In the last thirty years, ADD, autism, and related “ailments” have become an increasingly popular diagnosis in the doctor’s office when parents present their children for treatment. It often starts in the classroom, where a child is singled out by the teacher and is brought to the attention of the parents. Teachers will report that the child has been disrupting class, is unruly, and generally behaves in a manner unfit for school environment.
Parents immediately assume there surely must be some mental imbalance and often wind up in the doctor’s office only to receive the dreaded words that so many hear, “Your child has ADD,” or “Your child has autism.” What isn’t being addressed, much to the child’s disadvantage, are factors like diet, exercise, and environment at home. These elements are so important, and usually overlooked by the physician.
A relevant story I have to share is one that bears mention since it illustrates the incorrect thinking pattern our society has developed about diet and its direct affects on our health, well-being, and behavior. Recently, my naturopath told me about a family who brought in their seven-year-old son to obtain help with his ADD diagnosis given by his pediatrician. The naturopath went over the habits and diet of the son and his family. What was revealed was that this family only prepared a home-cooked meal about two days out of the week, the rest of which they ate out at McDonald’s because they were simply too busy to do otherwise.
This, along with other dietary indiscretions were uncovered such as poor choices for other mealtimes during the day. A good deal of these selections included non-whole grain carbohydrates in the form of processed foods like crackers, bagels, cereals, and so forth. He was also consuming a lot of other artificially produced foods like yogurt, fruit snacks, and juice drinks. There were very little to no vegetables included in the daily regimen, and only occasionally fresh fruit.
The naturopath made suggestions about cutting out the refined carbohydrates, sugary foods, and adding in more organic and fresh fruits and vegetables, adding in natural proteins in the forms of meat and eggs with no antibiotics or hormones, and preparing food cooked at home.
After the recommendation was given, the family asked why they had not been provided with any alternatives to what their pediatrician had decided upon, which was a prescription for Ritalin. The naturopath reminded them that they had come to her for help and she had offered her best advice for getting their son back on a healthy track. Ultimately, the family decided that these options would not work for them, left the office, and chose to put their son on Ritalin.
This unfortunate story is sadly not the exception in our society. It is, in fact, a very common occurrence. Conventional Western Medicine refuses to acknowledge the vital role proper nutrition plays in supporting our health and instead turns to drugs and surgery to correct many problems that could be solved in very simple ways. Many health problems like ADD originate due to poor diet and could easily be remedied if people would only take the time to really pay attention to what they are eating and participate in moderate exercise and stress reducing activities.
If people want their children to do well in school and in life, they will pay close attention to what their children are consuming. Ignoring these crucial factors will only prolong issues and cause the situation to become more acute.
Look around at foods marketed to kids and you will see some very obvious culprits as well as some not-so-apparent ones. Anything from cereals to crackers to snack items that appeal to children are usually processed, contain chemicals, preservatives, added sugar, and most significantly are void of any real whole grains (i.e., they contain enriched, processed flours that are on the whole unhealthy).
Very little of many children’s diets contain adequate amounts of protein, a good variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, or actual whole, sprouted grains. It is no wonder the health of so many children is in danger with ADD and diabetes diagnoses at an all-time high and continuing to rise. Conventional thinking and our current food pyramid dictates that we receive most of our calories from carbohydrates and eat just enough protein to keep us from passing out.
Many of the natural fats have been eliminated from foods and replaced with unnatural or trans-fats, which have been shown time and time again to be dangerous to consume and to cause a number of health problems. Many of the natural fats being removed contain enzymes, co-factors, and essential fatty acids our bodies need to function at normal and healthy levels, and removal of these elements actually set up the stage for disease and illness.
There is also a correlation between diet and autistic symptoms in children. Many children with autistic tendencies or even those who have been diagnosed with full-blown autism can greatly benefit from a drastic change in diet to alleviate their symptoms. Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride is a well-known and respected neurosurgeon who has conducted an extensive amount of research and written insightful literature about how diet can cause autism to develop.
Many children with autism are experiencing the effects of what Dr. McBride refers to as “deeply abnormal gut flora” which affects the brain and neurological systems in a child’s body via extensive damage to the digestive tract caused by a nutritionally-depleted diet from eating processed foods. Visit the GAPS Diet web site for more information on this revolutionary breakthrough in autism research.
According to one study conducted, “Average and ADD children were fed a drink containing glucose, a simple sugar that is absorbed immediately into the bloodstream. All carbohydrates, including complex carbohydrates like whole wheat, are broken down into glucose. Both sets of children experienced sharp increase in blood sugar. Both sets also experienced a sharp increase in blood insulin levels, and then a corresponding drop in blood sugar levels. This decrease in insulin normally triggers an increase in the hormones epinephrine and Norepinephrine, which increase glucose entry into the brain to compensate for the drop in blood sugar.” The result allows for a marked change in behavior ranging to fidgeting, inability to sit still, and nervousness or hyperactivity.
When children are witnessed acting out, is it really misbehavior or is there perhaps some underlying nutritional deficiency responsible for it? For more information on how this common diagnosis can go awry, visit the Born To Explore page.
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2 replies on “What You Should Know About ADD, ADHD, and Autism”
Isn’t it sad that we, as a society, are so overwhelmed by real food? Good overview. I love the GAPS program and way of thinking!
Cara – yes, it is. Everything has become so complicated by marketing, politics, “scientific evidence”, “studies”, and opinions that are just plain wrong. When there are so many medical doctors who will tell you to medicate your child without the common sense to apply environmental and nutritional wisdom to it, it’s no wonder so many children have disorders that are becoming more acute and numerous. I hope with information like this we can continue to educate and motivate parents to really help their children get on the road to health (and hopefully, the parents too!). I know you have a lot of great information on your web site too about nutrition and the GAPS diet for helping autism and other related disorders. Thanks much for all you do, it is appreciated! 🙂