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A recent study published in the British medical journal The Lancet indicated that in at least 2/3 of all ADHD cases, food sensitivities were the cause.
Pause for a moment and think of what this means. 64% of the kids out there being dosed with toxic pharmaceutical drugs to treat ADHD simply don’t need them! This number is monumental. In South Africa alone this represents an estimated 3.5 million people!
This has become a rather personal journey for me of late as my gregarious 6 year old son who ‘battles’ with impulsivity and lack of concentration in the classroom (although he concentrates intently on Lego and stories- which are both of immense interest to him- but that’s a blog for another time!) was ‘encouraged’ to go the Ritalin route. Besides the complete irony I find in this- we are the most high-paced society in history but feel the need to medicate our children into a stupor- it sends the alarming message to our children that rather than building ways to channel their energy (and active minds which are always in search of novel solutions) we simply resort to drugs in the hope that this will help them fit the mould of what is deemed ‘normal’ by the ‘experts’.
Of additional concern for me was that in this discussion there was no talk of exercise or nutrition as viable and sustainable long-term solutions. I was therefore not really surprised to later learn that South Africa has one of the highest ADHD medication prescribing rates in the world– it’s even higher than America!
There is something seriously wrong with this picture. Suffice to say that I was adamant to find answers and by pure coincidence was put in touch with Dr Morley who opened my mind to mounting research indicating that most problems in the brain are connected to what’s going on in one’s digestive system and that there is an absolute link between our digestion and neurological and psychological disorders. The theory is straightforward. When the balance of “good” bacteria and yeast to “bad” bacteria and yeast in our digestive tract goes out of whack, a condition called “gut dysbiosis” occurs. The “bad” microorganisms produce toxins which weaken our immune system, take a toll on our organs, and throw multiple body systems out of balance. The toxins can also increase the permeability of the gut lining, leading to Irritable Bowel Syndrome and a host of other digestive disorders. But perhaps the most noticeable effect of these toxins is the taxing of the neurological system which in turn prevents it from performing its normal functions and processing sensory information.
Kids are especially vulnerable to these toxins (and toxins that enter their bodies through pesticides on the foods they eat I might add) as they haven’t fully built up their Blood Brain Barrier of protection yet. So part of keeping toxins out of the brain involves having more good bacteria than bad coming from their intestines which Dr. Morley provided the following regime for:
Due to food sensitivities and their corresponding inflammatory effects he suggests avoiding:
Since my chance meeting with Dr Morley my quest to discover more about the gut/brain link has been insatiable! So if you can ‘stomach’ a bit more please read on for other exciting discoveries….
For example, did you know that the human digestive tract contains over one million nerve cells, about the same number found in the spinal cord?!? There are actually more nerve cells in the overall digestive system than in the entire peripheral nervous system. Furthermore, major neurotransmitters found in the brain — including serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, norepinephrine and nitric oxide — occur plentifully in the gut as well. In other words, poor digestive health can lead to mood disorders too.
Did you know that studies have found that there is a very important connection between damaged gut flora in pregnant women and developmental problems in their children? This too is significant because newborns inherit their gut flora from their mothers at the time of birth. Making sure mom has healthy gut flora and establishing normal gut flora in the first 20 days or so of life plays a crucial role in the maturation of a baby’s immune system. It’s important to realize that babies who develop abnormal gut flora have compromised immune systems, which puts them at higher risk of adverse vaccine reactions. If your baby has suboptimal gut flora, vaccines can become the proverbial “last straw” — the trigger that “primes” his/her immune system to develop chronic health problems!!!
And finally, did you know that being born by caesarean section dramatically increases ones risk for ADHD? The reason why is not yet conclusive however research has shown that both mice and humans born by C-section have a different bowel bacteria composition and a greater chance of problems with their immune systems than those born naturally. Again this is a significant finding for us South Africans where the C-section rate has been described by experts as ‘recklessly high’ at 5 times the standard rate set by WHO.
Faced with all this information what should one do? Personally, and mind you I’m no expert, my inclination is to start with diet and exercise before mind altering medication in the quest for a long term solution. My inclination is to let him be a free range kid again- let him explore his world to the max and give him the space and permission to be the child he is (he has more than enough time to be the over-scheduled, achievement-seeking adult society is conditioning him to be). Monitor the environments and foods that he reacts to and remove/limit them as much as possible, make sleep a priority and finally teach him constructive ways to channel his limitless energy- because by the time he’s a gown-up I can promise you he’s going to need it!
Based on this quest for a sustainable solution and off the back of the advice provided by Dr Morley we at Rush have been on a mission to create a range of wholefood snacks for kids that are high in protein, high in Omega 3, high in fibre and kept as close to their natural state as possible without any of the bad stuff: so no dairy, no gluten, no soy, no preservatives/additives and no refined sugar. For a glimpse of the recently launched, first-to-market solutions designed to allow little brains and bodies to grow up strong and ‘free-from’ have a sneak peek here: www.rushbar.co.za
Phone : +27 (0)82 446 6296
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: 4 Garnet Park, 6 Drill Avenue, Montague Gardens, Cape Town