Posts tagged ‘diet’

March 16, 2011

ADHD – diet vs. drugs

A study was released in the Februray 5 issue of the Lancet regarding the use of dietary modification to address the symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in school-aged children instead of pharmaceutical drugs.  The study employed an elimination-diet approach, where children were first allowed a very diverse diet and then slowly tapered down to an extremely low-allergenic or anti-inflammatory diet of rice, turkey, pears, lettuce and water.

The conclusion – in 64% of the children the symptoms of inattention, fidgeting, lack of concentration and temper-tantrums completely resolved.  In an NPR interview with the study’s lead author, Dr. Lidy Pelsser, she commented on the teachers and doctors of the children in the study saying: “In fact, they were flabbergasted… After the diet, they were just normal children with normal behavior.”

This study is a significant milestone in the efforts for treatment of ADHD.  Many children and parents struggle with the challenging reality of experiencing the symptoms of the disorder on a daily basis.  Although in some cases pharmaceutical medications are required to manage the disorder it is incredible to think over half of the children suffering from ADHD can be cured with simple diet changes!

The elimination diet is just the beginning.  What the conclusion of this study implies is that the symptoms of ADHD are the signs of hypersensitivity to certain foods.  Once those foods are eliminated, the child can return to a more “normal” diet and may eventually even be able to re-integrate the eliminated foods back into his or her diet after a period of elimination.

At the end of Dr. Pelsser’s interview she commented on the application of these findings: “We have got good news — that food is the main cause of ADHD,” she says. “We’ve got bad news — that we have to train physicians to monitor this procedure because it cannot be done by a physician who is not trained.”

But there is a good news addendum – there are, in fact, physicians already trained to monitor disease from a food-based perspective!  Naturopathic doctors receive a minimum of 132 hours of nutritional education compared with traditional medical doctors who have received 25 hours or less. (See my post what does your doctor know about nutrition for more on this.)

If you, or someone you know may suffer from the symptoms of ADHD, contact your local naturopath for support in the process of healing and to help assess whether dietary modifications may be just what the doctor ordered!

Best,

Dr. R

January 23, 2011

what does your doctor know about nutrition?

An article published in the New York Times, by Dr. Pauline Chen, asks this very critical question, and the answer may or may not surprise you.  In the 1980’s the National Academy of Sciences published a report exploring the didactic hours of nutritional education provided in U.S. medical schools and determined it was remarkably insufficient.  They also determined that the minimum requirement for study dedicated to clinical nutrition for America’s upcoming doctors should be 25 hours.  Today. thirty years later, only 25% of our nation’s medical schools meet this minimum requirement.

In her article, Dr. Chen recalls her early years as a resident:

“Years later, as a newly minted doctor on the wards seeing real patients, I found myself in the same position. I was still getting a lot of questions about food and diet. And I was still hesitating when answering. I wasn’t sure I knew that much more after medical school than I did before.

One day I mentioned this uncomfortable situation to another young doctor. “Just consult the dietitians if you have a problem,” she said after listening to my confession. “They’ll take care of it.” She paused for a moment, looked suspiciously around the nursing station, then leaned over and whispered, “I know we’re supposed to know about nutrition and diet, but none of us really does.”

She was right. And nearly 20 years later, she may still be.”

Is nutritional education so important for today’s doctors?  The National Cancer Institute has this to say about the link between diet and chronic disease:

Serious diseases that are linked to what we eat kill an estimated three out of four Americans each year. These diseases include heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some types of cancer, and diabetes. Eating a diet that contains 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day as part of a healthy, active lifestyle lowers the risk for all of these diseases.

Most Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables to keep them healthy. Despite the fact that they are important for maintaining overall good health and preventing diseases, eating fruits and vegetables is not even on many people’s radar screens.”

The old adage “an apple a day” is more than folk-wisdom, we now have current research supporting the critical importance of dietary education for patients facing risk factors for disease.  Proper nutritional status is not about just “feeling good,” it is about preventing serious, life-threatening, diseases – cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer.  What you eat today can be a game-changer for your health in the future.  So what is your doctor telling you — and how much does your doctor know?

Perhaps it is time to seek out a primary care physician who has been thoroughly immersed in clinical nutritional training.  Consider this evaluation of conventional medical schools and naturopathic medical schools in the U.S.: comparative curricula.

Naturopathic doctors who have graduated from an accredited medical school have received a minimum of 132 hours of nutritional education compared with traditional medical doctors who have received 25 hours or less.  Not only can your naturopathic physician provide you with detailed guidelines for healthy eating that leads to a longer and more vital life, she can also assess your individual nutritional needs that are unique to you – your genes, your lifestyle and physical status.  In the end, we now know that early prevention through adherence to proper dietary guidelines will lead to less hospital visits, less prescribed medicines and significantly less risk for serious chronic health conditions in your future.

Your health can be significantly altered simply by the foods you choose.  Talk to your naturopathic physician about your health goals and how they can be achieved through dietary changes, this is a simple undertaking that can profoundly alter your future health!

be well,
Dr. Rachelle