For the past few days, we’ve been exploring alternatives to treating ADHD symptoms besides prescription medications. Today I’m going to give you an overview of diets and supplements. I’ll continue next time with herbs and vitamins.
Many doctors will tell you that what you eat or don’t eat or the supplements you take will not affect your ADHD symptoms in any way. They point to research and tell you it hasn’t been proven.
Ask moms of kids with ADHD about diet, nutrition, vitamins, herbs, and supplements, and you might get a different answer. You certainly will from this ADD Mom. We moms don’t have research teams to back us up, publishing their findings in a professional journal. All we have is life in the trenches, living it 24/7 and knowing what works for our kids and what doesn’t. Personally, I’d trust another mom any day.
It makes perfect sense to me why what we put into our bodies would affect our brain. I am dumbfounded that anyone would consider otherwise. Alcohol? Drugs? These are things you put into your body that have an effect on your brain and your behavior. Why should things like food, vitamins, and herbs be any different?
There are a few diets that have been around for some time and that have shown some results (per moms and their kids) for ADHD, as well as Autism. The Feingold Diet is probably the most often mentioned.
The Feingold Diet is actually more of a program than a diet, because it goes beyond food and additives to environmental things like perfumes. It is based on eliminating food additives like artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, etc. Salicylate compounds – often found in unprocessed foods like apples – are also eliminated. For more on the Feingold Diet, go here.
It should be noted that there are other diets which focus on the same types of things – eliminating additives, etc. Feingold is merely the most well known.
There has been recent evidence in the past few years that a gluten and casein free diet can benefit people who have ADHD. Gluten is a substance found in grains such as wheat, oats, and rye. In addition to being present in baked goods and pasta, many processed foods contain gluten in the form of modified food starch. Casein is found in dairy products. I personally follow a gluten free, low dairy diet.
In addition to the foods that we eat, other things like vitamins, herbs, and supplements should be considered.
Omega 3 oils are highly regarded as being beneficial for a wide group of conditions, including ADHD. About 20% of our brain is made up of fatty acids, and studies suggest that many Americans are DHA deficient. DHA is an Omega 3 fatty acid necessary for normal function of the brain.
Next time: herbs and vitamins.