The ADD / ADHD Cookbook: Help Balance Your Brain with Food
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, you may be wondering if what you eat has any impact on how you feel or your disorder. The answer to that question is a resounding, “Yes!”
Modern science is now proving that diet contributes to many of the major diseases we encounter in life such as heart disease and type II diabetes. One of the findings is how food affects inflammation in the body, inflammation being the root cause of all disease.
Inflammation can also affect the brain, and many health experts are now making a connection between diet and diseases like Alzheimer’s, depression, and ADD/ADHD.
Yes, that’s right – your diet does affect your/your loved one’s ADD or ADHD. Which means the extra boost to your treatment that you’ve been looking for has been hiding in your fridge all this time.
With this in mind, let’s talk about what you should… and should NOT be eating if you have ADD/ADHD:
The more we find out about this white substance, the more it starts to feel like none of us should be eating it. Excessive sugar intake can tamper with the reward pathways in the brain that are involved in drug addiction. Many believe it can also tamper with the hyperactivity trigger. Sugar also causes erratic blood sugar levels, which cause dramatic mood swings in some people.
Besides the obvious culprits like candy, cookies, and soda, it’s also important to avoid most packaged foods, which often have high amounts of hidden sugars. This includes condiments, soups, and cereal.
Colorants and Other Additives
Colorants and other additives are meant to make our food look more appealing or last longer on store shelves, but many people believe that these substances also contribute to inflammation in the body.
As with sugar, a good rule of thumb is to avoid prepackaged foods as much as possible. Artificial drinks are a big culprit. Always read labels and when you see the word “flavor” or “flavored” anywhere on the package, the safest bet is to set the package back down and walk away.
Common Food Allergens
Many children and adults have allergies or sensitivities to foods that contain gluten, wheat, corn, and soy. These have been associated with inattentiveness and hyperactivity. Consider getting officially tested for these sensitivities and allergies with your doctor to see if there are any other foods that should be personally avoided.
Are you eating enough protein? Most people simply don’t get enough into their diet. Protein is not only responsible for building muscle, but also building and repairing every tissue, organ, and even hormones.
Research has also shown that ADD/ADHD symptoms are caused by an imbalance in the catecholaminergic systems in the brain areas that control memory, motor functioning and emotional regulation. The two most abundant catecholamines in the brain are the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. Both of these are derived from the amino acid tyrosine and amino acids are derived from proteins, so make sure to get enough into your diet from sources such as lean meats, eggs, and nuts.
Omega-3 fats are important to anyone for a variety of reasons. They reduce inflammation and also help to transmit brain signals. Health experts have also linked ADHD to an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. You can increase your omega-3 consumption by eating cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna.
If you have a kiddo that doesn’t like the taste of fish, consider a quality omega-3 supplement. It’s true that the less expensive supplements can occasionally have a harmless fishy smell, but through trial and error or asking a pharmacist you’ll quickly find that there are many options available that are no more offensive smelling than household aspirin.
Remember those neurotransmitters I just mentioned in the section about protein? B vitamins actually help to synthesize those neurotransmitters. You can eat all the protein in the world but if you are deficient in B vitamins, you won’t get the full benefits. While foods like fish, meat, and eggs are excellent sources of B vitamins, most health experts agree supplementation is the easiest and most effective way to get enough into your body.
After adjusting your diet, if you feel you need some extra help getting your ADD/ADHD symptoms under control, please reach out to me. I would be happy to discuss treatment options with you.