How To Naturally Treat ADHD

Not unlike most children, when I was younger, paying attention in class and sitting still was difficult for me. When I was 15, I diagnosed myself with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and had a much easier time getting my prescription for Adderall (a medication commonly used to treat ADHD) from my doctor then I think I probably should have. “You want Adderall? No problem, I’ll prescribe you Adderall,” I clearly remember my pediatrician saying. Although my mom ended up taking me to a different doctor who diagnosed me with ADHD before prescribing the medication, for the next four years after that, I took Adderall daily, believing that I wouldn’t be as productive or successful without it. While I did have insanely sharp focus, I hated the side effects. The medication made it so that I didn’t want to eat, I couldn’t comfortably socialize, and I couldn’t sleep. But my grades in school improved dramatically enough that I convinced myself Adderall made me smarter and better at school.

By the age of 20, I decided I was done with the drug and the uncomfortable, anxious way it made me feel. When I went off it, my goal wasn’t necessarily to go cold turkey, but I wanted to test myself and see how I did in school without the drug while implementing some natural methods for concentrating. It took a little time, and I know this wouldn’t be the case for all people with an attention disorder, but I’ve found that I can absolutely be productive without medication. I believe that the following natural remedies can truly help with concentration and that either on their own or in conjunction with medication, can greatly benefit those struggling with ADHD.

Understanding the Power of the Gut

Our intestines contain a population of microbes known as gut microbiota. Microbiota contains tens of trillions of microorganisms, with at least 1000 different species of bacteria with more than 3 million genes (source: Gut Microbiota). A baby born vaginally gets her first dose of these microorganisms as soon as she exits her mother’s vagina. Children born through C-sections miss some of the bacteria that children born vaginally get.  Instead, a C-section baby gets her first bacteria from her mother’s skin and the skin of the doctors and nurses in the delivery room (source: heathline).  In either situation, from that moment on, everything affects the babies microbiota; the food she eats, the water she drinks, her environment, and the air she breathes. Although the baby can adapt to change, a loss of balance in the gut microbiota may result in dysbiosis (the opposite of symbiosis). Dysbiosis may be linked to a number of health problems such as functional bowel disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies, obesity, and diabetes, to name some. According to author and doctor, Natasha Campbell-McBride, 84 percent of your immunity is located in your gut wall. And if you don’t have healthy gut flora, your immune system simply can’t function optimally (Source: GAPS Diet).

 

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Happy gut microbes

 

Gut dysbiosis is also commonly found in children with ADD/ADHD and other mental health illnesses and disorders like depression, or bipolar disorder.  (source: Epidemic Answers). In my own experience, I have found that by treating the gut, I could get by without medication. Another thing I found while researching is that children with ADHD typically have low levels of dopamine, which is an important neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of calm and well-being. This is why kids with ADHD, while not typically being able to sit still for too long, have been found to sit very calmly for hours on end while playing video games, since playing video games releases dopamine. With all of this knowledge, I now have recommendations for ways to balance dopamine levels and improve gut health to naturally achieve laser sharp focus.

Diet

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Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean protein, healthy fats, and purified water will play a huge role in curbing ADHD symptoms. Eat organic whenever possible, take probiotics regularly, and check in with yourself to see how your body feels after you eat certain foods. There are a number of foods that can typically cause food allergies or sensitivities in people, such as: gluten, sugar, processed and fried foods, food colorings, dairy, alcohol, red meat, caffeine, soy, corn, and nightshade vegetables. An allergy or sensitivity to a particular food may cause symptoms of ADHD. Experiment by eliminating foods from these food groups then add them back into your diet one by one.  During this process, I recommend taking notes of your concentration, energy, digestion, and sleep before and after eating and you may just find some foods work better for your body and concentration levels than others.

Lifestyle

Quality sleep and healthy lifestyle choices will also impact your ability to focus during the day. Most people need at least eight solid hours of sleep, which means you should begin winding down and turning off the computer, television, or any devices with a blue light at least an hour before bed. Try to steer clear of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol, as these will impact sleep quality too.

 

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Yoga on a stand up paddle board requires a quiet, focused mind…

 

For both children and adults with ADHD, exercise is like medicine. It helps to get rid of excess energy, and in my own experience, I’ve found that exercise is the only time where I can pretty much turn off my mind. Exercise stimulates cognitive thinking and increases levels of dopamine, thus improving levels of concentration for hours after completion. Switching up forms of exercise, and learning new ones, have actually been found to improve organization skills, and when you combine mind-body exercises with a deep mental focus, you may even get more positive results (source: health.com). I have to switch up my exercises just to stay interested, so I like to rotate between pilates, yoga, barre, running, dance, and weight training.

Massage

Like exercise, massage also increases levels of dopamine, which is the hormone lacking in people with ADHD. The benefits of regular massage for people with ADHD have been found to result in more restful sleep, improved mood, improved social function, improved focus, and anger control. If you can’t go out and get a massage regularly, then try giving yourself a massage. You can even incorporate essential oils like lavender, frankincense, or mandarin into your massages for greater results since aromatherapy can also be a powerful tool for aiding in focus and calmness.

Work Breaks

When focusing for long periods of time is a challenge, try breaking up your workload. I’ll set a timer for myself for 20-minute periods where I power through work, followed by a brief break. During this break, I’ll do anything from stretching to browsing Pinterest, but after about five minutes I have to get back into work mode. I find these frequent and shorter work periods actually make me more productive in the long run.

 

Are you or is someone you know struggling with symptoms of ADHD?  Then let’s talk!  I am a Certified Integrative Nutritionist with a background in holistic health who would love to help you.

 

 

 

Know Your Blood Type: A Guide To A Personalized Diet and Lifestyle

Heart-Health

Can you imagine going into a job interview and one of the first questions you’re asked is “what is your blood type?” This question is expected in Japan and is actually gaining popularity around Asia. The Japanese believe that each blood type comes with it’s own set of personalities, so they use blood types to categorize people.

“As defined by the books, type As are sensitive perfectionists but overanxious; Type Bs are cheerful but eccentric and selfish; Os are curious, generous but stubborn; and ABs are arty but mysterious and unpredictable” (Huffington Post).

While blood typing is similar to horoscope signs in Japan, in the health world it is believed by some that blood types affect the digestive system, the way you exercise, and your susceptibility to various disease. If you don’t know your blood type, then you can get your blood work done easily.

Blood Type A– Agrarian 

Type As are generally categorized as cooperative, sensitive, orderly, settled, and cultivator. When the number of hunting game stock began dwindling in Africa, type As had to move out into Europe and Asia to begin agriculture, which is when type A evolved. As a result, type As learned to utilize nutrients from carbohydrate sources, which explains why As are better at processing carbohydrates and not as a great at digesting and metabolizing animal proteins and fat. If you’re a type A, aim to eat most of your protein earlier on in the day. Overall, type As do better on a vegetarian or vegan diet. Increase vegetables, tofu, seafood, grains, beans, legumes, fruit and decrease your intake of meat, dairy, kidney beans, lima beans, and wheat.

Calming exercises like yoga, meditation, breathing exercises and tai chi are most recommended for blood type A, since type A is more likely to internalize stress and have higher levels of the stress hormone Cortisol, which can lead to health factors like cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. Blood type As should do their best to avoid big crowds, loud noise, smoking, negative emotions, strong smells or perfumes, too much sugar and starch, overwork, violent movies or TV, extreme weather conditions, or lack of sleep.

While strengths of type A include easy adjustment to change in diet and environment, little need for animal foods and an immune system the absorbs and metabolizes nutrients more efficiently, weaknesses may include a sensitive digestive tract and a vulnerable immune system open to microbial invasion. The result of combining the appropriate foods and exercises, though, can result in high performance, mental clarity, greater vitality and increased longevity.

Blood Type B– Balanced

The origins of blood type B can be traced back to the Himalayan highlands, currently part of present day India and Pakistan. As the Mongolians swept through Asia, they began pursuing a culture dependent upon herding and domesticating animals. For this reason, type B does best as an omnivore, eating meat (except chicken), dairy, grains, legumes, vegetables, beans, and fruit. Type Bs should reduce their intake of corn, lentils, sesame seeds, peanuts, buckwheat, and wheat. These foods can contribute to weight gain, fatigue, fluid retention, and hypoglycemia. Type Bs should actually avoid chicken too. Chicken contains a blood type B agglutinating lectin in its muscle tissue that can attack your blood stream and cause a stroke or immune disorder.

People with blood type B are characterized as nomads, flexible and creative. Strengths of blood type B include a strong immune system, versatile adaptation to changes in diet and environment, a strong nervous system, and high tolerance for chaos. The only common weakness of type B is a tendency toward auto-immune breakdowns and rare viruses, although common health risks include type 1 diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, and auto-immune disorders like Lou Gehrig’s disease, Lupus, or Multiple Sclerosis. Although pretty opposite from type A in regards to diet, type A and B both have higher levels of the stress hormone Cortisol. Type Bs should get participate in moderate physical exercise with mental balance, like hiking, biking, tennis, or swimming.

Blood Type AB – Modern

Blood type AB is the most recently evolved blood type. Type AB is the only blood type that came to be as a result of intermingling (between type A and B) rather than evolution and environment. As a result, AB types share the benefits and challenges of blood type A and blood type B.  Blood type AB is described as rare, an enigma, mysterious and highly sensitive, and people with blood type AB often describe themselves as intuitive, emotional, empathetic, friendly, and trusting. This blood type is more designed for modern life. It’s the most adaptable, can process information quickly, and has a rugged immune system. Weaknesses may include a sensitive digestive tract, a tendency for an overly tolerant immune system that allows for microbial invasion, and trouble feeling understood by society. Type AB is most susceptible to heart disease, cancer, and anemia.

Type AB can have a mixed diet in moderation. Meat, seafood, dairy, vegetables, tofu, legumes, grains, beans and fruit are all okay, but limit the amount of red meat, kidney beans, lima beans, seeds, corn, and buckwheat. Avoid caffeine and alcohol and avoid eating starches and proteins during the same meal. Because type ABs tend to internalize emotions, anger and hostility, exercise will play a big role in stress reduction and maintaining a healthy emotional balance. Combine calming, centering exercises, like yoga or tai chi, with moderate physical exercise, like hiking, biking, tennis, or swimming.

Blood Type OOld

Strong, hunter, leader, self-reliant and goal-oriented are all words to describe people with O blood. Type Os thrive on intense physical exercise and animal protein. Exercise releases the build up of stress hormones which will also balance mood. Type Os can have bouts of excessive anger, tantrums, hyperactivity and manic episodes in response to stress. To manage this stress, it is recommended that you follow a diet of lean, organic meats, vegetables and fruits and avoid dairy and wheat which can cause digestive and health issues. Increase kelp, seafood, salt, liver, red meat, kale, broccoli and pineapple and reduce wheat, corn, baked foods, kidney beans, lentils, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and mustard. Also avoid caffeine and alcohol, especially caffeine because it raises adrenaline and noradrenaline which is already high for blood type Os.

Overall, type Os have a hardy digestive tract, a strong immune system, natural defenses against infections, an efficient metabolism, shorter small intestines, and less chance for cancer. Health risks for type Os are typically low thyroid, inflammation, arthritis, blood-clotting disorders and ulcers, because type Os get overly acidic.

Curious to learn more about the characteristics of your blood type? Visit Peter J. D’Adamo’s site and learn all about your blood type diet and lifestyle.

sources:

http://www.outofstress.com/

http://www.dadamo.com/

Look to Your Farmacy

It’s true, the majority of my money goes toward food.  Delicious, organic, local food.  And you know what?  I’m totally ok with it. Understandably, not everyone wants to spend the money, because organic can be expensive.  Just remember, the more processed crap, toxins, and sugar we consume today, the more doctor visits and money spent on pharmaceutical drugs in the future.  That’s why I look at eating well as an long-term investment in my health, because food is medicine.Let your food be your medicine(1)

Currently, the average American eats too much and spends too little on food.  It can cost a lot to eat organic, but I have some tips on how to best spend your money when buying organic.  Organic food is more expensive because it’s a more time and labor-intensive form of farming. If you’re someone who doesn’t eat organic currently, start by switching at least one thing in your diet to organic, because baby steps are better that no steps. If you’re someone who currently doesn’t eat vegetables or fruits, then maybe starting with canned or frozen vegetables or fruit is the place for you to start.  You don’t need to eat organic all the time to reduce chemical exposure.  Starting a garden, if you have the space, is also a cost-effective way to eat right.

What does it mean to eat organic anyway?  Organic refers to the procedure in which foods are grown, raised, or produced based on government-defined standards.  Originally, all our food was “organic.”  There were no herbicides, pesticides, irradiation, or chemical fertilizers. Rather, all our food was naturally raised, unrefined, unprocessed, and whole. Processing food and chemical farming has only been around since World War II, and since then, our soil has been depleted of important minerals and nutrients that we need.
Because not all of us can or want to buy everything organic, I’ve supplied a list prioritizing which fruits and vegetables to buy organic.  Please refer to the list below for most and least contaminated foods, provided by The Environmental Working Group.image

12 Most Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables:

Apples

Celery

Cherry tomatoes

Cucumbers

Grapes

Hot peppers

Nectarines (Imported)

Peaches

Potatoes

Spinach

Strawberries

Sweet bell peppers

Kale / Collard Greens

Snap peas

15 Least Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables

Asparagus

Avocados

Cabbage

Cantaloupe

Sweet corn

Eggplant

Grapefruit

Kiwi

Mangos

Cauliflower

Onions

Papayas

Pineapples

Sweet peas (frozen)

Sweet potatoes

The two foods that I highly recommend buying organic are strawberries and chicken.  The U.S. uses 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides a year, and only .01% of those pesticides actually reach bugs.  Strawberries, even after washing, retain the most of amount of pesticides.  Pesticides cause issues like skin, eye, and lung irritation, hormone disruption, cancer, brain and nervous system toxicity, blood disorders, nerve disorders, birth defects, and reproduction effects.  If you have children, just remember that kids are four times more sensitive to cancer-causing pesticides in foods than adults (Source: US Environmental Protection Agency).

Vintage arsenic poison bottle on antique shelfThe reason I disapprove so strongly of commercial chicken is that commercial chickens contain arsenic, which is actually approved and regulated by the government.  Arsenic is known to cause cancer, as well as a number of other health issues.

Trust me, you’ll be able to tell the difference in color and taste between organic and commercially-grown produce. Washington State University actually proved through lab taste tests that organic tastes better.  There are more reasons to shop organic though.  By purchasing organic foods, you’re reducing your carbon footprint and helping out local farmers. Our health starts not with food but with our soil and water. Organic farming respects our ecosystem, while conventional farming leaks pesticides into our soil and our water, which in turn makes people sick. Additionally, organic farms are often smaller and independently owned and operated, so it’s great to help out the little guys.  Buying organic saves energy too, since more energy is used to produce synthetic fertilizers for commercially-grown crops.

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If you’re interested in going organic, but don’t know how or where to start, find your nearest Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) so your can get your food straight from your local farmer.  If you have questions, feel free to ask.  Drop me a line.