Nearly all children are hyperactive or inattentive once in a while, but what happens when it becomes an ongoing problem? What happens when a child finds himself or herself unable to concentrate or sit still for very long? It can make doing anything from completing school work to having a conversation a frustrating chore. This is the case for children who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. ADHD is one of the most common psychiatric disorders in children, and it has been known to cause problems well into adolescence and adulthood.
Scientists are unsure what causes ADHD, but there are some treatments available. This usually involves taking medication, but it can also include some other techniques such as breaking large problems into smaller tasks and engaging in physical activity. Many people have often found that a change in diet can help those who live with ADHD. In fact, many scientists believe that foods rich in protein such as lean beef, fish, poultry, eggs, and legumes can have a beneficial effect on ADHD symptoms.
ADHD and Protein
The main reason that foods rich in protein may be helpful for those living with ADHD is that protein is used by the brain to make neurotransmitters, the chemicals that brain cells use to communicate with each other. They effectively awaken the brain and aid in concentration, especially when protein-rich foods are eaten earlier in the day during breakfast.
Another reason why protein may be good for children with ADHD is that it can prevent surges in blood sugar. High blood sugar can worsen many of the symptoms of ADHD, leaving a child irritable, hyperactive, and unable to concentrate. This is also why it is best for anybody living with ADHD to avoid consuming too much sugar or processed carbohydrates such as white bread. Unfortunately, this would mean limiting popular breakfast foods such as Pop-Tarts, fruit juice, and many kinds of breakfast foods. A child with ADHD who eats too many of these foods often becomes hypoglycemic, irritable, and unable to concentrate as early as mid-morning.
Since not all families will be able to provide enough protein to really make a difference in a child’s ADHD, many families are turning to protein supplements such as whey protein isolate. These of course are not intended to replace high-protein foods, and young children should be wary of taking too much of them, but they can provide enough protein to help control ADHD symptoms. These supplements also do not contain the sugars that can worsen symptoms in some children. You can speak to your child’s pediatrician for more information on protein supplements, but you should be able to find whey protein isolate and other such products at your local drugstore or nutrition store.
Living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is difficult for just about anybody, but it can be especially trying for a child. Doctors may not be completely sure what causes this relatively common disorder, but they are doing their best to do what they can to help control symptoms. No two people are alike, and what works for one person may not work for anybody else, but increasing protein intake could provide some of the support that many children need.