What is the anti-inflammatory diet? It sounds more like a diet for grandma’s old arthritic hip. How does it help ADHD?
You are absolutely correct. It does help grandma’s arthritic hip by reducing inflammation. It also helps with other inflammatory illness such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, etc.
The anti-inflammatory diet as its name implies helps to reduce and fight against inflammation. It accomplishes the anti-inflammatory property by excluding foods that induce inflammations, while encourage intake of food that is neutral or support the body’s immune system to fight inflammation.
With inflammatory, we usually think of red, swollen and painful joint, which is the body’s immune system’s response to injury. So, in another word, inflammatory is good because our body is either fighting off an infection or trying to heal an injury.
However, the inflammation we’re talking about here is CHRONIC, which means the body’s immune system is constantly being activated for no reason.
This is not good for the body. You might think it’s a good idea because your body is being protected.
It is this overactive immune system that increases your risk of allergies because it is attacking anything that comes its way. It also weakens the immune response when the next big insult comes around. When the immune system is constantly doing things it’s not supposed to do, this takes resources away from its main tasks, such as detoxification, fighting infection, tissue healing, getting rid of cancer cells, etc.
SO, HOW DOES THE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET HELP ADHD?
It is thought that ADHD is the result of chronic systemic inflammation of the body. This systemic inflammation affects the whole body including the brain resulting in functioning and communication error.
You might think how the brain is involved in all this. Think the last time you’re in pain. Were you able to focus? Remember the headaches you have, stomachache, someone stepped on your toe. Our whole body is connected, when one part is not well, our brain is not well too. But we can control or minimize the insult to the brain by following the principle of an anti-inflammatory diet.
WHAT CAUSES INFLAMMATION IN THE BODY?
1. Toxic metals in the environment
2. Pesticides, preservatives and toxic chemicals
3. Hidden food allergies, such as gluten (wheat), casein (milk), eggs, soy, corn and nuts. But wheat and milk are the biggest culprit.
4. Excess sugar and animal fats intake
5. Chronic stress.
FOODS TO INCLUDE:
- Fresh whole natural foods, preferably organic. Buy fresh fruits/vegetables from local farmer’s market. Because these produce does not have to travel long distance, last chemicals are used. Choose cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, onions, cabbage, and garlic. These are excellent sources of sulfur, which help boost the sulfation process in the body’s detoxification.
2. Choose low-fat lean protein as well as seafood, which are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acid, which has great anti-inflammatory property. Choose organic chicken, grass-fed beef, veal, lamb, buffalo, bison and other game meat because of their lack of antibiotics and hormones. Nuts, seeds and beans are also very good sources of protein. Include a variety of them as snacks or complement to salads and entrees.
4. Use fresh spices and herbs to flavor your foods. Garlic, ginger and curcumin are excellent anti-inflammatory herbs to use.
5. Filtered water. Drink water only from BPA-free water bottles.
FOODS TO AVOID:
- Added sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup. These sugars are stripped of all nutrients during processing. It is basically empty calories. High fructose corn syrup is thought to be the culprit of the current obesity epidemic. It supposedly causes an addictive effect on its consumers, causing them to want to eat more of the food it is in.
2. Processed foods – anything that comes in a can or box and can last for years. These food are stripped bare of all nutrients, which are replaced with artificial flavorings, food coloring, preservatives, monosodium glutamate (MSG), etc. Frozen fruits and vegetables are fine as long as they are free of preservatives and processing.
3. Trans fats – found in many processed foods and margarine. These fats increased bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowers good cholesterol (HDL) levels in the blood. As a result, plague start building up in the artery creating a source of inflammation.
4. Grains and dairy products are the greatest culprit of hidden food allergies.
5. Fish with high mercury content, such as shark, mackerel and swordfish. Limit tuna to one 6-ounce can a week. Even better yet, choose canned wild-caught Alaskan salmon, which is high in omega-3 fatty acid instead for your “tuna” sandwich.
6. Artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, aspartame, Saccharin and acesulfame potassium. These are man-made sugar from the labs. The studies that show these artificial sweeteners are safe are done on adult subjects and sponsored by the manufacturers of these “sugars”. There are no “long-term” studies on both adults and children. Therefore, the long-term effects on children’s growth are “unknown”.
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET AND LIFESTYLE
The anti-inflammatory diet is not just about foods. It is a lifestyle. You can’t completely treat the inflammation in your body just with foods, and induce the inflammation back with your lifestyle choices, such as chronic stress, lack of exercise, exposure to environmental toxins and chemicals.
1. Daily physical activities. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day, ideally 60 minutes. Physical activities not only help with weight, it helps to clear your thoughts (especially negative ones), facilitate the circulation of the lymphatic system, the super highway of your immune system, and increase neurotransmitters, such as serotonin (your feel-good chemical).
2. Use environmentally friendly products. Avoid using Styrofoam, which released estrogen-like chemicals when in contact with heat or being heated. Avoid canned foods or juices or beverages, as the inner lining of the cans are lined with BPA to avoid corrosion of metal from contact with acidic contents.
3. Volunteer and give back to your community. The sense of giving and community boost dopamine levels in the brain. Remember, dopamine is the brain chemical that is found to be low in children with ADHD.
4. Learn relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, prayers, breathing exercise, etc. Focus on positive thoughts everyday. If need to, turn off the news channel.