A new study found that embracing a healthy lifestyle could help kids with ADHD alleviate symptoms and even get rid of medication.
Currently, ADHD symptoms are treated with drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall, but the authors of a recent study suggest that a healthy diet and more physical activity could be just as beneficial.
The latest study involved 184 patients diagnosed with ADHD and 104 healthy children. Researchers found that study participants with an ADHD diagnosis were less likely to eat healthy or lead a healthy life.
For instance, most ADHD patients got more than the recommended two hours of screen time per day and exercised less than seven hours per week. Additionally, participants with the disorder drank more sugary drinks than water and failed to take the recommended sleep time of 11 hours per night.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children to drink between seven to 10 cups of plain water per day based on age. Sparkling water is not a healthy substitute as past research had found that it can drain the calcium out of a person’s body in the long term.
The latest study was published in the Journal of Attention Disorders.
The study’s lead author Kathleen Holton noted that most parents do not want to see their kids on ADHD medication. So, healthier lifestyle choices may just fix this problem. Dr. Holton believes that the changes could go either alongside conventional ADHD treatment or as an alternative.
Dr. Holton is an ADHD expert at the American University’s Center for Behavioral Neurosciences in Washington, D.C.
Study authors also underscored the role of water in managing ADHD. Researchers recommend parents to make plain water more appealing to their kids. Parents should gradually cut the intake of sugary drinks and remove any caffeinated beverages from their kids’ diets. Caffeinated beverages have a diuretic effect. This means that the body losses water, experts explained.
Plus, encouraging kids with ADHD to exercise more helps them increase water consumption as they will feel thirsty more often. Experts also recommend improving bedtime behavior by cutting screen time.
Nevertheless, Dr. Holton said parents should consult with their kids’ doctors before applying these lifestyle changes.
The recent findings are consistent with past studies that had revealed the benefits of exercise for ADHD patients. Researchers had found that physical activity can improve attention and lift the spirits.
Plus, exercise boosts the brain’s ability of releasing endorphins, also known as the hormones of happiness. Physical activity was also linked in past studies with higher levels of dopamine and serotonin, which are lower in ADHD patients.
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