ADHD and Nutrition
Does following an ADHD nutrition plan help to control symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?
The simple answer is yes. A diet rich in protein and vitamins and ‘brain healthy’ foods can help to optimize brain function, alleviating symptoms associated with ADHD. However, there is a catch. A high protein diet must be complemented by a low-sugar one.
Added sugars put the brain at a disadvantage causing blood sugar levels to spike and then crash. Not healthy for any brain, it is especially difficult to manage in people who have ADHD. A high sugar diet has been linked to increases in hyperactivity, impulsiveness, inattention, and restlessness in people with ADHD. Some research has found there to be a connection between food coloring and preservatives and hyperactivity. They can also cause digestive issues.
So what about protein?
Protein creates important neurotransmitter connections for the brain and keeps blood sugars stable. ADHD is linked to fewer receptors for the neurotransmitter dopamine which affects mood, movement, sleep, attention, and memory. Increases in dopamine levels allow more connections to be made, seeing improvements across all these areas. High protein foods include lean beef, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, and soy.
Low sugar carbohydrates, such as fruits like apple, blueberries, kiwifruit, and vegetables should make up one-quarter of each meal. Omega-3s are important in brain and nerve cell function. Omega-3 is found in fatty fish, shellfish, avocado, walnuts, and seeds such as chia and flax seeds. We see significant improvement in focus and cognitive function.
Vitamins and minerals can be used to supplement an ADHD diet. When you live with ADHD, it may be the case that you forget to eat sometimes or often. You may also struggle to meet all your nutritional needs. If you have been diagnosed with ADHD, it is a good idea to see your general practitioner and take a blood test to see if you have any nutritional deficiencies.