Adhering to a natural ADHD diet is among the best ADHD treatment strategies available to those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Although this is an important fact, many are largely unaware that a diet for ADHD exists. Just as natural cures and home remedies have been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, an ADHD diet can go a long way in calming the symptoms of this disorder and helping those afflicted with it achieve a natural, healthy, balanced life.
ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is commonly used to describe a condition that affects nearly 2 million people, primarily children, in the U.S. It is a neurobehavioral syndrome marked by the inability to focus one’s attention on certain tasks, making it very difficult for a child to learn in a traditional classroom setting or to calmly sit for a period of time. ADHD was formerly known as ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder and each diagnosis is currently classified as one of 3 different types:
- A predominately Inattentive Type
- A predominately Hyperactive-Impulsive Type
- A combined Type
Causes of ADHD
Most medical experts report that the exact cause of ADHD is unknown. Mainstream medicine believes that it is caused by a range of factors including:
- Environmental causes
- Mothers who smoked cigarettes during pregnancy
- Mothers who had difficult pregnancies
- Mothers who consumed alcohol during pregnancy
- Poor diet
When it comes to dietary causes of ADHD, it is believed that low blood sugar, heavy metal toxins, empty calories, malnutrition, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and fiber deficiencies all contribute to symptoms of ADHD.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition cites that research performed in 1994 at Purdue University discovered that boys diagnosed with ADHD were lacking proper levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. Other studies that relate to the effects of diet on ADHD have also found that children with ADHD have low levels of magnesium, as well as low levels of zinc, both of which can be properly attained in a natural diet.
The symptoms of ADHD are most frequently noticed in early childhood and are properly diagnosed by a child’s pediatrician. Some of the most notable symptoms are:
- An inability to control impulsive behaviors
- An inability to sit still for extended periods
- An inability to focus attention on tasks or activities
If symptoms are missed, are not properly diagnosed or an ADHD treatment is not sought in early childhood, it is not uncommon for symptoms to persist in adulthood and cause a variety of social, behavioral, educational and employment problems for adults.
In learning about ADHD nutrition, parents and caretakers can greatly reduce the degree to which children suffer with this disorder. An ADHD diet, properly monitored and adhered to, is a natural way to treat symptoms and often can help children avoid a dependence on risky medications for ADHD treatments, which commonly carry side effects, such as hallucinations, heart palpitations, social withdrawal, seizures and even death. One of the most commonly prescribed medications for ADHD treatment in children is the drug Ritalin, which research has proven has the same stunningly similar affect as cocaine.
While everyone should adhere to a healthy diet, it is imperative that children diagnosed with ADHD do so. An ADHD diet works in that its nutritional value assists children in heightened concentration, self-control and strengthens their learning capacities. Conversely, a poor diet can increase their symptoms and even trigger other medical issues.
Research indicates that children and adults who suffer with ADHD symptoms should avoid the following foods:
- Foods with preservatives
- Foods with artificial coloring
- Foods with unnatural chemicals
- All processed foods
- Foods containing sugar
- Foods containing MSG
- Milk and milk products
- Wheat cereals and breads
While avoiding these foods, children and adults diagnosed with this disorder should also adhere to the following ADHD diet:
- At least 2 servings per day of lean protein, such as fish, poultry eggs, tofu and/or legumes.
- A minimum of 5 fresh fruits and vegetable servings each day. Raw fruits and vegetables are best, as they are easier for the brain to metabolize and put nutrients to good use.
- Whole grains, such as whole grain cereals and breads. (Remember that wheat cereals and breads should always be avoided, unless they are whole grains.)
As part of an ADHD diet, essential fatty acids found in oily fish, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil should be increased or supplemented, as should magnesium and zinc. For an additional list of herbs and supplements that can greatly reduce the symptoms associated with ADHD go to Natural Cures for ADHD Symptoms.
Fats, such as butter and cooking oils, should be used very sparingly. As much as possible, healthy oils, such as coconut oil, olive oil or safflower oil should be substituted when oil is used. Also, as mentioned above, an ADHD diet recommends that milk and milk products be avoided and, instead, replaced with yogurt, cheese, or milk substitutes like rice milk.
Mothers should also consume a natural, healthy diet during pregnancy in order to reduce the risk of a child developing ADHD after birth. Pregnant and nursing mothers are strongly advised to avoid all processed foods, white sugar, artificial sweeteners, white flour, foods high in fat, fast foods and all junk foods.
A diet for ADHD is safe to use, offers effective results and is not accompanied by the dangerous side effects of commonly prescribed drugs used in conventional ADHD treatment. By enhancing a child’s diet with good ADHD nutrition, it is believed that a child’s behavioral symptoms can improve more than fifty to seventy percent, which is even more effective than synthetic drugs used for ADHD treatment.
Slowly, an ADHD diet is being recognized as one of the most crucial components of ADHD treatment. As it is recommended by notable professionals, such as television’s Dr. Phil (McGraw) and Dr. Lawlis, author of The ADD Answer, a natural ADHD diet can reverse ADHD symptoms, prevent a growing dependency on drugs in order to control behaviors and create general good health in children, overall.
Although an ADHD diet adherence is increasing in validation from the mainstream medical community, many are still slow to realize or admit its effectiveness. Any parent of a child with this diagnosis should be prepared for this fact, but realize that, as parents, they are their child’s best advocate for good health and are in the best position to deem the effectiveness of an ADHD diet by routinely preparing it for their children and eliminating harmful foods, which exacerbate symptoms, in the process.