More research publications are confirming an essential theory about our health; what we eat has a monumental influence on how we feel. The food we consume directly communicates with the cells within our body. Chemical reactions between food and body manipulate the way we think, how we feel, and the actions we perform. Making changes to our diet and nutrition may alter the symptoms of many conditions, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Research indicates that following a clean diet rich in whole foods may improve mood up to 35%. While poor dietary choices aren’t the cause of ADHD, it may exasperate some of the symptoms associated with ADHD. One study looked at common artificial food colorings found in children’s cereal. The analysis concluded artificial colors “are not a main cause of ADHD, but they may contribute significantly to some cases, and in some cases may additively push a youngster over the diagnostic threshold.”
It’s no secret that artificial ingredients are not the best inclusion to any diet. However, other common foods may be triggering symptoms of ADHD. Let’s take a look at the strong link between ADHD, eating, and nutrition.
What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and What Causes It?
ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed mental health condition among children. Approximately 8.4% of children deal with ADHD. Additionally, 2.5% of adults also have the condition.
ADHD is a neurological disorder that impedes the everyday lives of those diagnosed with the condition. Due to impulses in the neural pathways, those with ADHD have trouble focusing, sitting in place, or completing a task.
There are three principal diagnoses for ADHD. They are:
- Combination of inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive
What separates the three comes down to their symptoms. Let’s discuss the symptoms of ADHD a little further and see how nutrition plays a role in them manifesting.
Symptoms of ADHD
As we discussed, there are two main categories that ADHD patients fit into and a third that sees a blending of both groups. Here are some of the main characteristics of both types of ADHD.
Inattentive ADHD Symptoms
These ADHD signs are more internalized. They impact thought processes, motivation, and overall mental well-being. Those who experience ADHD inattentive symptoms may feel emotionally exhausted and have trouble focusing on tasks at hand. Due to their overactive mind, those with ADHD commonly misplace keys, forget directions, and have difficulty following conversations.
Hyperactivity/Impulsive ADHD Symptoms
Hyperactive and impulsive ADHD symptoms are much easier to recognize. The impulses inside of the body cause an outward reaction that is visible to others. You may notice signs of ADHD that include raising voices, fidgeting in a seat, or interrupting someone else’s thoughts.
Physical symptoms of ADHD may blend with the internalized. It is very common for an adult or child to experience both categories of ADHD. Therefore, if any of the above symptoms strike a chord with you in regards to yourself or a loved one, please contact a physician.
Foods that May Trigger ADHD Symptoms
With your foundational knowledge of ADHD, let’s discuss how nutrition may influence the symptoms of this disorder. Let’s start with the cloud over your diet. Here are some of the foods to avoid to help combat the effects of ADHD.
Every disease has one common ally–inflammation. Inflammatory responses are responsible for symptoms associated with everything from the flu to arthritis to acne. It’s also a culprit in ADHD symptoms.
Each person is different. Therefore, the foods that trigger an autoimmune response will differ per person. However, with food sensitivities increasing 400% over the past decade, there’s a good chance that if you have ADHD you also have a food sensitivity.
Rid the menu of triggers and note how these dietary changes may influence the symptoms of ADHD.
To get rid of foods that trigger the most inflammatory response, follow an Elimination Diet protocol that suggests dropping these from your grocery list:
- Refined sugars/artificial sweeteners
- Whole grains/gluten
- Baked foods
By eliminating these stressors, it gives the body a chance to put out the inflammation. Without inflammation triggering the stress hormone, cortisol, the mind is at ease. As a result, symptoms of ADHD may subside.
Nutrition and Improving ADHD Symptoms
Just as diet can get you into this mess, it can also get you out. By improving your dietary habits, you can also make the symptoms of ADHD more tolerable. The way to achieve this is by implementing a balanced diet.
Make sure your meals are full of:
- Lean proteins with a proper balance of omega-3s and omega-6s
- Fibrous complex carbs with many micronutrients
- Healthy fats with amino acids
Let’s discuss how vital finding balance on the plate is to bringing balance to mental health.
Omega fatty acids are essential for optimal brain function. Unfortunately, those who follow the Standard American Diet (SAD) get an abundance of omega-6 fatty acids. Even more unfortunate? The recommended omega ratio is 3:1 in favor of omega-3s.
Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in lean proteins such as poultry, fish, and seeds. If you tend to bulk up on red meat, then consider taking a supplement that will boost your omega-3 levels like CogniDHA Fish Oil.
Protein is home to amino acids, which are the building blocks of life. Thanks to protein, our bodies are able to produce strong neural pathways. They are also responsible for the production of neurotransmitters. Research indicates that ADHD may inhibit the secretion of two crucial neurotransmitters–norepinephrine and serotonin. Therefore, eating quality protein may improve mood, reaction time, and focus.
We might run for our lives at the word carbs. However, we couldn’t run without them. Carbohydrates are sugars that your body converts into energy. It’s the quality of your carbs that matter most, especially when you are trying to change your diet to prevent symptoms associated with ADHD.
Low-glycemic complex carbs offer a steady dose of glucose to the body. With glucose in the bloodstream, attention levels naturally become sharper. It’s like a burst of energy that allows the body to persist through the symptoms of ADHD.
Steer clear of white and refined foods like potatoes, pasta, rice, and bread. These carbs add calories to your body and also may trigger an allergic reaction. When our body encounters an allergy, the first line of defense is inflammation. As we’ve discussed, chronic inflammation adds gasoline onto the fire that is ADHD symptoms.
Healthy carbs are whole foods that contain healthy sugars. They are resistant starches that your body can’t break down. Therefore, probiotic bacteria steps in and does the job. As a result, harmful microorganisms are unable to thrive in your system. In the end, symptoms of ADHD may decrease.
Some of the best healthy carbohydrates to include in your diet include:
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Brown rice
- Fermented foods
- Sweet potatoes
- Gluten-free whole grains
As you may have noticed, some of these foods may overlap with dietary choices included in the Elimination Diet. Not all foods react to individuals in the same way. Therefore, legumes should be eliminated from the diet of a person who has Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and ADHD. However, those with ADHD who do not have digestive issues may benefit from a healthy dose of black beans.
That’s why it’s called the Elimination Diet. Take foods out, see how you feel, and if need be, implement them back into your routine.
Like carbs, fats also get a red flag for many health-conscious people. Some fats (like saturated and trans fats) are detrimental to the system. In fact, many of the said fats are responsible for an increase in ADHD symptoms. However, there are also good fats that provide the body with a ton of nutrition.
Healthy fats are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. They can be found in a litany of oils that include:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Hemp seed oil
- Fish oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Coconut oil
What makes fats so beneficial is they help with nutrient absorption. Fats soak up vitamins and minerals in the foods we eat. Therefore, the nutrients are safe when they reach our stomach acids. As the fats get broken down, nutrients are released back into the system. Healthy fats are essential for bioavailability of minerals and improving brain function.
Supplements and ADHD
The human race runs on convenience. We live a fast-paced life and have little time to eat, let alone think about dietary decisions. As a result, our physical body and mental health suffer.
Since the likelihood of changing our diets entirely is slim to none, we must find another way to find balance within the system. This is where supplements come in handy.
Taking a supplement is as easy as going through a drive-thru. In fact, it’s closer to your home and may even be cheaper. Supplementing with all-natural vitamins can go a long way in combating the symptoms of ADHD.
Part of the problem is we need help shutting the chatter off. All-natural supplements such as Focusene may be a benefit to those fighting this problem. Focusene contains dandelion, which is rich in luteolin. Studies with luteolin have found that this compound is a PDE4 inhibitor, thereby improving memory, wakefulness, and overall mood.
Dandelion in Focusene works alongside forskolin. Both botanical ingredients have shown to boost cAMP activity in the brain. The cAMP is a central synapse responsible for regulating communication throughout the system. Without saying, having a powerful cAMP is essential in curbing the effects of ADHD.
In addition to many other brain-boosting herbs and enzymes, Focusene also contains L-theanine. L-theanine is an amino acid that boosts GAGA activity. GABA is a neurotransmitter that controls feelings of fear and anxiety. The more catalysts to produce this neurotransmitter, the better the chances of fighting off ADHD.
Have you tried eliminating foods to improve symptoms of ADHD? What did you remove and how did you feel? Let us know in the comments below!