Diet’s Impact on ADHD

“Evidence shows that diet has major epigenetic effects on the brain.”

“Epigenetics  is the study of how lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, and sleep exert real, physical changes on a person’s DNA. AD/HD is a genetic disorder, yes. But epigenetic changes to DNA do influence how strongly or weakly those AD/HD genes get expressed in day-to-day life.

The brain is mostly fat, and the fatty cells around neurons are heavily involved in brain signaling.  Decades of evidence have pointed to omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish, nuts, and other high-fat foods) as a beneficial nutrient for improving signal strength.

Brain signaling also relies on micronutrients such as zinc, iron, and Vitamin D. If levels of these nutrients are deficient – as they often are in children and adults with AD/HD – focus, attention, and impulse control will suffer.” – ADDITUDE.com, Joel Nigg, PH. D.

“Chronic deficiencies of certain minerals such as zinc, iron, magnesium and iodine and insufficient dietary intake of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids may have significant impact on the development and deepening of the symptoms of ADHD in children.”

Evidence also suggests that eliminating foods that contain synthetic food additives, like food dyes and preservatives, or foods rich in salicylates, or foods with a high glycemic index, have a positive impact on the behavior of children with AD/HD. – BIBLIOTEKA NAUKI, Konikowska, K.

Most of us know that what we eat and drink will certainly affect the way we feel and how productive we may be, though the effects are unique for each person. We have found that making conservative and informed choices initially, and being consistent with these while monitoring their impact is a good way to begin. Starting with small steps goes a long way.

Tips:

– Shop on the outer edges of the grocery store

– Ask your doctor to check blood levels for common micronutrients and any deficiencies.

– Consider taking supplements based on the recommendations of the medical professionals you consult.

The Power of Sleep on ADHD

“Managing behavioral sleep problems with children with ADHD is feasible and highly effective – it improves not only sleep, child behavior, ADHD symptoms, quality of life, and working memory.” – Dr. Hiscock, Royal Children’s Hospital, www.reuters.com

“Adequate sleep is a huge benefit to your brain and body. The positive sleep-health connection is well documented, yet sleep is too often neglected by children and adults alike – particularly by those with ADHD, who tend to view it as a “waste of time” or have trouble quieting their minds at night.

Adequate sleep also powers learning: brain-imaging studies have repeatedly shown that the brain is highly active during sleep, consolidating and replaying the information it absorbed throughout the day.” – ADDITUDE.com, Joel Nigg, PH. D.

Sleep really does have profound effects, however, since kids with ADHD have a harder time getting to or staying asleep. Here are some tips to help get them “ready” for bed and ensure they get a good night’s rest.

Tips:

– Screens disrupt the natural light receptors of the brain, which then disrupts natural hormone production. TV, computer, phone, and video game screens should be avoided for the entire hour before bedtime.

– Create an unhurried and unpressured routine that ends positively each night. Routines help reduce anxiety for many people, and your body will gradually associate those activities with restful sleep.

Exercise and ADHD

“Exercise turns on the attention system, the so-called executive functions — sequencing, working memory, prioritizing, inhibiting, and sustaining attention,” says Ratey.

“Think of exercise as medication,” says John Ratey, M.D., an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “For a very small handful of people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, it may actually be a replacement for stimulants, but, for most, it’s complementary — something they should absolutely do, along with taking meds, to help increase attention and improve mood.”

Routine physical activity firms up the brain — making it a simple, alternative ADHD treatment.

Studies show that sustained exercise may significantly decrease the negative effects of stress or trauma.

Physical activity also promotes brain growth and brain efficiency, strengthens learning abilities, and is associated with brain changes in the areas related to executive functioning.

According to research, it is possible that exercise impacts ADHD symptoms even more than diet. Here are a few helpful suggestions that could benefit you or someone you know who has ADHD.

– ADDITUDE.com

Tips:

– Aim for 1 hour of moderate to vigorous exercise per day. It doesn’t have to be all at once. 15 minute bursts work too.

– Vary the activities. Sports, aerobic, muscle learning and coordination, etc.

– Buddy up! It helps us stick to a routine.

– Encourage outdoor, imaginative, independent play.

*** This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.