What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurobiological developmental disorder that affects school-aged children and can continue throughout adulthood in 50-60% of affected individuals. The disorder is characterized by inappropriate attention, impulsivity and/or hyperactivity. This often leads to a variety of problems including academic difficulties, impaired social skills, and strained parent-child relationships.
ADHD affects all races, ethnic groups, and socioeconomic levels, however, despite being the most commonly studied and diagnosed mental disorder in children and adolescents, the exact cause is unknown in the majority of cases.
Ways to Reduce ADHD Symptoms
1. Improve Nutritional Quality
Improper food selection can contribute to many negative problems in the body. Diabetes, atherosclerosis, hypertension are among many common disorders in adults. In children and adolescents, there is a strong correlation with the diet and ADHD symptoms. The “Western” diet, characterized by higher intakes of red and processed meat, butter, high-fat dairy products, eggs, refined grains, white potatoes, french fries, and high-sugar drinks (high in saturated and total fat and refined sugar while low in fiber) is more associated with ADHD than a Mediterranean diet rich in fish, vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole-grain foods.
The deficits in self-regulation and increased impulsivity may contribute to externally-cued eating, eating in the absence of hunger or binge eating, behaviors associated with obesity, however, others believe that ADHD symptoms may be associated with poor food selection rather than overeating in terms of volume.
A healthier choice in foods has shown to reduce ADHD symptoms. Avoiding high-fat foods, food high in sugar content, and artificial food color has statistically significant but modest effects on ADHD symptoms. Adding omega supplements also showed a minor improvement when combined with a healthier diet.
2. Reduce Television and Media Exposure
Poor nutritional quality, high energy intake and television exposure appear to be independently associated with ADHD symptoms. This is more commonly seen with boys than girls as well as in male adolescents over female adolescents.
Excessive television exposure is associated with childhood obesity and a decrease in daily physical activity. It also increases exposure of advertisements for junk food and energy-dense snacks. These advertisements lead to an increased desire to eat these snacks which lead to increased energy levels within the body while at the same time sitting in front of the television or computer screen causes the body to store this energy.
Computers, tablets, and smartphones can also impact the development of ADHD. Attention problems and ADHD symptoms are associated with more media time. Electronic devices are usually accessible in the bedrooms of children with ADHD symptoms than for children without ADHD symptoms. It’s also not uncommon to see children riding in the backseat of an automobile or sitting in a waiting room with their eyes glued to an electronic device. Often times parents are willing to restrict the unwanted behaviors of children with electronic devices since restless children will become quiet when they are involved in video games or movies. These devices are a double-edged sword which can provide educational games or immense information in seconds yet at the same time consume numerous hours a day decreasing physical activity.
3. Increase Physical Activity
Physical activities have multiple benefits for children with ADHD, so high level of physical activities may decrease children’ s ADHD symptoms. Participating in sports, running, and swimming has long been used to improve symptoms. Research also shows a benefit of yoga and massages on self-control, relaxation, and concentration for children with ADHD. Yoga exercise typically conducts a variety of poses, deep breath, concentration, and mental and physical relaxation which can positively regulate mental states. It also tends to promote self-control, attention and concentration, self-efficacy, body awareness, and stress reduction leading to substantial improvements such as alleviating impulsivity, anxiety, and social problems and a mild improvement in attention and hyperactivity for individuals with ADHD.
When combined, the improved quality of food, the decrease in media time, and the increase in physical activity, can often remedy the symptoms of ADHD without the need for medication. The benefits of starting these habits early in life can also lead to an improved quality of life throughout adulthood as well. Unfortunately, it may take time before the benefits are noticed and in some cases, medication will still be required.
Continue reading: The Best Method In Fighting Age-Related Cognitive Decline
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