Keto For Kids With ADHD
Is Keto For Kids A Good Alternative to Medications?
ADHD, like epilepsy, is a brain-based disorder. So could a keto diet reduce ADHD symptoms? Let’s talk about keto for kids with adhd.
When a child has a developmental or neurological condition, parents want to know if changing to a keto diet will help improve symptoms, social interactions, or behavior.
Many parents try everything to avoid putting their child on medications. They take the more holistic route of veganism, gluten free diets, chiropractors, homeopathy, oils, behavior therapy, and yet nothing helps.
When children are put on a strict or liberalized version of the keto diet (40-60 grams of carbs per day), ADHD symptoms improve.
ADHD is a common condition affecting more than 3 million Americans. It can contribute to difficulties at school or work, low self-esteem, and relationship issues. Symptoms of ADHD include hyperactivity, limited attention, excitability, aggression, fidgeting, impulsivity, irritability, forgetfulness, and absent-mindedness. It can cause learning disability and depression among children and adults.
Research suggests that chronic dietary deficiencies of zinc, iron, magnesium, and iodine may contribute to the development and worsening of ADHD symptoms. The absence of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids may have a significant impact.
Deficiencies of Omega 3 fatty acids and other nutrients that support brain health (DHA) may contribute to the development of ADHD as well. Keto-friendly, low-carb foods such as walnuts, fatty fish, meat, poultry, and eggs can provide children the fatty acids they need for developmental brain health.
How the Keto Diet Works
A keto diet is very low in carbs, but unlike other diets, the keto diet is high in fats.
With carbohydrate intake drastically reduced, a person’s body runs out of glucose stores to use for energy, and so it uses dietary and stored food instead, turning it into molecules called ketone bodies. This metabolic process is called ketosis, and is sometimes described as tricking the body into thinking it’s starving.
For kids with ADHD, take out sugar, processed food, foods made with white flour, dye, or additives. Leave in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains- foods with high nurtient values. This kind of eating throughout the day prevents peaks and valleys in blood glucose levels that cause the cycles of feeling energetic, then crashing with fatigue. Many people who eat this way report better energy and better moods.
Why Keto for Kids With ADHD May Be The Right Option
The keto diet was originally created to treat patients with epilepsy. When it comes to epilepsy, the research is vast and ever-expanding. In fact, more than 1300 scientific articles have been published in medical journals over the last 90 years about epilepsy and the ketogenic diet. It’s not yet exactly clear why it works for epilepsy, but it’s now well established that it’s an effective treatment for seizure control.
“When scientists began to try to understand how the diet works to control seizures, they uncovered mechanisms and findings that potentially make it revelvant to other neurological diseases,” says Dr. Jong Rho, a world-leading pediatric neurologist, researcher, and expert in ketogenic therapies for pediatric neurological conditions.
Located in Calagary, Canada, Dr. Rho, and his research team, now have more than 115 different published medical articles that are investigating ketogenic mechanisms in epilepsy, as well as other childhood developmental issues, such as autism.
There are a number of reasons why the ketogenic diet may be effective for better brain function in children with neurological conditions (which applies equally to brain health in adults). The ketogenic diet’s impacts include:
- The breakdown of fats to ketones provides the energy-hungry brain with an alternative energy source, other than glucose, that is actually more efficient, and produces less oxidative stress.
- It is neuroprotective, preventing or lessoning neuronal injury or cell death.
- It is anti-inflammatory, and inflammation has emerged a risk factor for not only seizures but other chronic diseases.
- It has epigenetic impacts that inhibits the expression of some genes linked to neurologic problems and moderates the expression of some proteins and enzymes.
- It alters the microbiome of the gut, which may in turn impact the cross-talk between the gut and the brain, which has been linked specifically to autism spectrum disorders.
- It impacts various nerve ion channels that improves the transmission of nerve cell signals.
- It promotes homeostatis– essentially restoring physiologic balance and the equilibrium in both cellular and systems processes. For example, if nerve cells are firing too much, it dampens them down; if cells are firing too little it ramps them up.
Dr. Rho summarized the new findings that ketones may have multiple impacts. “It could be a combination of things working together to produce the beneficial effect. But more and more we are showing in the laboratory and in clinical studies that we can render significant benefits just by changing the diet. It’s really powerful.”
Does Keto for Kids Have An Side-Effects?
Most people won’t stick to the keto diet because it requires a bit of work to clean out the cupboards and adopt a new lifestyle habit.
Some people who go on the keto diet initally experience headaches, fatigue, irritability,nausea, and difficulty sleeping- a cluster of reactions sometimes referred to as ‘keto flu‘. This is not a flu at all, and the negative symptoms are usually temporary.
You have to allow the new diet time to clean out all of toxins and garbage not only from the body, but from the brain as well. It’s similar to quitting smoking. It takes time but parents who use keto for kids report their kids as being calm, focused, and doing well in school. Keto for kids may be just what the doctor ordered to help your child thrive in life.