Tag Archives: child

Your 4 year old needs Ritalin Part II

Ritalin Methylphenidat

Yesterday I wrote about how the American Academy of Pediatrics has changed the guidelines about how young (and old) a child could be diagnosed with ADHD. The new guidelines say that a child as young as 4 and as old as 18 may now be diagnosed with ADHD.

They went on to say that Ritalin and other drugs are good choices for treatment even for the youngest patients. To me this sounds like a terrible idea.

So what are some effective alternatives?

First and foremost, we must look at a child’s diet.  A healthy diet is a big key to helping a child regulate his brain function.  The problem in ADHD is that circuits in the brain that are responsible for attention, focus and other executive functions are under active.  That is precisely why most of the medications that exist are stimulants.  These stimulants speed up the processing in these brain regions and allow the child to function more normally.  The problem is that they carry serious side effect profiles, some of them very dangerous.

So where, exactly, does diet fit into this? Good question. First, each and every child must begin the day with breakfast. Food provides the fuel that the brain uses to do its job!  If there isn’t enough of the right kind of fuel, the child’s brain cannot function as well as it should.

And what is the right kind of food? Each child should begin the day with a source of protein and a little healthy sugar in the form of fruit.  This will provide ample amounts of fuel so your child can make it until his next meal at lunch.  Do not allow a child to eat sugary cereals or pop tarts or to skip breakfast.  Those types of fuel (or lack thereof) only set the child up for a crash in blood sugar which deprives the brain of the vital energy it needs.

The rest of the day should be roughly the same.  Be sure that your child eats protein and a fruit or vegetable every time he eats. Steer them away from sugary snacks and drinks.  They have a negative impact on brain function.

Balancing Neurotransmitters

A natural program to balance neurotransmitters in the brain is important. Neurotransmitters are specialized proteins that each nerve in the brain uses to communicate with its neighbors. The balance of them is important.  In ADHD the focus has been on the neurotransmitters called dopamine and norepineprhine.  Others, however, may play a role and include GABA, glutamate, PEA and serotonin to name a few.

The levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain is important.  Levels that are too high or too low can cause the brain to function less than optimally.  In my office we measure these neurotransmitters in a urine test and have found them very helpful clinically.  If we find levels that are low, we can supplement to raise them.  For example, dopamine is raised by increasing dietary levels of tyrosine (or its derivatives) and serotonin is raised by increasing dietary levels of tryptophan (or its derivatives).  The process is relatively simple, but it is very effective. Through this process we are able to rebalance the neurotransmitter system and see improvements in behavior and attention.

Reprogram the brain

This sounds very much like something out of a science fiction movie, but it is all based in neurology.  In ADHD the brain is wired incorrectly.  The circuits that we want to work are not efficient enough to produce balanced brain function.  To change this we must provide a program of neurologic rehabilitation.  It can be done many ways, but in our office we use a combination of home exercises that include eye exercises, balance exercises, light and sound therapy and proprioceptive feedback with an in-offfice therapy called interactive metronome or IM.

IM was developed in the early 1990s and is used to help children with learning and developmental disorders as well as adult neuro rehabilitation patients. IM is a neuro-motor assessment & treatment tool used in therapy to improve the neurological processes of motor planning and sequencing.

The IM program provides a structured, goal-oriented process that challenges the patient to synchronize a range of hand and foot exercises to a precise computer-generated reference tone heard through headphones. The patient attempts to match the rhythmic beat with repetitive motor actions. A patented auditory-visual guidance system provides immediate feedback measured in milliseconds, and a score is provided.

Over the course of the treatment, patients learn to:

  • Focus and attend for longer periods of time
  • Increase physical endurance and stamina
  • Filter out internal and external distractions
  • Improve ability to monitor mental and physical actions as they are occurring
  • Progressively improve coordinated performance.

I’ve used this program with many children and adults in my office and it works exceptionally well.  It is a great option for patients who have been diagnosed with ADHD and other learning disorders.

There are many options for parents with children with ADHD.  Medications are of course one of them, but there is no permanent benefit to taking them.  As a matter of fact, 50% of children who take medications will still need them as adults.  Rewiring the brain, dietary changes and rebalancing neurotransmitters has lasting and permanent effects.  In my opinion, it’s the best way to go.

Leave a comment

Filed under Brain Health

Bribes from Big Insurance

I had to comment on this.  The scanned in document below comes from a post that I saw from a friend of a friend on Facebook.  To me it illustrates everything that is wrong with the way health care is implemented in this country.  Take a look at the picture below and read it carefully.  I can’t believe this is even legal.

This letter comes from United Healthcare, which is a major U.S. health insurance company.  They are “encouraging” people to get their children vaccinated by bribing them with $20 gift cards, one of which is to McDonald’s!

In one breath they are asking you to do something they say is healthy for your child which is get vaccinated.  Whether vaccines are healthy or even safe is a topic for another blog but let’s forget that point and take the view of the health insurance company.

United Healthcare actually believe vaccines are a good thing.  They believe it so much that they are offering $20 to their clients whose children are not up to date on their vaccines.  One of their offers includes $20 to McDonald’s!  This company is supposed to be getting people healthier, not encouraging behavior that will make you exceptionally unhealthy!

More and more, people are exercising their right not to vaccinate their children.  This blog is not about whether that is right or wrong but suffice it to say, I support parents who make that decision if they feel it is right for them.

This type of letter, sent to thousands of parents, is a way for Big Insurance and Big Pharma to get people to use their products and services more frequently to make more money.  The facts in the letter aren’t even true.  No child “needs” certain vaccines before a certain age.  The current vaccine time line is in place only to provide pediatricians with a template to vaccinate their patients and make it easier to keep track of.  The letter implies that these vaccines are necessary before the age of two or they won’t work.  Do you really think a vaccine given to a 2 year old works any better than one given to a 4 year old?  Of course not.

I also cannot figure out how this is legal.  I was under the impression that medical service companies, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, etc. were not allowed to offer gifts in exchange for any kind of service or product.  Of course, with major insurance and big pharma involved the laws always seem to bend just enough to allow them to walk that fine line between lawful and unlawful.

I hope those of you reading this can see through this type of deceptive marketing because that’s all it is.  The insurance companies do not truly care about your health or else they wouldn’t offer $20 to McDonald’s to go get vaccinated.  This is just another way for you to use their services and for them to make more money.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Big Pharma, Public Health

How to limit your child’s Halloween candy consumption

Jack-o-latern

Image via Wikipedia

It’s that time of year again.  Halloween!  I enjoy Halloween as much as the next person, but from a health standpoint this holiday is a nightmare!

Parents often say to me,”It’s just once a year. It won’t hurt them.”  While this is true, the candy that children accumulate during Halloween can last months.  I know when I was a child I used to come home with pillow cases full of candy.  Everything from Snickers to Smarties and everything in between!  Months of eating candy is not good for a child.

Today, I am going to give you some helpful hints on how you can control your child’s candy intake at Halloween.

First and foremost, remember that your child likes Halloween because they get to dress up and go from door to door in the neighborhood with their friends.  It really isn’t about the candy.  Yes, the candy is a bonus and they will enjoy the candy given the chance, but ask them whether they’d rather get candy or dress up and trick or treat? All of them will choose trick or treating over simply getting candy.

Secondly, be in control of the candy.  When your child returns from trick or treating they will want to dump out their candy and see what they got.  This is totally ok.  When they go to put it away ask them to select a couple of pieces that they’d like to keep in an easily accessible spot like the refrigerator.  All the other candy goes somewhere that is not easily accessible to them like on top of the refrigerator or a cabinet above the sink.  If they have an inordinately large amount of candy, throw small handfuls away from time to time.  It’s a little white lie, but it’s better than letting your children eat too much candy.  If you feel uncomfortable with this, tell your children the Candy Witch gets half of all kid’s candy at Halloween and ask them to donate it.  They usually don’t want to make the “Candy Witch” mad.

If you have children that are older you will have to be a little more upfront.  Try the honest approach and that you simply do not want them eating that much sugary candy.  Some teens are completely ok with this and won’t fight back.  If you suspect that will be a bit of a fight, tell them you need the candy for co-workers at work and ask them if you can have some of it.  If you want, bring it to work for others to share or throw it out.  Whatever floats your boat!

Thirdly, ration the candy.  If they want to have a piece from time to time, don’t be a miser.  The quickest way for them to build up excitement for the candy if for you to not allow them to have it. Let them have a piece after dinner at night.  Don’t let them snack on it mindlessly.  This just leads to belly aches and poor behavior.

Lastly, have fun with it!  A little candy here and there isn’t going to kill anyone.  Just don’t go overboard with it.  If you don’t make a big deal about it they won’t either.  If you already live a healthy lifestyle they are unlikely to be difficult with this process anyway.  Plus, they will likely lose interest in the candy after a few weeks.  Enjoy the trick or treating!

1 Comment

Filed under Diet

Do You Know What State has the highest rate of Obesity in the U.S.?

Obesity is an epidemic in this country.  The numbers of people who are obese is staggering.  This does not even include the people who are simply overweight.  If we take that into account more than 66% of Americans are living at an unhealthy weight.

The problems with our lifestyles are numerous.  We eat too many carbohydrates, we don’t eat enough vegetables, we don’t get enough exercise, the activities that we do participate in are too sedentary and the list goes on and on.

So do you know what the most obese cities are?  How about the slimmest?  What about state by state?  I have that information for you.

Most Obese Cities in America

1. Miami, FL
2. Oklahoma City, OK
3. San Antonio, TX
4. Las Vegas, NV
5. New York, NY
6. Houston, TX
7. El Paso, TX
8. Jacksonville, FL
9. Charlotte, NC
10. Louisville-Jefferson, KY
11. Memphis, TN
12. Detroit, MI
13. Chicago, IL
14. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX
15. San Jose, CA
16. Tulsa, OK
17. Baltimore, MD
18. Columbus, OH
19. Raleigh, NC
20. Philadelphia, PA
21. L.A.-Long Beach, CA
22. Phoenix-Mesa, AZ
23. Indianapolis, IN
24. San Diego, CA
25. Kansas City, MO

Well certainly Texas has a lot of work to do.  They’ve made the list 4 times.  I guess it’s a bit of a surprise to see Miami in the number 1 spot, but statistics don’t lie.

Fittest American Cities

1. Salt Lake City, UT
2. Colorado Springs, CO
3. Minneapolis, MN
4. Denver, CO
5. Albuquerque, NM
6. Portland, OR
7. Honolulu, HI
8. Seattle, WA
9. Omaha, NE
10. Virginia Beach, VA
11. Milwaukee, WI
12. San Francisco, CA
13. Tucson, AZ
14. Boston, MA
15. Cleveland, OH
16. St. Louis, MO
17. Austin, TX
18. Washington, DC
19. Sacramento, CA
20. Oakland, CA
21. Atlanta, GA
22. Fresno, CA
23. Tampa, FL
24. Nashville-Davidson, TN
25. Pittsburgh, PA

Not surprisingly Colorado has two of the fittest cities in the U.S. and they happen to have the lowest overall obesity rates in the country.  See below.

State by State Comparisons

The South has some major problems with obesity.  This has been known for years.  The real danger is that almost a third of Mississippi is obese.  People who are obese are a significant risk for many diseases.  The CDC says that obesity is directly linked to at least 1/3 of all cancers.

The answer is not a mystery.  We need to cut the junk out of our diets and get moving.  Regulations need to be made that advertisers cannot pitch sugary junk food to kids and parents as some kind of health food simply because they add some B vitamins to the formula.

Seeing ‘low in cholesterol’ on the box does not make it healthy.  Low in fat also does not mean it’s good for you.  People need to be taught, starting in grade school, how to evaluate food.  If that happens then people will be armed with the tools to buy the proper foods and not feel overwhelmed at the grocery store.

I hear that constantly from my patients.  They just don’t know how to buy food.  They think they’re doing well because they read some claim on a label that tells them it’s good for them when in reality it is not.  If we can teach people how to eat, we can reduce obesity and health care costs in one shot.

These kinds of programs need federal funding so schools can put them in place.  They need to be on the scale of D.A.R.E and the anti-smoking campaigns.  If they’re not, it won’t work.  They only way to fix this problem is to give people the power to make the correct decisions.

Leave a comment

Filed under Diet, Public Health