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Book review: “The ADD Nutrition Solution: A drug-free thirty-day plan”

The ADD Nutrition Solution: A drug-free thirty-day plan by Marcia Zimmerman
Community Health Education Ctr RJ506.H9 Z52 1999 Non-circulating

Reviewed by Sharnice Atkinson, Community Health Education Center Intern


Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) is the fastest growing childhood disorder in the United States.  The treatment most often recommended for alleviating AD/HD symptoms is stimulant medication such as Ritalin.  The author of this book, Marcia Zimmerman, asks the question, “What if there was a way to not suppress, but actually overcome attention deficits without the use of drugs?”  She says that this book explains how to do just that.  In this book, The A.D.D Nutrition Solution, Zimmerman examines the history of research on AD/HD and the effects of diet on brain and nervous function.  She also presents the latest findings of neuro-imaging techniques that show how dietary changes and the use of certain nutritional supplements can repair poor brain circuitry in order to help those of any age that suffer with AD/HD sharpen their ability to learn and to increase concentration, focus and memory.  Zimmerman wrote this book in order to show the readers how to identify foods that are contributing to you or your child’s problems, how to substitute better choices and how to balance brain function by choosing when to eat certain foods depending on whether you want to achieve alertness or promote sleepiness.

In the first part of the book titled, “Are Attention Deficit Disorders the Plague of the Nineties?” she explains what Attention Deficit Disorders are and how to know if you or your child has them.  Zimmerman also gives a brief history through discussing its discovery, the first use of stimulants to treat the disorder, and the first proposal of diet having an effect on this disorder.  In part 2 of the book titled, “What’s Causing This Problem?”  Zimmerman talks about how things in the environment such as pesticides and waterborne pollutants, such as nitrates, can have an effect on brain function in children.  She also discusses treatment options and questions whether stimulant medication really works, along with the abuse of and the over prescription of the drug Ritalin.  The treatment of AD/HD by dietary modification is also another topic she mentions.  In part 3 of the book titled, “The Nutrition Solution Explained,”  Zimmerman explains how sugar, foods that contain refined flour, and artificial sweeteners disturb glucose and fatty acid metabolism which are important for brain function.  She talks about why eating organic food is better, gives advice on eating fruits and vegetables in season and also what foods help or worsen AD/HD symptoms.  She provides charts with the recommended servings for each food group she discusses, according to age group.   Zimmerman mentions the use of dietary supplements such as vitamins, minerals and LCP’s (long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids) to combat AD/HD symptoms and improve brain function.

In part 4 of the book, “The 30-Day Plan,” Zimmerman gives a list of supplements that she recommends for use.  She provides the product name along with a description of the product, what it is used for, how much of it to take based on age group, whether or not you have AD/HD, and if you are pregnant or nursing.  In this section she gives an outline of what you should eat daily to reduce the effects of AD/HD, how much to eat, and what you should remove from your diet.  The author creates menu plans based on age group and uses the information she gives throughout the book as the foundation of the menu plans.  Zimmerman gives tips on how to make the 30-Day plan work, such as picking the right place to shop and reading food labels.  She also gives a list of ingredients that can be substituted in recipes and also different AD/HD friendly recipes.  At the end of the book, Zimmerman provides a list of AD/HD provoking additive ingredients that are found in different foods.  She describes what these additives are used for, what foods they are found in, and the symptoms that these additives cause.   For those who do not have easy access to healthy foods, she provides the addresses to different companies where the reader could order food or baking ingredients and have them shipped to their homes.

Due to the informative nature of this book, I would recommend it for those who are suffering with AD/HD, or those who have children suffering with this disorder.   Also, if you are a strong believer in non-medicated solutions, this book is a great read.

To view this title, or other health-related books, visit the Community Health Education Center (CHEC).  CHEC is located on the ground floor of the VCUHS Gateway Building on the MCV Campus.

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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly 60 percent of Virginians weigh too much, 23 percent do not exercise regularly and 25 percent smoke or use tobacco. — The Healthy Virginians Initiative