Although food and nutrition are not linked to the causes of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), there is some research and schools of thought that nutrition and diet can help control the symptoms of ADHD for some people. Foods that feed and nourish the brain are good for your overall health, and they can also be good for those suffering from ADHD.
Some of The Best Foods For ADHD:
High Protein Foods
Eggs, cheese, meats, nuts, soy and low-fat dairy products, just to name a few. Protein-rich foods help the body produce neurotransmitters, which brain cells need in order to communicate with each other. Protein has also been shown to help blood sugar levels to stabilize and not have surges (1,2), which besides being a good choice for diabetics, it can as well help reduce some symptoms of ADHD.
Think vegetables, certain fruits like kiwis, pears, apples, and grapefruit. Other ideas include brown rice, quinoa, butternut squash, sweet potato and lentils. Complex carbohydrates take the body longer to digest and so also help to control blood sugar levels which can lead to less hyperactivity.
These fatty acids are found in foods like salmon, tuna, Brazil nuts, olives, and olive oil. Omega-3s are very important for nerve and brain function. There have been studies showing that an increase in omega-3 intake can reduce ADHD symptoms in some people.
Vitamins and Minerals
Zinc, magnesium, iron and B vitamins are some of the essential minerals and vitamins for a healthy brain. They help with neurotransmitter production and regulation. They have also been linked to improved cognitive functions, like the ability to concentrate.
These minerals and vitamins can be found in foods like seafood, lean meats, poultry, nuts, and soy. We may not always get our full daily amount from our diet, so a multivitamin may be useful. If this is for your child, it is best to consult with your doctor for the right supplements and the right dosage so as not to overdose or interfere with other medications.
Some of The Worst Foods For ADHD:
High Sugar Foods
Candy, sodas, fruit juices (often containing more sugar than actual fruit) and certain cereals may be very tasty and satisfying, but they do your brain and body no good. While there isn’t sufficient evidence as yet that sugar does effect the symptoms of ADHD, some people are more affected by sugar consumption, especially children with ADHD (3).
In any case, for a healthy diet overall, you should limit the amount of sugar you consume on a daily basis, and beware of the hidden sugar you may be unknowingly consuming in many of the processed foods you find in stores today.
Food Colorants and Preservatives
These are commonly found in some colorful cereals, fruit juices, canned fruits, cake mixes, sauces, and many other processed foods. There has been some evidence to show that certain colorants and preservatives can have an effect on hyperactivity and ADHD, particularly in kids (4).
Some people are allergic to certain foods like wheat, dairy, gluten, peanuts, eggs, soy and shellfish. Allergic reactions have been shown to affect brain functions and levels of hyperactivity. If you have ADHD, eliminating food allergies may improve your condition.
You find this devilish stimulant in energy drinks, sodas, and everyone’s favorite morning drink: coffee. Caffeine is known to cause irritability, hyperactivity and inattention, in addition to other nasty side effects (5).
Overall with diet and ADHD, there is still a lot of research to be done to find conclusive evidence of what may help things like hyperactivity and levels of focus, irritability and attention. However, if you or a family member have been diagnosed with ADHD, then looking at daily diet is important.
As each of us is an individual, it is worth looking at the types of foods listed above and noting which ones have more of an effect on you. This will help each individual to know their own triggers and thus eliminate or add certain foods to their diet which may help improve some of the symptoms and keep the condition under control.