The ADHD Diet: Mind Your Acid-Alkaline Balance!
The primary reason to monitor the acid-alkaline balance in your ADHD diet is to prevent or restore mineral depletion. Low-level acidosis, a condition caused by too many acids in the body, is very common these days. Acidosis is caused by a stressful lifestyle and a diet high in refined carbohydrates, vegetable oils, sugars and animal foods – and low in fruits and vegetables.
Physical problems related to low-grade acidosis are fatigue, decreased immunity, inflammation (at all levels of the body), osteoporosis and premature aging to name a few.
Mineral Deficiencies and ADHD Symptoms
It’s not common knowledge, but mineral depletion has long been associated with ADHD symptoms. An ADHD diet high in acid forming foods can seriously affect overall mental and physical health. Mineral deficiencies associated with ADHD symptoms are:
Zinc Deficiency: A lack of zinc can lead to overactive adrenal glands. This results in a continual production of stress hormones, causing hyperactivity and inner-restlessness. Zinc deficiency also affects the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter widely associated with ADHD as well as melatonin, which facilitates a restful sleep.
Iron Deficiency: Iron is required for many left-brain functions. When iron is deficient, linear and logical thinking becomes difficult. A lack of iron can also cause absentmindedness and impaired judgment.
Magnesium Deficiency: Magnesium is a mineral that facilitates relaxation. When we’re low in supply we become irritable, anxious and restless. Low levels of magnesium are also associated with memory problems and impaired cognitive functioning.
Maintaining a Healthy Acid-Alkaline Balance
Acids and Alkalis are two chemical compounds that need to be balanced within the body for both minute-to-minute AND long-term survival. They are two compounds that create the pH value of the body’s fluids. pH is measured on a scale from 0 to 14. While a measurement of 7 is neutral, measurements lower then 7 are acidic and higher then 7 are alkaline.
Even though acidic foods are mandatory in a balanced ADHD diet, the body needs a slightly alkaline environment to thrive. To maintain this slightly alkaline environment, the body has several mechanisms to eliminate excess acids:
The Kidneys: the kidneys help regulate the acid-alkaline balance of the bloodstream by eliminating solid acids. To do this, the kidneys need several alkali reserve compounds. When these reserves are insufficient the kidneys will call upon its alkali reserves stored in and around the bones or in some cases the muscle tissue.
If your ADHD diet is low in alkalizing foods – fruits and vegetables – your kidneys may not have enough alkali reserves to eliminate acids efficiently. A good indicator for this problem is dark or clouded urine.
The Lungs: the lungs also work to keep the body’s pH level balanced by eliminating volatile gas-formed acids. An increased respiratory rate and bad breath may be an indicator for an overly acidic body.
The Skin: The skin eliminates acids through the sweat glands but perspiration is unable to eliminate as many acids as the kidneys and the lungs. An overly acidic condition of the body can therefore result in a strong body odor.
DIY Acid-Alkaline Balance Test
The easiest way to test acid-alkaline balance in the body is to check morning urine. Try to get at least six hours of sleep and test your urine on a pH strip for about a week (pH strips are available at your local pharmacy). This should give you a good indicator of your overall pH levels. Healthy pH levels range between 6.5 and 7.5.
This indicates that your overall pH level is mildly alkaline. If your pH levels are generally lower, you have too many acids in your system. If your pH is low, there’s no need to stress over the fact.
Many people suffer from low-grade acidosis and the situation can be easily corrected by modifying your diet. Keep in mind that, once you start eating the right foods, it may take a few months for the situation to correct itself.
Acid-Alkaline Foods 101
The Primary cause of low-level acidosis is diet, so the best way to fix the situation is making dietary adjustments. The basic rule is that most fruits and vegetables have an alkaline effect on the body, while animal products such as meat, fish, fowl, eggs and dairy products have an acidic effect.
However, there are gradations. Foods tend to vary from highly acid-forming, to highly alkaline-forming and everything in between. Here are a few general guidelines:
Fruit: generally alkaline forming. Exceptions: dates, figs, tomatoes, olives ‚ which are mildly acid forming.
Vegetables: generally alkaline forming. Exceptions: carrots, corn, peas and spinach which are mildly acid forming
Legumes: generally mildly acidic. Exceptions: lentils, string-, green-, snap-, and wax beans without formed beans, which are mildly alkaline forming
Nuts and seeds: generally alkaline forming with a number of exceptions: hazelnuts, peanuts, pecan nuts, pine nuts, pistachio nuts, walnuts which are acid forming
Fish, fowl and meat products: are all acid forming. Red meat is generally more acid forming then fish and fowl
Fats and Oils: fats and oils are usually somewhere in the middle, they have a relatively neutral effect. Exceptions: peanut and cottonseed oil which are acid forming
Grains: generally acid forming. Exceptions: quinoa and wild rice which are mildly alkaline forming. On the other hand, millet, whole wheat, and brown rice are only mildly acid forming
Dairy: all dairy products are acid forming
Eggs: are acid-forming
It bears mentioning that there are rare cases in which the body is suffering from the opposite of acidosis, called alkalosis. This can be the result of excessive vomiting or dieting, fasting, diarrhea, anorexia nervosa or low potassium levels in the bloodstream. Medications to prevent heartburn can also cause alkalosis when they are taken on a regular basis.
Essentially alkalosis is caused by consuming too little acid forming foods. The symptoms of alkalosis include irritability, confusion, muscle twitches and lightheadedness.
Acid-Alkaline Balancing Tips
- Hydrate: Start the day with a large, preferably lukewarm‚ glass of water with the juice of half a lemon. Although it seems counter intuitive, lemon has an alkaline effect on the body. Drinking water with fresh lemon throughout the day is an excellent way of cleansing the blood and ridding the body of acidic toxins.
- Move your body: any type of exercise and stretching helps your body eliminate toxins in the lymph fluids.
- Take a mineral supplement: this can correct possible mineral deficiencies. A high quality multivitamin usually contains most required minerals. Avoid experimenting by targeting specific minerals without consulting a physician.
- Other excellent supplements: If you need to replenish needed minerals – and restore a yin deficiency – try Spirulina, Chlorella and seaweed.
- Invest in relaxation: simple breathing techniques, meditation, yoga or any other relaxing and soothing activity helps the body release toxins and regenerate.
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