Nutrition and ADHD

nutrition, ADHD

The connection between what we eat, how we feel, and how we behave has been scientifically established. Extreme hunger causes physical and mental decline. It is also believed that dietary issues contribute to ADHD and other prevalent mental disorders. Some childhood eating patterns persist into adulthood. Poor eating habits may have a role in the onset, perpetuation, or worsening of ADHD symptoms.

Table of Contents

What is ADHD?

Hyperactivity and impulsive actions may be symptoms of attention deficit disorder hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a psychiatric disease. Also, those who suffer from ADHD may have problems maintaining concentration or sitting still for extended periods of time.

Inattention and fluctuating energy levels are common problems. This occurs more often and to a larger degree for someone with ADHD than for those without the disorder. It may significantly impact their schoolwork, job performance, and personal life.

Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder include alternating periods of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.

ADHD symptoms

The spectrum of symptoms linked with ADHD is broad. Here are a few of the most typical:

  • being easily sidetracked,
  • forgetful
  • to sit still
  • interrupting others
  • not finishing work

Some people with ADHD, both children and adults, have minor symptoms, while others have severely debilitating symptoms that make daily living difficult.

Food and ADHD

An individual’s mood, mental state, and actions may all be profoundly influenced by what they eat. Over-focus may be as big of a problem as inattention, despite the common perception that people with ADHD can not keep their attention focused. Mood instability and difficulties with executive functioning are also common among people with ADHD.

To live a long, healthy, and happy life, it is crucial to eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet. Eating well may be a helpful supplemental therapy for reducing ADHD symptoms. One way to treat ADHD is to alter a person’s diet by removing certain items from their regular routine (for example, sugar, candy and food with red dye). The hypothesis is that hyperactivity-attention deficit disorder (ADHD) symptoms may be brought on or made worse by dietary sensitivities.

Improving symptoms of (ADHD) has been linked to addressing nutritional deficiencies that compromise immunity. Vitamin D, zinc, and selenium are just a few of the vitamins that are essential for a healthy immune system, and they are among the most often seen to be in short supply.

Nutrition affects the ADHD brain in three ways.

As with every other kind of cell in the body, brain cells need nourishment to perform their duties.

  • Nutrients at just the proper concentrations are required by the myelin sheath, which insulates the axons of brain cells like sheathing on electrical wires, to facilitate rapid transmission of electrical impulses between brain cells.
  • Dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine are neurotransmitters whose function is influenced by food intake.
  • When the brain is deprived of oxygen and glucose, electrical impulses get garbled.

What Is an ADHD diet?

Nutritional supplements and the meals we consume might be included. In a perfect world, one’s diet would facilitate improved brain function and mitigate symptoms like agitation and inability to concentrate. The potential areas of interest:

  • Overall nutrition: According to this theory, the foods we consume may either alleviate or exacerbate our symptoms.
  • Supplementation diet: Vitamins, minerals, and other dietary supplements are included in this strategy. Proponents of such diets argue that inadequate nutritional intake can be contributing to your symptoms.
  • Elimination diets: These include avoiding meals that include components known to cause undesirable side effects or behaviours.
  • Modifying one’s diet may alleviate certain symptoms.

What to Eat

Eat Nutritious Food:What is excellent for the brain, experts believe, is also likely to help those with ADHD.

A high-protein diet: A protein-rich diet improves mental clarity. Adequate protein intake is essential for healthy brain function. For one thing, the breakdown of protein into amino acids is essential for the synthesis of neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, the brain’s chemical messengers. The dopamine levels in people with ADHD are often low, hence it is recommended that they consume meals that enhance their dopamine levels, such as

  • protein
  • powders,
  • cheese
  • pecans
  • cashews
  • sesame,
  • sesame seeds
  • chicken
  • turkey,
  • fish
  • eggs,
  • Green tea

Those are the types of meals you should eat first thing in the morning. It could help you focus better. Meals that include protein help keep blood sugar levels steady. Hyperactivity may be a side effect of these spikes, according to some research.

More complex carbohydrates: As a bonus, this form of carbohydrate helps you feel satisfied for longer, which might lead to less cravings for sugary snacks. Moreover, these meals may promote better sleep if consumed before to bedtime.

You can find complex carbs in the following foods:

  • veggies brown rice beans and lentils fruits includes oranges,
  • citrus fruits
  • pears
  • grapefruit,
  • peaches,

More omega-3 fatty acids: An individual’s diet should include sources of omega-3 fatty acids since these fats are necessary for survival. Vital to heart and brain function.

Omega-3 fatty acid levels may be lower in children with ADHD. An increase in omega-3 consumption may lead to a little amelioration of symptoms.

A few examples of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are:

  • walnuts fatty seafood like salmon and tuna
  • foodstuffs containing chia seeds
  • the seed of the flax plant
  • Oils from walnuts, brazil nuts, olives, and canolas
There are two main reasons why omega-3s are helpful:
  • They have anti-inflammatory effects and reduce neuroinflammation, an inflammatory reaction in the brain that has been related to a number of mental health problems.
  • As a component of cell membranes, omega-3s may improve the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Balanced Breakfasts

For maximum satiety and energy, start your day with a breakfast that includes both protein and complex carbs.

People with ADHD really must start their day off well by eating breakfast, and their meal should include some kind of protein.

Consider cereals, milk, and fruit. Such as:

  • Breakfast with granola, yoghurt, and apple
  • Breakfast: scrambled eggs, whole-wheat bread, an orange Veggie omelette, a bran muffin, and some fresh fruit with yoghurt.
  • Pancakes or waffles made with whole grains, topped with fruit and/or yoghurt and served with a glass of milk and/or juice.
  • Low-fat cheese on whole-grain bread, pears dipped in fat, fish oil for focus, and a boost of energy for the ADHD brain

Vitamins and Minerals:  Iron, magnesium, zinc, vitamin B-6, and vitamin D deficiency have all been linked to ADHD in certain research.

  • Vitamin C is essential for neurotransmitter synthesis in the brain.
  • Vitamin B6 Adequate The vitamin raises dopamine levels in the brain, making you more attentive.
  • Iron is is also required for the synthesis of dopamine.
  • Zinc regulates improve the brain’s reaction to dopamine, which in turn may increase the efficacy of methylphenidate. Inattention is linked to low levels of this mineral.

This kind of nutrition may be found in the following foods:

  • Poultry, shellfish, beans, and nuts are good sources of zinc; so are beef, liver, kidney beans, and tofu.
  • The following foods are high in magnesium: pumpkin seeds, almonds, spinach, and peanuts.
  • food sources of vitamin B-6 are as follows: eggs, salmon, peanuts, and potatoes
  • Dietary sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, cow liver, egg yolks, and fortified foods.

Foods to Avoid With ADHD

Some people with ADHD find that particular foods and dietary categories make their symptoms worse. For example:

  • Additives such as preservatives and artificial dyes (Artificial additives like as colours, flavours, and preservatives have been linked to a rise in hyperactivity.)
  • Casein, a protein found in milk, may be to blame for exacerbating ADHD symptoms.

Examples of simple sugars include:

  • Corn syrup candy
  • Blood glucose levels (which may be affected by the consumption of sugary foods) honey Sugar
  • Stuffs baked with white flour
  • Unsalted white rice
  • Pasta al dente
  • Sodas
  • Soda for athletes
  • Unwrapped potatoes.

Eating complete foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, phytonutrients, and B vitamins is beneficial for everyone’s health and may be especially useful for those with ADHD who are struggling to keep their symptoms under control. Be sure you are getting the right medical attention, however.

How can I effectively handle the adverse effects of ADHD stimulant medication that suppresses appetite?

Many patients who use stimulant medication to treat ADHD report feeling sick to their stomach or losing their appetite. Working with your kid’s paediatrician and a registered dietitian to track weight, height, and other indicators of physical health is essential if your child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The effects of stimulant medicine for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) tend to peak around the middle of the day, allowing for optimal concentration and productivity throughout the morning and afternoon hours. Since this is the case, lunchtime is likely to have the most impact on your appetite. Instead of using your intuition and your body’s hunger signals to choose how much food to eat for lunch, you should practise “mechanical eating.” In other words, plan your meals such that you eat at regular intervals and consume a quantity that a registered dietitian has determined would keep you healthy and at peak mental performance throughout the day. 

Final thoughts on nutrition and an optimal ADHD diet

Some people have found relief from ADHD symptoms by making dietary changes. On the other hand, there is not much in the way of supporting evidence.

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean meats is ideal for persons with ADHD, as it is for most people in general. Saturated fats and fast food should be consumed in moderation.

Allergy and intolerance sufferers would do well to avoid eating items that often aggravate their conditions. Some individuals also need to take vitamin and mineral supplements, although this should only be done after seeing a doctor


Roybal, B. (2008, May 13). ADHD Diet and Nutrition. WebMD; WebMD.

Does Nutrition Play a Role in ADHD? (2020, January 30). Healthline.

Millichap, J. G., & Yee, M. M. (2012). The diet factor in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Pediatrics, 129(2), 330–337.

CHADD. (2018). Nutrition and ADHD – CHADD. CHADD.

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