The Basics of ADHD and Nutrition January 29 2015
You’ve probably heard this all of your life – vitamins and minerals are good for you, and it’s important to include them in your diet every day.
Sure, it’s common knowledge that food, diet, and nutrition impact physical health, but few recognize the significance that food plays in cognitive and mental health, especially in ADHD. Your brain’s energetic performance starts at breakfast and ends after dinner, or the occasional indulgence of dessert. (That’s right—I said “occasional,” not “necessary.” ;) Thinking about your brain like the engine of a car can help put things into perspective.
Simply said, your car (brain) won’t drive if it doesn’t have gas. If you’re fueling your energy tank with convenient forms of food (packaged, boxed, processed), you’ll rarely be getting your brain to perform at high levels. Even worse are the all-too-common practices of skipping meals, drinking excessive coffee or energy drinks, or eating foods with excess sugar all day for quick (but nutritionally empty) energy. Eating this way may not impact you in at first, but before long you’ll be broken down on the side of road (or outside the doors of a classroom or CEO’s office) because of failure to focus, concentrate, and complete mental obstacles at hand.
All brains, but especially a fast-paced ADHD brain, need health-improving sources of fuel to navigate through the challenging roads of life. The most effective way to eat for brain health is having a diet high in foods that contain amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Foods found naturally in nature (aka real foods) offer the most efficient form of energy and nutrients for the brain.
Unfortunately though, most vitamins and minerals are sourced into the average American diet through processed food choices. The vitamin C and other nutrients that food marketers tell you is “fortified” in cereals is not absorbed or utilized as effectively as eating a plant-based food from nature. Knowing how important these nutrients are to your every-day health may motivate you to make wiser food choices.
Maintaining a healthy diet, along with implementing a daily supplement program that supplies the nutritional precursors and enzymes needed to improve brain communication and function, is the healthiest way to treat ADHD and to balance physiology in the brain. However, for many, the common means of treating ADHD is through stimulant medication. Unfortunately, these ‘magic pills’ often come with side effects, and do not repair the underlying cause of ADHD, but instead offer a quick and convenient solution by merely decreasing ADHD symptoms.
Dietary changes may take more willpower and nutritional supplementation may take more time than the treatment response of stimulant medications, yet it is more beneficial to overall health in the long run. And you owe it to your “engine” to get it running at peak performance for life!
Check out our complete list of dietary recommendations and nutrition suggestions here.
Written by Melissa Warner