casein were removed from their diet. Studies indicate that individuals who are gluten intolerant have a higher risk of depression, anxiety, and social phobia.

Corn – Corn is a basic ingredient in almost all processed foods. Corn (whether it is in the form of syrup, starch, or raw) is very difficult to digest for some. When consumed regularly (as it often is), corn syrup can disrupt the formation of neural pathways in the brain, therefor causing mental symptoms such as depression and anxiety.

Sugar – While excessive sugar intake is not healthy for anyone, some children are more sensitive to sugar than others. Sugar comes in many forms and is a prevalent staple in most children’s snack items. Some individuals do not produce enough enzymes to balance out the amount of sugar that is consumed, thus creating an imbalance that can result in a variety of physical and emotional symptoms.