In the blogs and articles we post about ADHD, specifically in tandem with neurofeedback therapy, we also like to talk about easy, natural ways to help symptoms. This blog is going to take a look at some of the things you can do to help ADHD without medication. These healthy and natural tips can help enhance any other non-medication therapies you are currently using (including neurofeedback therapy).
Medication is a valuable tool for managing the core symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but it is not the only treatment option available. Some natural ADHD remedies involve nutrition and lifestyle changes, while others tap into technology to train the brain for more focus and less impulsivity. For many, the best ADHD treatment plan includes several of these approaches — used simultaneously.
Between 80 and 85 percent of patients with ADHD experience a positive response to methylphenidate and/or amphetamine — the two main classes of stimulant medication. Still, the widely-cited Multi-Modal MTA Cooperative Group Study concluded that medication combined with behavior therapy is the optimal treatment of ADHD in school-age children. In many cases, natural treatments augment medication and help to achieve the best possible results.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids & ADHD
The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are important in brain and nerve cell function. The body cannot make omega-3 fatty acids by itself, so people have to get them through food, supplements, and vitamins. This is especially important for people with ADHD, who may have low levels of the nutrient. There are two types of omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, EPA and DHA. The best supplements have two or three times more EPA than DHA.
While the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are clear, evidence of their role in treating ADHD symptoms is currently inconclusive, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. A 2018 review1 of several studies involving children with ADHD undergoing omega-3 treatment, for example, found some evidence to support the role of the nutrient in ADHD treatment, while a similar review in 20172 found otherwise.
Protein for ADD and ADHD
An ADHD diet rich in proper nutrition is a powerful tool for managing ADHD symptoms. Studies by Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientist Richard Wurtman, Ph.D., and others have shown that protein triggers neurotransmitters responsible for inducing alertness while carbohydrates trigger drowsiness.
Protein also prevents surges in blood sugar that may increase hyperactivity. High-fiber foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes can help stabilize energy levels. Even if you or your child is taking stimulant medication, a low-fat breakfast will maximize its effectiveness. Fats can cause the body to absorb the medication more slowly, delaying the drug’s effectiveness.
Depending on their age, children need between 24 to 30 grams of protein a day. Adults need 45 to 70 grams. Many nutritionists recommend starting the day with a breakfast comprising a balance of complex carbohydrates and protein such as eggs with whole-wheat toast or whole-grain pancakes with yogurt.
ADHD Vitamins: Iron, Zinc, and Vitamins C and B6
Several ADHD vitamins and minerals are key to producing and regulating neurotransmitter levels in the brain, especially when a child or adult is deficient in one of them. Vitamin C is a building block of neurotransmitters, while iron and vitamin B6 increase dopamine levels. Zinc regulates dopamine and may help treat ADHD symptoms in some children when used with conventional medication and treatments.
One small study showed ferritin levels (a measure of iron stores) to be low in 84 percent of children with ADHD, compared to 18 percent of a control group. Low iron levels — and low zinc levels, as well — correlate with severe ADHD, however, patients should not begin using supplements without the supervision and direction of their doctor.
Exercising & ADHD
Exercise helps the ADHD brain function more effectively and efficiently. One well-known benefit of exercise is an increase in endorphins, which can improve mood. Exercise also elevates the brain’s levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which increases focus and attention.
Studies have shown that short-term aerobic exercise, including yoga, has positive effects on attention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, executive function, and other ADHD symptoms. Walking for 30 minutes four times a week will also do the trick, and skill-based exercises like martial arts or ballet are especially effective for those with ADHD.
Neurofeedback for ADHD
Neurofeedback is a high-tech way to manage ADHD symptoms. During a session, the patient dons an electrode-lined cap and is asked to perform a complex cognitive task. The aim is to teach patients to produce brain-wave patterns associated with focus. Sessions are brief (30 minutes) and painless, but expensive.
Neurofeedback’s efficacy in treating ADHD symptoms is not conclusive, with multiple studies and reviews revealing opposing or weak evidence for the treatment.
Remember to talk to your doctor about changing your diet or lifestyle before taking any action on these tips. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your current non-medication ADHD plans talk to your doctor for the best answers.
Note: Talk to your doctor before considering alternative or supplemental treatments for existing conditions.
Neurofeedback Therapy at NHA
Here at Neurohealth Associates, we specialize in Neurofeedback treatments. Neurofeedback may be helpful for treating ADHD symptoms, especially if you are unsure about putting yourself or your child on medication. The easy, noninvasive treatments can painlessly improve your mental health condition and outlook on life. Schedule a consultation with NeuroHealth today and find out how we can help you.
Original article posted by ADDitude Mag.