Do you have a child with ADHD?

Do you want more peace, less hyperactivity, less defiance, and more joy?

Read this post for 3 specific strategies you can put into place TODAY to start seeing changes sometimes within as little as 30-90 days!

3 Life-Changing Strategies to Support a Child with ADHD:  

1. Get rid of the top inflammatory foods – gluten, dairy, and soy. 
GLUTEN: 

Gluten is the #1 food I recommend ALL children with ADHD cut out of their diets. In fact, gluten is so inflammatory that I suggest everyone (even those without ADHD or a known gluten intolerance) stop eating it. 

Plain and simple, gluten is harmful for everyone. That’s because gluten triggers increased intestinal permeability in EVERYONE, even those who don’t show an allergic response to it. 

Intestinal permeability refers to the breakdown of the intestinal walls. When functioning properly, the walls of the intestines form a barrier, allowing water and nutrients to pass through but blocking other things from entering the bloodstream. 

When a person has increased intestinal permeability, that can lead to something called leaky gut. 

Leaky gut allows toxins and other harmful substances to enter the bloodstream that aren’t supposed to be there, leading to an inflammatory response in the body. This inflammation can make ADHD symptoms significantly worse. 

Inflammation isn’t the only issue with gluten, though. 

Gluten also has the potential to create opiate-like effects in some individuals. Crazy, right?  

In individuals who have gut inflammation, which is very common in kids with ADHD, the enzymes in their guts are not fully breaking down gluten. What happens as a result are compounds called gluteomorphins. 

The protein structure of gluteomorphins is similar to that of morphine. Gluteomorphins are absorbed into the bloodstream, cross the blood brain barrier, and then bind to opiate receptors in the brain and gastrointestinal tract. 

Think about people who are addicted to morphine. They might be unable to sit still. They could have huge meltdowns over small things. They might be unable to handle transitions. In many ways, they have ADHD-like symptoms.

When caregivers of children with ADHD remove gluten – and thus remove the opiate gluteomorphin – these opiate-like instances begin to be fewer and further in between.

When we removed gluten from my son’s diet, he became a completely different child. Calm. Focused. Able to sit still. 

One thing to keep in mind when removing gluten is that some people go through a gluteomorphin withdrawal response. Think of this like a detox period. During this period, their ADHD symptoms might actually get worse for a time before they get better. That’s because their bodies are flushing out the gluten. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that it can take three to even six months for gluten to stop reacting in the body. Don’t give up if you don’t see results immediately! Sometimes, it can take a few months before the body fully reduces the inflammation caused by gluten. 

 

DAIRY:

Let’s move on to dairy. 

I suggest families cut out dairy for the same reasons as they cut out gluten. Dairy products, like gluten, are inflammatory and create opioid-like responses in the brain. The opioid-like protein in dairy is called casomorphin. 

 

SOY:

Soy is the third food children with ADHD should cut from their diets. 

There are two primary reasons for this. 

First of all, approximately 95% of soy products come from genetically modified crops (GMOs). GMOs are linked to many health problems. They damage the digestive system and kill off the good bacteria in your gut. Because most of the soy in foods today comes from GMO plants, it’s best to cut soy out of the diet altogether. 

The over-production of soy is also a problem. Soy is among the largest United States farm commodities. It’s heavily processed, has a high yield, and often contains glyphosate (pesticide) residue. Because of its mass production, it is also snuck into a variety of foods at an alarming rate. 

The second reason I suggest families of children with ADHD remove soy is because soy is an endocrine disruptor. When eaten in excess, it can have adverse effects on the balance of hormones in your body. It also contains isoflavones, which act like estrogen in the body. Since many breast cancers need estrogen to grow, eating an excess of soy could increase the risk of breast cancer.

 

2. Cut back on sugar and toss food that contains artificial food dyes and flavors

Many parents overlook the importance of blood sugar management because they think of it in connection with diabetes, not ADHD. But blood sugar management is important for all of us, whether we have diabetes or not. 

Unstable blood sugar contributes to a whole host of problems. 

Read the following list of symptoms for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and think about how similar they are to ADHD symptoms: 

  • Difficulty listening
  • Inability to focus or stay on task
  • Being easily distracted
  • Quick to get frustrated, and sometimes hard to calm down
  • Unexpected anger and/or lashing out
  • Unable to sit still

When my son was really struggling, he had every one of these symptoms in excess. 

The ADHD symptoms many children battle can be tied directly to fluctuating blood sugar.

I read about a study recently that concluded that the more sugar hyperactive children consumed, the more destructive and restless they became.

Children with ADHD do NOT need another thing to make them more impulsive; they battle it enough as it is without sugar heaping on additional challenges. 

The American Heart Association recommends kids aged 2 – 18 should have less than 25 grams or six teaspoons of ADDED sugar daily. 

However, in my experience working with children with ADHD, this amount should be cut in half.

Parents should aim to have less than 12  grams of sugar or three teaspoons of ADDED sugar daily. This does not include natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables. 

What can be tricky is that sugar can be called so many different things in foods. Some code words for sugar include the following:

  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Dextrose
  • Glucose
  • Xylose 
  • Saccharose
  • Sucrose
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Dehydrated cane juice
  • Dextrin
  • Maltodextrin
  • Malt syrup
  • Molasses
  • Rice syrup
  • Sorghum or sorghum syrup

One clue that helps me remember these names is that many of them end in -ose.

When looking at ingredient labels, look for these -ose words and avoid them as much as possible. The less you and your family eat, the healthier you will be.

Now let’s talk briefly about artificial colors. 

Did you know there are chemicals allowed into food in the states that are banned either partially or entirely in other countries? 

Some of these banned chemicals are artificial colors like red #40, yellow #6, and yellow #5. 

ADDitude magazine recently released an updated article about the effects of artificial colors on ADHD and said this: 

“Food additives adversely affect a population of children with ADHD.” 

They went on to share 2 studies from the United Kingdom that proved food additives cause harm to children with ADHD. 

I’m quoting their results here: “In 2004, one studied healthy preschoolers after giving them either a placebo or 20 milligrams of artificial dye mix plus sodium benzoate. They found that, when the children received the actual dye and sodium benzoate, they had a significant increase in hyperactivity.”

A significant increase in hyperactivity….

As a mom of a child with ADHD, I don’t need anything that is going to give my son a significant increase in hyperactivity! And my guess is, other parents of children with ADHD can totally relate! 

Here’s what they found in the second study….“In 2007, a research team lead by UK researcher Donna McCann studied a group of 3-year-olds and 8- or 9-year-olds. It found that both hyperactive children and non-hyperactive children experienced increased hyperactivity scores when given artificial food colors and additives, suggesting that the dyes are a general public health concern.’”

Did you catch the results of that one? It wasn’t only children with ADHD who were more hyperactive after eating artificial colors. It was neurotypical children as well. 

What that tells me is that EVERYONE is negatively affected by artificial colors. They are bad for ALL OF US! A GENERAL PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERN!! 

In 2010, the European Union began requiring a warning label for foods that contain artificial coloring. That warning says, “May have adverse effects on activity and attention in children.” 

But in the US, that specific warning label is missing. 

As a result, consumers are left completely in the dark about how artificial colors can negatively affect their children. 

Even though those studies showed a significant correlation between artificial colors and hyperactivity, they still refuse to add the clear warning labels. 

Another thing that’s crazy is that people can eat the same type of food in both Britain and the USA and eat very different ingredients. 

Companies actually use different formulas for American consumers than for those outside the USA.

In Britain, food is made with real ingredients. Actual food! But in America, chemicals are added to food, with no warning label at all! 

This needs to change! 

Consumers in America should be offered the same ingredients as those outside of the USA, rather than their chemical counterparts. 

And when chemicals are added to food, consumers need to know about it! We should know what we’re eating. 

It’s seriously so baffling to me that the United States continues to allow ingredients into their food supply that are not even food. It’s no wonder we have so many staggering health issues. We are feeding our bodies things that aren’t meant to be food. 

Thankfully, things are beginning to change, but not fast enough, in my opinion. 

Several companies have made changes in their product lines to get rid of artificial colors. 

Unfortunately, there are still MANY companies that refuse to remove artificial colors from their formulas. You and I can help make this happen by changing the way we eat. 

Companies might not listen to our voices, but they will listen to our money. 

If enough of us refuse to buy products that contain artificial food coloring, they will be forced to make a change. 

You and I can help make this happen! Let’s start today by reading those labels and cutting items from our shopping lists if they contain artificial colors. 

One concern that I hear a lot when encouraging families to change the way they eat is that parents fear their kids will miss out on their childhoods. 

But that doesn’t have to be the case at all! 

There are plenty of healthier alternatives and treats that don’t contain artificial colors.

Finally, the 3rd strategy…

 

3. Replace these inflammatory foods with nutrient-dense, whole fruits and vegetables, healthy fats,  and grass-fed, wild-caught protein sources. 

It’s not just about what you TAKE OUT of the diet but also about what you put in. 

So focus your attention on whole fruits and veggies, healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, etc, and grass-fed or wild-caught protein sources. 

There you have it – 3 specific strategies you can begin implementing today that can make BIG changes for your child with ADHD and for  your entire family! 

 

Resource mentioned: 
https://www.additudemag.com/feed-your-childs-focus-adhd-food-nutrition/ Laura Stephens, M.Sci. accessed Oct 12, 202, updated April 8, 2021. 


 


 

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And as always, I am not a medical doctor and the above post is based on my experience. No information on this site should be relied upon to make a medical diagnosis, treat, prevent or cure any disease or medical condition.