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ADHD can be managed a number of different ways, and one such recognised ways is through dietary modification. In this article, we shall take a brief look at dietary aspects of managing ADHD and the different supplements that may help patients.

The ADHD diet

ADHD comprises of impulsive behaviour, hyperactivity and inattentiveness. Complex changes occur in certain chemical substances released in the brain that can contribute to this condition. The release of these substances is regulated by different dietary components including vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fats. Research has shown the following dietary components to be essential and helpful in managing patients who suffer from ADHD.

  1. High-protein diet

    It is believed that consuming high-protein diet allows for the medication used in managing ADHD to exert their effects for a longer period of time. High-protein diets include eggs, lean meat, beans and nuts. The treatment can help improve levels of concentration and reducing distractability.

  2. Complex carbohydrate intake

    Carbohydrates primarily exist in two forms - simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates elevated blood sugar levels fairly rapidly while complex carbohydrates, which are preferable, keep blood sugar levels under control for longer periods of time. In managing ADHD, it is recommended that fewer simple carbohydrates are consumed and more complex carbohydrates are ingested. Complex carbohydrates include fruits such as pears, apples and tangerines and certain vegetables.

  3. Increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake

    Foods such as oily fish (tuna, salmon), olive oil and Brazil nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Not only are they protective of the heart, they also optimise the function of the brain and may help patients suffering from ADHD. Vegetarian patients may find it difficult to obtain the required amount of omega-3 fatty acids everyday but an easy solution in the form of over-the-counter supplements now makes it possible to get the right dose.

The above three mentioned food items can be easily offered as ADHD diet for kids and adults alike. However, in those who are unable to consume sufficient amounts of these foods, nutritional supplements may be considered as an alternative.

Dietary management of ADHD is not limited to just intake of foods. Some patients may find that their symptoms are a lot worse following the ingestion of certain kinds of food. As a parent of a child with ADHD or as an adult, it is essential to make a note of these foods and avoid them. Some of the foot that have been recognised as possible causes of worsening ADHD include food additives and colouring agents.

Sugar intake - a dietary myth?

Some people believe that the hyperactivity symptoms of children with ADHD worsen following the intake of sweets and sugary foods. However, there is no strong evidence supporting that this is the case. However, some people have noticed an improvement in their symptoms following restriction of sugary foods and if upon trial this is the case then it is worthwhile continuing avoiding them.

Dietary modifications may help patients with ADHD. In those who are unable to obtain the required food, nutritional supplements are easily available.

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