Nutritional Alternatives for ADD and ADHD Really Work
by Dr. Laura Thompson
Yes. Yes. Yes. Children’s lives are changing with simple dietary shifts and the addition of important nutritional supplements. I see it every day! As a clinical nutritionist, specializing in family nutrition and brain nutrition, I have had the opportunity to consult with thousands of families, parents, and children in the last 10 years. I have seen about a 90% success rate in those who pursue and carry out my suggestions. What this means is that by emphasizing certain foods, eliminating others, and by including superb nutritional products into their daily intake, children diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are getting off their medications, their behavior and performance is better at school and at home, and their families are finding a sense of peace.
How can this be? It sounds so simple. Why don’t we all know about this? Well frankly, we don’t get this kind of information from our major information sources: our health experts, our doctors, or the media. There is a whole other body of evidence, clinical evidence that these people don’t read. Study after study indicates that ADD and ADHD individuals are lacking in key nutrients, and when those nutrients are not present in the body or in the diet, certain behaviors result and cognitive function is affected. Yes, aggression, anger, depression, mood swings, irritability, hyperactivity, compulsiveness, poor focus and memory, and even seizures, may have their roots in the food we eat or the food we don’t eat. These studies have shown that by supplying the nutrients that are deficient or by eliminating the food that is an allergen, both behavior improves and cognitive function increases.
So what are these problem foods and deficiencies? I commonly see what the research shows: milk allergies, wheat allergies, sensitivities to chemical preservatives, additives and food colorings, deficiencies in B6, magnesium and fatty acids, as well as yeast overgrowth and digestive problems. Gas, bloating, constipation, and poor absorption of food are extremely prevalent among kids today. It is imperative for most children to be taking probiotics or the friendly bacteria, acidophilus and bifidus. They aid in neutralizing allergies, improving digestion and bowel function, and ridding the body of yeast. (Yeast is so common because many children have a history of ear infections or respiratory conditions and antibiotic use. Though they may not seem to have any symptoms of yeast overgrowth, it is often there, but hidden). Natural solutions work, but vary, as we are all individuals. Nutritional programs are most effective, when tailored for the person or child. Here are some of my secrets:
1.) Eliminate the bad stuff. Empty out your cabinets and refrigerator by eliminating all the foods that contain words you can’t pronounce, like those that end in “ite” or “ate”. Get rid of all foods and vitamins with food colorings, and chemical preservatives. By all means don’t give your kids artificial-anything, especially artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or Nutrasweet TM. These products can negatively affect brain function, behavior, and their health. Certain foods that contain allergens may also need to be eliminated. This is a very individual issue. The common allergies for children with ADD, ADHD, asthma, allergies, and autism are: dairy, wheat, soy, eggs, oranges, chocolate, and peanuts. Many other foods can contain allergens, but these are the common ones.
2.) Put in the good stuff. Replace the food in your cabinets with unprocessed, organic, natural foods. Even the kids with no appetite will perk up when the food they are eating finally tastes like something. Appetite problems often balance out at this time. My book, Our Children Are … What Our Children Eat, contains hundreds of suggestions about foods, brand names, and meals that children like and that are good for their brains and their immune systems. They can still have macaroni and cheese, pizza, and ice cream, but they will contain different ingredients.
Other good stuff encompasses the world of nutritional supplements. I’ve already mentioned acidophilus and bifidus for digestion. I also suggest for some: B6, magnesium, calcium, cod liver oil or evening primrose oil, and many others. There is a whole world of options out there for you to try!
Now that I’ve given away some of my secrets, it’s time for you to try them or pass them on to a friend! Remember, no synthetic substance such as a drug, is masking the problem and causing artificial stimulation in my programs. Do you see what I’m saying? Real changes are being made by parents, families, and children. But most of all, these changes are taking place because people took action. They actively participated in changing their own and their families’ health. Self- responsibility and the realization thatwe can control our physical, mental, and emotional health states are part of what makes a family’s nutrition program successful.
With the drastic increase in ADD and ADHD in this country and the over use and misuse of medications, more than ever, I hear a sound of desperation in the voices of the parents. They need help! I want them to know that there are many viable and effective things that they can do to help their children. I want the teachers, school personnel and administrations to know that there are solutions that they can implement to improve the overall academic performance in their schools, improve the behavior of their kids, and create a more stress-free environment for all. It may take time, but incorporating nutritional solutions will be worth it; it brings about tremendous life changes.
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