10 Nutritional And Lifestyle Recommendations That Can Reduce The Symptoms Of ADHD

Living with ADHD can be disruptive to everyday life, but its symptoms can be tamed with nutrition and a few lifestyle changes.

The classical core symptoms of ADHD include short attention span, impulsivity, distractibility, and poor impulse control or hyperactivity (although not in all cases). I have personally found that these symptoms can be tamed through nutritional and lifestyle adjustments. There are several actions that can be taken which will have a significant effect on the symptoms of ADHD.

Here are 10 nutritional and lifestyle recommendations that can reduce the symptoms of ADHD if adhered to.

  1. Make sure you never get too hungry. The brain uses 20 percent of the body’s total energy, which is more than any other human organ. Therefore, the brain relies on a regular supply of food for energy. Without the nutrition that food supplies, brain function will be negatively impacted. This will affect self-control, concentration, sleep, mood, motor skills and memory. By making sure you never get overly hungry and have a healthy snack always at hand, you will ensure your self-control and attention span are under your control. In situations that might test your patience, I recommend you plan ahead and ensure that you have eaten well beforehand.
  2. Increase dopamine release. In the brain, dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter (a chemical released by neurons, a type of brain cell) which is connected to feelings of pleasure, satisfaction, and reward. Dopamine also sharpens the mind and makes one more alert. Low dopamine levels have been found in people who have ADHD which may lead to difficulty in focusing attention. Tyrosine is an amino acid that encourages the brain to release dopamine. Tyrosine is found in high amounts in almonds, avocados, bananas, lima beans, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds. By consuming these foods regularly, you will ensure your body has sufficient tyrosine to support dopamine release.
  3. Increase serotonin release. It has been found that increasing dopamine release is not enough to control the symptoms of ADHD and serotonin levels were also of primary importance. In fact, a balanced relationship between dopamine and serotonin was critical to helping reduce ADHD symptoms. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter related to impulse control and aggression. Tryptophan is an amino acid the body uses to manufacture serotonin. Tryptophan is found in spirulina, spinach, watercress, soybeans, mushrooms, turnip greens, mustard greens, asparagus, broccoli, sunflower seeds and kidney beans. By consuming these foods regularly, you will ensure your body has sufficient tryptophan to support serotonin production.
  4. Increase complex whole grain carbohydrate-rich foods in your diet. Tryptophan is the least abundant amino acid and therefore, in a protein-rich meal, tryptophan is the last amino acid to cross the blood brain barrier. It has to wait its turn after the other amino acids. On the other hand, evidence suggests that eating a complex carbohydrate meal with little but sufficient protein will increase the tryptophan available to the brain. The reason for this is when carbohydrate-rich foods are consumed, the body releases insulin, which diverts other amino acids to the muscles but leaves tryptophan untouched. This provides a better ground for tryptophan to enter the brain and promote its calming effect. Carbohydrate-rich foods with sufficient protein include whole grains, peas, lentils, barley, oats, beans, and quinoa.
  5. Reduce animal protein in your diet. Why? When you consume natural high-carbohydrate foods without the presence of animal protein or fats, they allow tryptophan to flood the brain.
  6. Ensure your diet has enough iron. Why? Because the enzymes involved in the production of tryptophan and tyrosine contain iron which within the enzyme helps to regulate its activity. Iron is found in spinach, lentils sesame seeds and garbanzo beans.
  7. Ensure your diet is rich in magnesium and zinc which affect the activities of serotonin and dopamine. Natural foods rich in magnesium and zinc include pumpkin seeds, soya beans, spinach, and quinoa.
  8. Reduce consumption of unnatural food colorings and preservatives in your diet. These unnatural products affect the brain and have been found to increase ADHD symptoms in some people. I would recommend removing all artificial colorings and flavorings from your diet, although I know that this may be difficult for some of us, so at least remove the preservative sodium benzoate and the artificial colorings sunset yellow, quinoline yellow, tartrazine and Allura red.
  9. Exercise! Studies have proven over and over again that being physically active on a daily basis has a very positive effect on children with ADHD. Not only does it improve symptoms, but being physically active also improves mood and cognitive performance. Even very light physical activity triggers the brain to release dopamine and serotonin which reduce ADHD symptoms.
  10. I also recommend Cognitive-Behavioral therapy which focuses on changing how one feels and acts by changing default thought patterns and persisting beliefs about oneself and life. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy also helps control anger and helps to stay focused.

Poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle have a significant influence on ADHD symptoms. By changing your eating habits and adding the foods recommended above to your regular daily diet as well as incorporating regular physical activity into your schedule, you will see a significant reduction in ADHD symptoms.

You may also like my article: The 10 Best Foods For Brain Health And Memory Improvement. Check it out HERE

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