By Dr. Haley Lance
A new school year is underway. Along with waking up early and homework, comes getting into a routine. For many kids, the transition to waking up, sleeping, eating, and concentrating on schedule can be a difficult one. Many of these problems resolve themselves once a routine is established. For some children, however, concentration and focus are elusive goals. There are many reasons for this including: personality, not mentally being challenged, a teaching style that does not capture their attention, or sitting for prolonged periods in doors. All of these can play into a child’s difficulty in focus and concentration. When this behavior becomes chronic, unfortunately many kids are medicated.
While regular chiropractic adjustments can help improve focus by ensuring the nervous system is operating optimally, there are also several simple lifestyle changes a parent can make at home to help improve his child’s concentration and focus.
Nutrition plays a key role in school performance. Just as professional athletes feed their bodies in order to perform well, students need to feed their brains the right food for optimal performance. The best approach is a diet high in protein, such as beans, eggs, cheese, meats, fish and nuts. Commonly referred to as the ADHD diet, the approach is a healthy one for all children, whether or not they have an official ADHD diagnosis.
Eating higher protein foods in the morning and for after school snacks can help improve concentration. Simple carbohydrates, such as candy, corn syrup, honey, sugar, products made of white flour, white rice, and potatoes without the skins should be limited. Instead, increase consumption of complex carbohydrates – such as vegetables and some fruits (oranges, tangerines, pears, grapefruit, apples and kiwi), which can also help aid sleep when eaten at night. These types of foods will ensure your child is getting the vitamins and minerals she needs to perform at her best.
The other dietary change to consider is the elimination of food dyes. Food dye (or food coloring) consists of chemicals and is often added to processed foods, drinks and condiments to add or enhance color. Some research has indicated an association between food dye consumption and hyperactivity in children, especially the dyes red, yellow, and blue. Specific dyes to avoid include Sunset Yellow (E110), Carmoisine (E122), Tartrazine (E102), Ponceau 4R (E124), Sodium Benzonate, Quinoline yellow (E104) and Allura red (E129). Also things that are best avoided are sugar and soft drinks. Eliminating these types of chemicals allow the body to function with less internal stressors.
Before considering prescription-strength medication, parents might want to explore natural supplements. There are several options, including Ginkgo Biloba, Scuttelaria (also known as Skullcap), German Chamomile, Gotu Kola, Avena Sativa (Oatstraw), Rooibos, Lemon Balm, Valerian, Lobelia, and Hawthorn that can help level out behavior. Omega 3s, an essential fatty acid source that is known for feeding the brain and helping it function at its optimum level, are another simple way to supplement the diet that has yielded great results.
Improving your child’s concentration and focus is possible. By making just a few simple lifestyle changes at home, parents can often yield positive results that will help ensure their children start the school year off on the right foot.
Now at Rutledge’s Back to Wellness, Dr. Haley Lance holds an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences from Auburn University and received her Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life University in Marietta. Dr. Lance takes an integrative approach to with patients, drawing on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology and nutrition to help bring the body back into balance. A mother herself, Dr. Lance has a special interest in pediatric care, as well as the pre- and post-natal care of women. Back to Wellness is located at 113 Fairplay Street Rutledge, GA 30663 and can be reached at 706-557-0211.