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Introducing a low-phosphate diet

I pretty much make everything from scratch now. And now I have a wonderful idea of what that means! One of the great things that has come from this phosphate intolerance that my son has is that we have all become the healthiest eaters!!
Beckie S., mother of one, US

Chemical imbalances are very often the underlying cause of ADD/ADHD and in very many cases these chemical imbalances can be restored to normal by making some changes to our diet. We would like to help you take that step by showing you what to do.

The nutrients, the minerals and vitamins in our food control the way our bodies function. These minerals and vitamins contribute to our well-being and determine our performance in life. In simple terms, we obtain energy from the food that we eat. In recent times, health professionals working in the field of nutritional medicine are suggesting that children with ADD/ADHD are very often deficient in certain minerals; they are particularly deficient in magnesium, calcium, potassium and zinc. Hafer maintains that the high intake of phosphate interferes with the absorption of these minerals. In her book The Hidden Drug: Dietary Phosphate she argues that when the high intake of phosphate is reduced to normal, the molecular imbalances - caused by mineral deficiences and excesses - are restored to normal.

In his book Taking control of MS Professor Jelinek, MD, also suggests that making changes to the diet will improve the overall condition of MS. Jelinek has concluded that "natural therapies are potentially less harmful and much more beneficial in other ways." Eminent neurologist Professor Swank, MD concurrs, as he writes, "A lifestyle change will have to take place, which may be a challenge for you, but the challenges of living with a disability are much greater."

The Hafer-diet is not a phosphate-free diet as some have mistakenly believed it to be. Nor is the diet unduly restrictive because there are plenty of good foods to eat. Rather, the low-phosphate diet seeks to exclude from the diet all foods that contain elevated levels of phosphate. As mentioned above, minerals control the body's chemical balances and phosphorous is one of those essential minerals that is vital for healthy human development, without which the human body would not function. The World Health Organisation (WHO), for instance, recommends that approximately 800-1000 mg phosphorous (as phosphates) should be consumed daily and this phosphate intake should be consumed in a 1:1 ratio with calcium. Phosphorous is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods. However, when phosphorous is consumed in large quantities, the calcium/phosphorous balance is disrupted, leading to deficiencies in mineral absorption. Subsequently, a myriad of health problems may erupt, with ADD/ADHD being one of them.

The low-phosphate diet goes back to basic food preparation. All foods high in phosphate, whether phosphates are added commercially or whether they occur naturally, are suspect foods. Although, industrially produced phosphates cause greater concern than those phosphates that occur naturally.

Every individual has a different tolerance level to the amount of phosphate s/he may consume. Many people consume whatever they like without experiencing any problems at all. Others, however, have a very low tolerance level to the high intake of phosphate. When their level of tolerance is exceeded, they may react with behavioural problems symptomtic of ADD/ADHD. They may show high levels of irritability, or they may develop skin disorders such as eczema or neuro-dermatitis. Others may become susceptible to allergies such as asthma or hayfever. A highly sensitive person may develop several problems simultaneously. It is important to note that no two people have the same tolerance level, therefore every person must find his or her individual level at which the problems and symptoms manifest themselves.

Individual tolerance levels are established by cutting all foods high in phosphate from the diet for a period of three to four weeks. After four weeks there should be an improvement in health and well-being. Thereafter, various foods can be re-introduced into the diet, one at a time. Start with foods containing natural levels of phosphate. You may well discover that you can easily tolerate a small yoghurt or an egg each day but that two eggs plus other foods high in phosphate may cause a problem. In the beginning it is a matter of trial and error. Eventually you will discover the perfect dietary balance for yourself or for your sensitive family member.

How to get started? View the link Getting Started.

Or go to our recipes section for ideas on what to eat.

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