by Samuel C. Zeiler M.S., C.N.
I find it disturbing with the increase in numbers of children I see and hear about who receive recommendations for undergoing therapy with Ritalin and other drugs to "quiet" the mind. Certainly, the drugs do work to hide the symptoms of a much deeper problem. They do not correct the underlying factors of cause.
The problem, from my professional perspective as a clinical nutritionist, is one of multiple dietary imbalances compounded by increased stress and environmental factors. Consider these alarming facts.
Our fast-paced, fast-food, fast-everything, convenience oriented, sedentary lifestyle has put demands on our bodily systems that were never intended. In the process of preparing packaged and fast-foods, most of the available nutrients and fiber are removed. Couple this with the fact that most children avoid eating raw vegetables and fruits for one reason or another.
How does this relate to ADD and ADHD? Consider that the brain runs on vitamins, minerals, oxygen and blood sugar in a combinations that are called neurotransmitters. Under stress and a diet high in simple carbohydrates, the natural brain function uses up the neurotransmitters and can only replace them if the necessary building blocks are present. These building blocks come from fresh fruits and vegetables, essential fats and high quality, protein sources.
Due to genetic predisposition and variations in environment, diet and exercise, some children are more noticeably affected with neuro-developmental disorders. Neuro-developmental disorders like ADD and ADHD can be helped with a return to a proper food regimen and specific supplementation designed to restore the building blocks for brain and neurotransmitter development.
A change in lifestyle is most beneficial over time, not drugs. Specifically, diet, exercise and environment. Environment plays an important role in developing habits that improve health instead of degrade health. We are all born with a full complement of life factors and due to our environment (mental, emotional and physical) we follow a process of slow destruction, status quo or growth. Our resilience to disease and mental processes is partially determined by our environment. For example, a house where mold is present can impair immune and brain function because the body is using many resources to keep the mold from infecting the cells. This takes a lot of cellular energy that is then not available to operate the nervous system properly and other body functions at peak efficiency.
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