I’ve always had a pretty wild imagination so it was no surprise when my mom enrolled me and my sister in an after school program called “Peter Pan Players.” We were encouraged to channel our energy, both physical and mental, into interactive games. One time, we were asked to close our eyes and share what we envisioned. I described, in exhaustive detail, a horse drawn carriage gliding through a snow kissed forest with sleigh bells ringing out a haunting melody…ever sight and sound imaginable until the teacher finally had to stop me. When she got to my sister and asked what she saw, Marie frankly stated, “I can’t see anything, my eyes are closed!” It was obvious that we were wired very differently. How about you? Let’s delve a little deeper to learn more about our brains and behavior.
The human brain is a fascinating machine capable of precise clarity or wild chaos. Whether in your childhood or as an adult, I’m certain you’ve had occasions when you lacked focusing, excessively fidgeted, and failed to follow through on everything from homework to housework. For many years scientists, researchers, medical professionals and parents have all sought ways to improve behavior in children. While most behavior is just kids being kids, there are neurological factors that may come into play in which children (and adults) experience more extreme levels of inattention, hyperactivity and lack of impulse control. In these cases, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is identified. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) describes these characteristics as follows:
- easily distracted or confused
- difficulty focusing on one thing, completing tasks, or learning something new
- not listening and daydreaming
- struggling to follow instruction
- fidgeting and squirming
- talking nonstop
- constantly in motion
- inability to do quiet tasks
- extreme impatience
- blurting out inappropriate comments
- acting out without restrain or regard to consequences
- interruptive during conversations and activities
While scientists and researchers are still unable to pinpoint a specific root cause for ADHD, it is clear that (just like many other conditions, diseases and disorders) genetics and environment play a significant role in the development of ADHD.
- Genes — researchers have found that certain genes actually produce “thinner brain tissue in the areas of the brain associated with attention” according to NIH research. The great news is that as children grow, the brain tissue in that area thickens resulting in a natural relief of symptoms.
- Environment - pregnancy can dramatically affect ADHD symptoms in children when exposed to cigarette smoking, and alcohol in the womb. Lead paint in plumbing and paint may also result in ADHD symptoms in preschoolers. Food additives may also be a factor although research remains ongoing to determine a correlation.
The great news here is that with the discovery of the Epigenome, we can influence gene behavior and certainly shape our environment to improve brain function and relieve ADHD symptoms naturally.
Did you know that a child’s brain continues to develop through the age of 12? The better we feed the brain at an early age, the better the odds are in developing optimal mental, physical and behavioral health. Children with ADHD are often deficient in critical brain nutrients. Here are several nutrients identified as low in ADHD children and their benefits to help fuel better behavior:
- Omega-3’s — a clinical study of boys showed those with low levels of omega-3s had more temper tantrums and sleep disturbances than those with normal levels. When the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA were given to children 6–12 yrs. old for two months, Japanese researchers found a significant reduction in aggression versus the control group. DHA was also found to improve brain function during sustained attention tasks like test taking.
- Phosphatidylserine (PS) — another great fatty acid found in high concentrations in the brain. It has been shown to improve attention, focus, behavior and learning in children and young adults. A four month study of ADHD children found that daily consumption of PS showed improvement in 25 out of the 27 participants.
- Magnesium — helps calm the brain and may help reduce aggressive and fidgety behavior.
- Zinc — helps produce neurotransmitters which allow the brain cells to better communicate with each other.
- Iron — a key brain nutrient that reduces anger and enhances mood. Research has shown a reduction in depression among teenage girls and higher IQ scores.
Food is your best and should be your first source when adding healthy nutrients such as these to your diet or your children’s diets. If you do supplement, look for a complete dietary supplement that includes a balance blend of nutrients. Some single source supplements can be harmful if consumed in excess especially for children.
Tips and Techniques for All
We all need to make better choices for our children and for ourselves. Influencing our genes and our environment requires discipline and determination but it also can be fun. Here are some great steps to help improve attention, focus, behavior, and social interactions:
- Simplify — remove clutter and chaos from your home, school and work environments.
- Schedule — develop a consistent daily schedule from the beginning of the day to bedtime. Be sure to include homework and outdoor activities. Engage children in marking a calendar for upcoming travel or schedule changes so they can be better prepared for the changes.
- Support — we all enjoy encouraging praise and ADHD children expecting criticism will feel more empowered to improve with positive motivation.
- Space — you know the adage “a place for everything and everything in its place.” Creating designated spaces for clothing, books, toys, etc. will help improve everyday order.
- Specifics - children suffering with ADHD and other behavioral issues need clarity and specific direction to keep them focused and on task. Be patient and offer clear direction.
- Supplement — we all need balance in our lives to function at our peak. Cleaning up our diet, especially for our children’s sake, will not only improve physical health, it will also support healthier mental and emotional states. Eliminate processed foods, especially those containing preservatives, refined sugars and simple carbohydrates. Adding a well-rounded dietary supplement like Reliv Now® for Kids* provides a great source of vital brain boosting nutrients including DHA, EPA, and PS as well as a safe, balanced blend of vitamins and minerals.
By now you’ve either read through this article or found something shiny and I lost you a long time ago. Either way, I can’t fault you for it, as I have been guilty of wandering down more than a few bunny trails in conversation and occasionally in print. No matter what you see when you close your eyes, feeding your brain and keeping your kids’ brains healthy will help you all stay on a straighter path towards your dreams!
Ready, Set, Grow! - Reliv Now® for Kids includes LunaRich™ with the highest potency of lunasin. 24K™ also provided beneficial B vitamins and Omega-3s for focus and relaxed alertness. Simply go to www.reliv.com/buy use RCN: 53960101
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is hold he will not depart from it. ”
The statements contained in this material have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Reliv products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Copyright © 2013 by Christine A.Toriello, all rights reserved.