by A. Grano on October 12th, 2010 at 7:00 am
While prescription medications are often used for their fast results, ease of use and availability, studies show that nutritional intake can have significant effects on behavior—without the drugs, which can cause side effects and mask symptoms, rather than address the problem itself.
Making changes in diet may be a trial and error process to uncover the best approach. People may be affected differently from additives to sugar, which can cause mixed behaviors, from hyperactivity to cognitive functioning.
Most of us can relate to the effects food can have on behaviors from comparing how we feel after eating a meal consisting of fresh, unprocessed foods like vegetables or broiled fish versus a high-fat, sugar-laden meal from a fast food chain. Often after eating the latter, our body feels sluggish, weak, and often plagued by indigestion. For someone suffering from symptoms of ADD/ADHD, it can thus be seen how increasing intake of substances that alter behaviors in a negative way is thus detrimental. Furthermore, since food is such a factor that we have relatively high control over, why not consider experimenting with it?
Especially this time of year—with Halloween candy galore—pay attention to some of the biggest culprits. Sugar and artificial additives are the two biggest contributors that may allegedly exacerbate the effects of ADD/ADHD. A former research scientist and current clinical nutritionist at Stanford University Medical Center, Marcia Zimmerman explains that the basis of a food-based approach to brain health of ADD/ADHD kids and adults is stabilizing blood sugar levels, which includes not only eating the right foods, but also eating smaller, healthy meals throughout the day to maintain a steady flow of energy. As the brain needs glucose to function, if too much sugar is ingested, the body does not know how to function with the overload. Following the food pyramid and including healthy amounts of proteins, carbs, dairy and whole-grains may be a good start for getting the recommended daily values of nutritional needs to maintain balance and processing of glucose in the system.
In addition, the debate continues whether or not food additives actually add to the symptoms of ADD/ADHD. A couple of British studies found that certain food dyes and preservatives may be linked to adverse effects on behavior, as they interfere with concentration. Even if there isn’t a direct link back to ADD/ADHD, ingesting anything genetically modified, artificially created, or raised with hormones still cause negative effects on overall health, as the body is likely not getting enough vital nutrients.
Healthy eating provides the brain with the nutrition it needs to function at its best, as many herbs and vitamins that promote mental focus can be attained through diet. Deficiency in the minerals and vitamins that are essential for health, even if a healthy diet is followed, can result in poor health or even disease.
While many recognize this problem and supplement with daily vitamins, there are other nutritional building blocks that are overlooked yet are vital components for cellular health, namely minerals or tissue salts. Tissue salts, also called cell salts or biochemic salts, are composed of minerals that occur naturally at a cellular level in our bodies and all organic matter on earth (plants, rocks, and soil). Each tissue salt plays a different yet vital role in maintaining cellular health in the organs and systems of the body. Ensuring the healthy functioning of all brain and nervous system cells enhances the bioavailability of supplements, remedies, and even nutrients in your diet.
There are also alternative solutions for ADD and ADHD available. While making simple changes in diet, sleep, exercise, and routine can help, trying more involved approaches like incorporating relaxation therapies such as guided imagery, meditation techniques, or yoga can also be beneficial.
What’s very important to remember and consider is that wellness is not limited to one aspect of life… both psychological and physical health are dependant upon each other, and a proper balance must be found for optimum health to be achieved.
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For more information and tips download our Free eBook Natural Help for ADHD in Children
Research shows that both ADD and ADHD are considered the same condition. Although the term ADD is still used by the public to identify a subset of ADHD, ADHD is the proper medical terminology for people with attention disorders whether they display signs of hyperactivity or not. In our posts when we use the term ADHD, we are also referring to ADD and vice versa.