Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a disorder of the central nervous system, according to Dr. James Balch and Phyllis Balch, authors of Prescription for Nutritional Healing. It is characterized by a variety of symptoms, including learning difficulties, sleep disturbances, inability to manage stress, mood swings, self-destructive behavior and social problems. Although the exact cause is not known, heredity, food preservatives, allergies and oxygen deprivation at birth may contribute to this disorder. The Balches and other natural healing advocates believe that certain foods may help reduce the symptoms of ADHD.
Talk to your doctor before changing your diet to address ADHD. This disorder typically requires ongoing medical and psychological treatment.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats needed for proper brain function. They help your body build healthy brain cells, and help regulate the production of neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain that control behavior and mood. Learning and behavioral difficulties are common among children and adults with ADHD, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce behavioral problems and enhance learning. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish, including tuna, sardines, herring and salmon, according to the Every Diet website. You can also obtain omega-3 fatty acids from flax seeds and flax seed oil. Top your cold breakfast cereal or oatmeal with flax seeds, or add some flax oil or seeds to your smoothies. There is currently no recommended daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
B vitamins are essential for proper brain function. Vitamin B-5 may help your brain produce tranquilizing chemicals that may reduce hyperactivity and behavioral disturbances associated with ADHD, according to the Balches. Increase your intake of vitamin B-5 by consuming mushrooms, whole-wheat products, pork, beef, eggs and legumes. Niacin, or vitamin B-3, may enhance circulation to your brain, helping to deliver vital nutrients to support cognition, memory and social response. Vitamin B-3 is found in beef liver, potatoes, tomatoes and eggs. Vitamin B-12 helps your body produce fats that protect nerve endings in your brain from toxins and viruses, which may help prevent ADHD symptoms from worsening. Vitamin B-12 is found in fish, poultry, pork, beef, dairy products and eggs.
Vitamin C is a powerful immune system enhancer, which may prevent illnesses that can increase symptoms of ADHD, according to the Balches. It may also improve your brain's production of anti-stress hormones that help curb uncontrolled behavior, sleep disturbances and hyperactivity associated with ADHD. Vitamin C has antioxidant properties, and may prevent the oxidation of free radical molecules that can attack brain cells. Boost your vitamin C intake by consuming avocados, spinach, oranges, black currants, onions, broccoli, kiwi, tomatoes, and red, yellow and orange bell peppers.
Foods to Avoid
Avoid foods that may worsen symptoms of ADHD. These include foods that contain artificial preservatives, colorants or flavor enhancers, according to the Balches. Foods containing caffeine, refined sugar and white flour may also worsen symptoms, and should be avoided. You should also stay away from apricots, apples, cherries and plums -- these foods contain chemicals called salicylates, which may aggravate ADHD symptoms.
- "Prescription for Nutritional Healing"; James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C.; 1997
- Every Diet: ADHD Diet
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