Category Archives: ADD and Diet

Many parents are finding that changes in diet can help their child with ADD. Find out what types of changes are recommended.

candies with food dyes

Effects of Food Dyes in ADHD Patients

candies with food dyesThere is an alarming trend among pediatric patients that has recently made front page news. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed 73,000 children and concluded that one in every 10 has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

This is an upsetting 22% increase since 2003. Although there is still quite a bit of controversy regarding the causes and treatment of ADHD, research has confirmed that a toxic food supply and unhealthy lifestyle patterns are the chief contributing factors for this disorder.

There seems to be a consensus among researchers in considering chronic ADHD as a sign of mild brain damage. When certain regions of the brain remain chronically inflamed they fail to function in a proper way. Inflammation inhibits frontal lobe function, which in turn is responsible for concentration and emotional stability.

Other more “primitive” or basic regions of the brain go on overdrive establishing a pattern of poor responses to otherwise mild stimuli. In short, it leads to poor concentration, emotional outbursts and an exacerbated sense of frustration.

There seems to be a strong link between ADHD and a diet that causes inflammation. The main culprits are food additives and other chemicals that are neurotoxic. They are present in every conceivable food item in the market, sometimes in combination with other toxic substances.

A recent study published in The Lancet, concluded that food dyes along with the common preservative sodium benzoate cause many children to become significantly more hyperactive and distractible. This study also concluded that food additives and dyes can do as much damage to children’s brains as the lead in gasoline.


There are also some digestive problems that can dramatically affect brain function and development. A common factor among patients with ADHD is a weak digestive system and the presence of food allergies.

Often times a fungus infection can be present which could be producing more toxic substances that further disrupt the brain‘s proper function. It is wise to address any underlying intestinal problem in order to heal it by avoiding allergens and supplementing with high quality probiotics.

The most common food allergens to avoid include all dairy products and gluten containing grains such as wheat, barley, rye, oats, kamut, & spelt. Soy products are a typical culprit, as are some nuts and eggs.

An anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle are highly recommended for a steady improvement from this condition. Anti-inflammatory foods help to modulate the immune system. To effectively eliminate inflammation from the tissues, it is key to completely avoid precooked foods, sugars, and trans fats.

Children, teenagers and adults with ADHD symptoms do very well to incorporate to their daily routine a regular exercise program. Many hyperactive kids are naturally drawn to activities such as bouncing and jumping on a trampoline as well as balance sports such as skating, surfing and snowboarding. All of these balance based activities powerfully enhance the correct functioning of the brain and play an important role in the overall well being of the patient.

Is The Food Supply Contributing to the ADHD Epidemic?

It seems to be quite obvious that the old adage “You Are What You Eat” has become more and more true in recent decades.

We are all more or less familiar with the concept of foods that are good for us and also with the idea that certain other foods can be detrimental to our health.

What most of us do not know is that the US food supply is chock-full with petroleum-based substances, artificial food dyes and even synthetic chemical pesticides. These are man-made additives that are introduced into our food in order to alter its natural qualities and, most commonly, to extend the shelf life of the products in question.

Startlingly, extensive research has shown that many of these additives are linked to many diseases and troubling conditions. In fact, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other behavioral problems in children seem to be among the most prevalent of conditions linked to an adulterated food supply.

Parents are the only ones standing between their children and these common additives already present in many common foods. For those wishing to avoid them, purchasing organic foods seems to be the safest alternative.

Ironically, it was a 2007 study conducted by researchers at the University of Southampton in the UK that prompted a study by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) into the safety of artificial food dyes and a variety of pesticides. That study found a direct correlation between the habitual consumption of artificial additives and a spike in ADHD rate among young children.


Barely a year later, in 2008, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) chose to  petition the FDA to ban nine specific color additives that had been the focus of the above mentioned UK study. The CSPI has not always shown adherence to the natural health movement and to some these recommendations came as a welcome move towards a safer, healthier food supply worldwide.

A different study published in the journal Pediatrics also found that sustained exposure to common organophosphate pesticides is strongly connected with higher levels of ADHD in children.

This study prompted the 2010 US President’s Cancer Panel Report to offer advice to consumers that urges them to avoid conventionally grown foods and to instead choose food grown without the use of chemical pesticides, growth hormones and other synthetic additives.

Christine Bushway, OTA’s Executive Director and CEO explained in response to this advice:

“Organic food production and processing represent the only system that uses certification and inspection to verify that synthetic food dyes and chemicals are not used. Those seeking to minimize their exposure to these chemicals can look for the USDA Organic label wherever they buy their food.”

These facts are a sobering reminder that ADD is not just genetic, as many would have us believe. There are significant environmental factors that can increase a person’s risk of being diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.

There are entire industries that wish to cover up this information. In this case, conventional agribusiness has a vested interest in the suppression of facts.

It is critical that the word gets out allowing parents to protect their children from chemical exposure wherever it may occur.

References:

FDA, “Quick Minutes: Food Advisory Committee Meeting March 30-31, 2011” http://www.fda.gov/advisorycommittees/ Accessed October 12, 2011

MedPageToday, “Food Dyes and Preservatives May Make Junior Act Up” http://www.medpagetoday.com/Psychiatry/ADHD-ADD/6610 Accessed October 12, 2011

Organic Trade Association, “Organic foods offer alternative to foods containing food dyes, pesticides linked to raising children’s risk of ADHD” http://www.organicnewsroom.com/2011/03/organic_foods_offer_alternativ.html Accessed October 12, 2011

CNN, “Study: ADHD linked to pesticide exposure” http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/05/17/pesticides.adhd/index.html Accessed October 12, 2011

Fish Oil Supplements for a Healthy Brain

Among the many products on the market that advertise miraculous cures for almost any condition under the sun, there is no shortage that claim to be of benefit to those with ADHD.

It is true that different individuals respond differently to the same treatment, but there is a particular supplement that has remained uncontested as the best ADHD aid the world over. The product in question is the humble fish oil.

Chock full of omega 3 fatty acids, fish oil is extremely valuable as a preventative aid for a wide number of diseases. It is often combined with medications as part of a comprehensive protocol to fight against serious illnesses as well as chronic conditions.

No other supplement is so recognized as a major ally in the fight against brain deterioration and aging. There have been such a vast number of studies that its benefits are quite indisputable and are accepted by medical professionals everywhere.

A most revealing study was done at the University of South Australia. Researchers there tested a combination of omega-3 fish oil and evening primrose oil which is rich in omega-6 oil. In the study, 132 children with ADHD, ranging in age from seven to 12 were given this combination of oils. After the 30-week study ended, half of the parents reported that their children’s symptoms were improved and changes in behavior were noticeable.


During the study, the kids were divided into three groups. Throughout the first 15 weeks, the first group took the fish oil/primrose oil combination. The second group took the same combination plus a multivitamin/mineral supplement and a third group took a placebo. For the second 15 weeks, the kids on the placebo got the fish oil/primrose oil combination plus the multivitamin/mineral as well.

The results correlated to the amount of time the children were given the fish oil supplements. A 40% to 50% improvement in behavior for the two 30-week fish-oil groups was estimated. A 30% to 40% improvement for the 15-week group was also noticed. Compared with results of studies of Ritalin and Concerta, the drugs most often prescribed for ADHD, they found that fish oils were, in fact, more effective.

It has been reported that levels of omega-3s in the plasma and red blood cells of children with ADHD are significantly lower than in kids who don’t exhibit symptoms of the disorder. Since many parents make it a priority to find an alternative to stimulant drugs, it is vitally important that this information be known to them.

While Ritalin can have excellent results in some cases, it has been over-prescribed for a long time now. We must not forget that with a few benefits come many risks of such serious long term side effects as loss of appetite, insomnia, changes in personality and heart damage. There is also some evidence that it can stunt growth when the drug is taken from a very early age.

Therefore, it is generally recommended by pediatricians that a quality multivitamin as well as a good pro-biotic be taken along with a quality fish oil supplement. Most importantly, always make sure that you are purchasing a high quality, mercury-free, fresh fish oil that will deliver the most benefit to your child’s brain. To purchase the fish oil brand I recommend click here.

Best Dietary Tips for a Healthy Brain

Coffee Makes the brain alertThere s a great deal of buzz about foods and dietary supplements. The manufactures promise they can do everything, from sharpen focus and concentration, to enhance memory, attention span and overall brain function.

Is there any evidence that they really work? Aging healthfully is key to maintaining proper function of many organs and the brain is one of them. The good news is that you can increase your chances of keeping a healthy brain when you consume some common, yet powerful, foods and beverages.

Caffeine makes you alert…in moderation

There are certain substances, like caffeine, that can energize your brain. It can help you focus and concentrate. It is found in coffee, chocolate and as an additive in some popular drinks. It gives you that unmistakable wake-up buzz but the effects are usually short term. Most importantly, overdoing it on caffeine will make you jittery and uncomfortable, so moderation is key.

Sugar feeds your brain…in moderation

There is no doubt that sugar is your brain’s preferred fuel source. However, we are not talking about table sugar, but glucose, which your body metabolizes from the sugars and carbohydrates you consume. Favor complex carbohydrates and healthy, naturally sweet snacks over refined sugar and you are sure to help your brain stay sharper without packing on the pounds.

Always Eat Breakfast to wake up Your Brain

Many studies have found that eating breakfast may improve short-term memory and attention. Students who eat breakfast tend to perform significantly better than those who skip it. Best foods to eat in the morning include high-fiber whole grains, low fat dairy, and fruits. However, researchers also found that high-calorie breakfasts appear to hinder concentration.

Fish and Fish oil keep you brain Supple

Fish is the preferred protein source for a great brain boost. It is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, essential for brain function and development. These healthy fats truly are vital for your brain. In fact, higher amounts of dietary omega 3 fatty acids are linked to lower dementia and stroke. They also seem to play a role in enhancing memory, especially as we get older.


Avocados and Whole Grains Keep Cholesterol at Bay

Nothing is more important to organs in the body than abundant blood flow. This is especially true for the heart and brain. Eating a diet high in whole grains and fruits like avocados can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and lower bad cholesterol. Such changes reduce your risk of plaque buildup, thus enhancing blood flow creating a tasty way to fire up brain cells.

Go Nuts and Add some Chocolate too

Nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant. Its absence in the diet has been associated with cognitive decline as you age. Dark chocolate not only has very powerful antioxidant properties but it also contains natural stimulants like caffeine which enhance focus and concentration.

Enjoy up to an ounce a day of nuts and dark chocolate to provide all the benefits you need without excess calories, fat, or sugar.

Blueberries Are a Brain Superfood

Research in lab animals shows that blueberries may help protect the brain from the damage caused by free radicals. It may also reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Studies also show that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning and muscle function of aging rats, closing the gap between the older rats and their much younger counterparts.

The main conclusion is that if your diet lacks essential nutrients, it will decrease your ability to maintain a healthy brain. To achieve the most benefit for your brain consistently strive for a well-balanced diet full of a wide variety of healthy, wholesome foods.

References:

Web MD, “Slideshow: Brain Foods That Help You Concentrate” http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/slideshow-brain-foods-that-help-you-concentrate Accessed September 18, 2011.

Understanding Childhood ADHD – Symptoms, Behaviors & Causes

boy with addThe acronym ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as hyperactivity or attention deficit disorder (ADD). It has become quite a common condition among children as well as a source of concern and controversy among parents.

Children with diagnosed ADHD generally have problems paying attention or concentrating. They can’t seem to follow directions with ease and are easily bored and often frustrated with tasks. They also tend to move or fidget constantly and are very impulsive in their actions.

It would be simple to assume that any of these behaviors are common in children and are of no concern whatsoever. Nevertheless, a myriad of symptoms that present themselves in unison, consistently seem to point to ADHD rather than to a case of a merely spirited youngster.

Oftentimes, the symptoms occur more frequently than usual and are more severe in a child with ADHD. These behaviors are so insidious that they interfere with the child’s ability to function at school and at home.

Symptoms of ADHD are generally grouped into three main categories: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

Inattention

When inattention is a problem, the child is very easily distracted. He or she is unable to follow directions at all or to properly follow them in an organized sequence. As a result, tasks are left unfinished.

The child also appears to not be listening when spoken to directly. He or she will make careless mistakes over and over and will appear frustrated or contrary. Even in the case of daily activities, he will need reminders constantly and will struggle to stay organized. He will express dislike for activities that require sustained effort and will prefer to remain in his own world or daydreaming.


Hyperactivity

Hyperactivity is another hallmark behavior found in children with ADHD. The child  often squirms, fidgets or bounces when sitting and has difficulty playing quietly with toys or games. He or she is always moving around, sometimes running or climbing on things unaware of the danger.

In school situations, the child does not remain seated when expected to do so. He talks excessively and out of turn without understanding how to take turns.

Impulsivity

Impulsivity can be found in almost every diagnosed case of ADHD. It can be a source of frustration not only for the child but also for those around him. Besides not waiting for his or her turn during activities or games, the child blurts answers or comments at odd times during a conversation or while the teacher is talking. He or she interrupts others but dislikes being interrupted himself. Not understanding that impulsive behavior is often interpreted as rudeness by others, the child feels undeservedly reprimanded.

Although the exact cause of ADHD is not known, researchers continue to study the brain for answers. Researchers believe that there are several conclusive factors that contribute to the condition. These are:

  • Heredity: ADHD seems to run in families. This fact suggests a strong genetic predisposition. Thus, children may inherit a tendency to develop ADHD from their parents.
  • Chemical imbalance: Experts believe that an imbalance of certain substances  essential in communication between nerve cells called neurotransmitters, may be a factor in the development of ADHD.
  • Brain changes: It has been documented that areas of the brain that control attention are much less active in children with ADHD than in children without the disorder.

A variety of other factors may also contribute to the development of ADHD. In many cases, poor nutrition, certain prenatal infections and substance abuse (including cigarette and alcohol) during pregnancy seem to be triggers since they can affect the development of the baby’s brain.

Later in childhood lead exposure can also affect brain development and may lead to ADHD symptoms. Of course, injury to the brain due to an accident may trigger ADHD symptoms as well.

References:

Medicine Net, “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)” http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=42948 Accessed September 14, 2011.

Web MD, “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: What Is ADHD?” http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd Accessed September 14, 2011.