Solutions for Kids ADHD

Irene From South Dakota Writes:

My son has recently been diagnosed with ADHD. I hear so much about this condition with my friends and their kids. I really don’t want him taking any medications. What else can be done to help him? 

Dear Irene,

Many experts aren’t completely certain why attention deficit hyperactivity disorder happens to more than 5 percent of school age children.  The most common symptoms that are noticed are forgetfulness, inattentiveness, anxiety, and hyperactivity. Children can respond well to many of the standard medications for ADHD, yet they do come with some unwanted side effects.  Some of the side effects are muscle spasms and appetite changes. Why does this happen in the first place? Many theories land on the idea that different neurotransmitter may be deficient in the brain such as serotonin, dopamine, and acetylcholine. When these brain chemicals are low, then the focus level can be decreased in the frontal lobe of the brain. 

So what do we do? 

It is important to understand that our entire body’s chemistry is created by the foods that we consume each day. The foods we eat determine the kind of cells that we have and ultimately the level of health within our body. Obviously there are some genetic factors as well as environmental challenges that we face, but our choices each day make the majority of the difference.

There are many natural ways to support healthy brain chemistry and help with brain challenges such as ADHD. Here is what some of the top experts around the country have noted regarding ways to help the body when struggling with ADHD. This goes for kids as well as adults.

1.Increase Omega-3 Fats
My favorite is cod liver oil because it contains highly absorbable omega-3 fats, vitamin A, and vitamin D. Studies were completed at the University of Maryland that showed that kids with behavioral challenges were heavily deficient in omega-3 fats. Some great sources are chia, walnuts, hemp, salmon, mackerel, and many vegetables such as squash. 

2.Avoid Processed Foods
Excessive sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial colors such as red 40, blue 1, and yellow 5 are linked to increased activity in children. Use maple syrup, honey, and stevia as alternatives. Focus their meals on whole foods, proteins, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats. Avoid much of the flour-based foods such as bread, pasta, cereal, and crackers. Of course, every now and then is ok, it’s the day-to-day that matters.

3.Avoid Gluten
Gluten has been found in some studies to possibly trigger behavioral issues in children. It is a protein that is found in most grains that acts like a gluey substance in the gut. When the gut becomes inflamed, the brain has the potential to follow. Choose non-GMO corn, quinoa, buckwheat, rice, and even coconut flour. 

4.Increase The B-Vitamins
B6 (pyridoxyl-5-phosphate) is the connecting powerhouse of our brain chemistry. This along with B12 help to increase certain neurochemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. A deficiency in these brain chemicals can reduce memory, focus, and attention. Choose a supplement or certain foods such as chicken, eggs, red peppers, spinach, and sweet potatoes to keep the levels up.

5.Major in Magnesium
Many studies have shown that magnesium can help with calming the nervous system. Using a supplement is a great idea. Talk with your pediatrician about dosages. Another great way to get the magnesium is in our foods. Great sources are nuts, seeds, and most vegetables.