As a kid, I remember sitting in classrooms, listening to teachers talk about whatever subject was on the agenda.
Whether it was math, science, history or reading, my eyes would often drift towards the windows, and my mind
would soon follow. As a 10 or 12 year old boy, your heart is often outside, riding a bike and looking for trouble, not in a classroom learning about the Gettysburg Address, protons, electrons, or long division.
As I got in to high school, I would sit through lectures, and despite the brilliance of Shakespeare, my mind (and perhaps eyes, too, if I'm being honest…) would often be trained on the girl sitting two rows over. Because at 17, figuring out ways to talk to and woo Mary Anne the cheer leader is infinitely more fascinating than hearing about literary devices, or Romeo wooing Juliet.
It fails to be surprising that this inability to concentrate is perceived a disease, because if there is a disease, there can be a pill to treat it. And, if there is a pill to treat it, there is money to be made. ADD and ADHD affect 3-5% of school children, and an estimated 4.1% of adults . Yearly revenue for drugs to treat ADHD reaches into the billions of dollars.
There is no doubt that these two conditions are real, but one must wonder; where were they 30, 40, or 50 years ago? Are kids really that much more inattentive, or do they lack the ability to focus and concentrate that their parents and grandparents had? It is an interesting question. What has changed so much in the last few decades that has forced us into believing the only way we can make kids behave and concentrate is by putting them on powerful, mind-altering drugs? Regardless of the answer, the thought in mainstream medicine is that "…it is not clear what exactly causes it."
TV, the Internet, and technology in general have all been implicated in shortening our collective attention span, but another difference can't be overlooked; the diet Americans, and especially young people, eat has certainly changed dramatically in the last half century, and definitely not for the better. Kids live on a steady diet of sugar, grains, food dyes and processed foods. Cereal and sugary juice in the morning, vending machines or school cafeteria food for lunch, take out for dinner. Additionally, listed on the side effects of antibiotics is hyperactivity. How many children in America haven't been put on, at least one time, that pink, bubble-gum-flavored antibiotic called amoxicillin?
Add all of these things up, and we may be on to something. Is there a fungal link to all of this? Well, antibiotics are, themselves, mycotoxins - fungal poisons. Mycotoxins and fungi can contaminate the the grains and corn that make up the bulk of many young people's diet. The sugar and carbs present in most of the processed foods children are given regularly would do nothing to prevent a fungal infection from flourishing.
So is there an alternative to the powerful, mind-altering drugs that are the go-to for doctors dealing with ADHD? There are certainly a couple changes that you should make before defaulting to this option. Diet is critical. It may be a good idea to switch your youngster to a Phase 1 diet; immediately eliminate any grain, corn, sugar, starch (in the form of potatoes or rice), and antibiotics (unless under strict doctor's orders). Replace these foods with lean, clean protein, such as grass-fed meat, wild caught ocean fish, pastured chickens and turkeys. Limit fruits to the non-sugary variety - berries, lemons, limes, avocados, grapefruit, etc. Copious amounts of vegetables are encouraged. (Corn, potatoes and beans are not vegetables.) Nuts and seeds are also encouraged. (A more detailed description of the Phase 1 diet can be found in all of Doug's books.)
Additionally, there are some supplements to try. Initially, try rotating some good, powerful anti-fungals, such as olive leaf extract or oregano oil; these, in addition to a Phase 1 diet, will help rid the body of pathogenic fungi. Probiotics are essential, especially if your child has been on antibiotics. Antibiotics are indiscriminate bacterial killers, which means they'll eliminate any good flora in the gut. These "good" bacteria are critical for a number of different processes, and when they are eliminated, it leaves a void for pathogenic fungi to come in and fill. Replacing the flora in the gut is an important step in ridding the body of pathogenic fungi, and ensuring they don't return. Fish oil is also a good supplement to try. Fish oil continues proving to have many benefits, and mental health benefits aren't least among them.
Lastly, the benefits of exercise cannot be overlooked. Exercise has proven mental health benefits. Get your child to get out from behind a computer and go outside and exercise. Organized sports may be their thing, or simply riding a bike. Additionally, getting the added benefits of Vitamin D from the sunlight will do nothing but give your youngster health benefits.
A diagnosis of ADHD can be a difficult thing to cope with, both for children and parents. But instilling a few simple changes can prevent the use of powerful drugs, and help encourage a healthy lifestyle for your youngsters, which is something that will serve them well for the rest of their life.