Phenols found in healthy fruits, vegetables and grains could point to food allergies in your child. Phenols are chemical compounds that are found in plants. They protect the plant from infections caused by bacteria and fungi, as well as from UV radiation.
Foods in this group are generally regarded as healthy foods that we should strive to eat because they are an excellent source of antioxidants.
For some people, however, especially for children with a phenol sensitivity, these foods may be the cause of behavior problems.
What Do Phenols Have to do With a Child’s Behavior?
More research is needed to prove that phenols and salicylic acid, a phenol that is also found in plants, have an effect on a child’s behavior. But many parents of ADHD or autistic children have tried eliminating gluten and other phenol sources from their child’s diet and have seen improvements in their child’s behavior.
A food allergy can be causing the child to act out inappropriately because of the discomfort related to the allergy. For example, when gluten is eliminated from a child’s diet, he or she may not be as impulsive and may have fewer outbursts and mood swings. This change could be happening because the child does not have the distended belly or discomfort after eating gluten in pizza or pasta.
How Can You Tell if Your Child Has an Allergy to Phenol?
If you are seeing negative behavior from your child, you may see improvement when you change your child’s diet. Since a young child cannot tell you how he or she feels, he or she acts out through hyperactivity, sleepiness, temper tantrums and other negative behavior.
Keeping a food journal will help you know where to begin with an elimination diet. For instance, if your child demonstrates negative behavior after eating pizza for dinner, and you notice that this has happened before, you may want to begin by eliminating gluten from his or her diet.
An elimination diet only works when you do not deviate from it even one time, so you need to not feed any food that you are eliminating to the child for six weeks. Improvement in behavior during this time is an indication of a food allergy or food intolerance. If you maintain this diet, your child will probably demonstrate better behavior with less hyperactivity and fewer temper tantrums.
Which Foods Have High Levels of Phenols?
Berries have one of the highest levels of phenols. Other sources are oranges, apples, grapes, cherries, plums, apricots, and peaches. Fruits that are dark in color usually have the highest phenol levels.
Vegetables can also be sources of phenols: Yellow onions, cherry tomatoes, celery, broccoli, rhubarb, potatoes, artichoke, red cabbage, curly kale, and leeks are the main vegetable sources of these chemicals.
Coffee and green tea also have high levels of phenols, and so do some grains, including wheat and rice. Peas and beans are other sources where this chemical can be found.
Although it is challenging to eliminate all of these foods from your child’s diet, there are many substitutes that contain the nutrients that your child needs.