ADD / ADHD – The Basics
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) previously known as hyperkinesis is the most common behavioural disorders in children manifesting as inattention and hyperactivity –impulsivity. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) presents as inattention, boredom, decreased motivation, internal preoccupation and low energy. It is estimated to affect 3 to 5 percent of school-age children. Frequently the symptoms of ADHD are accompanied with learning problems, oppositional conduct, anxiety and depression.
There are more boys than girls diagnosed with ADHD.
It is often said that we are what we eat. This statement cannot be truer for children with behavioural issues. There are many chemicals, both artificial and natural that cause problems for children. There are many food chemicals that have been banned in other countries that continue to be allowed to be used here in Australia. Sensitivities to foods like gluten, diary, soy and corn have been shown affect children’s behaviour. Gluten I have found to be particularly problematic in children with oppositional defiant behaviour. Craving for specific foods can be a reliable indicator that these foods are at the core of the problem. By addressing issues when children are younger, parents are more likely to succeed than when children are older, oppositional, defiant and able to get hold of the foods that they crave.
Food sensitivities, artificial colours and flavours, sucrose and excessive phosphate ingestion seem to be a frequent cause of the problem. The most common chemicals that children react to are amines, salicylates, colours, glutamates and preservatives. Statistically significant improvements in conduct, learning, impulsivity and hyperactivity have been demonstrated when these chemicals have been eliminated from children’s diets.
Calcium propionate (preservative code 282) is a colourless, tasteless and odourless preservative used in breads to discourage mould growth. Researchers in Darwin investigated the effects of 282 on behaviour on children with “behavioural problems”. The authors concluded that; preservatives may cause restlessness, inattention, irritability and sleep disturbance in some children. Source: JCM. Jan/Feb 2003. p.67.
Some symptoms of ADHD are similar to essential fatty acid deficiency. Patients with lower omega-3 fatty acid plasma levels, have more significant behavioural and learning problems, temper tantrums, health and sleeping disturbance.
Many patients show significant falls in plasma levels of zinc, magnesium, copper and iron. The predominant deficiencies are zinc and magnesium.
Heavy metal toxicity has also been well documented as a cause of ADHD. Lead in particular has been shown to be an issue, as well as other heavy metals.
Treatment of intestinal parasites, gut dysfunction, nutritional deficiencies and food allergies need to be considered in the treatment of ADHD.