Protein-rich foods are used by the body to create neurotransmitters, which are chemicals released by brain cells to communicate with one another. Start your day with foods that include protein to improve brain function from the get-go and continue eating protein-rich foods throughout the day. Protein prevents surges in blood sugar, which increases mood imbalance, focus, concentration & hyperactivity.
Protein-rich foods include: lean beef, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, & dairy products. Protein bars (keep it as whole as possible–less ingredients) and protein smoothies are both quick & easy adds to your day.
Eating a well-balanced meal that includes fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and protein can ensure that behavior is kept under control. The Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health advises that ADHD patients think about their plates when preparing a meal. Their founder Ned Hallowell suggests one-half the plate be filled with fruits and vegetables, one-fourth with protein, and one-fourth with complex carbohydrates. To prevent blood sugar levels from rising and falling, eat whole grains, which are rich in fiber.
Even the most well-balanced diets can fall short in vitamins, minerals, and fats that can improve alertness and attention. It is suggested that kids and adults who have been diagnosed with ADHD should get tested for nutrient deficiencies. Here are some supplements that can alleviate nutrient deficiencies that exacerbate ADHD symptoms.
Zinc, Iron & Magnesium – Zinc regulates dopamine in the brain. Low levels of dopamine can contribute to inattention. A 2004 study published in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (now JAMA Pediatrics) found that 84% of children with ADHD had significantly lower levels of iron compared to 18% of children without ADHD. Low iron levels correlate with cognitive deficiencies. Magnesium is used to stimulate neurotransmitters related to attention and concentration. All three of these minerals are found in lean meats, seafood, poultry, nuts, and fortified cereal, but a multi-mineral supplement will ensure that children are getting the daily reference value (DRV) of these minerals.
Vitamin B – Vitamin B6 can increase the brain’s level of dopamine, which improves alertness. Studies have been conducted where children with low vitamin B levels were given supplements and their IQ scores increased, their aggression was reduced, and they exuded less anti-social behavior.
Picamilon – Picamilon is a combination of B-vitamin niacin and gamma-aminobutyic-acid (GABA). It improves the blood flow to the brain and has mild stimulating effects that increase attention and alertness.
Fish Oil – Fish oil contains omega-3s, which have been linked to brain and nerve cell function. It can be found in fish oil supplements and cold-water fish, tuna, and salmon. A new study at Goteborg University in Sweden showed that children 8-18 who took fish oil daily had decreased their ADHD symptoms in 25% of the children within six months. Omega-3s have also been shown to break down quicker in patients with ADHD than those without the condition.
Herbs can improve the blood flow to the brain and increase alertness while reducing aggressive behavior. Make sure to run the idea by your holistic practitioner before starting an herb regimen, but here are 3 herbs that can manage ADHD symptoms in children.
Pycnogenol – Pycnogenol is an extract made from French maritime pine bark and has been found to improve hyperactivity, concentration, and visual-motor coordination after one month. It is also rich in antioxidants and polyphenols that protect brain cells.
Ginsing/Ginko – These herbs are cognitive activators that act as stimulants without some of the side effects of ADHD medication such as sleepiness and loss of appetite. In general, children who take these supplements tend to improve on the ADHD ratings scale and are less impulsive.
Rhodiola Rosea – This herb can improve attention, accuracy, and alertness. It is advised that it be used with middle school, high school, and college students, as it can be too stimulating for younger children. It is best recommended for students who need to focus for long periods of time and complete activities like long reading assignments and research papers.
Many people with ADHD also have gut permeability and nutrient absorbtion issues that need to be addressed. Contact Healthy Nest Nutrition for a complimentary initial phone consult to see if diet changes might help your ADHD issues.
Hi! I’m Robin, the founder of Healthy Nest Nutrition. I am a board-certified holistic nutritionist in Denver, Colorado. My passion is helping people find the right diet for their bodies and then showing them how to make healthy nutrition doable and delicious!