Do You Get The Weekend Blahs?

Weekends can be a challenge when you have ADHD.  This might sound counterintuitive, as surely the stressors of a busy work week are trickier than a leisurely weekend

However, ADHDers can find unstructured time unsettling.  Although you might resist the idea of structure, people with ADHD actually do very well with it. [Read more…]

ADHD and Gluten

Do you know which food sensitivity is most frequently connected with ADHD? Gluten.

Do you know which food sensitivity is most frequently connected with ADHD? Gluten.

In fact, some researchers believe 70-80 percent of ADDers have a gluten sensitivity.

Gluten is a protein substance found in most grains, (wheat, barley, rye) and food processed from those grains, such as, cereals, breads, processed and packaged foods. These products play a big part a standard western diet.

Gluten sensitivity affects the frontal and pre-frontal lobe of the brain, which is where our executive functions are housed (short term memory, planning, etc.) We know that the executive functions are impaired when you have ADHD; so by cutting out gluten, you can improve that functioning.

How do you find out if you are gluten sensitive? The best way is to cut out gluten for 30 days and see if you notice an improvement in how you feel and think; although you will properly start to notice an improvement in less than a week.

It is possible to ask your doctor to test you, but the tests are expensive and not very reliable (with a lot of false negatives). Also, the result can also be misleading. For example, the results might say your sensitivity is ‘mild’, but don’t let that trick you. What is mild on the medical spectrum may not be mild for you; which could mean a huge difference in how you function and operate.

I went gluten-free on the 1st of November 2012. I was motivated because I had a longstanding knee injury that was stopping me from running. I had tried all the traditional things, physiotherapy etc. and nothing seemed to work. When I heard that a gluten-free diet helps sports injuries because it reduces inflammation in the body, I decided to try it as an experiment. It totally worked! In the spring of 2013, I started running again. In June 2013, I did a 12K Spartan race where you run through a crazy obstacle course and get covered in mud. In September, I did my first ever half marathon in 2 hours. I was super proud and none of this would have been possible if I was still eating gluten.

What does this have to do with ADHD? Well, back in November 2012, in less than a week, I noticed a huge difference in my clarity of thought. My brain felt sharper and I felt happier (even though I hadn’t been feeling sad), and so I knew I would never go back to eating gluten.

Not wanting to keep good things to myself, I started suggesting to clients that they go gluten-free. They experienced incredible results too. Everyone experienced different benefits. However, the common ones were: their brains felt sharper, being better able to focus; less hyperactive, a sense of calm, zero brain fog, with no more afternoon slumps.

The other benefit was that those that had excess weight to lose, lost it effortlessly.

Changing the way you eat does involve a bit of discipline and creativity as you overhaul a lifetime of food habits.

However, researchers found that everyone who has gluten sensitivity that gave up gluten, noticed improvement with their ADHD symptoms. That is an astounding result! Researchers barely ever say everyone!

Your challenge this week, is to give up gluten! It’s a big challenge, I know! But I promise you it will be worth it. Let me know how you get on!

 

Have you ever gone gluten free? I would love to hear your experience. Drop me a note in the comments section!

 

 

Omega 3 = Memory and Concentration

If you have been following me for even just a little bit, you know I am a BIG fan of Omega 3. I recommend it to everyone who has ADHD because it’s the easiest thing you can do with the biggest results. However, if you aren’t convinced, then watch this video!

It shows what a dramatic effect Omega 3 can have on your life. Elliot, the little boy featured in the film found school boring. His teachers said his memory and concentration were poor and he wasn’t performing as well as his peers. Elliot spent all his free time watching TV on the sofa. That all changed after a short time taking Omega 3 supplements. Elliot’s reading advanced 18 months, his interest in TV diminished and the library became his favourite place. He had a desire and motivation to participate in life. That’s pretty impressive!

The scientists carrying out the study explain Omega 3 ‘has a simple, but extraordinary effect on the brain. It helps learning by making it easier for signals to jump the gap between brain cells.’ However, the benefits of taking Omega 3 aren’t just limited to children. You can take Omega 3 whatever your age and experience improvements in memory and concentration. This is study is highlights why it is important to take Omega 3 when you have ADHD and casts a shadow on reports that claim there are no benefits to taking Omega 3.

If you are reading this and aren’t taking Omega 3, run, don’t walk to your nearest health food store or pharmacy and pick up a bottle!

ADHD and Dopamine

ADHD and DopamineDid you know that the brain of a person with ADHD doesn’t produce as much dopamine as someone without ADHD? This shortage affects the anterior frontal cortex part of the brain and impacts attention and focus and impulsivity, mood, and motivation…core symptoms of ADHD.

The way ADHD medications work is by positively affecting dopamine levels. For example, Ritalin and Adderall work by blocking dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake so the dopamine that is produced stays in the synapse for longer. Adderall causes more neurotransmitters to be produced.

When your brain doesn’t have enough dopamine, it craves it. You might find yourself driven to do activities that aren’t particularly healthy, like overeat on carbs, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, drive fast, have extramarital affairs, over spend or take street drugs.

However, there are things you can do to increase the levels of dopamine in your brain in a healthy and natural way.

1) Exercise

When you exercise your brain produces more dopamine. Find an exercise you love and do it every day.

2) Take Omega 3

Omega 3 increases your levels of dopamine. Take a supplement as well as including more Omega 3 rich foods in your diet.

3) Meditate

When you meditate you also increase your dopamine levels.

4) Vitamin C

Include lots of Vitamin C in your diet. Vitamin C is very helpful in ensuring the dopamine synapses is working well.

5) Eat foods that raise dopamine levels contain the amino acid phenylalanine, once eaten the body converts it to tyrosine and then tyrosine manufactures dopamine. Include beef, pork, lamb, poultry, fish, nuts and seeds in your diet as these are all good sources of phenylalanine.

6) Your body needs iron and vitamin B6 to convert food from phenylalanine to dopamine. So get your iron levels tested by your doctor, if they are low ask about taking a supplement. In one study researchers found that 84% of the children with ADHD had an iron deficiency, so it’s worth finding out.

7) Sleep

When you sleep you don’t use much dopamine, which means your dopamine levels increase overnight ready for the new day.

8) Reduce stress… stress depletes dopamine.

Are Computer Games Bad For ADHD?

When we tend to think ‘computer games = bad for us”. Usually because they involve sitting still for long periods with zero social interaction and they eat up time when there is something more productive to be done. However, there is a new breed of games that is good for you, your brain and your ADHD.

Here are 3 that I recommend:

www.lumosity.com

Lumosity is a web-based cognitive training program designed by neuroscientists that allows you to improve your mental abilities by playing games. The games are based around 5 cognitive functions: memory, attention, speed, flexibility, and problem solving. Based on the areas you particularly want to focus on, Lumosity creates a personalized training program just for you.

Are Computer Games Bad For ADHD?P.S. it has a 3 day free trial so you can test it out.

www.attengo.com

Like Lumosity, Attengo is a web-based cognitive training program. However, the key difference is that it was specifically designed for people with ADD and learning disabilities. The emphasis of the training is on memory and attention. When you sign up, you are assessed on both of these areas and then a program is created for you.

www.brainage.com

Brain Age is played on The Nintendo DS. The premise behind the game is that the opium brain age is 20 years old. Your brain’s age is assessed when you start (I was horrified to find my brains age was 87. Over twice my biological age!). However, with fun games and problems you can quickly lower your age. Brain age was designed to stimulant your prefrontal cortex the anterior part of the frontal lobes and home to executive functions. It is thought that by using this area of the brain with these games you can sharpen intelligence.

As more is learned about the brain, we realize that just like the body, we need to exercise the brain to keep it in good shape. These programs help to develop and improve the cognitive functions that  ADHD adults struggle with…and what better way to do this than by playing games!!