Pros, Cons, and Controversy

Diet is probably the most controversial issue in terms of treating and managing adult ADHD. While many studies have been conducted to determine how certain foods affect children with ADHD, very little research has been done for adult ADHD. While most ADHD experts agree than consuming a healthy diet can give your brain the nutrients it needs to function most effectively, studies have not yet proven that consuming certain nutrients will alleviate or reduce specific adult ADHD symptoms. Two of the most controversial ADHD diets are supplementation diets in which you take vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to compensate for deficiencies allegedly caused by the neurobiological and/or lifestyle symptoms of adult ADHD, and elimination diets in which you remove offending foods or ingredients.

Because neither diet has been sanctioned by the medical community at large, both are considered experimental.

Benefits of Dietary Intervention

Brain researchers believe that what's good for the brain is also good for adult ADHD. They claim a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet may help improve concentration and focus, and reduce the time it takes for ADHD medications to work. They advocate a diet high in beans, cheese, eggs, meat, and nuts, with a focus on protein-rich foods in the morning and afternoon to bolster concentration and increase the longevity of ADHD drugs.

They also recommend reducing your intake of sugar and simple carbohydrates to avoid sugar highs and lows that can lead to rapid mood swings, depression, and erratic behavior as well as hyperactivity, restlessness, and insomnia. You can accomplish this by limiting your consumption of candy, honey, corn syrup, snack foods, white flour products, white rice, fruits with high sugar content, and starchy vegetables like potatoes and yams.

Advocates of dietary intervention for adult ADHD recommend eating more omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in tuna, salmon, other cold-water white fish, walnuts, Brazil nuts, olive and canola oils, and in supplement form. Taking daily nutritional supplements to counteract deficiencies caused by adult ADHD is also advised.

Disadvantages of Dietary Intervention

Some experts believe restricted and special diets have little or limited affect on adults with ADHD, and that nothing can substitute for the holy trinity of medication, behavioral therapy, and psychotherapy when it comes to managing adult ADHD. According to the NIMH, there is a lot of quackery out there when it comes to non-drug adult ADHD treatments.

The NIMH is of the opinion that restricted diets, allergy treatments, and megavitamins have not been scientifically shown to be effective in treating the majority of adults with ADHD. Other ADHD treatments that lack scientific backing, according to the NIMH, include biofeedback, medicines to correct problems in the inner ear, chiropractic adjustment, bone re-alignment, treatment for yeast infection, eye training, and special colored glasses.

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