All health programs can be enhanced by the power of nutrition and exercise to improve wellbeing. Neurofeedback training is no different. What we eat, our physical activity levels and our sleep habits have tremendous effects on us – a fact that’s amplified for ADHD brains and bodies.
Regardless of whether medication is part of your child’s treatment, maximizing these three basic needs can effectively transform them into natural remedies for ADHD, and arguably build the foundation for other interventions to take hold.
Neurofeedback Training & Nutrition
Mounting research confirms that eating well contributes positively to the performance and abilities of any child with ADHD.
Watch Out for Blood Sugar Levels
One of the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to a child’s wellbeing is the glycemic index (GI), or how fast the body converts carbohydrates into sugar.
All carbohydrates turn into sugar, but some are converted faster (high glycemic index) and some slower (low GI). These rates of conversion affect a child’s energy levels over the day; anything that causes blood sugar levels to quickly spike (like sugary, processed foods) means that the body will work hard to quickly drop that sugar, actually bringing it below normal levels. The result is often an irritable, fidgety, or nervous child who can’t focus as well.
ADHD Brain Food
To maintain steady, normal blood sugar levels, ensure that the child’s meals, especially at the start of the day, are balanced:
Avoid processed carbs and sugars. That means no frozen waffles, pancakes, Pop Tarts, jelly, and other products that readily turn to sugar in the body. Go for low glycemic index foods, like steel cut oats, or true whole grain bread, to boost focus and performance. One study shows that kids who ate low GI breakfasts had better executive functioning, working memory, and attention compared to kids who ate processed foods.
Opt for protein. Protein is filling and provides consistent energy throughout the day. Eggs and lean meats are great sources.
Some fat is OK. Fats are important – they work to decrease the absorption and processing of carbohydrates into sugar.
ADHD: Avoiding Food Sensitivities
A significant percentage of kids with ADHD are sensitive to some kind of food. In one study that placed children with ADHD on a restricted elimination meal plan, more than half of the subjects saw a 40 percent improvement in ADHD rating scale performance. The same results appeared in an older study, where hyperactive children saw improvement in behavior after being placed on a few foods plan.
Supplements for Neurofeedback ADHD Training
Fish Oil and Omega-3: This is the most common supplement used by patients with ADHD. Why? Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids (with high doses of EPA) are modestly effective in treating ADHD in children. Fish oil helps to increase levels of omega-3s that are often naturally lacking in children with ADHD, which in turn helps with brain functioning. I recommend the 1000mg bottles (combined EPA+DHA) for kids younger than 8, and 2000mg for older kids.
Iron: Many kids with ADHD are relatively iron (serum ferritin) deficient, which may explain irregular dopamine regulation in the brain. One study showed that children with ADHD who took iron supplements saw an improvement in ADHD symptoms compared to children who took a placebo. Have your child’s doctor measure their serum ferritin levels to see if an iron supplement is necessary.
Neurofeedback Training & Exercise
Regular exercise should be a part of life for every child, but especially for children with ADHD. Exercise benefits the body and mind in many ways. For one, it increases dopamine levels, which increases focus and attention – a major plus for children with ADHD.
Another feature of exercise is that it actually triggers epigenetic changes (i.e. DNA changes) that make the brain grow. Exercise also increases the production of Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF), which is essential to normal brain functioning.
One hour of exercise a day is optimal, but this should be increased as much as possible.
As far as exercise options, sports are one route but keep in mind that children with ADHD may prefer individual sports as opposed to team sports. Physical education classes in school, if well done, can count, as does playing outside with friends when possible.
Exercise can be so therapeutic for ADHD symptoms that I actually recommend against sacrificing exercise time for tutoring or because of poor grades. In fact, research seems to indicate that exercise improves academic scores perhaps better than spending the equivalent amount in class or study time.
Neurofeedback Therapy at NHA
Here at Neurohealth Associates, we specialize in Neurofeedback therapy. Neurofeedback may be helpful for training your mind, especially if you are unsure about putting yourself or your child on medication. This easy, noninvasive therapy can painlessly improve your mental health condition and outlook on life. Schedule a consultation with NeuroHealth Associates today and find out how we can help you.
Original Article Posted by ADDitude MagTags: add, adhd, attention deficit, brain health, EEG Biofeedback, Mental disorders, mental health, neurofeedback