Parents of children who suffer from ADHD have
long searched for nutritional answers to either help alleviate the symptoms or cure their child of the symptoms of ADHD. ADHD is a medical condition that is thought to be controlled by several different brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
These neurotransmitters, principally dopamine, serotonin and epinephrine, control emotions, organization of thought, impulsivity and reaction to stimuli. In the past, case studies have reported a link between a large intake of sugar and problems with impulse control and hyperactivity.
More traditional Western medicine has never equated solid nutrition and a good diet with a decline in illness and disease. Eastern medicine, or Traditional Chinese Medicine, has always understood the connection between what we eat and how our bodies are able to recover from stress and illness. Today, as West more frequently meets Eastern medicine physicians are learning to recognize the positive effects of eating a well balanced diet that is high in fiber and low in animal fat and protein.
ADHD and diet needs are not different. Although sugar has been implicated in the past with hyperactivity that has usually been in children less than 5 who already have poorly developed neurological systems and who are eating well over the recommended amount of sugar.
The lack of control that individuals with ADHD suffer has been related to the decreased production of dopamine, epinephrine and serotonin. These chemicals or neurotransmitters, are responsible for the behaviors that are linked with ADHD. For some reason these individuals have difficulty producing enough of these chemicals or have reasons the body isn’t using the chemical appropriately.
Parents with children who have ADHD recognize that their children’s behavior isn’t consistent from day to day pointing a finger to other aspects of the child’s life that isn’t consistent which may have an effect on the presentation of the symptoms. One of these day to day changes are the child’s diet.
Some researchers have found that there are children who react badly to the preservatives, dyes and flavorings that are in most of today’s processed foods. These reactions lead to asthma attacks, eczema and an exacerbation of behavioral disorders including ADHD.
Parents have found that controlling the ADHD and diet of those children can help to limit the amount of medication that is required to control the behavior and to improve the overall function of the individual. These changes don’t happen overnight but parents usually see a difference within 48 hours after changing the child’s diet. Of course the temper tantrums that are thrown when the Cheeto’s and Chips disappear may seem to mimic the behavioral dysfunction of the ADHD but it really isn’t.
Parents who have waited out the anger over the disappearance of the processed foods and who have made those changes themselves have found that the overall health of the family improves and the behavior of their children improve as well.
Most physicians don’t recommend removing processed foods but when behavior improves they are willing to recommend that parents continue to make the changes that appear to be working. Unfortunately they don’t share those success stories with other families who then may be able to decrease the medication that their child is taking.
If your son or daughter has been diagnosed with ADHD changing their diet to remove all processed foods is one very natural way of decreasing the amount of medication they may need and improving their overall functioning.
ADDitude: Yummy! Mom-Approved Snacks for ADHD KIds
HealthyChildren: You Child’s Diet: A Cause and a Cure of ADHD
EveryDiet: ADHD Diet