Does what you eat impact your ADHD symptoms?

ADHD Assist
3 min readDec 27, 2022
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by attention dysregulation, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

While the exact cause of ADHD is not fully understood, research suggests that a combination of genetics and the environment children grow up in contribute to the condition's development.

In other words, it’s multifaceted, and there are multiple factors (mostly genetics) at play that can generate an ADHD brain.

No specific diet or nutrient has been shown to either cause or ‘cure’ ADHD.

However, my education, clinical experience as a naturopath, and the current medical literature have all demonstrated that certain dietary and nutritional factors absolutely have an impact on the severity of ADHD symptoms.

Here are a few things to consider when it comes to ADHD and nutrition:

  1. Balanced diet: A healthy and balanced diet is important for all individuals, including those with ADHD. Getting adequate protein, fruits and vegetables in the diet has all been proven to reduce ADHD symptoms. Avoiding processed and sugary foods and drinks has also been shown to improve focus and reduce hyperactivity.
  2. Omega-3 fatty acids: Studies have suggested that omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in foods such as fish and algae, may help to improve ADHD symptoms. They can reduce hyperactivity and aggressive behaviour in particular.
  3. Artificial food additives (AFA) and preservatives: Some studies have suggested that AFA and preservatives, such as food dyes and preservatives, may worsen ADHD symptoms. The most recent data suggests that 8% of those with ADHD have symptoms worsened significantly by AFA. So it might be worth considering eliminating them from your diet for 2 weeks to see if there is a positive change.
  4. Iron: Low iron levels have been associated with ADHD symptoms in some studies. Whenever I see someone with ADHD and iron deficiency together, I always prioritize increasing iron levels because this alone can improve symptoms. Ensuring adequate intake of iron-rich foods, such as red meat, poultry, beans, and fortified cereals, may be helpful.

The vast majority of the patients that I have worked with see improvement in ADHD symptoms when they can change their diet from a more standard American diet to a diet rich in fruits and veggies along with adequate protein intake.

It’s actually incredible how much this can improve symptoms, and offer people hope and empowerment about their condition.

Other treatment options that can also help improve ADHD symptoms:

  • exercise
  • breathwork
  • sound therapy
  • spending time in nature
  • medication
  • therapy

A multifaceted condition requires a multifaceted approach regarding treatment.

If you are concerned about you or your child’s nutrition or think that dietary changes may help manage ADHD symptoms, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider or a naturopathic doctor.

They can provide you with personalized advice and recommendations based on you or your child’s specific needs.

Be well, and all the love to you.

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ADHD Assist

160K+ followers on TikTok @adhd_assist. Talking shop about ADHD and natural solutions that can help improve our lives.