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Your little one cannot sit quietly at one place for long. He can't concentrate on one thing for long and shifts from one task to another in no time. He is probably suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
ADHD is a psychological disorder that is characterised by persistent problem in paying attention, hyperactivity, low self-esteem, and impulsive behaviour. This disorder usually affects children and teenagers, but it can continue into adulthood as well. Found quite commonly in kids, ADHD interferes with their social skills and academic performance too.
Developmental paediatricians attribute this condition to genetic predisposition, environmental factors including lead exposure, and central nervous system issues. Certain other factors including premature birth, exposure to lead, maternal use of drug, alcohol, or cigarettes can also up a child's ADHD risk. If not addressed on time, this condition can lead to serious mental health issues at a later stage too. The drugs for the treatment of this condition include short and long-acting stimulants. They boost certain brain chemicals to control the condition. Antidepressants are also recommended. However, the medications can come with serious side effects: Tremors, hallucinations, fast or irregular heartbeats, muscle twitches, and extreme mood swings.
Several studies reveal that your child's dietary habits play a significant role in the manifestation of ADHD. Smart food choices can ease the symptoms of this condition in your child. Experts observe that caffeine, sugar, milk, wheat and diary-based products trigger the symptoms ADHD. Here we have you make the right food choice for your little one if he is suffering from this condition.
Processed foods contain food additives like artificial sweeteners, preservatives and colourings. They are toxic in nature and act as triggers for hyperactivity and inattentiveness in ADHD children. Exclude these foods from your kid's diet: Cheese, bread, meat, candies, sodas.
Vitamin B helps maintain a healthy nervous system. According to a study conducted at the University of Maryland Medical Center, vitamin B-6 is essential for the body to make and use essential brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. All these brain chemicals influence your child's behaviour and attention span. Another study conducted in the same institute says vitamin B-6 is slightly more effective in improving behaviour than Ritalin. It is a stimulant generally used to treat ADHD. Dietary sources of this vitamin are tuna, soya beans, bananas, salmon, etc.
Tryptophan is an amino acid found in proteins. It raises the levels of the brain chemical serotonin. According to a study conducted at the University of Michigan Health System, serotonin imbalance is common in children with ADHD. Produced by the nerve cells, serotonin helps in controlling impulsive behaviour and aggression, both symptoms of ADHD. So, look for foods rich in tryptophan to increase serotonin levels in your kid, if she is suffering from this condition. The food sources include nuts, pineapples and salmon among others.
According to a study in the Journal of Lipids, omega-3 fatty acids have a therapeutic role in children with ADHD. They optimize the brain's function and boost the synthesis of dopamine (happy hormone). ADHD drugs also aim to increase levels of this hormone.
Research also suggests that omega-3 fatty acids can effectively improve certain behaviours linked to ADHD: Hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and concentration. Some of the dietary sources of this fatty acid include fatty fish like salmon and tuna, avocado, flaxseeds, walnuts, etc.
Sugar acts as one of the main triggers behind ADHD symptoms. According to a study conducted at the University of South Carolina, the more sugar ADHD children consume, the more they become restless and destructive. Another Yale University study found that high-sugar diets may increase concentration problem in some kids with this condition. Some of the dietary sources of concentrated sugar include candy, desserts, soda and fruit juices.
Gluten is a protein found which resides in wheat-based foods. Some children with ADHD have found to be gluten sensitive. Eating gluten-containing foods can damage their digestive system and create problem in absorbing nutrients. This can lead to malnutrition, diarrhoea, bloating, vomiting, poor growth, and developmental delays, learning problems, etc.
Cow milk and dairy products contain a protein called casein. This protein, which is released slowly in the digestive system, triggers the symptoms of ADHD. It can have a similar reaction as gluten in children living with this condition. So, make sure that you don't include milk and cheese in your little one's meals.
Various studies have suggested that caffeine intake can help lower ADHD symptoms. They do so by increasing the amount of a brain chemical known as dopamine. Moreover, caffeine improves alertness, memory, and concentration. But there is a flip side. Caffeine consumption can lead to problems like anxiety and nervousness, symptoms associated with ADHD.
Commonly found in canned beans, vegetables and processed foods, nitrites are associated with restlessness. So, they can worsen the manifestations of ADHD. Moreover, they can increase your child's risk of developing type 1 diabetes and certain types of cancer. So, eliminate these foods from your little one's meals.
Food allergy may worsen the symptoms of ADHD in kids, observe experts in the field. So, try to figure out the food allergen of your child and keep them out of her meals. Many kids are allergic to, soy, peanuts, eggs and shellfish. Consult a doctor to check for food allergies.
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