Tag Archives: Diet

Four Ways to Reduce ADHD Symptoms

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a complex disorder that can affect individuals across the lifespan. In recent years, ADHD has been on the rise in children. Neuroscience has shown us that Dopamine, a neurotransmitter important in mood regulation, is lower in the brains of children with ADHD. Additionally, the brains of individuals with ADHD are structurally different with reduced volume in regions responsible for focus and attention such as the prefrontal cortex and cerebellum.

The good news is…

The good news is the brain has neuroplasticity, which means that it can grow and change with stimulation and the right nutrient intake.

Enhance your child’s well-being using these strategies:

  1. Limit processed foods. Children should eat real, whole foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, and seeds.  Whole foods are full of nutrients that your child’s brain and body needs to function correctly.  A whole food diet can aid in neurotransmitter production, cognition, and enhance health.  You do not need to eliminate all packaged and processed foods, but significantly reducing processed foods is the best thing you can do for your child’s health.
  2. Reduce sugar intake. Sugar is harmful to all kids, but it is especially harmful to those with ADHD. Research has found that sugar can dysregulate levels of dopamine, which are already lower in children with ADHD. Added sugar, that is processed and doesn’t occur naturally in whole foods such as fruits, is harmful to the brain and body. One can of soda contains 10 teaspoons or more of added sugar, which is more than the daily minimum, not to mention the other harmful artificial ingredients such corn syrup.
  3. Load up on healthy fats. Healthy fats are good for the brain and nervous system because both, are mostly made up of fats. Omega-3s are an example of healthy fats that reduce inflammation. Healthy fats can be found in nuts, salmon, and avocados. These fats keep your child’s brain healthy by helping neurotransmitters function properly.
  4. Exercise regularly. Exercise helps dopamine functioning. It is not only important for physical health, but mental health as well. Movement promotes the release of “feel good chemicals” such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. Our favorite form of exercise is aerial yoga. Other forms of exercise such as running, biking, swimming and karate are also good for the brain and body.
  5. Be Mindful. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention on purpose. When your child practices mindfulness it trains their brain to slow down and focus.

In Summary,

If your child has ADHD, you can reduce symptoms naturally by exercising regularly, eating healthy fats, reducing sugar, practicing mindfulness, and limiting processed foods.

References

Schnoll R, Burshteyn D, Cea-Aravena J. Nutrition in the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a neglected but important aspect. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2003;28:63–75. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

Kim WK, Cho S. Sugar and cognitive performance. Korean J Nutr. 2007;40(Suppl):50–65. [Google Scholar]

Christiansen, L., Beck, M. M., Bilenberg, N., Wienecke, J., Astrup, A., & Lundbye-Jensen, J. (2019). Effects of Exercise on Cognitive Performance in Children and Adolescents with ADHD: Potential Mechanisms and Evidence-based Recommendations. Journal of clinical medicine8(6), 841. doi:10.3390/jcm8060841

The Feingold Diet For ADHD?

Food additives prohibited

The concept that diet may be affecting children’s behavior gained public attention in the 1970s. In 1973, Feingold, pediatrician and allergist, created controversy at a medical conference by asserting that 50 percent of children he treated improved following an elimination diet of all artificial food colors, flavors, preservatives, and salicylates (Tomlinson, Wilkinson, & Wilkinson, 2009). I bet that was one hell of a medical conference!

Feingold reported food additives, including dyes and salicylates, which are chemicals that occur in some fruits, were the cause of behavioral problems in children. Since then, research has attempted to determine the validity of his claims in various ways. Studies have compared restrictive diets to regular diets or put children on restrictive diets and then gradually introduced food dyes or additives into the diet. Thus far, the studies have been inconclusive and leave multiple important questions to be answered.

 This is what a few of the researchers have reported. Mattes, Kavale, and Forness reviewed a slew of research pertaining to the Feingold diet and determined it was of no value and only helped a few children decrease hyperactivity. However, other researchers disagree (Rimland, 1983).   Reportedly, such a conclusion is not acceptable and an arbitrary negative conclusion. Rimland asserts that the studies reviewed had very small dosage levels of colorings and failed to recognize the role of the subject’s nutritional status. It is acknowledged that the Feingold diet may work for some children; however, it is not a cure all and does not work for all children. Additionally, most studies have only excluded a small number of colorings instead of the 3,000 additives in the Feingold proposal; therefore an actual legitimate comparison has not been made.

To some researchers, Dr. Feingold is considered a pioneer, for recognizing the nutrition and dietary sensitivity connection to behavioral problems. However, other researchers report his findings have not been replicated and lack reliability. Being a researcher, myself, I believe it would be extremely difficult to replicate Feingold’s findings. However, after studying hundreds of journal articles on diet and social emotional functioning, I consider him a pioneer and believe there is merit to his findings.

References

Feingold, B. (1976). Hyperkinesis and Learning Disabilities Linked to the Ingestion of Artificial Food Colors and Flavors. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 9 (9), 19-27

Rimland, B. (1983). The Feingold diet: An assessment of the reviews by Mattes, by Kavale and Forness and others. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 16(6), 331-3.

Tomlinson, D., Wilkinson, H., & Wilkinson, P. (2009) Diet and mental health in children. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 14(3), 148-155.