by Tracy Rohland
More and more attention is being focused on children and the increasing trend to prescribe them pharmaceutical drugs to counter their “inability” to pay attention. From symptoms such as unacceptably speaking out, to not being able to complete a task properly, or being too aggressive, Americans have sought out the solution from a pill. But with the number of prescriptions only increasing, it is clear that there is a dire need to understand the real cause and solution of the problem.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), also known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), is a commonly diagnosed problem in children today. The well-known drug, Ritalin, is the most widely used treatment method currently prescribed. Sadly, most parents are not aware that recent studies have shown that Ritalin has properties similar to cocaine and that children on Ritalin are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol later in life. Ritalin is also known to be a mild carcinogen (cancer causing agent). Despite these dangers, Ritalin prescriptions continue to be handed out like hotcakes.
In the field of medicine, Americans tend to focus on treating the "symptom", rather than the "problem". This pattern is exemplified by the fact that the United States leads the world in Ritalin consumption, with five times as many prescriptions for the drug as the rest of the world combined. ADD was not a problem in past centuries and is not an epidemic in any other nation. In 1974, Dr. Ben Feingold looked deep into the cause of the problem and was the first to document a connection between ADD and diet. From his thorough studies, he developed a special diet for children with ADD, which excludes all foods that contain artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. The diet also eliminates foods containing natural salicylates (many fruits, tea, and aspirin, to name a few) as well as those commonly associated with allergic reactions (wheat, eggs, dairy, chocolate, soy, and corn products). Over half of the children who followed the Feingold Diet showed significant signs of improvement. Since then, much research has been done investigating the link between diet and ADD. This research supports Feingold’s assertion that food additives should always be avoided. Additionally, researchers agree that sugar is a primary culprit in worsening ADD symptoms. Even a small amount of sugar can cause a drop in calcium, phosphorus, and other vital nutrients, in effect starving the brain.
Between 1979 and 1983, the New York City school system removed sugar, additives, and preservatives from its school lunch program. This change alone resulted in a 15 percent increase in performance on standardized tests. Studies also report that ADD symptoms are correlated with vitamin deficiencies, presence of toxic metals, and a lack of essential fatty acids (omega-3 oils). These is indication that saturated fats and trans-fats (those found in hydrogenated oil) should be eliminated from the diet as well. Drugs like Ritalin have the ability to suppress the symptoms temporarily, but approaching the problem holistically could result in a safe, healthy, and effective solution. A good start is to eliminate processed foods from the diet. Just this step will immediately get rid of artificial dyes and preservatives. Also, by Incorporating organic foods into your diet, harmful chemical pesticides can be avoided.
For more information on the Feingold Diet, visit http://feingold.org/.