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Foods for ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)

Updated on March 8, 2013
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Typical Day - Rosana Modugno
Typical Day - Rosana Modugno
Typical Day - Rosana Modugno

Control your ADD, don't let it control you.

Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD is very misunderstood. It has been linked from everything to genetics, brain injury and even the foods we eat. If you suffer from ADD, you know what it's like to feel overwhelmed with projects that need to be done, not knowing where to begin. You're probably surrounded by paperwork, lists you can't find of "things to do". Did you check in that plastic bag you shoved in the closet?

You have good intentions to finish projects but thee truth is, you seem to start many, yet finish few. Something as simple as organizing a small drawer will have you ripping your hair out, then the phone rings, which distracts you to another project you try to start. The drawer will wait and wait and eventually be forgotten.

Read any good books lately? No, you haven't. It's a challenge to read a book from cover to cover because sometimes it's difficult to make sense out of anything and you read the same sentence over and over until your head hurts, then give up, get to the end and consider it read.

Well, there is hope. First of all you aren't alone. ADD is actually pretty common and often misdiagnosed. Did you know that there are foods you should not be eating and foods that actually lessen the symptoms you may be experiencing?

To better understand the solution, we need to understand the problem. What is ADD?

ADD or ADHD was first documented in the early 1900s in Britain by pediatrician, George Sill. But it wasn't named until early 1970s. Unfortunately, it was named Minimal Brain Damage, which in the later 1980s, was proven to be an incorrect description. There is nothing damaged in the brain of a person with ADD. It was however known to be more of a children's disorder connected with hyperactivity and soon went from being called ADD to ADHD, where the H stands for Hyperactivity. Now it is understood that being hyper isn't necessarily connected with ADD in adults. Both ADD and ADHD are accepted terms for the same thing.

Although the actual cause of ADD has not yet been determined with certainty, through research there are theories that suggest it is genetic and a chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain; Dopamine and Acetylcholine, which were found to be abnormally low in over 60% of patients tested.

Dopamine plays a part in the memory and attentiveness in our brains, while Acetylcholine covers awareness, perception, reasoning, judgment, and also attention and memory.

There are deficiencies in Omega 3 Fatty Acids which is necessary for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. But here's the thing; our bodies can't make them. This is why taking control of what you eat is important.

But there are exceptions to these theories, of course. Some patients did not have low levels of these neurotransmitters, which complicates the research. Yet even with these numbers, it should be fair to generalize that the foods we eat will change our lives in one way or another and since this is a mental imbalance located in the frontal lobe where all our decisions are made, it becomes an invisible handicap that while veiled in mystery, can be negatively damaging to any adult in almost every social aspect of their life.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Impulsiveness
  • Fidgeting with hands or feet
  • Difficulty remaining seated
  • Easily distracted
  • Interrupting in conversations
  • Short temper
  • Inability to stay on one task at a time
  • Memory problems
  • Having what has been described as multiple television sets going off at one time in your brain, all on different channels.
  • Blurting out answers before questions are completed

There are tests you can take online to see if you have ADD. A link is included at the end of this article.

Your ADD grocery list:

Foods with Omega 3 - Fatty Acids: (Should be eaten at least 2 times a week)

  • Mackarel
  • Sardines
  • Lake Trout
  • Albacore Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Herring

CAUTION: Do not take more than 3 grams daily of omega-3 fatty acids from capsules without the supervision of a health care provider.

Foods to increase levels of Dopamine:

  • Apples
  • Beets
  • Blue-green algae
  • Celery
  • Chicken
  • Cucumber
  • Fish
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Honey
  • Cheese
  • Sweet peppers
  • Tofu
  • Watermelon
  • Bananas
  • Eggs
  • Wheat Germ
  • Beans

Foods to increase levels of Acetylcholine: (Total intake - 550g for males and 400g for females)

  • Eggs
  • Livers (organ meats: beef, turkey or chicken)
  • Bacon (in moderation)
  • Chocolate cake from dry mix (unfrosted)
  • English Muffin

Remember that water is essential. Drink at least 7-8 (8oz) glasses a day. Lighten up on your sugars and dairy. If you cut at least 50% sugars and dairy off your diet, you will start seeing a significant difference within four days.

As with any health plan, please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.


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