While there is no substantial evidence that diet causes Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), research suggests that dietary changes can improve the symptoms.
Before anything else, ADD is an outdated term. It’s important to know that the official medical term of the condition is ADHD, even though the person doesn’t demonstrate hyperactivity.
Nutrition and Behavior
There are extensive studies about the link between food and behavior. So far, nothing directly points at food to cause ADHD.
However, certain foods affect behavior. Caffeine, for example, increases alertness, and alcohol can loosen inhibitions. Studies suggest that increased consumption of vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids may diminish anti-social behavior.
Poor nutrition can slow down brain processing, resulting in aggressive behavior.
Because of this, people diagnosed with ADHD are encouraged to adopt a healthier diet.
Recommended Foods for ADHD
The key is to stabilize energy and blood sugar levels when planning a diet for an ADHD patient.
Protein is an essential component for neurotransmitters, which help brain cells communicate with each other. A high-protein diet may improve concentration and amplify the effects of ADHD medications.
Some common protein sources include meat, eggs, cheese, beans, and nuts.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Many experts say that anything good for the brain is likely good for ADHD.
Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce inflammation throughout the body, including the brain. This means eating fatty fish, walnuts, and chia seeds may improve symptoms of ADHD.
According to a study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, children who received omega-3 supplementation had improved concentration, self-control, and memory.
Vitamins and Minerals
Some studies link micronutrient deficiency with ADHD. However, it’s still unclear whether this increased consumption of micronutrients may improve ADHA symptoms.
“It’s important to point out that iron deficiency can cause headaches, shortness of breath, and extreme fatigue—all of which can exacerbate ADHD symptoms. Low zinc and magnesium levels can make a person more prone to irritability and hyperexcitability.”, says Luke Wood, a nutrition consultant at Monkey Foodz.
Nonetheless, these are essential nutrients, and moderate consumption is more likely beneficial to anyone.
What to Avoid?
Limiting sugar intake does not only help control ADHD symptoms; it can also reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.
Some research indicates that small intakes of caffeine may improve concentration levels, but this should be approached with caution. People who are taking ADHD medications are advised to avoid caffeinated drinks altogether.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns parents about the potential effects of artificial additives because studies show these can interfere with hormonal movement and overall growth and development.
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