5 Ways To Improve ADHD Symptoms
October is ADHD Awareness Month!
Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is the most common neurodevelopmental disorder in childhood. If your kiddo has been diagnosed with this condition, you are not alone! According to the CDC, there are about 6.1 million children in the United States diagnosed with ADHD.
There is no single cause of ADHD, but it is believed that the root cause is due to poorly functioning attention and impulse control within the brain. Several factors may influence ADHD development. These include nutrient deficiencies in utero or early childhood, exposures to environmental toxins like heavy metals, pesticides, tobacco, or caffeine, and high levels of oxidative stress.
Many ADHD medications such as Ritalin or Adderall are stimulants and can decrease hunger and appetite. When a kiddo is a selective eater already, it can be difficult to get a full meal in, and therefore all the nutrients they need in a day. Kids with ADHD also tend to avoid a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, and instead tend to opt for more sugar, candy, and soft drinks (SOURCE).
Here are 5 things to try to improve your child's ADHD symptoms.
Focus on antioxidants
Antioxidants can help with ADHD symptoms by alleviating oxidative stress, reducing inflammation, and by enhancing brain function. In fact, a study focusing on the effect of antioxidants on ADHD symptoms found that hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention is directly correlated to improvements in oxidative stress levels. Foods that contain antioxidants are berries, leafy greens, green tea, nuts, pomegranate, beets, cabbage, and dark chocolate. For a yummy antioxidant-rich treat, try offering dark chocolate with freeze dried raspberries!
Eliminate artificial food colors
As mentioned previously, kids tend to focus more on candy and soft drinks compared to fruits and vegetables. This is not ideal for several reasons – first, because they are choosing these over more healthful foods, and secondly, because those foods also tend to contain artificial food colors. Several meta-analyses show that eliminating food coloring result in significant improvement of ADHD symptoms. Additionally, sugar-sweetened beverages are adversely correlated with ADHD. Next time, skip the soft drinks and artificial dyes in candy and opt for water flavored with fruit, or naturally colored candies!
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids tend to be low in children with ADHD, and an increase, or supplementation of this nutrient, has shown to improve in symptoms. There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids: EPA, DHA, and ALA. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is the most helpful form of Omega-3 fatty acids specifically proven to support ADHD and mental health. EPA specifically is found mainly in cold-water fatty fish, like salmon, herring, trout, and tuna. For kids who are not yet fans of fish, it would likely be helpful to take an omega-3 supplement. If you need help finding a supplement regimen for you, seek out the support of a Pediatric Registered Dietitian.
Get enough exercise
Exercise has been proven to help with ADHD symptoms by increasing focus and improving cognition. Exercise can also reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and improve memory! In this case, "exercise" includes anything that expends energy. This includes: running, swimming, bike riding, and even walking!
Protein at each meal
Because kids with ADHD tend to skip protein-rich foods, it is important to make sure that they are getting enough protein at least 3-4 times per day. For quick snacks, try to offer hard boiled eggs, cheese sticks, peanut butter toast, yogurt, or smoothies. Try incorporating a shake mix like Healthy Height to get some more protein in!
This blog post is sponsored by Healthy Heights for ADHD Awareness month. Tune into their free webinar Thursday, October 21st at 1:00pm MST! Click here for the link.
Use code BITTYBITES15 for 15% off Healthy Heights shake mix!