The year is in full swing, work is getting hectic, family demands are becoming heavier and sometimes you wonder whether you’re going insane. On top of that, as much as you love your kids, their ADHD behaviour is really starting to sap your energy and you wonder how much more you can handle. But there are some things you can do for your child to help them cope with this disorder which will in turn, help you to cope with the mayhem of life.
What is ADHD?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects a person’s behaviour or development (learning) and is estimated to affect between 3% and 20% of school-aged children. It is a behavioural disorder, not an illness or a sign of low intelligence. Whilst genetics do play a role in the causes of ADHD, environmental factors are significant contributing factors. Foetal exposure for example, to alcohol, marijuana and cigarette smoke have been documented as causes of ADHD. Autoimmunity is also associated as well as dietary and digestive factors.
Children with ADHD have three main symptoms:
- Inattention- having difficulty concentrating, forgetting instructions, moving from one task to another without completing anything
- Impulsivity- talking over the top of others, having short attention spans, being prone to accidents
- Over activity- constant restlessness and fidgeting.
Whilst many doctors dish out various pharmaceuticals such as Ritalin willy nilly, these medications are psychostimulants with many potential side effects: insomnia, headaches, abdominal pain, weight loss and depression. There have also been warnings given of stunted growth and psychiatric problems. From a holistic point of view, chemical overstimulation of the nervous system isn’t healthy. Fortunately, there are numerous natural treatments that can be utilised to effectively treat your child and help combat symptoms. With understanding, care and treatment, a child or adult who has ADHD can enjoy a normal life.
Top 7 Things to Do for Your Child with ADHD:
- Dietary Modifications
The very first step in treating your child with ADHD is to remove additives from the diet. This simple step often brings about drastic improvements and for some, no further treatment may be required. Sugar cravings and a high sugar intake are associated with hyperactivity, depression, moodiness and ADHD. Instead of using the abstinence approach, which rarely works with kids, you should aim to identify and resolve the cause of the cravings. The introduction of homemade lacto-fermented foods has shown great success in reducing sugar cravings. A low glycaemic load diet will also help with blood sugar regulation and assist with any correlating gut dysbiosis.
Your child may need to go on a low phenol or oxalate diet. Often children have heavy metal burden impacts on the detox pathways that phenols such as salicylates stimulate. You want to gradually aim to focus the diet on nutrient dense wholefoods, with a focus on proteins and non-starchy vegetables, grains such as millet, quinoa and buckwheat, legumes if tolerated and a limited amount of fruit (maximum of two pieces per day). You should make these dietary changes step by step, only introducing a new change when the previous has become habit. This will make sure the changes are manageable and sustainable.
There is a good reason behind the phrase, ‘no zinc, no think.’ Zinc status is often deficient in children with ADHD. Zinc plays essential roles in neurotransmitter, neurological, immune and digestive function. It is also the primary nutrient required for methylation. With many kids with ADHD, zinc supplementation has been shown to reduce impulsivity and hyperactivity so you definitely want to consider zinc when treating your child.
Next week, watch out for Part II as we discuss some more natural ways to help your child with ADHD.