Focus / Attention, Learning Disorders & Diet

The parents of Little Johnny have kept him home from school to visit the doctor.

He had been complaining of an upset stomach, sluggish, not paying attention in
class, hyper active at home and at school and is having temper outbursts quite frequently.

The doctor appointment is at 9:00 am.  They are running late so Johnny skips his normal breakfast settling instead for a banana as they rush off to the doctor.

The doctor completes his examination and runs a few tests and suggested it may be attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity.

A brief conversation with mom and child turns up nothing earth shattering.  Based upon preliminary data, it is recommended a good multiple vitamin and a sleep routine of getting to bed at regularly scheduled time that will allow him unwind time free of action shows and action video games.

Dad and Mom follow this regimen for three weeks hoping to see results.  The results were discouraging.  The swings were great going from obstinate behavior to sleeping in class.  Little Johnny’s education continued to suffer.

Johnny’s parents heard about BrainTek’s Brain Management program and how our video game format has helped other students improve grades and improve behavior.  They called us to schedule an appointment.

During our initial interview, I asked if Johnny complained about a nervous stomach and the dizzy feelings and if so, when.  His mother said the day before.

I followed with the following questions.

•  What time did he go to bed the night before?

•  What was his mood and attitude right before he went to bed ?

•  How long did it take him to go to sleep ?

•  Did he have nightmares ?

•  Describe his mood when you woke him up for school ?

•  Did he eat breakfast ?

•  What did he eat for breakfast ?

•  Describe his mood before breakfast ?

•  Did he complete his meal ?

•  Describe his mood leaving the house and during the ride to school ?

Little Johnny reluctantly wakes up at 7 AM to get ready for school.  Mom helps him get dressed leads to the bathroom and to the kitchen for breakfast.  Mom has fixed him his favorite cereal, toast & jam and orange juice.  For mom, it is quick, easy and for Little Johnny, he has no problems wolfing down his breakfast.  The box says fortified with vitamins and minerals so it's got to be good for him right ?  

Here's the reality; that bowl of cereal contains about five teaspoons of sugar per serving.  His toast is covered with butter and jam, another five teaspoons of sugar.  Now, his orange juice which is pure carbohydrates has digested into simple sugar.

What happens next is of no surprise.  Within minutes, his entire breakfast rushes into the bloodstream in the form of glucose, unimpeded by slower digesting protein and fat.

Remember, the brain is fueled by Glucose, Oxygen, Amino Acids and Proteins.  This breakfast is nutrient deprived.  How about Glucose ?  The brain needs it right ?  I cannot deny the fact.  However, the best type of glucose is derived from natural sugars, not processed.  

Now, Little Johnny is off to school.  In the classroom, changes are happening within his brain and body.  Noticeable signs can start in as little as fifteen minutes, but in Johnny’s case, the teacher would notice his behavior about a half hour into the class.  What brought about such a negative change in such an otherwise fine young man?

His breakfast had the equivalent of 15 - 17 teaspoons of sugar.  Little Johnny’s brain and body is so overtaxed by the sugar high that it affects his breathing and oxygen intake.  What does such an overdose of sugar do for Little Johnny?  He is so overtaxed by the sugar high that it has a negative affect his breathing and oxygen intake.  The adrenaline rush has him feeling light headed with no way to focus in this state of brain and body imbalance.  Being overdosed on processed sugar is dangerous and has a profound affect on the neurochemicals of the brain.  

The pancreas tries to bring balance by dumping insulin into the blood stream to remove excess sugars before they can burn the brain.  If the pancreas is successful, the excess sugar is pulled out of the blood stream and rerouted to the liver.  When the liver is full, the excess sugar is stored as fat.  A future consideration here would be to watch for childhood diabetes.

Just as quickly as the internal trauma started, it can go from overdose / adrenaline high / flight or fight to now experience the downer.  Going from Sugar Overdose, the pancreas insulin response was exaggerated so Johnny’s blood sugar plunges.  Usually, blood sugar levels are too low after such an insulin response which causes the brain to panic.  For Little Johnny, the chemical activity going on inside his body and brain have him experiencing a variety of sensations such as light headedness, dizziness, nervous stomach and nervous tension.  This state brings about a variety of other key problems such as auditory, visual and cognitive processing.

Although this story is about a child, this same problem happens in the lives of adults daily.  Once you understand the brain activity and bodily response in Johnny, you will be able to apply the same principal yourself or your own child. Children.  In school or productivity matters and for that matter, anyone who may complain of similar cognitive / mental problems.

How did we resolve the issue for Johnny and his family?

Fortunately for Johnny, he gets out of school at noon, but when he gets home, Little Johnny drops onto the overstuffed chair and tosses a blank stare at the wall, the door, the TV, as he still hasn’t recovered  from the morning excitement.  From time to time, his adrenal glands activate to try and bring some order to his body.  His sugar is still too low and his adrenal glands give him a short burst of adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream in an attempt to raise the blood sugar.  Of course, this extra cortisol and adrenaline makes him hyperactive and could affect the hippocampus, the gatekeeper to memory and learning.

His body has been trying to correct itself all day.  He is a pawn to a chemical imbalance brought about by a careless diet.  Throughout the day, Little Johnny has experienced many uncomfortable emotions, physical adjustments and mental imbalance.  To his teacher, parents and day care providers, he has been hyperactive, obstinate and challenging.

This imbalance interrupts sleep as well as the waking periods. Dad and Mom are usually at wits end by the time they enter your office to discuss the sleep or ADD / ADHD issues and the child’s challenges to sleep when they do go to bed.

This problem is not limited to children.  It is one of the greatest problems we have today. The difference is as adults; we know when we have over did it and are careful that we avoid the unpleasant experience in the future.  Children on the other hand love the sugars, sweets and goo.  Children don’t understand the negative affects of an imbalanced diet and the effects diet has on the way they feel.

BrainTek will closely with your primary care physician and your family.  We offer a variety of assessments that include neuro electrical, neuro chemical and neuro physiology.  These assessments show us imbalances within the brain; a food and environmental sensitivities test can identify things in the diet or your environment that can throw you out of balance and affect the way you feel. Our proprietary protocols help return you to balance.

Dr. Maness is a member of ISNR, the International Society of Neurofeedback and Research.  He can be reached through the BrainTek Institute at and email at  BrainTek’s primary office is in San Diego, California with a satellite office in Boston, Mass.  For additional information, we can be contacted by email, or by telephone, 858-222-9138.

Schedule your appointment today by calling BrainTek:  858-222-9138

International Society for Neurofeedback Research


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