Much has been written about diet and ADD ADHD. The research shows that special diets can have some benefit for some people, but sound like a headache to manage and often for small benefit. I have been dubious. Now more general research (by Felice Jacka PhD) is showing an effect of diet on the brain. This could have implications for ADD ADHD.
In summary, the Western junk food diet causes a shrinkage of the left hippocampus. A more rational, balanced diet can cause growth of the left hippocampus. The left hippocampus is associated with memory and learning.
From the article:
Many animal studies show that saturated fats and refined sugars have a negative effect on the brain proteins that protect brain cells from oxidative stress and that promote growth of new brain cells.
Further, antioxidants, or protective lipids, like omega-3 fatty acid (fish oil), increase these protective proteins.
So I try to keep an open mind, even with my shrunken hippocampus. These findings don’t suggest that bad diet causes ADD ADHD, but since we presumably have no hippocampus to spare, bad diet could make us worse.
I’m working on a big post on recent science about ADD ADHD, but it’s complicated. Be patient.
Fun quick pretty complete presentation on ADD ADHD
Another Freebie – James Clear on Habits
Another Link: Not about ADD ADHD, but you really need to see this. Well, actually, maybe it could be related to ADD ADHD. OK, so I lost the link. But let me assure you, it was great. Still looking.
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I doubt that diet is a primary cause for ADHD except maybe in some individuals with specific, uncommon metabolic deficits and a suboptimal diet, but diet certainly can help, or worsen the problem.
Just think how a big pasta lunch sends many people into a somnolent state.
It is helpful, once one has the diagnosis, to move away from “treating ADHD” and think instead of “optimising neurological function”.
Here is one ADHD doctor discussing the value of a protein breakfast:
There are many other issues- a high glycaemic Index will lead to peaks and troughs in blood glucose, and episodes of mental fogginess in the troughs, it will also cause temporary troughs in extracellular potassium (which is dragged into the intracellular fluid with each glucose molecule transferred to the intracellular fluid under the influence of an Insulin surge following a glucose load. Also gluten is a real menace for many (but not all) ADHD individuals— it has been shown to be toxic to the basal ganglia (critical structures in ADHD) and to cross both the gut wall and the blood brain barrier in stress states (not uncommon in ADHD).
The diet eaten by many Westerners is not compatible with maximising brain health, and is a very log way from our ancestral diet (the one our genes are evolved to deal with).
Mind – good info. everyone should benefit from healthy eating, not just us ADDers, but it may be even more important for us.
i looked a little for the gluten connection but didnt find it. can you give a reference? did find gluten sensitivitiy, coeliac disease and a cerebellar syndrome are connected, but not causally.
thank you for commenting