Diagnosis of ADD/DHD, autism spectrum disorders and children’s behavioural disorders has dramatically increased in the last 10-15 years.
Whether it is simply increased awareness, increased diagnostic capacity, diet related or environmental, there is absolutely no question that these conditions are much more prevalent. And whilst there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that these conditions medically exist and can be debilitating, frustrating and draining conditions for both the child and the family to manage, I firmly believe that some behaviour, that does not fit on the spectrum or extreme cases of ADHD, can be attributed to one of, or a combination of these 4 things:
Diet and Nutrition:
There is no fail safe ADHD diet, but there are, however, lots of supportive studies that show a strong correlation with gluten consumption and behaviour, as well as the cocktail of preservatives, additives and colourings in our food affecting children’s moods. Not to mention the sugar, take away food and soft drinks which kids consume by the bucket load. Kids are constantly growing. If their fuel is rubbish, the building blocks of their bodies are a reflection of this. Vital nutrients for mood, energy and growth like iron, Vitamin D, Calcium and Magnesium are not found hiding in McDonalds or packets of chips. They are in whole foods, protein, fresh fruit vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds.
This includes inside and outside the womb. Not only is nutrition crucial in the DNA production at an embryonic stage, so too are exposure to things like chemicals found in the air, cleaning products, cosmetics, heavy metals found in amalgam fillings, tins, old cookware, paints and renovating. Heavy metal toxicity is commonly found in children with diagnosed behavioural disorders. It is also believed that these kids have a decreased capacity to detoxify these heavy metals from their system.
Pyroluria is a relatively new kid on the block in the world of behavioural conditions, and the research is astounding. Pyroluria is a condition whereby the body produces something called pyrroles, which is a by product of haemoglobin production. The presence of excess pyrroles causes a systemic loss and subsequent deficiency of 2 crucial mood nutrients, B6 and Zinc. Symptoms of pyroluria can easily be confused with ADD as they include anger, irritability, frustration, aggression, temper tantrums, sleeplessness, moodiness, agitation, depression and anxiety. Sound familiar? I can’t keep up with the rate at which I am seeing this in children in my clinic. Testing is a non invasive urine test. No needles or blood required.
The GUT: I could talk about the gut for days!! My best advice is to look up the GAPS protocol (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) This protocol was put together by a Medical Neurologist, who, after her 2 children were both diagnosed with autism, dug a little further and found huge links with a child’s gut health and their mood and behaviour. The gut and its microbia and integrity have a huge role to play in nutrient absorption, assimilation and elimination and detoxification pathways.
The moral of my story I guess is this, if you have a child who is wither diagnosed with or you suspect has any behaviour typical of ADD or Autism, in addition to your medical management, don’t forget the importance of good nutrition and getting a good naturopath or practitioner on your team to help you manage other aspects of mood such as diet and lifestyle, environment and history.