Learning Disorders – A Natural Approach

Learning disorders are the fastest growing childhood disorder in the United States, affecting 9 to10 percent of all school-aged children. ADD and ADHD are disorders of the central nervous system that have documented links to diet. Development of a healthy nervous system depends upon appropriate nutrition. Diet is a great area where parents can take action to help their children.
When working with a learning disorder or behavior problems, diet is one of the first places to look. How much sugar is in the diet? Learn to read labels. One teaspoon of sugar is 4 grams by weight. Many breakfast cereals and bars have 16 to 20 grams of sugar. That is 4 to5 teaspoons. Sodas have around 9 teaspoons of sugar. Juices, even 100% juice, are also sources of sugar with roughly 5 to 8 teaspoons of sugar per serving. Take out a cup measure and fill it with the amount of sugar your child consumes on an average day. It may be surprising to you. Also nearly as important to monitor are the starchy foods that convert easily to sugar in the body. These include white potatoes and foods made with white flour such as pasta and crackers.
Food allergies are another place to look for causes of behavior problems. Common allergens are dairy, wheat, and corn. Some allergies are actually caused by nutritional deficiencies. For instance, wheat allergy generally comes into balance when you supplement magnesium and essential fatty acids. Notice what happens after your child eats certain foods, especially those that are consumed daily. Consider rotating common foods out of the diet so that they are eaten only 2-3 times per week. (Yes, this takes lots of planning.)
Other sources of problems are the additives and preservatives in convenience foods. MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein and the sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet) are classified as excitotoxins, meaning that they are so stimulating to the nervous system that they literally excite the cells to death. Whether you are a child or an adult, these substances should be avoided since they destroy valuable cells within the brain.
In terms of nutrients not in the standard American diet, look to Omega 3 oils such as flax seed or fish oil supplements. These oils are critical to proper brain and nerve development. Many learning disorders disappear when flax seed oil or fish oil is added to a balanced diet.
It may also be helpful to add a high quality vitamin with whole foods and trace minerals to help fill some of the nutritional gaps that may be in a child’s diet.
Stick to real foods like meat, vegetables and whole grains. Vegetables are very important since they help the body neutralize and eliminate the foods we tend to eat too much of. A good diet with some basic supplements will help a child in many ways, not just behavior and learning.


About NaturalCowgirl

Margaret Durst has been involved with natural health for over 20 years. In her early 30s, she was faced with a medical diagnosis that recommended a lifetime of prescription drugs. In her heart, she knew that there must be an alternative way to healing and health and thus began her journey into natural health. Along the way, Margaret has trained with many different natural health practitioners and earned a degree in Naturopathy. She established her nutritional consulting practice and opened The Green House in 2003 to enable her mission of helping people navigate the natural health maze. People have praised Margaret for intuitive ability to help people address their health issues and goals with diet and lifestyle choices and successfully take responsibility for their health and wellbeing. This comes from Margaret’s deeply held beliefs in the body’s innate ability to heal and in the tools nature provides for health and healing.
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2 Responses to Learning Disorders – A Natural Approach

  1. Kim Fazio says:

    Hi, I have an 8 year old grandson diagnosed with ADHD. Many tests were recently done and we found all sorts of deficiencies…one being that he has extremely low cholesterol. We have read that is often associated with ADD/ADHD so we are trying to raise his levels. I am wondering….would fish or flax seed oil be good? The reason I ask is because I know many people swear by its cholerstol lowering abilities but we need to raise his, not lower it, so I am concerned about whether we should try it or not. Thanks very much,

    • Sometimes low cholesterol is due to insufficient healthy fats. I think that flax seed might be a good addition to his diet. Healthy oils tend to raise the good or HDL cholesterol. They also tend to calm the hyperactive brain and nervous system. But just to make sure, check with his health care practitioner.

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