Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder AD(H)D

There are many theories to why ADHD and ADD exist. It may be a neurological disorder, it may even be a hereditary genetic condition or it can be problems with the fontal lobes of the brain that are involved in regulating behaviour. A lack of essential fatty acids can be another cause.

It does not really matter what the cause of ADD/ADHD is the most important thing is to help your child and the whole family to deal with it.

Studies show that at least 5% of all school age children have ADD or ADHD. More boys are affected than girls.

Not all children with an attention deficit are hyperactive - some spend hours day dreaming, staring out of windows and are often called "lazy". All children with ADD/ADHD have a problem with age-appropriate attention and self-control. They sometimes develop learning problems because they never properly complete a developmental task.


Treating kids with ADD/ADHD is like building a jigsaw puzzle.
If you do not have all the pieces, the puzzle can not be completed and your child does not get all the benefit.

These are the most important interventions your child need to improve his health and social interaction. Treating ADHD is like building a puzzle

The basic nutrition intervention:

It is important to remember that every child will react differently on nutritional interventions. The degree of change will also differ from one child to the next. The change might be visible in different aspects, i.e; concentration, health, behaviour or his/her social interaction. You might not see a difference in one child before everything is 100% implemented, but another child will improve just by changing a few things. We are all different and react differently. This is very important to remember, when you feel like giving up before you even started to change nutrition for the better.

There are different principles of the diet. They include:


  • Increasing/including essential fatty acids in the diet and ensuring optimal levels of vitamins and minerals and eliminating anything that can interfere with the utilization of essential fatty acids, i.e. hydrogenated oils/fats
  • Controlling blood glucose (sugar) levels
  • Avoiding artificial colourants, artificial flavourants and preservatives.

Essential fatty acids: Omega 3 and Omega 6

Essential fatty acids (EFA) are vital nutrients that come directly and ONLY from our foods. The body can not manufacture these, which is why they are called 'essential'.

EFA is very important in the function of the nervous system and helps to coat the nerve endings and improves the brain message transport system.

  • Symptoms of deficiency: Excessive thirst, frequent urination, allergies, visual problems, ear infections, cold, learning problems, dry skin, unmanageable hair, dandruff, brittle nails, small, hard bumps on the back of the arms and thighs.
  • Food sources: Omega-3 - Canola oil, soy, navy beans, kidney beans, pinto and red beans, flaxseed, linseed, tuna, sardines, salmon, pilchards, mackerel, herring Omega-6 - Evening primrose oil, starflower, borage oil

Vitamin and mineral supplementation

The child needs a vitamin and mineral supplement to assist in the metabolism of the EFA. These preparations must be free from synthetic colourants and synthetic flavourants.

Friendly bacteria

We all have beneficial/friendly bacteria in our digestive tracks and we need them to maintain a healthy immune system and help to digest and metabolise food better. The most common bacteria are Lactobacillis and Bifidobacterium. These bacteria can also help the body to manage better with allergies.

Blood glucose control

Our bodies burn fuel all the time. For that personal best performance we need the right type of fuel. The fuel our body likes best is carbohydrates. All carbohydrates are not created equal. Some carbohydrates are absorbed slower into the blood and these have more health benefits for everybody.

The benefits of slow release carbohydrates:

  • Provide sustained energy and improves concentration levels
  • Are more satisfying and reduce the risk of obesity
  • Cause lower insulin levels, which make fat easier to burn and less likely to be stored
  • Help in management of diabetes
  • Reduce the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers


This word means the following; 
"Gly" in medical terms means glucose; the petrol in our bodies, 
"Aemic" in medical terms means blood, 
"Index" is an indication of sort.

The Glyceamic index is a blood sugar indicator. It is a scientifically proven guide to the real effects of carbohydrate foods on blood sugar levels. It gives you an indication of how your blood sugar level will fluctuate after eating. The ideal is to get a slow, constant supply of glucose from food and not a quick release that only last a short time.

Glucose has a GI value of 100 and is used as the reference food. All tested foods are compared to glucose. Values close to a 100 will be quicker release and values further from 100 will be slower release, a better choice. No food is good or bad on the basis of the GI, although the benefits of low GI foods are increasingly recognized.

Higher GI foods are best after exercise. The need for energy is then greater and the muscle can use the glucose easier. The increase in blood glucose will be not as quick as without exercise.

The slower the release of glucose in the blood the more constant the energy/glucose supply and the less fluctuation in blood glucose levels will be experienced.

Achieving a low GI diet

Achieving a low GI diet usually means making a few alterations or substitutions to the meals. The aim is to swap at least half of the foods from higher GI to lower GI choices. For example you change the type of breakfast cereal for breakfast, the type of bread for lunch and the kind of potatoes (starch) for dinner.

It is not necessary to feed you child only low GI foods. On the contrary, meals usually consist of a variety of foods. Mixing higher and lower GI foods in the same meal produces an intermediate GI meal.

Try to include a minimum of one lower GI food per meal to get the benefit.

A few examples of how to substitute higher GI foods with lower GI foods:

Higher GI food   ->  change to   ->   Lower GI food
Bread, whole-wheat, brown and white   ->  change to   -> Seed loaf, rye bread and heavy "grainy" breads
Corn flakes, Rice Crispies, Special K   ->  change to   -> All Bran, High Fibre bran, Whole-wheat Pronutro
Watermelon and spanspek   ->  change to   -> Apples, pears, banana, citrus, peaches
Pasta - wheat or home-made   ->  change to   -> Pasta - durum wheat, semolina
Rice - "sticky"   ->  change to   -> Tastic, Basmati, Brown rice
"Large" potatoes   ->  change to   -> Baby/new potatoes, sweet potatoes

Examples for breakfast:

  • Low GI breakfast cereal, milk and fruit
  • Seed loaf toast with peanut butter and fruit
  • Smoothies
  • Poached egg, grilled tomato with baked beans and toast
  • Yoghurt and fresh fruit and a few nuts

Examples for lunch / lunch box:

  • Use different types of bread for variety - wholegrain, sourdough, rye, and seed loaf, pita with a protein filling such as cheese, peanut butter, chicken, tuna and mince.
  • Add fruit or dried fruit to their lunch box.
  • Include milk or yoghurt.
  • Add water or diluted fruit juice.
  • Suggestions for sandwiches: 
       Tuna, sweet corn and lettuce 
       Egg, mayonnaise and lettuce 
       Tuna, salmon or sardines with tomato sauce 
       Cheese and salad with mayonnaise 
       Peanut butter and raw honey 
       Cold meat with pickles/salad/coleslaw 
       Baked beans 
       Avocado and chicken

Ideas for dinner

  • Spaghetti bolognaise and a green salad
  • Wrap a fish fillet dressed with herbs and lemon or tomato and onion in foil and bake. Serve with baby potatoes and steamed vegetables.
  • Stir fry chicken or meat with mixed green vegetables and serve on durum pasta or basmati rice.
  • Grilled steak with sweet potato, peas and mixed salad.
  • Create a casserole with lots of vegetables and baby potatoes. Add butterbeans to the casserole.
  • Make lasagna with mince or chicken and serve with a crisp garden salad.
  • Thick soup with lots of legumes and barley.

And now for desserts!!

  • Combine low fat ice cream with strawberries.
  • Fruit salad with yoghurt
  • Banana and custard
  • Jelly whip made with low fat milk or yoghurt and set with fruit


AVOID Preservatives, Artificial Colourant, Artificial Flavourants and Artificial Sweeteners

  • Read all labels and avoid products with artificial colourants and artificial flavorings. If it is natural it would be fine.
  • Preservatives can aggravate allergies

Avoid all artificial colourants, artificial flavourants, anti-oxidant preservatives, e.g. EDTA, BHA, BHT, TBHQ, and preservatives i.e; Calcium propionate, Benzoic acid, Benzoates, Sulphur dioxide, Sulphates, Sulphites and MSG. Avoid artificial sweeteners:

  • Saccharin, Cylamate, Aspartame, Acelfame-K, sucralose are artificial sweeteners.
  • Sorbitol is a sugar-alcohol and is usually commercially produced from glucose. Excess consumption can have a laxative effect.
  • Stevia is a natural sweetener that comes from an herb, but must be avoided.

The best is to use sugar in moderation when you need to sweeten food.



The practice:

21 Highland avenue
Bryanston, Johannesburg


Office  073 179 4907


NutritionWeek 2016 link