There has been a rise in the number of kids diagnosed with ADD, according to a recent article in the New York Times. Now 11% of all school-aged children has ADHD, and 1 out of every 5 high school boys will receive an ADHD diagnosis. This represents a 40% increase in the past decade, which is raising many questions among experts – such as are ADHD medications being overused?
But what is leading to this increase, and what if many of these cases were simply a food sensitivity? According to this NPR article, a study conducted on one hundred 4-8 year olds in the Netherlands and published on February 5, 2011 in the Lancet Journal, found that 64% of diagnosed cases of ADHD was actually caused by a hypersensitivity to food; and when the food was removed, the symptoms improved. According to the lead author of the study, Dr. Lidy Pelsser, “we have got good news — that food is the main cause of ADHD,” she says. “We’ve got bad news — that we have to train physicians to monitor this procedure because it cannot be done by a physician who is not trained.”
Rarely are parents of kids with ADHD given any nutritional/supplementary options, they are simply given the diagnosis and sent home with a prescription for ADHD medication. But these medications are not without risk, including decreased appetite, depression and mood disorders, increased blood pressure, and more. So if the root cause of the inattention is food sensitivities, then shouldn’t we be treating the attention and behavior issues by first identifying and eliminating any offending foods, and adding in nutritional supplements; and if those fail – resorting to the medication?
So until doctors start to recognize and treat ADHD in this way, parents can educate themselves and find a practitioner that can help them navigate this approach to treating focus and attention issues. Although there is a percentage of kids who nutritional approaches won’t offer a full recovery, according to the study out of the Netherlands, a significant number of kids will benefit from nutritional changes. The only downside is that a food elimination diet it is not as easy as popping a pill every day. But even those that end up taking medications, many will also benefit from nutritional approaches and certain supplements.
What are the 3 most common foods associated with ADHD-like symptoms?
These are 3 of the most common things to consider with regard to ADHD, but there are a number of other foods/substances that could be causing focus and attention problems – including high fructose corn syrup/sugar, pesticides, mercury, soy, eggs, corn – to just name a few.
How could food sensitivities create ADHD-like symptoms?
Nutrient deficiencies could be to blame. The small intestine is where most nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. Consuming foods that the body is sensitive to can cause damage to the small intestine, which can lead to issues in nutrient absorption and utilization. Another reason for nutrient deficiencies could be extremely picky eating, or a highly processed diet that is lacking in macro and micronutrients.
Some of the most common nutrient deficiences found in kids with ADHD are:
Food elimination diets if not properly done or supplemented, could themselves result in nutrient deficiencies; so working with a Nutritionist or qualified health practitioner is recommended when embarking on a nutritional program to address ADHD. Doing a food elimination diet is one way to determine if there are sensitivities, but there are also tests that can be done to determine sensitivities.
There are other steps that can be taken before resorting to medication – such as having a full neurotransmitter test done. This test requires just a single urine collection, and using the results, the lab will create a custom amino acid powder or a custom cream to specifically address and rebalance the neurotransmitter issues.
Contact Sara if you are interested in a custom nutritional protocol to address focus & attention for you or your child; and/or for more information about food sensitivity or neurotransmitter testing: email@example.com
Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.
©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.
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