Saturday, August 13, 2011

An ADHD Diet - A Phosphate-Free Diet

The foods we eat have a profound effect on our mind and behavior. The right foods can contribute to a healthy, well-functioning mind and improve our ability to perform tasks, but the wrong foods can hinder our development and keep us from enjoying life. It's hardly surprising that children and adults suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder experience chronic inattention or hyperactivity, because they've been eating foods that aggravate these symptoms. In fact, doctors and nutritionists recently found out that most foods eaten today - even the ones thought to be healthy - contain ingredients that may trigger ADHD. Among these ingredients are "phosphates," natural additives often called "mineral salts" on food labels.

Phosphates are actually important nutrients that contribute to certain cellular functions and chemical reactions in the body. For instance, phosphates produce ADP/ATP, a type of energy that enables neurons and cells to carry out their functions. Phosphates are also needed to produce essential nutrients and minerals vital to bodily functions. However, excess phosphates hinder the body from absorbing and utilizing other essential minerals like magnesium, calcium, and zinc. These minerals are often found to be lacking in children with ADHD, and a phosphate excess may be the root of the problem.


Several decades ago, food manufacturers started including phosphates in all sorts of foods for their versatile function. They work as emulsifying agents to keep fat in one place (e.g., cheese spreads, canned soups), they improve the texture of pastries and baked goods (when used in the form of baking soda), they enhance the taste of foods (e.g. soft drinks), and they thicken sauces(e.g., gravy and ketchup). Phosphates are also found in many processed instant meals, which are consumed more and more in Western countries due to the fast-paced lifestyle.

The phosphate-free diet was formulated several years ago by German pharmacist Hertha Hafer. She discovered that removing phosphates from the diets of children with ADHD resulted in improved behavior, better school performance, and many other improvements. Implementing a low-phosphate diet is trickier than most, because many natural foods like nuts are high in phosphates. Here are some suggestions from Hertha Hafer on how to follow a low-phosphate diet.

To make it easier for a child to stay on the diet, the rest of the family has to go on the diet as well. Since ADHD is genetically inherited, other members of the family probably have the disorder to a mild degree. Based on Hafner's experience, putting the whole family on the diet had spin-off advantages. For instance, a domineering father became mellow once the family's meals were free of phosphates. Look for 10 phosphate-free recipes to start with. Ten recipes are usually enough, and the biggest challenge is to actually narrow down the choices. There are hundreds of phosphate-free recipes to choose from, which is great because your family will have variety in their meals. At the supermarket, buy as many fresh foods as possible. Avoid cheese, cheese spreads, soft drinks, processed meat, and other instant or processed foods. Read the ingredients label of each food carefully and watch out for "mineral salts." Prepare all meals from scratch. Instead of buying canned chicken stock, make your own by boiling chicken bones, meat, and vegetables. Make your own gravy out of butter and flour instead of buying premixed packs. It might help if you chop vegetables and prepare ingredients ahead of time, then refrigerate them to be used on those days when you have less time to spare in the kitchen.

An ADHD Diet - A Phosphate-Free Diet



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