Most ADHD diets involve avoiding processed food because of the artificial additives they contain and their lack of nutritional value. When doing the groceries, don’t be fooled by packaged foods that are “fortified” or “enriched with nutrients. Not only are these so-called “enriched” foods just as depleted as regular processed food; they have a negative health impact on people who eat them on a regular basis.
Food processing involves various methods to prolong shelf life and deliver these foods to far corners of the world. These methods, which can include freezing, canning, and adding chemical preservatives and flavoring, results in a final product that is lacking in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that it promises. Despite these facts, processed foods are eaten regularly and at a high volume. This is troublesome because when processed food is eaten to satisfy hungry, the body uses up its vitamin and mineral stores to digest these foods and convert them into energy. Hence the term “empty calories” – the body uses its nutritional stores and cannot replenish them, thanks to the lack of nutrients in the processed food. The easy availability of these processed foods is one of the leading reasons why more children and adults experience ADHD. As you are probably already aware, vitamin and mineral deficiencies affect brain function, causing hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. Although food supplements can make up for the deficiency, it cannot get rid of the symptoms if a person’s diet is poor to begin with.
Enriched food is very misleading because it gives the impression that the food must be nutritious and healthy. But the truth is that enriched food are only slightly less depleted than regular processed food. What’s worse is that the nutrients added to the food are synthetic toxic additives. For instance, the iron in iron-enriched snacks and breakfast cereals are actually made of the metallic form of iron! The only iron the body can use is the bio-available kind naturally found in meat and some vegetables. In other forms, iron can do very little good to the body, in the same way metallic iron shavings can do little good to your nutrition. Yet this is the kind of iron found in iron-enriched foods.
Another enriched food you need to watch out for is those with omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats naturally occur in deep sea fatty fish, walnuts, and flax, but now you see the omega-3 label in eggs, bread, and infant formula. But not only are these omega-3 fortified foods more expensive; they don’t contain enough omega-3 fat to be of use. What’s worse is that synthetic versions of omega-3 are often used to fortify these foods. A study shows that omega-3 fortified infant formula causes massive diarrhea because it uses a toxic synthetic fat similar to omega-3.
Following a nutritious ADHD diet is no easy task, but you are better off sticking to actual food sources of these vitamins and minerals instead of enriched processed food. Enriched food will not only fail to provide the nutrients needed by someone with ADHD; it may end up aggravating any nutritional deficiencies that are already there.