Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
According to the charity ‘MIND’, approximately 5% of children in the UK may suffer with ADHD, although diagnosis varies depending on criteria. It appears to be more prevalent in boys than girls. Whilst it is usually thought of as a condition that affects children, there are also a significant number of adults who continue to show symptoms of ADHD. Diagnosis is usually by a doctor or educational psychologist. Teachers and parents are often the first people to notice symptoms.
ADHD is generally characterized by an inability to pay attention, being hyperactive and acting on impulse without thought for danger or consequences. Other symptoms may include:
- Leaving projects or work unfinished.
- Inability to sit still.
- Unable to follow instructions.
- Being clumsy or accident prone.
- Not responding to discipline or rules or behaviour.
- Reckless and unpredictable behaviour.
The causes are uncertain, but there are likely to be chemical imbalances in the brain. Other contributory factors include diets high in sugar, food additives or stimulants (1), nutrient deficiencies, cigarette and alcohol exposure (1), maternal smoking during pregnancy, low birth weight (1), food intolerances (2) and lack of Essential fats (3). The following dietary measures may help:
- Avoid sugar – cakes, biscuits, sweets, soft drinks etc.
- Avoid refined carbohydrates – white bread, white rice, white pasta, white flour etc.
- Avoid artificial additives – sweeteners, colourings, flavourings, preservatives.
- Eat small regular meals and snacks – to keep blood sugar levels stable.
- Avoid foods to which you may be intolerant – wheat, dairy, chocolate and additives are common culprits in children. MSG, oranges, soya, peanuts, corn, yeast and eggs are also worth considering.
- Include sources of Essential fats in the diet (3) – oily fish, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and avocadoes.
For more information and support on ADHD, visit www.addiss.co.uk where you will also be able to find support groups in the UK. Always consult with your GP or medical doctor.
1. Banerjee TD, Middleton F, Faraone SV. Environmental risk factors for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Acta Paediatr. 2007 Sep;96(9):1269-74
2. Schnoll R, Burshteyn D, Cea-Aravena J. Nutrition in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a neglected but important aspect. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2003 Mar;28(1):63-75
3. Singh M. Essential fatty acids, DHA and human brain. Indian J Pediatr. 2005 Mar;72(3):239-42