Can food be used as an alternative treatment for ADHD?
The link between ADHD and nutrition have been a source of study in recent years. Some experts believe that the link between some foods can actually cure you of the disease, while others feel it will only improve your symptoms without actually curing it. Either way it seems that there is some compelling evidence to suggest that life can be improved when you watch the foods you eat. For more information on which foods are best, visit our page at:
ADHD and food allergies
The quality of food we eat has a significant affect on ADHD symptoms. For some people, nutrition alone can work as an effective alternative treatment.
A growing body of research points to nutritional deficiencies, especially with essential fatty acids and amino acids, as a contributing factor of ADHD and learning deficiencies.
Consider these ADHD nutrition research findings;
A George Washington University School of Medicine study found that hyperactive children who ate a meal high in protein did equally well or better in school than non-hyperactive kids.
An Oxford University study evaluated the effects of fatty acid supplementation in average intelligence children with significant reading and writing disabilities. The ADHD symptoms in children receiving Essential Fatty Acids significantly improved over the children in the control group receiving a placebo.
Researchers first tied ADHD with lower essential fatty acid in 1981. Studies examining essential fatty acid blood levels in children with behavioral problems in 1983 confirmed this nutrition connection.
Researchers further documented the essential fatty acid deficiency connection to ADHD in a 1995 study comparing essential fatty acid levels in boys with ADHD and without. The boys with ADHD had significantly lower levels of Omega-3 fatty acids.
In 1996 Purdue University researchers found that boys with low blood levels of Omega-3 fatty acids have a greater frequency of ADHD.
ADHD is the most common behavioral disorder in children. Statistics and studies show that a significant number of ADHD children are nutritionally deficient in essential fatty acids.
Physicians predominately use stimulant drugs such as Ritalin for treatment of ADHD, but studies show that children whose treatment program includes only stimulant medication remain at a high risk for vandalism, petty crime, frequency of alcoholic intoxication, and possession of marijuana. Additionally, ADHD medications do not always work, have a host of harmful side effects and never treat the root cause of the disorder.
Nutrition and food should be one of the first aspects of treatment to consider as an alternative treatment. Either alone or used in conjunction with traditional ADHD stimulant drug treatment.
Fatty acids are used to make brain and nerve tissue in the body and are crucial for proper growth, mental function, the immune system and brain development. The body cannot produce the two fatty acids families, Omega-3 and Omega-6, on its own and therefore must receive these key nutritional ingredients through diet and supplementation.
Although the typical Western diet is high in the Omega-6 family of fatty acids (found in corn, sunflower, canola and safflower oil, margarine, vegetable oil and shortening), most Americans are deficient in Omega-3.
Learning specialists now believe many childhood behavior and learning problems are associated with Omega-3 deficiencies. This deficiency has a greater impact on males because their requirements for essential fatty acids are, in general, much higher. It is no surprise that boys are diagnosed with ADHD at a much higher rate than girls.
Both ADHD adults and children should include food high in Omega-3 fatty acids daily. For those who don't like salmon, mackerel and sardines, flax seed and flax oil offer good alternatives. One to two tablespoons of flax oil should be part of every ADHD nutrition plan.
In addition to the positive affects on brain functioning, flax oil also works to prevent heart disease and certain types of cancer. Flax oil helps soften skin, balance energy, burn fat, stimulate the metabolism, strengthen the immune system, manage diabetes, and help prevent autoimmune disease and inflammatory disorders. Flax oil also helps alleviate PMS and some menopause symptoms.
Here are some great ways to sneak flax oil into the daily diet:
Mix 1 tablespoon of flax oil in flavored yogurt.
1 tablespoon of flax oil in fruit smoothies is virtually undetectable.
Mix 1 tablespoon of flax oil with one tablespoon maple syrup or honey as a sweetener instead of granulated sugar.
Use 1-2 tablespoons of flax oil when making tuna salad or egg salad while proportionally decreasing the amount of Miracle Whip or mayonnaise used.
Flax Butter: Melt one stick organic butter and mix with 4 ounces flax oil when cooled to room temperature. Refrigerate until the flax butter solidifies and use in place of margarine.
Omega-3 Ice Cream: Mix 2 cups yogurt with 1 tablespoon flax oil and fresh or frozen fruit. Serve when frozen.
Most studies conducted on the affects of essential fatty acids found that at least 10 weeks of supplementation is needed to adequately raised fatty acid levels in brain cells. Follow a diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids for at least 10 to 12 weeks before judging the effectiveness of nutrition on ADHD symptoms.
Important points about flax oil:
Flax oil is highly perishable and should be kept refrigerated at all time.
Heat destroys the health-giving flax oil properties. Use flax oil only with cold foods, cold proteins are best.
When buying flax oil, use only high quality, cold-pressed flax oil. The date pressed and a freshness date of four months or less from the pressed date should be on the label. If not, dont buy it!
Do not use flax seed oil beyond its expiration date since the oil will turn rancid.
Essential fatty acids are not the only element needed when addressing ADHD nutrition. Amino acids, from which protein is made, are an integral element since amino acids and essential fatty acids are both needed to work in the body. Therefore, adding quality protein is to overall nutrition.
People with ADHD can greatly reduce the level of unfocused or misdirected energy simply by starting the day with a protein based breakfast. By doing this you can increase concentration, reduce restlessness and feel more calm.
Instead of starting the day with sugared cereals, pancakes covered in syrup, sweet rolls, doughnuts or Danishes, try these brain-boosting breakfast ideas:
Scrambled eggs, toast and fruit
Whole wheat toast with peanut butter.
Fruit and yogurt smoothie with flax oil
Bacon and eggs with toast and milk
Egg and sausage patty on English muffin
Yogurt mixed with a tablespoon of flax oil