ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder that affects about 3-5% of the world’s population.  It typically presents itself during childhood but is increasingly diagnosed in adults. Approximately 60% of childhood sufferers retain the condition in adulthood. 

ADHD and the related condition Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are characterised by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity, as well as forgetfulness, impulsivity and distractibility. Both disorders can severely disrupt a child’s education and socialisation processes, potentially incurring lifelong effects.

The disorders seem to have a strong genetic link, although around a fifth of cases are estimated to be caused by trauma or toxin exposure.

No cure is currently available so treatment usually involves symptom-modifying medication.

Diet and lifestyle therapy can provide an excellent natural alternative to lifelong medication, as well as supporting longterm health.

Symptoms

  • Disorders of speech and hearing
  • Distractibility
  • Poor short term memory
  • Procrastination
  • Problems organising ideas and belongings
  • Tardiness
  • Poor planning ability
  • Hyperactivity
  • Emotional instability
  • Coordination problems
  • Short attention span
  • Poor concentration and focus
  • Impulsiveness
  • Specific learning disabilities
 

Not all people with ADHD exhibit all symptoms. It’s common for sufferers to only display symptoms when they’re doing tasks that require excessive, prolonged or elevated levels of attention or are placed in environments that are too distracting. Once stimulus is removed they function normally but since in many cases this isn’t possible, intervention may be required to help them cope with the stimuli.

A helpful link about safety in the home and ADHD can be found here.

Contributory factors

Poor diet: a diet high in sugars, refined foods and additives can make us feel great one minute and really low the next. This can lead to uncontrollable mood swings, irritability and emotional instability. Balancing out these highs and lows through a healthy diet can be a key step in managing behavioural symptoms.

Smart Nutrition’s consultations provide realistic help by addressing any dietary changes that may be necessary, and designing an implementation plan. Please use the button at the bottom of the page to find out more.

Nutritional deficiencies: deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B1 and calcium may be implicated in ADHD. Studies show that ADHD sufferers are highly prone to zinc deficiency and may have up to 50% lower levels than those without the condition.

A NutrEval Health MOT gives a comprehensive overview of nutrient status and can be used to target key problem areas that may be exacerbating the condition. 

Essential fatty acid deficiencies: studies suggest that ADHD and ADD are associated with a deficiency of essential fatty acids such as omega-3s EPA and DHA.

These deficiencies can quite easily be corrected with the help of a nutritional therapist – an Essential Fatty Acid Analysis can first find out whether this is a contributing factor for you or your child, and Smart Nutrition can design a dietary and supplementation protocol to restore healthy levels.

Heavy metal toxicity: a developing young brain is vulnerable to harm from exposure to toxic heavy metals.

Mercury and lead are two of the commonest toxic heavy metal agents and may be found in pollution, pesticides, mercury fillings and tap water. According to research, a definitive link exists between the numerous behavioural problems and heavy metals.

Toxic metal accumulation can be tested by either a Hair Mineral Analysis or a Urine Test. Smart Nutrition can analyse the results and advise you on the best steps to take to reduce exposure and detoxify the body. 

Imbalanced brain chemistry: the brain uses multiple chemical substances, called neurotransmitters, for operation, regulation and communication.

ADHD appears to be related to deficiencies of certain types of these important brain chemicals. Neurotransmitters are made from nutrients called amino acids, so testing the levels of these important building blocks with an Amino Acid Screen can give an insight into any brain chemistry imbalances.

Smart Nutrition can also use the results to help optimise both diet and therefore the brain’s ability to make all its essential messengers.

Food sensitivities: research shows that people with ADHD are 7 times more likely to suffer from a food sensitivity than the general population. Common culprits include artificial colourings, flavourings and additives, wheat, dairy products, corn, yeast, soya, citrus, chocolate, peanuts, eggs and foods containing salicylates.

Often, when food sensitivity is an underlying cause, there are associated symptoms such as nasal problems, excessive mucus, ear infections, tonsillitis, digestive problems, bad breath, eczema, asthma and headaches.

If you think a food sensitivity is a contributing factor in your or your child’s case then you should consider a Food Intolerance Test.

Leaky gut syndrome:  leaky gut syndrome is also known as intestinal permeability.  A normal healthy gut lining allows certain molecules to pass across into the bloodstream such as vitamins, minerals and digested foods.  It also acts as a barrier to prevent entry of larger damaging molecules, foreign particles and bacteria.  Damage to the intestinal lining can open it up slightly, allowing these larger particles to enter into the bloodstream.

A leaky gut can predispose the sufferer to food allergies. It can also lead to incompletely digested protein particles called peptides crossing into the bloodstream. These can trigger hyperactivity in some individuals.

A Leaky Gut Test is a quick and easy way to find out whether this syndrome is a factor in your or your child’s symptoms. 

Polypeptides: incompletely digested protein particles (peptides) from the intestine may cross a leaky gut and trigger hyperactivity in some individuals. Because polypeptides are later excreted by the kidneys, they can be detected using a urine sample.

If polypeptides are found to be a contributing factor in your case of ADHD, Smart Nutrition’s nutritional therapists can work with you on improving digestion and gut integrity to reduce the problem and prevent recurrence.

Digestive function: imbalances in the levels or friendly bacteria in the gut, a parasite infection or a yeast overgrowth can lead to leaky gut and nutrient insufficiencies that can exacerbate ADD and ADHD symptoms. Such imbalances are often accompanied by digestive symptoms such as bloating, flatulence, abdominal cramps or problems with bowel movements.

Digestive efficiency can be tested using a Stool Test, and Smart Nutrition can also design a dietary protocol to optimise digestive health.

Useful Links

Please do not return samples to the laboratories that may arrive after Wednesday 27th March and up to and including Monday 2nd April.

The laboratories are closed from the 28th March – 2nd April for the Easter Holiday.