ADHD Diet & Natural Remedies

February 3, 2022

ADHD Diet & Natural Remedies

Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD

Holistic Psychiatry & Hormones

This diet is not just for those with ADHD.

Whether you have ADHD, think you have ADHD, are told by others that you are completely ADD, are worried about age-related memory loss, have chronic brain fog, or simply cannot focus; a few simple diet changes can help improve your concentration abilities. Check out my blogs on Rosemary and Ginkgo biloba to help your concentration using simple and safe herbal medicines along with diet.

Eating smart and healthy should also improve your overall productivity.

Let’s face it, we all could benefit from being more focused and cognitive. If this list is overwhelming, then you will most likely REALLY benefit from changing your eating habits. Please don’t be overwhelmed though, adopting a new eating plan takes time and effort at first. When I first began to research "Alternatives to Ritalin," for my own purposes back in 1994, I had terrible eating habits and was binging on a lot of fast food and candy that greatly impacted my ADD. Since I spent all my time studying or working and I lived in a dorm my diet was terrible and my ADHD worsened. It took a lot of time and effort to get my eating on track and I struggled to make immediate changes. However, I can now live Ritalin free and stay focused without having to deal with all the yucky side effects of taking that medication that would make me feel sweaty, shaky, nervous, and would occasionally cause my heart to race.

So if I can do it... then anyone can do it. You just need to focus on one thing at a time if you struggle with dietary changes. Start adding in the easiest things on my list and you will notice improvements that will help you stay motivated to tackle the next steps. Simply try making one change at a time until you have it down. They say it takes 28 days to make a new habit. To overcome a bad case of the “I cants” simply find one thing that you CAN do at a time and work on that!

Let’s quickly review the dietary Do and Dont’s of eating for ADHD, ADD, and better concentration…

Do:

  • Eat protein for breakfast: Simply put, a breakfast of all carbohydrates is most likely what causes you to feel sluggish and blah around mid morning as I rant about on my "Depression Diet" blog.  A protein shake is an excellent easy and healthy way to start your day. Cottage cheese, yogurt, eggs, salmon, turkey, and whole grain rice or oat cereals are also great choices. Try adding a scoop of protein powder to your milk or oatmeal to balance out the glycemic load.
  • Avoid a high carbohydrate lunch: A high carb lunch is also going to give you a bad case of the afternoon “slumpies”. Try lean meats, whole grains, legumes, and veggies for lunch. Avoid “white foods” while working when at all possible: white flours, white breads, sugar, dairy, etc. The perfect lunch for concentration is a salad and a protein source.
  • Determine if you have food sensitivities. A simple Food Sensitivity Test can determine which foods are likely causing brain fog, fatigue and ADHD symptoms. This is important for every mental health patient to cross of their bucket list at some point because it helps us determine if a food is not healthy for your brain. There are multiple links between inflammation and mental health. Reducing inflammation from PGE-2 via food triggers is a simple way to improve focus!
  • Enjoy caffeinated beverages in moderation. A couple cups of coffee or green tea daily has been shown to improve mental functioning. Coffee drinking is thought to be preventative for Alzheimers disease. 100mg-200mg of caffeine daily is perfectly fine for ADHD patients. Especially if stimulant medication is your other option I would prefer adults with ADD and ADHD use caffeine. Many of my ADHD patients find Guarana (full of caffeine) an effective substitute to Ritalin and Adderall.
  • Eat plenty of antioxidant rich foods to protect the vasculature of your brain from free radical damage, and prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia. Fruits and veggies are LOADED with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Aim to decorate half of your plate with fruits and veggies.
  • Do eat a whole foods diet. Cleaning up your diet and eating whole foods will improve your overall health. Healthy body=Healthy Mind! If you are worried about age related memory loss take a look at my Anti-aging diet.
  • Do eat fat! I find it interesting that the sequalae of the “Low Fat Diet” generation is the “Ritalin Generation” many of us grew up thinking that “FAT IS BAD." Fat is not bad. Only bad fat is bad. Bad fat comes from animal products. Good fats are found in vegetable sources. Eat freshly ground flaxseeds daily, cook with olive oil (under 350F) and canola oil (over 350F), eat Alaskan Wild Salmon several times a week, or consider a fish oil supplement with 1000mg DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) equivalent. In my medical opinion EVERYONE that has ADHD should be on an EFA supplement pending there are no drug interactions such as anti-coagulant medications. Fish oil thins the blood and should not be used by those with bleeding disorders. Cod Liver Oil should not be taken in large doses by pregnant women as vitamin A in excess of 10,000 IU daily is a known teratogen that causes birth defects such as cleft lip and cleft palate.
  • Do add herbs in to your diet or supplement routine that will improve your mental abilities such as rosemary, gingko, ginseng, and gotu kola. I will discuss these further in an upcoming article, so stay tuned!
  • Do try some concentration exercises such as Sudoku, Crossword Puzzles and games are good for your brain! Exercise is very important also for ADHD. I have found my ADD and ADHD patients generally need a lot more exercise than the average person.


Don’t:

  • Don’t load up on sugar, sweets, and white refined bread products. These foods cause a massive insulin dump, result in hypoglycemia and the resultant brain fog and inability to focus that accompanies them.
  • Don’t drink juice. A glass of juice has been shown to suppress the immune system of a child for four hours after ingestion. Juice spikes the blood sugar, results in brain fog and fatigue later on, and is usually loaded with food coloring. Contrary to popular belief, children do NOT need juice.
  • Don’t eat food coloring! Food colorings and additives are unnecessary additions to your diet. Avoid food coloring when at all possible, as Red #5 is the #1 thing messing up the ADHD mind. If you cannot accept my advice I recommend going completely off all food coloring and processed food for two weeks and then eating as much food coloring as you can stand for 3 days to watch a shift in your symptoms. Also consider the quality of foods that have food colorings and additives. They are all poor quality fake foods. Just say no to fake food!!! The brain does not function well on fake food.
  • Don’t eat only carbohydrates at meals. Always balance out your blood sugar by adding healthy fat, protein, and fiber sources to every meal.

I hope that helps get you started in the right direction. Anyone with ADHD, poor concentration, or memory problems should see improvement within a week or so with this eating plan. Overall improvement will be noted after a month of following this eating plan for better concentration and memory. Many women with concentration issues are actually struggling with hormone imbalance from menopausal hormone changes, perimenopause, as well as hypothyroidism can also cause brain fog, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating.

Thank you for your Women's Health and Herbal Medicine questions. Please send them to me on a postcard to the address below as I love to get something in the mail that is not a bill. Remember if your question cannot fit on a postcard then you need to treat yourself to a Naturopathic visit with me. Simply pop over to my SCHEDULE page to get set up. I love helping women with their ADHD, memory, hormones, and chronic fatigue.

Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD

(480) 837-0900

Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is considered a Female Hormone Expert in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for Menopause,  Thyroid,  Hashimotos,  PMS, PerimenopauseAutoimmune, PostpartumChronic Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, Food Allergies, DigestionDermatology , Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 22 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones, she presents to women the best-integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease. She has been an Herbalist for over 27 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones, and Naturopathy!

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