Foods to Eat To Alleviate ADHD SymptomsADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity is a health condition that has been affecting millions of children worldwide. The sad fact is that health professionals are still clueless as to how this condition arises. There are theories but they’ve been proven yet. The health department is also short on treatments as there are still unanswered questions regarding this condition.
Currently, it’s the most common behavioral condition that occurs in children. However, ADHD isn’t a single disease. Instead, it’s a collection of behavioral problems.
This condition affects more boys than girls. Although most of us think that this condition is characterized by hyperactivity and tantrums, it’s not always like that. Asthma, passive smoking and early exposure to TV are considered to be contributing factors to this condition. Then again, its real cause is still murky.
Currently, the only thing that’s clear in this situation is the fact that the child’s nutrition plays an important role in the equation of ADHD. Several studies have already made a connection between the behavior of kids with this condition and their allergies to food, as well as the lack of key nutrients, which are essential in the development of their brain and function.
Unfortunately, health professionals are still doubtful that diet can cause ADHD. For them, eliminating food that can trigger allergies or adding foods that can correct nutritional imbalances won’t cure this condition. These professionals are likely to provide their patients with stimulant drugs, like Ritalin, to help with their symptoms.
Although those drugs that are prescribed to patients with this condition can somehow positively affect their bad behavior, there are several concerns that kids will become dependent on it. Ritalin or methylphenidate is similar to cocaine. In fact, it has been used by many teenagers as a recreational street drug. Plus, it has plenty of negative reactions, like stunted growth, nervous tics and cardiovascular problems.
Because of these red flags, diet may be your child’s safer bet when looking for ways to change his/her bad behavior.
So, what are the foods that an ADHD sufferer should be eating to minimize his/her symptoms?
Iron is an important nutrient that regulates the chemical dopamine in the brain. Research showed that low levels of iron are associated with a decreased attention. It’s also linked to inability to focus. French researchers found that the iron levels of children with this medical condition are significantly lower than those without this condition.
Should children take iron supplements?
There are small studies suggesting that these supplements may reduce hyperactivity and enhance behavior. Health experts highly recommend getting iron from food. This is because some of these supplements can cause constipation, which can negatively affect absorption of proper nutrients. As a result, the user won’t be getting too much iron. This will then lead to a dangerous condition.
Health experts do recommend getting 5 to 8 mg of iron each day. One of the best sources is lean red meat. It contains high amount of haem iron, which is the kind of iron that’s easily absorbed by the body. Non-haem iron is less easily absorbed by the body. It’s a kind of iron found in plant foods. However, you can pair it with a vitamin-C rich food item to help with the absorption process.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS FOODS
Several studies suggest that an insufficient intake of omega-3s can cause development and psychiatric disorders, like autism and depression. Other studies also indicate children with ADHD have lower amount of these essential fatty acids. Researchers also found that children who don’t take enough omega3s have behavioral problems.
That said, it’s possible that patients with this condition have low amount of omega-3s because of two reasons. It could be that they didn’t get enough of this nutrient from their diets. Or they bodies aren’t capable of metabolizing such nutrient. This may also explain why boys are more prone to this condition than girls. Women’s body conserves omega-3s in their body when they don’t get enough of it. However, the testosterone in boys has the opposite effect.
How does this nutrient factor into this medical condition?
There are several theories and one of them is the fact that omega-3s affect neurotransmitters in the brain, especially dopamine and serotonin. With low levels of these essential fatty acids, you’ll have lower levels of dopamine. Keep in mind that this chemical is essential in certain executive functions, like controlling impulses and staying focused on certain tasks. Since Ritalin’s main goal is to improve dopamine levels, it’s also possible that by increasing the omega-3s could also improve dopamine levels.
ADHD and Bipolar Disorder
Researchers noticed that certain symptoms of ADHD are similar to bipolar disorder. Thus, they wonder whether or not some of the symptoms of ADHD are actually an anxiety disorder. Although studies are still ongoing to unveil the truth, experts who examined psychiatric disorders believed that decreased amount of omega-3s is linked to depression and schizophrenia. That said, insufficient amount of omega-3s in the body would cause you to be more anxious and moody.
Eating fish everyday can help your kids improve their omega-3s content in the body. However, you mustn’t abuse it as some fish contain high amount of mercury, which is very toxic to their small bodies. Although the dangers of eating fish are outweighed by their benefits, you must avoid eating large species, especially those fish that consume another fish. These species will include catfish, shark, swordfish and sea perch. However, if you live in Australia and New Zealand where there are low levels of mercury, you may not limit your fish intake.
But omega-3s aren’t only found in fish but they’re also found in sunflower seeds, linseeds and nutbutters. Brazil nuts and tahini are also good sources of this nutrient.
To gain the benefits of omega-3s, you should eat two servings of fatty fish each week.
FOODS RICH IN PROTEIN AND COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES
Instead of allowing your kids to enjoy highly processed sugar and flours, try serving them with more protein and high-fiber food. Foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates can also help in eliminating some symptoms of this condition as they can stabilize their blood sugar levels. Although the body needs sugar for energy, too much of its can negatively disrupt brain function.
Refined carbohydrates are easily digested by the body causing blood sugar levels to rise. As a result, the body releases high amount of insulin to remove the sugar from the bloodstream causing blood sugar levels to go down. When blood sugar levels are getting too low, the brain rebels causing you to feel tired and irritable, which are symptoms of ADHD.
However, when your child opts to eat foods that are high in fiber and protein, your body tends to slowly digest them, thereby, regulating blood sugar levels. With continuous energy, the brain functions better leading to a better behavior.
Teach your child to eat a good breakfast. A certain study in the US found that those who ate a bowl of food rich in complex carbohydrates are said to perform better in memory tests than those kids who opted to eat only sugary foods or they skipped breakfast.
Fill your child’s plate with colored vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. To slowly eliminate sugary cereal from your child’s diet, you may mix regular cereal to a healthier cereal that’s high in fiber to help them adjust to the new taste. Then, slowly reduce the amount of sugary cereal until your kid can live without it.
After knowing some of the foods your kids must try to eat to reduce the symptoms of ADHD, you must know the types of food that must be deleted from the menu.
DON’T EAT THESE FOOD ITEMS AS THEY CAN TRIGGER ADHD SYMPTOMS
Highly processed foods are also a no-no to your kids with ADHD as they don’t contain vitamins and minerals.
Whether your kid has this medical condition or not, having a steady blood sugar levels can indeed benefit the brain. In the case of hyperactive kids, their body may have difficulty metabolizing sugar. Keep in mind that low blood sugar is associated with problems related to attention and focus. Low blood sugar may also cause frustration and moodiness.
By reducing sugar intake, you’re not only reducing symptoms of ADHD but you’re also starving the harmful bacteria and fungi that thrive in the digestive tract. An overgrowth of harmful bacteria is said to cause another developmental condition in children known as autism.
ARTIFICIAL COLORS, PRESERVATIVES AND OTHER FOODS THAT CAN TRIGGER ALLERGIC REACTIONS
Eliminating them from your kid’s diet may help reduce their symptoms. Experts believe that many children with ADHD have undiagnosed food allergies that could be the result of their symptoms. However, such theory hasn’t been proven yet.
Nevertheless, eliminating these triggering foods may improve symptoms of ADHD. It’s also advisable to undergo comprehensive allergy testing to identify possible food triggers.
Unfortunately, preservatives aren’t the only culprits in food intolerances. Those natural flavors found in some foods may also cause symptoms of food intolerances.
To identify those foods, you may need to undergo a series of tests. A qualified physician must conduct those tests. Elimination diets can help identify those potential foods that could trigger intolerances.
But this process must only be conducted by a dietitian as this may result in nutritional insufficiency. It’s also important to note that artificial coloring is found in various products, like toothpaste, medicines and vitamins.
How about breastfeeding? Can it help avoid ADHD?
Breastfeeding can offer a lot of benefits to babies. It lowers incidence of infections.
But did you know that breastfeeding may also protect your baby from having this condition? Breast milk is a rich source of essential fatty acids, which are important in the development of the baby’s brain and eyes. That said, WHO recommends breastfeeding babies for at least 12 months. If you have trouble producing milk, you may use milk formulas that are fortified with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).