Foods That “Heal” Brain Cells
Many ADHD experts contend that, since there's really no harm in eating a healthy diet, erring on the side of the dietary interventionists may encourage you to eat better in general, and perhaps even expose you to healthy foods you never considered eating before.
Feeding Your Head with Omega-3s
Existing studies have shown that adults with ADHD suffer from a neurobiological disorder involving a chemical imbalance of brain neurotransmitters. New research on the neuroplasticity of the brain suggests that people can actually grow new nerve brain cells throughout their lives and enhance existing brain cells by eating the right diet. This research also shows that most people — especially those with ADHD — lack a sufficient amount of essential fatty acids in their brains.
Sixty percent of your brain is comprised of fat, most of which is omega-3 essential acids that help regulate communication between brain cells.
Numerous studies conducted on children with ADHD showed they had a lower level of essential fatty acids than normal. Other research indicated that reduced levels of these acids resulted in learning difficulties, behavior problems, short tempers, and sleep disorders — all problems associated with ADHD.
Because your body does not make essential fatty acids, you have to consume a sufficient amount every day to nourish your brain. The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are cold-water fish and seafood, such as salmon, herring, tuna, cod, flounder, trout, and shrimp. Other sources of essential fatty acids include nuts, soybeans, walnut oil, olive oil, and flaxseed oil.
The Importance of Amino Acids
In addition to omega-3 acids, amino acids may also help nourish your brain cells. As the building blocks of protein in your body, amino acids are the fuel that feeds your brain cells and regulates the production of brain neurotransmitters and enzymes responsible for communication between brain cells, cognition, and the transition from thought to action.
Excellent sources of amino acids are complete proteins such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, soy, and yogurt. If you don't eat meat, you can “make” a complete protein by combining brown rice with beans, seeds, or nuts.
The Role of B Vitamins
Research shows that B vitamins, like amino acids, also help create neurotransmitters that act as chemical messengers in the brain and nervous system. Some preliminary studies also suggest that deficiencies of certain nutrients, including vitamin B6, zinc, and phosphatidyl, are associated with ADHD-like symptoms. The corresponding theory speculates that correcting the deficiency might help curb symptoms.
Studies suggest that hyperactivity in ADHD children may be caused by low levels of serotonin in the brain. Children who were given B6 supplements showed a dramatic increase in serotonin levels, with a decrease in nervousness, irritability, depression, difficulty concentrating, and short-term memory loss.
Pyridoxal phosphate, a B6 member, is essential for the synthesis of the brain neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA).
Zinc and Phosphatidyl Serine (PS)
Some research also suggests a connection between adult ADHD and zinc deficiencies in children. One study found a link between zinc deficiency and children and adults who take stimulant medications like Ritalin.
In addition, clinical trials have shown that PS, a natural extract of lecithin, can improve cognition in ADHD children suffering from memory loss, mood, cognitive performance, and learning ability.
However, no studies have been conducted on adults.