Try natural solutions to help kids with ADHD focus6 years ago | Family Health
By pH health care professionals
Getting kids to pay attention has never been easy, but now, it’s a worldwide obsession. In the last few decades, diagnoses of childhood ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) have skyrocketed, along with sales of potent, expensive drugs to treat the disorder. Almost everyone knows a family affected by ADHD. Children can have any combination of symptoms:
- Fidgety behavior
- Talking at inappropriate times during class
- Difficulty finishing homework
- Getting distracted
- Impulsive or risk-taking behavior
- Inattention to details (especially seen in girls)
Many parents, though, are asking whether their kids need to be put on medication immediately. Pharmaceuticals like Adderall and Ritalin speed up the heart and increase blood pressure, while often blunting the personalities of children taking them.
The widespread use of these stimulant drugs affects adults as well. The more these medications are prescribed, the more people have started taking them recreationally (for a “high”), or to increase work performance during late hours. Even people who don’t want drugs feel they have to take them to stay employed!
Fortunately, the intense interest in ADHD means that research has given us lots of things that may promote a healthy focus and good school performance in children without necessarily turning to drugs:
- Avoid artificial food colors and flavors. These are implicated in the worsening of ADHD symptoms.
- Give your child an omega-3 supplement, like fish or krill oil. Omega-3 fatty acids nourish the brain and help with memory and attention.
- Sharply decrease screen time. Some doctors feel that our brains are over-stimulated by the constant beeping and blinking of devices. Establish a family cut-off time for TV and computer use. Practice what you preach and show your kids how to set designated breaks to respond to text and e-mail messages.
- Try zinc. It regulates brain chemicals involved in ADHD.
- Take magnesium and B vitamins. Some cases of ADHD can simply be magnesium deficiency (which can manifest as distractibility, insomnia and irritability). B vitamins also play roles in regulating brain chemistry and can have a calming effect, especially when the child is deficient.
- Focus on sleep. Is your child trying to sleep while the TV is blaring outside? On a full stomach? In a room with glowing lights from devices?
- Cut sugar. While sugar hasn’t been shown to cause ADHD per se, blood sugar levels zooming up and down can rob a child of energy. Skipped meals are a no-no for the same reason.
- Check out biofeedback. This safe brain training method is popular among ADHD sufferers.
Talk to your child’s psychiatrist about a more natural approach to start. A few lifestyle changes could make a significant difference in school performance.
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