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Why Nutritional Therapy is essential to support ADHD

Whether you or your child suffers with ADHD, Nutritional Therapy plays a very important and underestimated role in supporting the condition. It must be addressed from different angles and a holistic approach is necessary.

In this post I will touch upon some of the key areas we would focus on. Depending on the individual and following the in depth analysis of the case-some areas may need more attention than others.

Blood sugar levels and the adrenals:

Hyperactivity has been linked to neurotransmitter and neuroendocrine imbalances. These are norepinephrine dopamine, serotonin, cortisol and insulin. The noradrenergic system is associated with the modulation of attention, alertness, vigilance and executive function. Specifically, dopamine is associated with behaviour and impulsive control, while norepinephrine is associated with focus, planning, and concept thinking including sequence

and time. Serotonin is important for regulating mood, sleep and digestion to name a few. Lifestyle factors and nutritional deficiencies can influence these imbalances.

Essential fatty acids:

Brain neurons are fluid filled structures covered in a membrane composed of various types of fat. The entire cycle of dopamine occurs at a rapid rate and the speed of the process is very dependent upon the balance of fats in the membrane. Most are made of DHA (omega 3). A continuous supply is needed to maintain brain function, especially in times of stress. Algae and oily fish are rich in DHA. There is a less broken down form of omega 3 found in foods such as soy and flax seeds but the conversion to DHA is impaired by vitamin/mineral deficiencies and factors such as stress and trans-fatty acids. Insulin production increases Omega 6 fatty acid AA in the body which contributes to inflammation-another reason to balance the blood sugars.


The liver is a major part of the detoxification process. If it is overburdened or lacking the nutrients to do its job optimally then toxicity will build up in the body. This toxicity can be a large contributor to hyperactivity and can cause inflammation throughout a child’s body, including the brain. When the toxins become partly detoxified and there is a back up, they become much more harmful creating the inflammation. In Chinese Medicine, when the liver is not healthy, symptoms such as irritability, hyperactivity, and inattention may occur.

Mineral imbalances:

Two minerals that have gained a lot of attention when it comes to ADHD are copper and zinc. They both compete for absorption. Excess copper can cause oxidative cell damage and trigger neurobehavioral symptoms such as hyperactivity. Excess copper in the presence of a zinc deficiency can be particularly harmful. Multiple studies have demonstrated that those with hyperactivity have been consistently deficient in zinc. Zinc is required in the synthesis of several neurotransmitters, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.

Supporting the microbiome:

Bacteria in our gut not only regulates digestive processes (assisting in elimination of toxins) and the absorption of nutrients, it also modulates our immune system and has an affect on our nervous system and brain. Most serotonin is produced in the gut so it is no surprise that by improving the gut microbiome it has been shown to also improve mood. An unhealthy diet destroys beneficial bacteria, which introduces malabsorption and yeast overgrowth, both of which have been associated with mental and emotional health. Digestion and gut health is an essential area to address with most of my clients and depending on the individual we may need to carry out comprehensive stool testing to get a better idea of how we can support you or your child’s individual needs with a more targeted approach.

Food and chemical sensitivities:

We will also investigate any potential food/chemical sensitivities that could be making the symptoms of ADHD more prominent.

I am a registered Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist and specialist in Clinical Paediatric Nutrition. If you are interested in starting Nutritional Therapy for yourself, your family or your child then please contact me for more information/FREE discovery call or you can check out my services on my website.

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