The ADHD Diet: Avoid Digestive Stress Part 2
Here are some more tips on what to avoid when creating a healthy ADHD diet. Again, try to keep these tips in mind, but avoid becoming stressed about it. Make small changes at your own pace and you’ll do fine. As you implement the following dietary tips, keep this important fact in mind : mental and emotional stress causes far more digestive issues than foods do.
“The gut-brain connection is something which, for some reason, modern doctors do not understand. As they give out millions of prescriptions for anti-depressants, sleeping pills and other drugs, which the patients have to place into their digestive systems in order to affect their brains, they still fail to see the connection between the digestive system and the brain.”
– Dr. Natasha Campbell
Helpful Hints Regarding Various Foods
Nuts and Seeds
Avoid eating nuts & seeds in large quantities. Before the arrival of industrial food processing, nuts never came in the mass, de-shelled variety. In the old days, you couldn’t simply grab a handful of nuts and start chomping away – the amount of work required to get at the soft, edible part of each nut was nature’s way of managing their consumption.
This is partially because nuts contain small amounts of phytates, a substance that interfere with the absorption of nutrients in the body. The body can manage small amounts of phytates just fine, but too much of them can cause mineral depletion. Nuts also contain high amounts of essential PUFA’s (see section on Fats), which should be consumed in moderation.
How To Prepare Nuts
If you’re hooked on eating large amounts of nuts (or seeds), you can soak them overnight to reduce their phytate content. Afterwards you can let them dry – which takes quite some time – or roast them in the oven for several hours on low-heat (around 150 fahrenheit/65 Celsius) until crisp. Of course, if you consume nuts in small quantities, this soaking and drying process is not necessary.
Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA’s)
I’ve discussed this at length in the Fats article. However, this topic is of major importance, so it bears repeating. Keep your consumption of poly unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) to about 4% of your caloric intake. Avoid vegetable oils! They are very taxing on the liver and cause massive digestive stress and toxicity.
Fruits and Vegetables
Whenever possible, eat non-genetically manipulated fruits and vegetables. Be sure to rinse (preferably in water with salt and apple cider or baking soda) and/or rub your produce thoroughly to eliminate pesticides. Some vegetables and fruits are best bought organic because their non-organic counterparts have more pesticide residues.
Although eating raw vegetables is highly beneficial (they contain vitamins, minerals and enzymes that aid digestion), they also contain phytates and cellulose, which can be taxing for the body to digest. Make it a habit of cooking or steaming vegetables with a high fiber content.
“Salt…is a grounding crystal that takes us down into the body/mind where well-centered concentration of matters attracts a clear perception of its opposite: Spirit”
Jacques De Langre: Seasalt & Your Life
Salt is absolutely essential to the human body. However, beware of common table salt. It has been demineralized, so it taps into the bodies mineral reserves for digestion. This process disrupts homeostasis, so it’s best to opt for a natural salt like Celtic Sea Salt or Himalayan Crystal Salt.
Meat and Fish
Although non-organically grown meat can be cheaper, organic meat is definitely a smarter purchase because its not loaded with antibiotics and hormones. If at all possible I suggest staying away from non-organic meat.
Fish is also a high quality form of protein. Since most fish and shellfish contain small amounts of heavy metals, they should be eaten in moderation – once or twice a week maximum.
Beans, Grains and Legumes
Beans, grains and legumes contain many vitamins and minerals. They also include a considerable amount of starch (and again phytates). Even in a perfectly healthy digestive system, starches remain rather difficult to digest. Therefore minimizing starch intake is recommended.
This can be achieved by soaking grains, beans and legumes for 24 hrs in warm water & lemon juice solution. Sugar is water-soluble, so a large quantity of starch will simply dissolve in the water.
If you’re searching for the most easily digestible beans, go for lentils, aduki beans, mung beans and peas. These are much easier to digest than pinto, kidney or lima beans. Personally, I keep my consumption of grains, beans and legumes to a minimum. These foods are quite taxing on the digestive system and can cause inflammation.
Although sugar consumption should be kept to a minimum, if you require sweeteners, choose raw honey, maple syrup or whole cane sugar. Honey is always my first choice, but keep in mind that it’s much sweeter than refined sugar so you’ll need less of it.
Gluten & Lactose Intolerances
Many people with ADHD have digestive issues or food intolerances. You may even have a food intolerance and not know about it. In “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”, Dr. Natasha Campbell states that eliminating common food allergens like gluten (a protein found in all grains) or lactose (milk sugar) from your diet improves gut health and reduces ADHD symptoms. Even though I tolerate grains, I’ve seen a tremendous improvement in my ADHD symptoms by eliminating gluten from my diet.
Tip: Remove all gluten and from your ADHD diet for 3 weeks – no cheating! – and see if you notice an improvement in your ADHD symptoms. Don’t know how to replace all those grain based foods like pasta, bread, cereal, etc? Check out the list of gluten free carbs.
Consuming homemade meat, chicken and fish stock is an excellent way to heal your digestive system. Degenerative and inflammatory diseases can often be corrected by consuming gelatin-rich foods like stock.
Homemade stock is easy to make, extremely nutritious and it can be frozen for later consumption. If you have any digestive disorders, drinking homemade stock on a regular basis will definitely help speed up your recovery time.
Drinking homemade juice is probably the best and easiest way to eliminate toxins from the body. I make fresh orange juice every morning and occasionally partake in a one day juice fast. Juice fasts are great because they’re the equivalent of giving your body a little reboot. For people with ADHD, I wouldn’t recommend juice-fasting longer than 2 or 3 days. Also, remember to avoid stressful activities while you fast.
Fermented foods like yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi help restore gut flora. Fermenting your own foods is easy, but perfecting the process requires time and practice.
Anti-Biotics and Supplements
Anti-biotics, though necessary when suffering from certain infections, should be taken in moderation because they can quickly and seriously upset your digestive system. My advice is to avoid them whenever possible.
I’m also very cautious with supplements. Vitamins and minerals in pill form are chemical copies of natural products and therefore don’t have the same effect as real foods. Some vitamins like fat-soluble vitamin A,D,E and K are not eliminated when taken in excess – unused quantities are stored in the liver and fat tissue. As a result, mega-doses of these vitamins can be toxic.
Mineral supplementation like iron, zinc, etc… can also cause toxicity. If you suspect that you suffer from a vitamin deficiency of some kind, I suggest getting a blood test before beginning any supplement experimentation. I have had some personal, negative experiences with regards to supplements, so be careful.
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