Over the Counter: Nutrition key for kids with ADD/ADHD

Source: Metro West Daily News

The number of children diagnosed with a spectrum disorder has increased dramatically in the last decade. Spectrum disorders include attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Asperger’s syndrome and autism. The severity of these disorders can range from a child who has difficulty concentrating in school to one who cannot communicate at all. In this column, we would like to focus on ADD/ADHD.

Many people wonder why the incidence of ADD/ADHD is increasing so dramatically. There are varying explanations, some of which are commonly understood and others which are controversial. One thing we do know is that schools are much more focused on diagnosing children who have ADD/ADHD. Years ago, these children were often simply considered “unruly.” Changes in diet over many years, with a shift to greater consumption of hydrogenated fat and refined sugar, is believed to have also played a role in this surge.

Another possible cause that has been highly debated is the measles/mumps/rubella vaccine. A higher incidence has been linked to children who have had the vaccine, but the research methods that have led to this conclusion have been called into question.

One thing that is essential when treating ADD/ADHD is to get nutrition and digestion in order. The wrong foods, those that are highly complex, fatty and sweet, are harder for the body to digest and can alter the natural balance among the neurotransmitters which regulate behavior. Many children in the spectrum have a digestive imbalance. This leads to craving simple carbohydrates (white sugar and flour) which is very disruptive to one’s health. By correcting the digestive imbalance, the cravings for these bad foods diminishes, and the ability to digest more complex beneficial foods such as fish, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats improves.

The body has excitatory and calming neurotransmitters. Children with ADD/ADHD have an imbalance, with too many excitatory neurotransmitters and not enough calming nerotransmitters. This means children get too excited, lose their focus, and then “melt down” as they cannot gradually calm down.

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