ESTIMATED READING TIME 4 MINUTES
ADHD is a behavioural condition often associated with children. But let’s not forget the estimated 1.9 million adults in the UK across both genders living with ADHD.
Autism and ADHD are often thought of in the same breath, but although they share similarities, they do have district differences. The two often occur together, but not always.
ADHD is short for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Despite its name, it’s not all about hyperactivity. There are three subsets of ADHD.
Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD is characterised by difficulties focussing, uncontrollable behaviour, fidgeting, restlessness and feeling constantly on the go. Those affected may talk incessantly, interrupting or talking over other people during a conversation.
People with inattentive ADHD are usually easily distracted, they tend to daydream, and fail to follow instructions, not finishing workplace tasks because they’re so easily side-tracked. Such people are often forgetful, losing items like their keys or phone, and don’t pay attention to details, meaning they make careless mistakes at work or home. They often don’t seem to listen when spoken to. On the other hand, some people with ADHD can become extremely focussed on the task at hand, finding it difficult to pay attention to anything else
Up to 75% of those with the condition experience a combination of these two subsets.
Stress or a change in environment can worsen symptoms. If a person is affected by ADHD, they may become frustrated, anxious, restless and angry, and experience sleeping problems.
Diagnoses of ADHD have been increasing sharply since the 1980s, and because of this, many adults with the condition, particularly those with inattentive ADHD, have never been officially diagnosed.
Although nobody knows for sure, it’s believed ADHD is connected with imbalances in the brain neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline. These chemicals help your brain cells communicate with one another. Imbalances cause messages to become muddled and signals to fire inappropriately.
People with ADHD don’t seem to produce enough noradrenaline – involved in motivation and attention – in areas of the brain concerned with attention and emotions. Dopamine, on the other hand, the chemical creating sensations of pleasure and reward, appears to be lower in the brains of people with ADHD, as it’s recycled faster.
Let’s now have a look at some factors that may lie behind these imbalances.
Your brain needs a good supply of nutrients, particularly omega 3 and zinc, and if these are scarce, neurotransmitter imbalances may occur.
Low levels of omega 3 fatty acids in the brain have been linked with ADHD 1, while supplementing with omega 3 oils has been seen to improve attention. Most modern diets are very low in this fat, and your body cannot make it for itself. Omega 3s regulate neurotransmitters and help keep the fatty jacket around your brain cells healthy.
Omega 3 is found in oily fish, flax and chia seeds.
This mineral is crucial for brain function and is involved in regulating dopamine levels 2. Zinc is particularly concentrated in the area of the brain involved in learning and memory.
Zinc is rich in pumpkin and hemp seeds, oysters, tofu and lentils.
Your gut is intricately connected with your brain, and people with ADHD also often suffer from gastrointestinal issues. Your microbiome is the community of bacteria living in your intestines, and they’re constantly sending messages to your brain.
Science found people with ADHD had different types of bacteria living in their guts to those who did not. In studies, when gut bacteria improved, irritation, impulsiveness and hyperactivity decreased.
Unbalanced gut bacteria are connected with food sensitivities, too. Some people with ADHD find their symptoms worsen when they eat foods containing gluten or dairy.
People affected by ADHD have much to offer society because they tend to be creative, extremely focussed at times, and spontaneous. There should be no stigma surrounding ADHD. But if the condition is adversely affecting your life, we understand and are here to help you.
There’s no one single cause of ADHD, but once the chemical imbalances underlying your condition are identified, steps can be taken to put them right. Functional tests can be incredibly useful because they will pinpoint your personal imbalances. You are unique, so there can be no ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Gut testing is useful to establish the condition of your microbiome, while other tests can detect any nutritional deficiencies or food sensitivities contributing to your symptoms. Your therapist will then recommend personalised nutritional and lifestyle strategies to put things right. Contact me to find out more.
Would you like natural support for adult adhd? Then book a free 15-minute discovery call to see if Functional Medicine is for you.
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