Prescribed medication, along with behavioural therapies are the primary ways to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But what about lifestyle adaptations? Are there any practical choices that make a difference? In this article, we explore a few ideas that could help you to manage symptoms of ADHD.
These ideas may help to minimise the impact of ADHD symptoms. Many of them can also benefit people who don’t have ADHD and support them to live a healthier lifestyle.
Maintaining a well-balanced and nutritious diet is a good way to keep yourself healthy and it may help to ease symptoms of ADHD. Here are four key suggestions specifically for ADHD.
- Where possible, avoid processed food and food containing additives and chemicals.
- Eat meals at regular times as this helps to control blood sugar levels giving us more focus and attention.
- Eat plenty of protein; this is found in food such as eggs, meats and bеаnѕ. Protein is important brain food as it influences Neurotransmitters, such as dopamine. These are biochemical messengers that allow communication between brain cells.
- Snack on fruits, which contain vitamins and minerals instead of snacking on other sweet foods.
Supplements and vitamins
Low levels of certain vitamins such as zinc, iron, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and magnesium have been linked to ADHD. The best way to increase your intake of these vitamins is by eating nutrient-rich fresh fruit and vegetables. Nutritional supplementation can also be helpful in mоdеrаtіng ADHD ѕуmрtоmѕ. At The ADHD Centre, our hоlіѕtіс hеаlth рrасtіtіоnеrs can advise уоu which dietary supplements might help уоu.
There is a connection between ADHD and low levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. These are found in fish oil and are important in brain and nerve cell function. Taking supplements to boost Omega-3 levels may improve attention, focus and memory.
Please note, you shouldn’t make drastic changes to your diet or start taking vitamins and supplements to treat ADHD without the advice of a medical professional. Supplements can have side effects and may interact with other prescribed drugs. They should be used with caution and only following medical advice.
Poor sleep and ADHD often go hand-in-hand; ADHD makes it hard to sleep well and poor sleep exacerbates ADHD. If you improve your sleeping pattern, you should hopefully see a difference in signs of ADHD too. Our blog about Coronasomnia has some up-to-date insights about this topic.
Following a consistent routine really helps to settle an ADHD brain for both children and adults. This needs to include getting up and going to bed at the same time and maintaining regular mealtimes. You need to work or study in one place and sleep in another.
One of the best ways to manage ADHD symptoms is regular exercise. Exercise helps to increase the release of dopamine, which is underactive in the ADHD brain. Based on recent studies, it is clear that exercise helps to increase attention span as well as the ability to focus. Exercise is a natural way to treat ADHD in adults and children. If you can, get out for a walk or a run every day.
There is strong evidence that spending even as little as twenty minutes outside can help improve the concentration of children with ADHD. To learn more, read our blog post about How Green Space Helps ADHD Symptoms
Mindfulness is a natural way of training the brain to recognise when thoughts are wandering and bringing the focus back to the present moment. Mindful meditation can be used to alleviate certain symptoms of ADHD, such as anxiety and stress. If you are interested in learning about mindfulness, we offer a six-part mindfulness course. Follow the link below to find out more and take the first lesson for free. Essential Mindfulness Course
Yoga or tai chi
There are some studies that suggest practising yoga or tai chi regularly may help to improve symptoms of ADHD in children such as hyperactivity and anxiety.
There are a wide variety of apps that support different aspects of life that may be difficult for people with ADHD. Here are a few suggestions:
Brili Routines is good for getting daily tasks done on time.
Out of Milk is helpful for organising shopping lists.
LastPass is a secure way to store passwords so you don’t have to remember them all.
Headspace and Calm are widely used for guided meditations.
Breathe2Relax is helpful for focusing your mind on the present moment.
GoogleKeep allows you to easily make notes and set yourself reminders.
GoogleCalendar syncs across different devices and keeps everything in one place.
You may want to avoid…
Certain food colourings and preservatives are thought to increase hyperactive behaviour in children. However, this is controversial and there is limited evidence to prove it. Still, it might be worth monitoring the effect that certain food types have on symptoms of ADHD in both adults and children.
High sugar intake
Research conducted on children has found that high sugar intake can increase hyperactivity and make it harder to pay attention.
Caffeine is a stimulant that may interfere with other ADHD medication. If you think caffeine is adversely affecting you, try reducing your intake or eliminating it from your diet to see if it makes a difference.
Stress is thought to affect ADHD symptoms although obviously, it can be difficult to avoid. Please speak to a medical professional if stress is adversely affecting your life.
Alternative medicines and therapies
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
At the ADHD Centre, our team of specialist ADHD coaches use ADHD behavioural coaching techniques including cognitive behavioural therapy to support our clients. Our unique coaching programme is offered alongside medication. It strongly benefits people with secondary symptoms of ADHD, such as time management, procrastination, organisation and social skills.
Biofeedback, also called neurofeedback, is a method that tries to retrain the activity levels in the brain. It is another possible treatment option for ADHD. It’s a type of Neurotherapy that measures brainwaves and aims to improve focus over time. It’s a relatively new treatment and there isn’t enough evidence yet that biofeedback can successfully treat ADHD.
When it comes to ADHD, there is definitely a place for natural treatment; after all, it is a naturally occurring condition. However, natural treatments and lifestyle adaptations won’t have as strong an impact as prescription medication. The best way to treat ADHD includes a combination of treatment types. It takes time to find the optimum combination and it varies from person to person. Any changes you make specifically to ease ADHD symptoms should be discussed with a relevant healthcare professional in advance.
At The ADHD Centre, we offer a range of evidence-based ADHD treatments and create an individual treatment plan for every client based on evidence and assessment. To find out more about our private ADHD assessments and/or ADHD treatments, please contact us on 0800 0614276 or by email at email@example.com