(NaturalNews) The latest statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that more than 5.4 million American children between the ages of four and 17 living today have been diagnosed with the behavioral disorder known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). And among these, roughly 2.7 million are taking some sort of pharmaceutical-based psychostimulant for the condition, which includes powerful mind-altering drugs like Ritalin (methylphenidate) and Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine).
While these drugs are typically marketed as an easy way to mellow out overactivity and impulsive behavior in children while focusing their inattentiveness, their side effects are often glossed over as inconsequential or even nonexistent. But such side effects include serious things like loss of appetite, sleeping problems, drastic mood swings, and loss of personality. Many parents have reported that their once creative and outgoing children become submissive robots upon taking ADHD drugs, with some even developing odd tics and other neurological misfirings.
Boys represent the majority of children diagnosed with ADHD, which suggests that the "disorder" might just be the excess energy that comes naturally with being a developing young man. So what is a parent to do? If your child suffers from behavioral problems that you are sure extend beyond just normal childhood excitement and curiosity, there are some simple dietary and lifestyle changes you can implement to tame this behavior naturally without the use of drugs.
1) Cut out the refined sugar, artificial colors, processed flours, and chemical preservatives. Most of the snack foods that parents and teachers alike shovel down children's throats from a very young age are loaded with additives that have been linked to hyperactivity and an inability to focus. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), for instance, which is found in virtually all conventional soda pop beverages, has been shown to spike blood sugar levels and alter normal metabolism. A 2007 study out of the U.K. also found that artificial food colorings and pesticides are both linked to ADHD in children (http://www.naturalnews.com/032077_food_dyes_ADHD.html).
"Nutritional issues may play a huge role in ADHD," wrote Daniel Burton in a 2008 paper for the Ohlone Herbal Center. "After genetics, diet may be the second most important factor. Nutritional deficiencies and excesses, as well as food sensitivities can have a huge impact on ADHD symptoms" (http://www.ohlonecenter.org).
2) Replace high-sugar junk foods with higher-protein, nutrient-dense "superfoods". Children with characteristic ADHD symptoms are often severely lacking in proper nutrition, which means it is essential to first reform their diets before taking any other drastic measures. According to Burton, high-glycemic, high-carbohydrate diets, which many American children today typically eat, are directly responsible for the epidemic of ADHD we are witnessing today.
Instead of feeding your children greasy, processed snack foods throughout the day, teach them instead to enjoy eating whole foods like raw almonds and almond butter, for instance, and fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Organic, grass-fed meats are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which directly feed the brain and balance neurological function, while nuts and seeds provide lasting energy and nutritional support. And even if they prefer not to eat it, teach your children to eat leafy greens like kale, spinach, and broccoli anyway, as these "superfoods" are packed with amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that directly combat behavioral problems.
Be sure to read the section of Burton's paper entitled "Nutrition," as it explains more fully how deficiencies in complex proteins, amino acids, essential fatty acids, trace minerals, and vitamins all play a role in ADHD: http://www.ohlonecenter.org
Another factor involved in ADHD is food allergies. Modern, hybridized wheat varieties; genetically-modified organisms (GMOs); lactose and casein in processed milk products; petroleum-based food additives; and soy ingredients all lurk throughout the food supply, oftentimes in food items that you would least expect. Having your children tested for food allergies, and actively avoiding those foods for which they test positive, will be essential in keeping ADHD under control.
3) Put away the video and computer games and spend time with your kids outside. Once you have already addressed the potential nutritional and environmental triggers, a promising next step in the fight against ADHD will be to encourage your children to engage in more physical activities. Too many children these days are allowed to "zombie" themselves out in front of the television set or in front of the computer screen for hours on end, which has been linked in numerous studies to behavioral problems. Teach your children to enjoy physical activities like playing outdoors and riding their bicycles, and raise them in an environment where they are able to spend lots of quality time with their friends, siblings, and other family members in an engaging way.
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