Sadag highlights the link between junk food and ADHD during Mental Health Awareness month

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Children who follow an unhealthy diet, which includes excessive junk food, rather than a well-balanced and nutritious diet of vegetables, fruits and protein are at risk of having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

This was said by the non-profit organisation, South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), in reference to findings from a study by the University of Barcelona, Spain. The study was conducted on children who follow a Mediterranean diet but with an increased intake of fast foods and sugary soft drinks.

Read: SA’s first free ADHD screening for children launched

In a statement, the group linked the findings to the condition in the month of July when the nation observes Mental Health Awareness, an occasion when citizens are urged to be conscious of the connection between diet and mental health.

According to the group, one in three people will experience a mental illness in their lifetime while 23 people commit suicide daily. The statement said, “With so many affected by mental health conditions, it’s vital that we have open and honest conversations on the connection.”

Adding to the findings, Renny Letswalo of Cambridge Weight Plan urged for a closer look at the connection. “While [studies] don’t prove causality, the findings suggest that diet could play a role in ADHD’s development.”

Read: Women with ADHD fly under radar

Letswalo said this in reference to evidence showing the role of food in the development, management and prevention of specific mental health problems like depression, schizophrenia, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Examples of the role of food in specific mental health problems:

  • Risks of depression, anxiety, panic attacks and poor sleep increase with a high intake of caffeinated drinks and excessive alcohol use
  • Schizophrenia is linked to blood sugar problems, fat imbalances and gluten which can be reduced by an increased intake of antioxidants, B12 and folic acid
  • ADHD can be reduced by eating foods rich in protein, low-fat dairy products, lean beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts and soy
  • The risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can be prevented by eating green leafy and other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and drinking wine in moderation.

Letswalo urged for more research to be done to enhance knowledge and encourage good mental and physical health by consuming nutrient-rich foods.

Details: www.cambridgeweightplan.co.za

  AUTHOR
Leseho Manala

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