Many researchers have analyzed the correlation between ADHD and food. The findings represent that it’s a good idea to stay away from certain foods while increasing the intake of others. An ADHD diet is one that maximizes the right food, optimizing your brain function.
Let’s explore the relationship between ADHD and food.
Food Tips to Improve ADHD Symptoms
Protein is something everyone with ADHD should have plenty of in their diet. Foods that are rich in protein, especially lean beef, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, soy, and nuts, offer a benefit to those with ADHD. The body uses protein to make neurotransmitters, which are the chemicals released by brain cells to communicate with each other. Protein can also be a good prohibitor of surges in blood sugar.
Experts agree that it’s good to start your day with protein for breakfast and make it an important part of later meals and snacks.
Balanced Meals Help the ADHD Brain
Balanced meals are a good way to prime your brain for the obstacles ahead. When you eat a diverse diet that includes vegetables, complex carbohydrates, fruit, and protein, it can actually help balance mood swings, which are part of having ADHD.
Many diets can be deficient in certain key vitamins and minerals. Eating a balanced diet that includes things like leafy greens and whole grains should give your body the nutrients it needs.
Nutrients and Herbs
When looking specifically at certain nutrients an ADHD should get enough of, it’s ideal to have healthy levels of zinc, iron, and magnesium. Zinc regulates the neurotransmitter dopamine and may make methylphenidate, commonly known as Ritalin, more effective by improving the brain’s response to dopamine. Low levels of zinc often correlate to inattention.
Iron plays a role in the creation of dopamine. A study reported that ferritin levels, a measure of iron stores, to be low in 84% of children with ADHD. The association between low levels of iron and cognitive deficits has been substantiated.
Magnesium is also involved in the development of neurotransmitters. The lack of it can influence attention and concentration. It’s also known to have a calming effect on the brain.
These three minerals are found in lean meats, poultry, seafood, nuts, soy, and fortified cereals. It’s best to get these minerals from diet, but you may also want to increase your input with supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids can also be a way to reduce ADHD symptoms, as it is associated with brain and nerve cell function. A study found that a daily dose of omega-3s, found in cold-water fatty fish like tuna and salmon, reduced ADHD symptoms by as much as 50%.
Natural herbs may also link to improving cognition function. Ginkgo and Ginseng are cognitive activators. They stimulate the brain but don’t have side effects like ADHD medications. A regular intake of these herbs could help improve impulsivity and distraction.
Foods to Avoid
This is probably not a shocker, but ADHD adults and children should steer clear of high-sugar foods. Sugar leads to inattention. While that is something that happens to those with and without ADHD, research has found a conclusive link. A Yale University study found that high-sugar diets increase inattention in some kids.
You also have to be aware there are many foods with hidden sugar like “fruit” drinks. Read food labels closely looking for ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, sucrose, and other sugars.
Along with sugar, avoiding artificial dyes and preservatives is also recommended. A study looked at the impact of artificial food coloring and favors as well as the preservative sodium benzoate, and their effect on the ADHD brain. The study concluded that it can make some kids with ADHD hyperactive.
These additives are most likely found in colorful cereals, soft drinks, fruit punch, and many other foods. Instead of opting for processed food, which are often more convenient, try to stick to fresh, natural options.
The relationship between ADHD and food is verifiable. While your diet won’t completely eliminate your ADHD symptoms, it should be part of a bigger picture of self-care and ADHD treatment. Eating a healthy diet is just one more tool to use in ensuring you’re living your best life.