There are many reasons for the behaviors and physical symptoms that an individual with ADD/ADHD may show when there is a misfiring of the brain, poor neurotransmitter (brain chemicals) levels, and a dysfunction in the gut…yes, the gut.
The gut is a tube representing the outside world…and we are attached to that tube.
Anything coming into the body—i.e., food, liquids, nutrients, drugs—has to be broken down into a form the body can use. The immune system has to recognize it as friendly or foreign; then the biochemicals make their way to our cells and finally to our genes. (More to come in future posts on the function of the gut and digestion.)
Neurotransmitters, such as Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Serotonin, GABA, etc., are some of the chemicals in the body that run the brain and nervous system.
To make these brain chemicals the body needs nutrients and certain vitamins. Protein, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and enzymes all must come through the gut to create these brain chemicals for normal function.
A diet rich in protein, good fats, vegetables and fruits should provide us with the cocktail of nutrients to make this happen.
Foods Do Effect Our Behavior
It is a well known fact that poor food choices can affect behavior. Everyone associates sugar with ADD/ADHD.
Processed, white, refined sugar will definitely cause hyperactive behaviors, but it will also create the same effect in someone without cognitive issues like ADD/ADHD.
Research on food and behavior has revealed the biggest culprits to be food dyes, gluten, and dairy. You can read up on the destructive properties of food dyes, as well as chemicals that cause symptoms associated with ADD/ADHD, in the following links.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye—therefore, it is found in most cereals, grains and breads. Gluten has been a source of major health problems for people for quite some time. It is known to cause Celiac Disease, and it is associated with multiple auto-immune diseases, allergies, ADD/ADHD and other learning challenges.
According to the research (Paul, K., Todt, J., Eysold, R. (1985). EEG Research Findings in Children with Celiac Disease According to Dietary Variations. Zeitschrift der Klinische Medizin. 40, 707-709.),
. . . 70% of children who have ADD/ADHD have an intolerance to gluten.
In Pediatrics 2004, the research states that these behavioral disorders are abolished after eliminating gluten for 6-12 months! I’m not saying being gluten-free is the cure-all, but you may want to eliminate it and see if changes occur.
For a giant list of foods that contain gluten go to – http://www.celiac.com/articles/182/1/Unsafe-Gluten-Free-Food-List-Unsafe-Ingredients/Page1.html
More to come on ADD/ADHD in future posts.