1. Artificial Food Coloring: Lay off the Fruit Loops
Artificial Food Coloring that is found in many foods marketed to children and adolescents are known to contribute significantly to ADHD and in some cases may push a child over the diagnostic threshold (Arnold, 2012). Artificial food coloring has been proven to interfere significantly with the absorption of zinc, which is essential for normal brain function. According to Aizenman et al. (2011), zinc is “intimately linked to the balance excitation and inhibition in the brain.” Given this, it is reasonable to assume that eliminating food coloring may reduce your child’s ADHD symptoms so significantly that they will no longer qualify for the diagnosis of ADHD.
2. Screen Time: Get Their Face Off The Phone/Tablet
A recent study found that there was a significant association between higher frequency of digital media use and subsequent symptoms of ADHD over a two year follow-up (Cho, Stone, & Ra, 2018). This research poses the question: could the use of digital media such as video games or even “educational” games on a tablet lead to the development of ADHD? It seems obvious that if screen time can potentially cause ADHD symptoms, it would make symptoms worse when ADHD already exists. More research is needed, but the association is clear.
3. Video Games: Winning at a Cost
Video are known to reduce the number of dopamine receptors and transporters, change brain function, create abnormalities in gray and white brain matter, and cause decreased neural connectivity (Sigman, 2014).. Remember, video games are not just the ones with remote controls. The games children and adolescents play on their tablets and phones (yes, even if they are deemed educational) are still video games. All the distractions online make it even more difficult for people with ADHD to focus (Understood.org, 2018).
4. Sodas: Kick the Coke
Soft drinks contain a preservative called sodium benzoate. A scientific literature review asserted that sodium benzoate intake contributes significantly to ADHD symptoms (Anjum et al., 2018). Ingestion of sodium benzoate leads to a rise in anthranilic acid and acetylglycine (Clish, et al., 2014). Anthranilic acid is involved in tryptophan metabolism in both humans and bacteria, and therefore it likely has a negative impact on tryptophan metabolism. In some studies tryptophan supplementation has been shown to reduce ADHD symptoms, so it seems logical to avoid anything that might disrupt its utilization. Anthranilic acid is also found in corn, and corn is everywhere. Sodium benzoate has many other adverse health effects worth knowing about since it exists in so many foods.
5. Sedentary Lifestyle: Get off Your . . .
I’m sure you have read that exercise helps ADHD somewhere. I have ready many lists that include exercise but none of them explain why exercise helps ADHD. Regular physical exercise is especially beneficial for children with ADHD, because cardio exercise increases specific catecholamines and proteins/enzymes that are typically reduced in ADHD such as dopamine, tyrosine hydroxylase and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Fuermaier et al., 2016). “Existing studies reveal that high levels of sedentary behavior are associated with more inattention and hyperactivity problems” (Hanewinkel et al., 2017). So do yourself and your children a favor and get off your . . .
6. Inflammatory Foods: Flames from French Fries?
Simple sugars, a high carbohydrate diet, and foods high in omega 6 are inflammatory. Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, and other vegetable fats are inflammatory because the body metabolizes them into arachidonic acid. We only use ghee, olive oil, or coconut oil in our home. Drisko et al (2014) assert that many children and teens with ADHD have high levels of inflammatory markers, potentially due to imbalance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats and not enough polyunsaturated fatty acids. Avoiding inflammatory foods and eating anti-inflammatory healthy foods and fats is integral to our health. Warning: Most store bought mayonnaise and salad dressings are made with canola or soybean oil, and those same inflammatory oils are used to make fried foods. Check your labels!
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Aizenman, E., Bush, A., Paoletti, P., Hershfinkel, M., Koh, J., & Sensi, S. (2011). The neurophysiology and pathology of brain zinc. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3223736/
Anjum, I., Armghan, H., Fayyaz, M., Jaffery, S., & Wajid, A. (2018). Sugar beverages and dietary sodas impact on brain health: A mini literature review. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6080735/
Arnold, L., Hurt, E., & Lofthouse, N. (2012). Artificial food colors and attention-deficit/hyperactivity symptoms: Conclusions to dye for. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3441937/
Cho, J., Stone, M., & Ra, C. (2018). Association of digital media use with subsequent symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder among adolescents. Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2687861
Clish, C., Deik, A., Delaney, N., Lennerz, B., Ludwig, D., Mootha, V., Pierce, K., & Vafai, S. (2014). Effects of sodium benzoate, a widely used food preservative, on glucose homeostasis and metabolic profiles in humans. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4289147/
Drisko, J., Esparham, A., Evans, R., & Wagner, L. (2014). Pediatric Integrative Medicine Approaches to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4928725/
Fuermaier, A., Groen, Y., Den Heijer, A., Lange, K., Koerts, J., Thome, J., & Tucha, O. (2016). Sweat it out? The effects of physical exercise on cognition and behavior in children and adults with ADHD: a systematic literature review. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5281644/
Hanewinkel R., Pedersen, A., Isensee, B., & Suchert, V. (2017). Relationship between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and sedentary behavior in adolescence: a cross-sectional study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28378132
Sigman, A. (2014). Virtually addicted: why general practice must now confront screen dependency. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4240116/