Natural solutions can provide answers to help your child overcome learning challenges.

HealthAndWellness_FindingFocus_NaturalSolutionsFood choices and dietary deficiencies can make a huge impact with a child’s behavior. If your child has ADD/ADHD and has difficulty with focus, attention and performs poorly in school and social situations, dietary interventions might likely make a positive difference. In fact, many times dietary interventions alone can have such a profound effect on the child’s behavior that the need for medications can be completely avoided.

The following are suggested supplements and things to avoid in order to help alleviate ADD/ADHD symptoms:

• Reduce processed carbohydrates, such as cereals, waffles and Pop Tarts, particularly for breakfast as these foods often negatively impact a child’s ability to be still and to learn. These foods rapidly raise blood sugar and lead to agitation and unfocused behavior. Instead, increase the protein and healthy dietary fats by adding in some of the following foods: meat, fish, eggs, whole fat dairy and nut butters. Try to stick with organic products whenever possible.

• Reduce foods that are high in added and even natural sugars. These include soda, candies, pastries and fruit juices (whole fruits, such as oranges and apples, are fine).

• Eliminate artificial food ingredients, considered neuro-excitatory toxins, as these excite a child’s nervous system and increase unwanted behaviors. Artificial colorings, flavorings and sweeteners should all be avoided.

• Consider eliminating the most common food allergens including wheat, dairy, corn and soy. Many children with ADD/ADHD have food sensitivities. A trial period of being off of these foods might provide an important improvement in your child’s behavior. Your child can also be tested for food sensitivities though the elimination diet that can be a determining gauge. It is often the best tool to determine if food sensitivity is truly a problem.

• Add vitamins and minerals. Magnesium, zinc, iron and B vitamins are often deficient in children with ADD/ADHD. Low levels of these vitamins and minerals can interfere with the child’s attention and cause restlessness. Adding a high-quality multivitamin including the above vitamins and minerals is a good start. The child can also be tested for deficiencies.

HealthAndWellness_FindingFocus_FishOil• Omega-3 fish oils are essential for brain health in children and adults and are often lacking in the typical American diet. Adding high-quality, omega-3 supplements can be helpful. For a 70-pound child 1000 milligrams of fish oil is sufficient.

• Probiotics are now known to affect the health of the GI tract, prevent infections, and in recent studies, show an improve in a behavior. Adding a probiotic containing multiple species with about 10 billion CFUs daily may help.

Dr. M. Christopher Link, whose specialty is integrative medicine, works with individuals on a variety of health issues, including nutritional  support for optimal health. Link received his medical degree from St Louis School of Medicine and completed a two-year fellowship on  integrative medicine at the University of Arizona with Andrew Weil, MD. He is also trained in acupuncture, anti-aging medicine, functional  medicine, nutrition and Western and Chinese herbal medicine.