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by: Jeannine Virtue
The quality of food we eat (or lack thereof) has a profound affect on Attention Deficit Disorder and ADHD. For many people, nutrition alone can effectively work as an ADHD alternative treatment.
A growing body of research points to nutritional deficiencies - especially with essential fatty acids and amino acids - as a contributing factor of Attention Deficit Disorder and learning deficiencies.
Put down the Ritalin bottle for one minute to consider these Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD nutrition research findings;
- A George Washington University School of Medicine study found that hyperactive children who ate a meal high in protein did equally well, and sometimes better, in school than non-hyperactive kids.
- An Oxford University (England) study evaluated the effects of fatty acid supplementation in average intelligence children with significant reading and writing disabilities. The ADHD symptoms in children receiving Essential Fatty Acids significantly improved over the children in the control group receiving a placebo.
- Researchers first tied Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD with lower essential fatty acid in 1981. Studies examining essential fatty acid blood levels in children with behavioral problems in 1983 confirmed this Attention Deficit Disorder nutrition connection.
- Researchers further documented the essential fatty acid deficiency tie to Attention Deficit Disorder in a 1987 study. Then, a 1995 study comparing essential fatty acid levels in ADHD boys against a control group of boys without ADHD found significantly lower levels of Omega-3 fatty acids.
- In 1996 Purdue University researchers have found that boys with low blood levels of Omega-3 fatty acids have a greater frequency of Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD.
Attention Deficit Disorder is the most common behavioral disorder in children. Not all Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD children are nutritionally deficient in essential fatty acids, statistics and studies show that a significant number of ADHD children are.
Physicians predominately use stimulant drugs such as Ritalin for Attention Deficit Disorder but studies show that Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD children whose treatment program includes only stimulant medication remain at a high risk for vandalism, petty crime, frequency of alcoholic intoxication, and possession of marijuana. Additionally, ADHD medications do not always work, have a host of harmful side effects and never treat the cause the Attention Deficit Disorder.
With Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD, nutrition and food is one the first aspect of treatment to consider, as an ADHD alternative treatment or used in conjunction with traditional ADHD stimulant drug treatment.
Fatty acids are used to make brain and nerve tissue in the body and are crucial for proper growth, mental function, the immune system and brain development. The body cannot produce the two fatty acids families, Omega-3 and Omega-6, on its own and therefore must receive these key Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD nutrition ingredients through diet and supplementation.
Although the typical Western diet is high in the Omega-6 family of fatty acids (found in corn, sunflower, canola and safflower oil, margarine, vegetable oil and shortening), most Americans young and old are highly deficient in Omega-3.
Learning specialists now believe many childhood behavior and learning problems are associated with Omega-3 deficiencies. This deficiency has a greater impact on males because their requirements for essential fatty acids are, in general, much higher. It is no surprise that boys are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder at a much higher rate than girls.
ADHD adults and parents of ADHD children should include food high in Omega-3 fatty acids daily. That said, many children simply will not eat the Omega-3 rich salmon, mackerel and sardines.
Enter flax seed and flax oil - "food of the gods" when it comes to Omega-3 fatty acids.
Flax seed and flax oil are the richest plant source of Omega-3 fatty acids and offers Attention Deficit Disorder nutrition vital to support healthy childhood behavioral and IQ development. One to two tablespoons of flax oil should be part of a every Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD nutrition food action plan.
In addition to the positive affects on brain functioning, flax oil also works to prevent heart disease and certain types of cancer. Flax oil helps soften skin, balance energy, burn fat, stimulate the metabolism, strengthen the immune system, manage diabetes, help prevent autoimmune disease and inflammatory disorders. Flax oil also helps alleviate PMS and some menopause symptoms.
Here are some great ways to sneak flax oil into the daily diet;
- Mix 1 tablespoon of flax oil in flavored yogurt.
- 1 tablespoon of flax oil in fruit smoothies is virtually undetectable.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of flax oil with one tablespoon maple syrup or honey as a sweetener instead of granulated sugar.
- Use 1-2 tablespoons of flax oil when making tuna salad or egg salad while proportionably decreasing the amount of Miracle Whip or mayonnaise used.
- Flax Butter: Melt one stick organic butter and mix with 4 ounces flax oil when cooled to room temperature. Refrigerate until the flax butter solidifies and use in place of margarine.
- Omega-3 "Ice Cream": Mix 2 cups yogurt with 1 tablespoon flax oil and fresh or frozen fruit. Serve when frozen.
Most studies conducted on the affects of essential fatty acids found that at least 10 weeks of supplementation is needed to adequately raised fatty acid levels in brain cells. Follow a diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids for at least 10 weeks, and preferably 12 weeks, before judging the effectiveness of nutrition on Attention Deficit Disorder and ADHD symptoms.
Important points about flax oil:
- Flax oil is highly perishable and should be kept refrigerated at all time.
- Heat destroys the health-giving flax oil properties. Use flax oil only with cold foods, cold proteins are best.
- When buying flax oil, use only high quality, cold-pressed flax oil. The date pressed and a freshness date of four months or less from the pressed date should be on the label. If not, don't buy it!
- Do not use flax seed oil beyond its expiration date since the oil will turn rancid.
Essential fatty acids are not the only element needed when addressing Attention Deficit Disorder ADHD nutrition. Amino acids, from which protein is made, are an integral element since amino acids and essential fatty acids are both needed to work in the body. Therefore, adding quality protein is a key in Attention Deficit Disorder nutrition.
Attention Deficit and hyperactive people can greatly reduce the level of unfocused or misdirected energy simply by starting the day with a protein based breakfast. A solid protein breakfast can increase concentration, reduce restlessness and increase mental and physical calm.
Instead of starting the day with sugared cereals, pancakes covered in syrup, sweet rolls, doughnuts or danishes, try these brain-boosting breakfast ideas;
- Scrambled eggs, toast and fruit.
- Whole wheat toast with peanut butter.
- Fruit and yogurt smoothie with flax oil.
- Protein shake.
- Bacon and eggs with toast and milk.
- Egg and sausage patty on English muffin.
- Yogurt mixed with a tablespoon of flax oil.