ADHD and Proper Nutrition
So many different health conditions, both physical and mental, are linked to nutritional habits and certain dietary behaviors. Whether it is improvements in a condition like arthritis with the increased incorporation of Omega-3 fatty acids into our diet, the deterioration of our cardiovascular health in the use of too much dairy and saturated fats, or any other interaction between nutritional components and our health, there are both positive and negative developments that can occur.
Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is often thought of as a diagnosis that leads to a ton of pharmaceutical medication for focus and no true positive results in treatment efforts.
Unfortunately, we see additional co-morbidities in individuals with ADHD such as poor nutrition and a high propensity to become overweight and obese. This contributes to a sort of cycle where the individual eats unhealthy food, see a level of deterioration in their mental health and ability to manage their ADHD, and continue to eat even more unhealthy food, which in turn worsens the condition. This positive feedback mechanism is actually quite dangerous and given the frequency of which ADHD is diagnosed, we are seeing a lot of people dealing with these same problems.
Additionally, ADHD makes the body desire constant stimulation and this desire can manifest itself in the form of eating. Eating stimulates the body in various different body systems and even in situations where the individual is being stimulated, such as watching television, the hyperactivity component does not cease and both the body and the brain want more. To give the body and the brain what they want, the individual will turn to food to appease their need for excessive stimulation.
Researchers and mental health experts point to the concept of Executive Function and how this concept plays a role in ADHD. Executive Function is essentially the “management” component that oversees our decision-making with respect to food. When this process is inhibited, then the brain functions haphazardly during one of the most important functions the body is able to perform. If the ADHD community begins to recognize the role of nutrition and eating decisions in this condition then it may be able to take a big first step towards improving ADHD outcomes.