Sugar does not cause hyperactivity. (In fact, sugar water—1/2 tsp. sugar in 1 oz. water—can soothe a crying baby.) As sugar enters the bloodstream and reaches the brain, it temporarily increases calming neurochemicals such as serotonin. But when blood sugar levels get too high, the body responds by producing large amounts of insulin. Blood sugar levels then drop quickly, causing a child to feel shaky, and can also trigger a craving for more sweets, which leads to a vicious cycle of highs and lows. Protein (cheese, meat, nuts) and fiber (fruits, veggies, whole grains) help slow the rise and fall of blood sugar levels.
Sunil Sazawal, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., associate professor, department of international health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, U.S.
SMART PARENTING May/June, November/December 2003, March, April, June, July, August, November 2004, April, May, June, September, December 2005
Photography by David Hanson Ong
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