How To Naturally Treat ADHD

Not unlike most children, when I was younger, paying attention in class and sitting still was difficult for me. When I was 15, I diagnosed myself with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and had a much easier time getting my prescription for Adderall (a medication commonly used to treat ADHD) from my doctor then I think I probably should have. “You want Adderall? No problem, I’ll prescribe you Adderall,” I clearly remember my pediatrician saying. Although my mom ended up taking me to a different doctor who diagnosed me with ADHD before prescribing the medication, for the next four years after that, I took Adderall daily, believing that I wouldn’t be as productive or successful without it. While I did have insanely sharp focus, I hated the side effects. The medication made it so that I didn’t want to eat, I couldn’t comfortably socialize, and I couldn’t sleep. But my grades in school improved dramatically enough that I convinced myself Adderall made me smarter and better at school.

By the age of 20, I decided I was done with the drug and the uncomfortable, anxious way it made me feel. When I went off it, my goal wasn’t necessarily to go cold turkey, but I wanted to test myself and see how I did in school without the drug while implementing some natural methods for concentrating. It took a little time, and I know this wouldn’t be the case for all people with an attention disorder, but I’ve found that I can absolutely be productive without medication. I believe that the following natural remedies can truly help with concentration and that either on their own or in conjunction with medication, can greatly benefit those struggling with ADHD.

Understanding the Power of the Gut

Our intestines contain a population of microbes known as gut microbiota. Microbiota contains tens of trillions of microorganisms, with at least 1000 different species of bacteria with more than 3 million genes (source: Gut Microbiota). A baby born vaginally gets her first dose of these microorganisms as soon as she exits her mother’s vagina. Children born through C-sections miss some of the bacteria that children born vaginally get.  Instead, a C-section baby gets her first bacteria from her mother’s skin and the skin of the doctors and nurses in the delivery room (source: heathline).  In either situation, from that moment on, everything affects the babies microbiota; the food she eats, the water she drinks, her environment, and the air she breathes. Although the baby can adapt to change, a loss of balance in the gut microbiota may result in dysbiosis (the opposite of symbiosis). Dysbiosis may be linked to a number of health problems such as functional bowel disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, obesity, and diabetes, to name some. According to author and doctor, Natasha Campbell-McBride, 84 percent of your immunity is located in your gut wall. And if you don’t have healthy gut flora, your immune system simply can’t function optimally (Source: GAPS Diet).

 

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Happy gut microbes

 

Gut dysbiosis is also commonly found in children with ADD/ADHD and other mental health illnesses and disorders like depression, or bipolar disorder.  (source: Epidemic Answers). In my own experience, I have found that by treating the gut, I could get by without medication. Another thing I found while researching is that children with ADHD typically have low levels of dopamine, which is an important neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of calm and well-being. This is why kids with ADHD, while not typically being able to sit still for too long, have been found to sit very calmly for hours on end while playing video games, since playing video games releases dopamine. With all of this knowledge, I now have recommendations for ways to balance dopamine levels and improve gut health to naturally achieve laser sharp focus.

Diet

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Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean protein, healthy fats, and purified water will play a huge role in curbing ADHD symptoms. Eat organic whenever possible, take probiotics regularly, and check in with yourself to see how your body feels after you eat certain foods. There are a number of foods that can typically cause food allergies or sensitivities in people, such as: gluten, sugar, processed and fried foods, food colorings, dairy, alcohol, red meat, caffeine, soy, corn, and nightshade vegetables. An allergy or sensitivity to a particular food may cause symptoms of ADHD. Experiment by eliminating foods from these food groups then add them back into your diet one by one.  During this process, I recommend taking notes of your concentration, energy, digestion, and sleep before and after eating and you may just find some foods work better for your body and concentration levels than others.

Lifestyle

Quality sleep and healthy lifestyle choices will also impact your ability to focus during the day. Most people need at least eight solid hours of sleep, which means you should begin winding down and turning off the computer, television, or any devices with a blue light at least an hour before bed. Try to steer clear of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol, as these will impact sleep quality too.

 

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Yoga on a stand up paddle board requires a quiet, focused mind…

 

For both children and adults with ADHD, exercise is like medicine. It helps to get rid of excess energy, and in my own experience, I’ve found that exercise is the only time where I can pretty much turn off my mind. Exercise stimulates cognitive thinking and increases levels of dopamine, thus improving levels of concentration for hours after completion. Switching up forms of exercise, and learning new ones, have actually been found to improve organization skills, and when you combine mind-body exercises with a deep mental focus, you may even get more positive results (source: health.com). I have to switch up my exercises just to stay interested, so I like to rotate between pilates, yoga, barre, running, dance, and weight training.

Massage

Like exercise, massage also increases levels of dopamine, which is the hormone lacking in people with ADHD. The benefits of regular massage for people with ADHD have been found to result in more restful sleep, improved mood, improved social function, improved focus, and anger control. If you can’t go out and get a massage regularly, then try giving yourself a massage. You can even incorporate essential oils like lavender, frankincense, or mandarin into your massages for greater results since aromatherapy can also be a powerful tool for aiding in focus and calmness.

Work Breaks

When focusing for long periods of time is a challenge, try breaking up your workload. I’ll set a timer for myself for 20-minute periods where I power through work, followed by a brief break. During this break, I’ll do anything from stretching to browsing Pinterest, but after about five minutes I have to get back into work mode. I find these frequent and shorter work periods actually make me more productive in the long run.

 

Are you or is someone you know struggling with symptoms of ADHD?  Then let’s talk!  I am a Certified Integrative Nutritionist with a background in holistic health who would love to help you.

 

 

 

My Daily Green Smoothie Recipe

I’ve been a longtime fan of morning smoothies, but I’ve recently discovered a new smoothie that has instantly become my morning addiction. I drink it every day and enjoy the process of making it in the morning before my workouts. This green smoothie works wonders for the body and mind and is packed with nutrition. It has protein, fiber, important vitamins and everything you need to look and feel your best. After just a week of drinking it, I noticed improvements in my skin and energy levels. My digestion improved too, and I started having less unhealthy food cravings. 

Remember, everything in the body is connected. Your gut, colon, and brain all effect each other, so if you feed yourself nutritious foods your gut will be healthy, which also means a healthy colon and brain (aka, better digestion and prevention from illness). Please feed yourself good foods, like this smoothie, and your whole body will thank you!

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I like to switch it up slightly, but I typically add the following foods to my daily green smoothie: purified water, banana, green apple, green pear, celery, romaine, spinach, kale, lemon, chia seeds, hemp seeds and bee pollen.

Dark leafy greens, like spinach, kale and romaine, are a good source of protein, as are chia seeds, hemp seeds, and bee pollen. You could absolutely add in different greens or fruits, or even add fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley. To make things easier with this smoothie, you can also make some extra and store it in a glass container in the freezer for later use. Otherwise, this smoothie will last covered in the fridge for two days.

The other thing I like about adding greens to my smoothie is that you get the most from your greens this way. Normally, aside from not eating enough vegetables during the week, most people don’t chew their food enough, which means they don’t absorb maximum nutrients. The nutrients in the vegetables are stored in the cell walls of the plant cell, so the blender will do a more efficient job of breaking these down. A Vitamix or powerful blender will really be best for making this smoothie smooth and creamy like it should be.

I encourage you to drink this smoothie and make it part of your morning routine!

Ingredients (makes 1-2 glasses)

– 1 1/2 cup cold, purified water

-1 banana

-1/2 green apple

-1/2 green pear

-1-2 celery stalks

-2 handfuls spinach

-1 handful romaine

-1 handful kale

-a squeeze of lemon

*optional: handful chia seeds, hemp seeds, bee pollen, or any other favorite superfood, herb, or protein powder

*For a smoothie with less sugar, remove the banana and pear, and just use the green apple.

Instructions

1- Pour water into the blender, followed by the spinach, romaine and kale. Blend until smooth.

2- Add the celery, pear and apple. Blend.

3- Add the banana and lemon. You can also throw in any optional seeds or foods, then do a final blend. Enjoy!

 

 

5 Healthy Breakfast Recipes Your Kids Will Love!

breakfastIt’s so important to have a nutritious breakfast.  You want your kids to start the morning with something that’ll fuel them for a large portion of their day.  I believe superfoods, protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, and fiber are all vital for energy, sharp focus, growth, a strong immune system, vibrant skin, and healthy digestion.

BEWARE

Steer clear of sugary breakfast foods and beware of misleading labels.  Sugar is addictive and horrible for your health, so power your kids with something nutritious in the morning instead! Juice also has a lot of sugar in it and lacks the fiber that fruit provides. Your kids may show symptoms of an intolerance too (milk is a common one), so for a morning beverage, try a healthy smoothie or fruit-infused waters. Lemon, cucumber, berries…any combination that tastes good in your water. I keep a large container of infused water in my fridge so it’s convenient at any time.  If you have fizzy water you can add fruit to that too.

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EAT THIS

Here are five breakfast recipes that will taste like a treat!

  • chia seed pudding – Chia seeds are packed with protein, omega-3s, fiber, calcium, and antioxidants. When the chia seeds expand in liquid they become gelatinous, and that actually helps cleanse your digestive system. I love chia seed pudding too because there are so many ways to have it! Chocolate, strawberry, almond, coconut, etc… If your kids are up for trying this I think they might like it!
  • banana peanut butter open face sandwich  Bananas are great. They offer fiber, a ton of potassium, and lots of vitamins. They sustain blood sugar and boost energy. Add some peanut butter and nuts on top for protein, healthy fat, and fiber among other vitamins which will all naturally provide energy for longer periods of time without a huge crash like you get after eating sugar.
  • Bacon, Eggs, and Apple Slices – Believe it or not, if you buy quality bacon and pastured eggs and you add some apple, you got a well balanced meal. There are so many ways to quickly make eggs. If you can get your kid to do a scramble one day and add some vegetables that would be awesome! Look for nitrate free, or uncured, bacon. It doesn’t have added chemicals. This meal will give your kid protein and fiber, and if you cook the eggs in a healthier oil like extra virgin olive oil or a little quality organic butter, then your kid will also get brain-fueling, healthy fat. I recommend using one egg yolk for every two egg whites. The whites have all the protein, and the yolk contains the healthy fat.
  • french toast with berries – French toast was always one of my childhood favorites. However, I remember always feeling sick after eating it (especially after drenching the toast in Aunt Jemima syrup). This recipe uses healthier substitutes like cottage cheese and almond milk, which eliminates some of the dairy that many kids are intolerant to.
  • Jessica’s superfood smoothie (serves 2) – I love starting my morning off with this energizing smoothie. It’s full of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, protein, and omegas. I add a handful of spinach to my drink, but that’s totally optional. I blend:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 cup organic strawberries

1 banana

1/2 cup blueberries

1/2 cup raspberries

1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1 tablespoon flaxseed, 1 tablespoon hemp seed (I eyeball it for all the seeds)

1 scoop maca powder (amazing health benefits)

2 teaspoons bee pollen (high in protein!)

1 tablespoon cacao nibs

Blend everything and enjoy this energy drink. Serve alongside some avocado toast.

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FYI- some of the seeds and maca powder can be found for a better price in the bulk bins at Whole Foods.

Important Things My Physician Never Addressed

Western medicine is extremely necessary and saves many lives every day.  That being said, doctors are busy people, so it’s not often we get the time we deserve with our doctors to get a full health assessment. Wouldn’t it be nice not to feel pressured by the doctor’s time constraint so that we could address everything that may play a factor in our health and wellbeing?  Think about the times you or someone you know was prescribed a pharmaceutical drug.  Did the doctor ever take the time to go over nutrition, lifestyle, and the role stress plays in our health before prescribing that little pill? Does that pill even get to the root of the problem, or does it simply act as a Bandaid, a temporary solution, for your problem?

John Oliver talks about the relationships between doctors and pharmaceutical companies the other night…

Over the years, I have had several instances with doctors where I was diagnosed for something or prescribed something without receiving proper education or a full health check, like what was going on in my life at the time or what my diet consisted of.  Here are some experiences I’d like to share with you:

Antibiotics

I think there have been at least three occasions in my life when I was prescribed antibiotics, each time by a different doctor.  Antibiotics are used to kill bacteria, but in the process also clean out the healthful bacteria inside our intestines that we need, often causing leaky gut syndrome.  Probiotics is a term I never ever heard until just a few years ago through my own research, but is absolutely something I should have been educated about by my physician.  Whenever taking antibiotics, probiotics are essential, as they add back healthy bacteria to our guts. Definitely if you suffer from any type of digestive disorder, if you’ve ever been treated with antibiotics, or if you just want to do something amazing for your body for the hell of it, try taking probiotics. For a list of probiotics, visit my article here.

25-1-e1391041324424PMS

Ladies, some of you may be able to relate to this one.  For many years I suffered from debilitating cramps, depression, and unhealthy food cravings the week before my period and during my period.  None of my doctors ever talked to me about the importance of eating well, especially around the time of my period.  I knew that my hormones were out of whack, but I never knew the science behind what was happening with my hormones. Estrogen levels rise as do our food cravings.  I would crave and indulge in greasy foods, and would get awful cramps and hate the way I felt as a result, because my serotonin levels were suddenly dropping after the moments of pleasure while eating all that food.  I felt more sad after indulging, and didn’t understand my body really didn’t want those onion rings, and that eating those foods would only increase feelings of depression. Not to mention I possibly had leaky gut syndrome as a result from my antibiotics and some undiagnosed food allergies.  Once I learned to eat better, hydrate, and get light exercise instead of pigging out and feeling sorry for myself, I no longer get symptoms of PMS.  Food, herbs, essential oils, and taking care of myself have become my monthly medicine.  Here’s what someone should have told me to eat:

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ADHD

In high school I was tested, diagnosed, and medicated for ADHD.  My mom was anti-drugs and I was all gung-ho about them at the time.  After all, high school was tough, college was near, and I was only a B-average student.  Not good enough in my mind.  I remember telling my physician I wanted the ADHD medicine, Adderall.  His response, was “Sure, you want Adderall?  Then let me just InTune__72556.1407635934.1280.1280write you up a prescription, no problem,” about as casual as if I had asked him to borrow a pen.

I grew dependent on my medication, taking unnecessarily large amounts of the drugs every day and paying the price in happiness and in health along the way.  I became secluded and distanced myself from friends, stopped eating, developed insomnia, and was unhappy unless I was cracked out doing work.  Nobody ever thought to discuss the bigger picture with me when deciding whether to write me a prescription.  My diet was crap, I wasn’t properly hydrated, I had just stopped playing sports after being super active my whole life, and I was stressed from social and parental pressure to do well at school and get into college.  Nobody told me that changing the way I eat and drinking lots of water could improve my attentiveness.  I never heard of any natural forms of healing like essential oils, which can kick ass at assisting in maintaining focus.  I didn’t realize that my sudden lack of activity was making me restless and contributing to my lack of energy.  When I finally decided to stop my medication midway through college, I couldn’t believe how well I could focus on my own if I put my mind to it and used other techniques to maintain mental clarity.

Hypoglycemia

When I was about 10-years-old I fainted during class.  My mom took me to see my physician who diagnosed me with hypoglycemia.  I learned that hypoglycemia means your body is in insulin shock, which depletes blood sugar to abnormally low levels.  The doctor instructed me to drink some soda or have some candy when I was feeling faint, and especially in the afternoons around crash time toward the end of the school day. What the doctor didn’t mention, however, was that this didn’t mean I could eat as much sugar as I wanted.  I learned to make sweets an excuse for eating whatever and whenever I wanted, which created unhealthy habits with food. Another thing my physician didn’t discuss was why I was suddenly hypoglycemic.  It was probably important to know that I wasn’t eating enough at or before school, and the foods I ate weren’t the most satiating forms of energy.  My diet mainly consisted of cereal, bread, cookies, and soda, when I should have been eating whole grains, healthy fats, protein, and vegetables.

Cancer

This part is my mom’s story.  My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer (luckily, very early on) in 2008. She kicked cancer’s ass, but had to continue taking about 10 different types of pills daily, up until about two months ago.  After seven years of taking these pills, which of course created other health problems like arthritis, bone density loss, and muscle and joint problems, and depletion of her normal hormone levels, my mom was fed up with taking them and finally asked her doctor why she had never spoken to her about her diet and lifestyle.  The doctor’s response was, “Oh sure, nutrition can help,” but offered no prescription of leafy greens, antioxidants, or yoga.

Food and living well can absolutely be your medicine, although as stated before, Western medicine certainly has its place. 25-1-e1391041324424

If you have a personal story please feel free to share in the comments below.  Most of us have experienced something similar to what I’ve described, even if you’re just realizing it now as you’re reading this article. I know I could go on and on about friends’ personal stories of being misdiagnosed or treated for something with a pill that created a whole list of awful side effects.

I understand the impact stress has on our physical and mental wellbeing.  As a health coach, I give my clients the time they deserve to talk freely about their health and the areas of their lives that affect happiness and health: relationships, career, spirituality, and physical exercise. Satisfaction in these four areas, along with proper nutrition, is the key to lifelong happiness and health, not a little pharmaceutical pill.  Consider all the money you can save on doctor visits and bills by taking control of your diet and lifestyle today.  So, next time you need to pay a visit to the doctor, discuss the bigger picture with your physician, and remember that food, rest, and balance are often the answers to healing.stress

If you have any questions about any of the above topics, essential oils, or health coaching, please drop me a line at jessicakhealth@gmail.com.

JessJessica Kleid

Owner of Jessica Kleid Health Coaching

http://www.jkhealthcoach.com

Is Gluten the New Fat?

For the past 40 years, Americans have been lead to believe that any form of fat and all types of cholesterol were bad for us.  New studies have proven that this idea is outdated, but today, the new “evil” is gluten.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are by now you’ve at least heard the word gluten.  There are entire sections at the grocery store devoted to gluten-free products and I don’t know about you all, but out of the blue everyone I know is suddenly gluten intolerant.

What is gluten?

Gluten, Latin for “glue,” is a name for proteins that act as an adhesive glue, keeping together foods like breads, pastas, flour, etc.  Gluten exists in wheat, barley, and rye and can be found in many products, whether it’s our food or personal care products, like toothpaste or shampoo.  The “sticky” nature of gluten makes it hard to breakdown and absorb nutrients.

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What are some symptoms of gluten sensitivity? 

Depression, inflammation, joint problems, gastrointestinal problems, or fatigue, ADHD, anxiety, hives/rashes, miscarriages, nausea/vomiting, sugar cravings, brain fog, malabsorption of food, dairy intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, or infertility.

Inflammation can also cause “leaky gut,”which makes us more susceptible to future food sensitivities and puts us at risk for developing autoimmune diseases or neurological disorders in the future.  Some of these diseases linked to inflammation include: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, and Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), diabetes, Hashimoto’s thyroidtis, arthritis, or schizophrenia. People with Celiacs disease share these same symptoms but on a more extreme level.  It’s also possible that some people just don’t show symptoms, but are fighting the attack elsewhere in their body, like in the nervous system.

But didn’t we always eat gluten? 

Our diet has changed drastically from what our ancestors ate. We used to thrive off of high-fat diet, low-carb diets, but now our diet consists of mainly carbs and significantly less fat.

Ancestors                                  Modern Diet

-Fat 75% of diet                            -Carbs 60% of diet

-Protein 20% of diet                     -Fat 20%

-Carbs 5% of diet                          -Protein 20%

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We have far more disease today and different types of diseases than we ever did before.  The majority of our great-grandparents and generations older than them died from old age, but today many of us are plagued by cancer, heart disease, brain disease, obesity, or diabetes.  The answer to this conundrum exists not just in genes, but in our food.

As you can see from the numbers above, most of us eat an unbalanced diet.  Our percentage of carbohydrate intake are at unnaturally high levels, which takes a toll on our bodies. The first sign of celiacs, however, traces all the back to the first century AD, when a Greek doctor named Aretaeus of Cappadocia wrote about the symptoms and used the word “celiac” to name the illness in a medical textbook.  Gluten has always been a part of our diets since our ancestors learned to farm and mill wheat.  The gluten we eat today, though, hardly resembles the gluten in our diet ten thousand years ago.  Today our food is far more processed and bio-engineering has us growing structurally-modified grains containing gluten that’s less tolerable.

So is a gluten-free diet for me?

Although I know people have healed themselves of ailments by removing gluten from the diet and although I’ve read the research on the links between gluten and neurodegenerative conditions, I full-heartedly believe in the idea of everything in moderation. I personally have not given up my bread products yet, but I eat much less of it and not every day, because a little bread every now and then probably won’t kill you.  The problem is, carbs, like sugar, can be addicting, so some people have a much harder time removing gluten from the diet.

One way to cut back on carbs, processed foods, or sugar is to fill up on proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats.  By adding in these other foods, it’s easier to naturally crowd out carbohydrates, processed foods, and sugar.  I highly encourage everyone to do research for themselves, rather than hopping on the bandwagon without really knowing why.  There are probably way more products containing gluten than you know, some which may be surprising, and I’ve listed some of these products below.  I highly recommend the book Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD if you’re looking for more research and information.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), or diabetes, or if it runs in your family, then I would think it best to stay away from gluten.  If you’re eating gluten and finding yourself suffering from headaches, abdominal pains, or any of the other symptoms previously mentioned, then try at least one week of cutting out gluten and see if you can notice any improvements.

Which grains are gluten-free?

Amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, corn, millet, potato, quinoa, rice, sorghum, soy, tapioca, and tee.

gluten-free-grains

Which gains contain gluten?

Barley, bulgur, couscous, farina, graham flour, kamut, matzo, rye, semolina, spelt, triticale, wheat, and wheat germ.

Random things that contain gluten:

Cosmetics, lipsticks/lip balm, medications, non-self-adhesive stamps and envelopes, play-doh, shampoos and conditioners, toothpaste, some vitamins and supplements.

There are lots of other foods and ingredients that contain gluten, so do some research if you’re planning on going gluten-free.

Sources:

Perlmutter, David, MD. Grain Brain. New York, NY.  Little, Brown and Company.