Whole Foods and their Supplements Can Effectively Treat ADHD
ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a chronic neurobiological disorder that can occur in children, adults, and adolescents. Those with ADHD have difficulty with concentration, memory, aggression, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and organization. The condition is associated with difficulty in maintaining relationships and decreased work or school performance. Treatment cannot cure ADHD but instead can help make symptoms more manageable.
Traditional Treatments for ADHD
Traditional treatments for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder include stimulant and non-stimulant drugs. While it is not clear why the drugs work, they do improve symptoms in many individuals. Stimulants appear to boost and balance neurotransmitters, which help improve impulsivity and hyperactivity. Doses can vary widely from patient to patient.
While drug therapy is often prescribed for ADHD, there are some negative side effects and difficulties with medications. Medications have to be carefully monitored because the effects can wear off and they may have to be taken several times per day. Also, medications can be expensive and are difficult to fill because most are FDA controlled substances.
There are many negative side effects associated with the medications. These include insomnia, weight loss and decreased appetite, and irritability as the medications wear off. Because of this, many parents and patients seek alternative treatments to keep ADHD symptoms under control.
Whole Food Supplements for ADHD
Alternative treatments for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder include yoga; special diets that eliminate additives, excess carbohydrates, sugars and colorings; vitamin, mineral or herbal supplements; neurofeedback training, therapy or counseling and special education support.
Many nutritionists, alternative health practitioners and physicians tout the benefits of whole foods for the best nutrition. When whole foods are not possible, whole food supplements are recommended. Whole food supplements are portions of whole fruits and vegetables broken down into powder or liquid form. Whole food supplements usually provide 100% of the daily intake of essential vitamins and minerals, and many of them come in pill, capsule, shake or drink form.
Because patients with ADHD have been found to have deficiencies in essential fatty acids, whole foods rich in essential fatty acids are encouraged. Essential fatty acids help mediate and modulate the autonomic and central nervous system. Deficiencies in essential fatty acids can lead to neurological abnormalities; however, reversal of these abnormalities is possible with essential fatty acid supplementation. Whole food sources or supplements that contain high levels of essential fatty acids include meat, fish, eggs, raw nuts, raw seeds and green vegetables.
In addition to fatty acids, it is recommended that patients with ADHD increase their Magnesium intake. Magnesium has a profound influence on regulating the central and peripheral nervous systems. Chronic magnesium deficiency results in hyperactivity, impaired reaction to external stimuli, irritability, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and poor mental concentration. Whole food sources of magnesium include dark green vegetables, nuts, grains, fish, beans and meat. Those with ADHD should also increase intake of zinc. Researchers have discovered a positive correlation between zinc deficiency and hyperactivity.
Oligioproanthocyanidins (OPCs), which are found in the skins and seeds of foods such as grapes and berries, are also recommended for ADHD patients. OPCs stimulate the production of nitric oxide by vascular endothelial cells; increased nitric oxide levels counteract the effects of too much or too little epinephrine and norepinephrine in the body. This response plays a crucial role in the behavioral and cognitive symptoms associated with ADHD.