ADHD has been placed into the category of a “waste basket diagnosis” which is defined as: “A diagnosis that may be based on fad, not proven to exist, not physiologically explained, or not described with specificity, and thus so broadly inclusive to the point of being scientifically useless”. If your child is exhibiting the typical symptoms that have been associated with the ADHD diagnosis – inability to focus, hyperactivity, can’t sit still, the odds are your doctor will very quickly prescribe some sort of habit-forming amphetamine with properties similar to cocaine, AKA Ritalin. This drug is currently being given to 7 million school children in the US, or nearly 1 in 5. Here’s a list of Ritalin’s side effects from the US Drug Enforcement Administration:
Increased blood pressure, heart rate, respiration & temperature; appetite suppression; stomach pains; weight loss; growth retardation; facial tics; muscle twitching; euphoria; nervousness; irritability; agitation; insomnia, psychotic episodes, violent behavior; paranoid delusions; hallucinations; bizarre behaviors; heart arrhythmias & palpitations and psychological dependence. Really?
To deal with these side effects, children will often be prescribed additional medications such as antidepressants and sleeping pills. This is called polypharmacy and it is on a dangerous rise in children today. For our kids’ sake, we cannot accept this waste basket diagnosis! This is a disease of modern society and we have to start looking at the root cause instead of just medicating the symptoms. It’s highly unlikely that your child was ever evaluated for food allergies or nutritional deficiencies when concerns of attention span and restlessness arise, however, many studies have been done proving that behavioral problems diminish and IQ levels rise when nutritional supplementation is administered, especially essential fatty acids (EFAs) like Omega 3s. (BTW, eczema is a really good indicator of insufficient EFAs). Lower IQ levels are associated with children that consume processed sugars, commercial breakfast cereals, sweets, etc. Processed sugar facilitates the removal of vitamins and minerals from the body, feeds the pathogenic (bad) bacteria in our large intestine and suppresses our immune systems. Excess sugar and out of control insulin levels are at the root of every modern disease from Alzheimer’s and ADHD to cardiovascular disease and breast cancer. Let’s not underestimate the destructive power of processed sugar – or how much of it our kids are really consuming.
Some information in this blog was gathered from the book: “New Optimum Nutrition for the Mind” by Patrick Holford. One of my school textbooks and absolute favorite on the topic on mental health!!
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. It is progressive and debilitating and is characterized by the loss of memory and other intellectual abilities that are serious enough to interfere with daily life (Alzheimer’s Association, 2013). Sufferers no longer have the ability to think or communicate clearly, lose the awareness of self and environment and therefore, control over their lives.
Alzheimer’s is characterized by the accumulation in the brain of a protein called beta amyloid (Perlmutter, 2004). Beta amyloid is a substance that is normally found in the body, but as one ages, it is possible that it can accumulate in plaques within the brain. It has been said that this protein has the potential to choke brain cells which can promote the production of free radicals, killing neurons and resulting in memory impairment, loss of bodily functions and then ultimately, death.
Question is if beta amyloid is a “normal” substance found in the body, we owe it to ourselves to ask this question: what causes it to begin accumulating in plaques within the brain in the first place? There is a reason and a big clue is that Alzheimer’s is being referred to as Type 3 Diabetes. The Standard American Diet (SAD) consists of refined sugars: white sugar, white breads, white pasta, cold cereals, cookies, sodas, the list continues. Consuming these types of foods on a regular basis sets in motion an entire inflammatory cascade within the body and brain. We are made to believe that the body and brain are separate. That there is a wall that keeps the brain separated from the activities of the body. Well, there is certainly a barrier, but it’s definitely not a brick wall. As Mark Hyman states in “The UltraMind Solution”, the barrier is more like cheese cloth. He raises the question “How can we really believe that our brains could tolerate half a pound of sugar a day on average and be healthy?” Excess sugar in your diet is linked to brain diseases (Hyman, 2009). Over the years, the continuous burden of excess carbohydrates in our diet, specifically process sugars, directly increases the amount of beta amyloid plaque in the brain. Beta amyloid plaque promotes inflammation which intensifies free radical production. When the amount of free radicals (damaging molecules) outnumbers the amount of antioxidants (repairing molecules) in the body, we have a situation called “oxidative stress”. It is at this point when aging and age-related diseases begin to take over.
All of the cholesterol that our bodies require on a daily basis is made in our liver. For example, in a healthy situation, if we consume 20% cholesterol through our diet…. our liver will make the other 80%. Cholesterol in and of itself is harmless. It’s actually a sealant, quite reparative and a carrier of antioxidants. We need cholesterol to make bile, vitamin D and for cell membrane integrity. When LDL & HDL are mentioned, we are made to believe two things: one, that LDL & HDL are cholesterol; and two, that LDL is “bad” and HDL is “good”. As I have learned, LDL & HDL are actually protein molecules that transport cholesterol to and from the cells to enable the cholesterol to carry out its important function and then to later be excreted from the body. For LDL to become pathogenic or “bad”, it really depends on the ratio of the body’s antioxidant defense to the level of oxidative stress that the arteries are under. Cholesterol ONLY collects in the arteries once the arteries have been damaged – if the arteries are not damaged, cholesterol doesn’t accumulate inside of them.
Artery walls are weakened & damaged by vitamin deficiencies. Once that process begins, the body activates repair mechanisms. The body will only use cholesterol for mending when it lacks other structural repair substances, like collagen – again, due to nutrient deficiencies. At this time, LDL levels become elevated due to the body’s need for repair (thus being deemed “bad).
I believe our main focus of “lowering cholesterol”, especially via pharmaceuticals, is misleading. Statistically there are just as many people having and dying of heart attacks with total cholesterol levels below 200 as there are with total cholesterol levels above 200. There are studies that began in the 1960s that show that all of the processes leading to plaqueing of the arteries are caused by the overproduction of insulin (Schwarzbein, 1999). Excess insulin appears to be the real culprit, more so than cholesterol. Our focus needs to be on evaluating diet & lifestyle to determine why there is excess insulin is in the blood and what nutritional deficiencies are causing the arterial damage in the first place.
Too often when there is a diagnosis of disease, we are quick to treat the symptoms. Instead of looking for an underlying cause, we’re busy focusing on the effect. When we become the effect in any situation, we become the victim. We are not in control when we live our lives reactively. We’re so hard wired to automatically match a medication up to a symptom, when we should truly be matching a symptom up with its corresponding nutritional deficiency. When a cancerous tumor is surgically removed, the origin of that tumor still exists. When we take anti-depressants, the root of the depression remains. Unfortunately there still isn’t a magic pill that can drive us to the gym, make us love broccoli, and remove the stress from our jobs. There’s no denying that there are cases in which medications are indeed necessary & life-saving, but the fact remains that most medications are a bandage covering up the very issues we choose to ignore. Why do we ignore the root of our issues? Because it’s easier to do so, plain & simple. Today, the snooze button, TV and fast food win out every time. Until we decide to get out of our comfort zones, we remain as victims and wait for our inevitable diagnosis.
If you think about it, who benefits more? The individual that starts making the proactive changes to his diet and lifestyle before the potential heart attack… or the person that is forced into making those changes because he survived a heart attack? Being proactive (the cause) and making the necessary changes today will always give us more power. It may be difficult in the beginning, but rest assured, the pain will very quickly diminish and what you will be left with is complete control over your future. When we are reactive (the effect), the pain is long term, if not forever, and we are subject to the proverbial ups and downs that are a product of living reactively. Start today by making a commitment to yourself that you will be the director in the movie of your life, not the actor.
Here are some of my favorite products for kids.
Dr. Bronner’s All in 1 Unscented Pure Castile Soap
Gaiakids Warming Chest Rub
Jason Sunbrellas Block
Vokabbalahry: Words of Wisdom for Kids to Live By, by Michal Berg
UltraFlora Children’s Chews
Tom’s Fluoride Free Children’s Toothpaste
Burt’s Bees Very Volumizing Pomegranate Conditioner
Organic Lavender Hair Conditioner & Style Creme
Madonna: Five Books for Children
DHA Junior Liquid
Baby Bee Chlorine-Free Wipes
Baby Bee Shampoo & Wash