About Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and How To Handle it
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common behavioral problems in children. They are inattentive, over-active; they react impulsively and present difficulties in focusing for longer periods of time. Usually, ADHD affects children and adolescents, but it can continue into adulthood, too.
The ADHD may be pretty difficult to diagnose because every child has problems with the self-control. All children are usually eager to get what they want. But for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is much harder to gain control over their impulses. They move constantly and do not take enough time to think before they act. They generally have problems paying attention or concentrating.
All these problems interfere with the child’s ability to function at school and at home. As adults, ADHD people have difficulties with time management, organizational skills, goal setting, and employment.
The exact cause of ADHD is not known, although researchers continue to study the brain for clues. It is believed that heredity, some over-active areas in the brain and some chemical imbalances are the main factors of ADHD. It was also proven that deficiencies in certain types of foods can worsen ADHD symptoms in children and adults. Numerous studies have shown that the behavior of some children improves when they avoid certain foods.
According to one of the most famous ADHD diets, Dr.’s Benjamin Feingold Diet, the foods and food additives that can worsen ADHD are:
- artificial colorings (Red 40 and Yellow 5);
- artificial flavorings (including vanillin, used in synthetic vanilla);
- artificial sweeteners (acesulfame-K, aspartame, saccharin, sucralose);
- BHA, BHT, and TBHQ preservatives;
- sodium benzoate and benzoic acid ;
- high sugar food and snacks – ADHD kids are “turned on” by copious amounts of sugar.
- food that causes allergies – According to studies, gluten, wheat, corn, and soy cause some children to lose focus and become more hyperactive.
- fruits and vegetables like: almonds, cucumbers, peppers, apples, apricots, currants plums, prunes, cherries, nectarines, orange, tomatoes etc.
- aspirin (acetyl salicylate) and medications that contain it.
Even if there can be found on the Internet a lot of lists of foods that a diet for ADHD management should avoid, it is highly recommended to adapt the diet to each particular case. From this point of view, any parent of an ADHD child should keep a journal of the foods the child ate during a day and note the child’s behavior afterwards. The foods that seem to aggravate the ADHD symptoms should be eliminated from the diet.
On the other hand, considering the foods that should be eaten by a person with ADHD, it is well known that adequate levels of the right foods optimize brain function. The diet of an ADHD person should include higher levels of:
- Protein. Protein-rich foods are used by the body to make neurotransmitters, the chemicals released by brain cells to communicate with each other. Protein can prevent surges in blood sugar, which increase hyperactivity.
- Zinc, Iron, and Magnesium. These minerals regulate the neurotransmitter dopamine. Low levels of these substances correlate with inattention. They can be found in lean meats, poultry, seafood, nuts, soy, and fortified cereals.
- B Vitamins. Higher levels of B vitamins improved some IQ scores and reduced aggression and antisocial behavior. Vitamin B-6 seems to increase the brain’s levels of dopamine, which improves alertness.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Eating fish with high contents of Omega-3s reduces ADHD symptoms noticeable.
- Stimulating herbs for teenagers and adults: Ginkgo and Ginseng, Pycnogenol, Rhodiola Rosea; these herbs are forbidden for young children.
Proper diet can improve ADHD symptoms, but it doesn’t completely eliminate this medical condition. If a child does not significantly benefit from a specific diet, other treatment options, like medications and behavioral counseling, should be considered.