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.

 

 

 

My Daily Green Smoothie Recipe

I’ve been a longtime fan of morning smoothies, but I’ve recently discovered a new smoothie that has instantly become my morning addiction. I drink it every day and enjoy the process of making it in the morning before my workouts. This green smoothie works wonders for the body and mind and is packed with nutrition. It has protein, fiber, important vitamins and everything you need to look and feel your best. After just a week of drinking it, I noticed improvements in my skin and energy levels. My digestion improved too, and I started having less unhealthy food cravings. 

Remember, everything in the body is connected. Your gut, colon, and brain all effect each other, so if you feed yourself nutritious foods your gut will be healthy, which also means a healthy colon and brain (aka, better digestion and prevention from illness). Please feed yourself good foods, like this smoothie, and your whole body will thank you!

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I like to switch it up slightly, but I typically add the following foods to my daily green smoothie: purified water, banana, green apple, green pear, celery, romaine, spinach, kale, lemon, chia seeds, hemp seeds and bee pollen.

Dark leafy greens, like spinach, kale and romaine, are a good source of protein, as are chia seeds, hemp seeds, and bee pollen. You could absolutely add in different greens or fruits, or even add fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley. To make things easier with this smoothie, you can also make some extra and store it in a glass container in the freezer for later use. Otherwise, this smoothie will last covered in the fridge for two days.

The other thing I like about adding greens to my smoothie is that you get the most from your greens this way. Normally, aside from not eating enough vegetables during the week, most people don’t chew their food enough, which means they don’t absorb maximum nutrients. The nutrients in the vegetables are stored in the cell walls of the plant cell, so the blender will do a more efficient job of breaking these down. A Vitamix or powerful blender will really be best for making this smoothie smooth and creamy like it should be.

I encourage you to drink this smoothie and make it part of your morning routine!

Ingredients (makes 1-2 glasses)

– 1 1/2 cup cold, purified water

-1 banana

-1/2 green apple

-1/2 green pear

-1-2 celery stalks

-2 handfuls spinach

-1 handful romaine

-1 handful kale

-a squeeze of lemon

*optional: handful chia seeds, hemp seeds, bee pollen, or any other favorite superfood, herb, or protein powder

*For a smoothie with less sugar, remove the banana and pear, and just use the green apple.

Instructions

1- Pour water into the blender, followed by the spinach, romaine and kale. Blend until smooth.

2- Add the celery, pear and apple. Blend.

3- Add the banana and lemon. You can also throw in any optional seeds or foods, then do a final blend. Enjoy!

 

 

Get Fat Now!

Fat has been a diet no-no for quite some time, but luckily the fat-free era is finally over.  Research shows that fat is essential for our bodies.  Saturated fat is no longer the problem, but is actually the solution for our bodies to repair cells and for proper hormone function. It’s time to enjoy our egg yolks, our whole fat yogurt, or our chicken breasts, skin on. Think about our ancestors, the hunter-gatherers.  Could they have survived harsh conditions and the time between meals if it wasn’t for fat consumption? Hell no!  Our bodies NEED fat, but fat from the right sources.

The body is made up of 97% saturated and monounsaturated fat, and the remaining 3%  is polyunsaturated fat. That 3% polyunsaturated fat is half omega-3 fats and half omega-6 fats.  It’s important for our bodies to have balanced levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, 1:1.  Without this equal balance, too much omega-6 causes inflammation, while omega-3 is neutral.  A diet high in omega-3 fat and low in omega-6 fat is ok thought, because the omega-3 fats will reduce inflammation.

Vegetable oils are a main source of omega-6 in the modern diet.  Some of these oils high in omega-6 include: safflower oil, corn oil, sunflower, soybean, cotton oil.

Fatty fish oil, quality extra-virgin olive oils, coconut oil, or quality butter are all examples of omega-3 fats (yay, butter!).  Omega-3 fats are also vital for the following health benefits:

  • Reducing the risk of heart disease and causes of death associated with heart disease
  • Reducing severity of symptoms associated with diabetes
  • Reducing pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis
  • Reducing risk of osteoporosis and bone loss
  • Improving health and reducing symptoms for those with autoimmune disease
  • Helping those with anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder
  • Reducing risk of various types of cancers
  • Improving cognitive function

(Sources: Wellness Mama)

My favorite ways to incorporate healthy fats into my diet:

1.  Eat fat for breakfast, especially before and after a workout.  Below is a favorite, quick breakfast of mine full of omega-3s.  2% Greek yogurt, berries and bananas, topped with protein-packed hemp seeds, and omega-3 sources, flax seeds and chia seeds.

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2. Invest in quality extra virgin olive oil (preferably pressed somewhere local to you), organic coconut oil, and grass-fed butter.  These products can be a little more expensive, but you’ll use them all the time and you won’t need to feel guilty about using the butter.  You can even save money by switching your beauty and home care products to olive oil and coconut oil.

4. If you’re a coffee drinker, add a tablespoon of organic coconut butter to your morning coffee or try Bulletproof coffee.

5. Some of my favorite sources of omega-3s: avocado, salmon, almond butter, eggs, grass-fed meats, extra virgin olive oil, butter, chia seeds, flax seeds, Brussel sprouts, and shrimp.

If you’re having trouble losing weight, suffering from exhaustion or stress, try adding more healthy fats to your diet.

Is Gluten the New Fat?

For the past 40 years, Americans have been lead to believe that any form of fat and all types of cholesterol were bad for us.  New studies have proven that this idea is outdated, but today, the new “evil” is gluten.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are by now you’ve at least heard the word gluten.  There are entire sections at the grocery store devoted to gluten-free products and I don’t know about you all, but out of the blue everyone I know is suddenly gluten intolerant.

What is gluten?

Gluten, Latin for “glue,” is a name for proteins that act as an adhesive glue, keeping together foods like breads, pastas, flour, etc.  Gluten exists in wheat, barley, and rye and can be found in many products, whether it’s our food or personal care products, like toothpaste or shampoo.  The “sticky” nature of gluten makes it hard to breakdown and absorb nutrients.

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What are some symptoms of gluten sensitivity? 

Depression, inflammation, joint problems, gastrointestinal problems, or fatigue, ADHD, anxiety, hives/rashes, miscarriages, nausea/vomiting, sugar cravings, brain fog, malabsorption of food, dairy intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, or infertility.

Inflammation can also cause “leaky gut,”which makes us more susceptible to future food sensitivities and puts us at risk for developing autoimmune diseases or neurological disorders in the future.  Some of these diseases linked to inflammation include: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, and Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), diabetes, Hashimoto’s thyroidtis, arthritis, or schizophrenia. People with Celiacs disease share these same symptoms but on a more extreme level.  It’s also possible that some people just don’t show symptoms, but are fighting the attack elsewhere in their body, like in the nervous system.

But didn’t we always eat gluten? 

Our diet has changed drastically from what our ancestors ate. We used to thrive off of high-fat diet, low-carb diets, but now our diet consists of mainly carbs and significantly less fat.

Ancestors                                  Modern Diet

-Fat 75% of diet                            -Carbs 60% of diet

-Protein 20% of diet                     -Fat 20%

-Carbs 5% of diet                          -Protein 20%

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We have far more disease today and different types of diseases than we ever did before.  The majority of our great-grandparents and generations older than them died from old age, but today many of us are plagued by cancer, heart disease, brain disease, obesity, or diabetes.  The answer to this conundrum exists not just in genes, but in our food.

As you can see from the numbers above, most of us eat an unbalanced diet.  Our percentage of carbohydrate intake are at unnaturally high levels, which takes a toll on our bodies. The first sign of celiacs, however, traces all the back to the first century AD, when a Greek doctor named Aretaeus of Cappadocia wrote about the symptoms and used the word “celiac” to name the illness in a medical textbook.  Gluten has always been a part of our diets since our ancestors learned to farm and mill wheat.  The gluten we eat today, though, hardly resembles the gluten in our diet ten thousand years ago.  Today our food is far more processed and bio-engineering has us growing structurally-modified grains containing gluten that’s less tolerable.

So is a gluten-free diet for me?

Although I know people have healed themselves of ailments by removing gluten from the diet and although I’ve read the research on the links between gluten and neurodegenerative conditions, I full-heartedly believe in the idea of everything in moderation. I personally have not given up my bread products yet, but I eat much less of it and not every day, because a little bread every now and then probably won’t kill you.  The problem is, carbs, like sugar, can be addicting, so some people have a much harder time removing gluten from the diet.

One way to cut back on carbs, processed foods, or sugar is to fill up on proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats.  By adding in these other foods, it’s easier to naturally crowd out carbohydrates, processed foods, and sugar.  I highly encourage everyone to do research for themselves, rather than hopping on the bandwagon without really knowing why.  There are probably way more products containing gluten than you know, some which may be surprising, and I’ve listed some of these products below.  I highly recommend the book Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD if you’re looking for more research and information.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), or diabetes, or if it runs in your family, then I would think it best to stay away from gluten.  If you’re eating gluten and finding yourself suffering from headaches, abdominal pains, or any of the other symptoms previously mentioned, then try at least one week of cutting out gluten and see if you can notice any improvements.

Which grains are gluten-free?

Amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, corn, millet, potato, quinoa, rice, sorghum, soy, tapioca, and tee.

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Which gains contain gluten?

Barley, bulgur, couscous, farina, graham flour, kamut, matzo, rye, semolina, spelt, triticale, wheat, and wheat germ.

Random things that contain gluten:

Cosmetics, lipsticks/lip balm, medications, non-self-adhesive stamps and envelopes, play-doh, shampoos and conditioners, toothpaste, some vitamins and supplements.

There are lots of other foods and ingredients that contain gluten, so do some research if you’re planning on going gluten-free.

Sources:

Perlmutter, David, MD. Grain Brain. New York, NY.  Little, Brown and Company.

Probiotics for Beginners

You may have been wondering what the kombucha hype is all about, and seriously, what the heck is tempeh anyway? Maybe you’ve heard of or seen probiotics before, but you don’t know why they’re important.  It’s also possible you’ve consumed probiotics, maybe most of your life, and didn’t realize.

Bandit wondering, what is this kombucha?

Bandit thinking, what is this kombucha stuff mom drinks?

TN_Lede_Probiotics_0911Our bodies contain around 100 trillion microbes, most of them bacteria, and some beneficial bacteria.  Probiotics are the good bacteria.  These living organisms reside in our colons and small intestine.  They keep our guts clean, aid in digestion and add bulk to solid wastes.  Probiotics also fight disease-causing microbes, and can help with health problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), infectious diarrhea, and antibiotic-related diarrhea (webmd). Probiotics are important to take while on antibiotics, since antibiotics cause a loss of healthy bacteria. home-care-options-abound-for-people-suffering-from-depression-in-home-care-support-services

Stress or poor diet might reduce the numbers of healthy bacteria in the small intestine as well, and vice versa, a lack of healthy bacteria has shown to trigger feelings of depression and anxiety when there’s an imbalance within the gut (beginwithnutrition).

There are different types of probiotics and various ways to consume them, either through supplements or through various foods.  Skip the supplements and experiment with eating some of the following foods:

Yogurt- Yogurt is made from fermented milk using certain bacteria, but only types labeled as containing live bacteria (“active cultures”) are actually probiotic.

Kefir- Similar to yogurt and contains sometimes up to ten diverse strains of good bacteria.  It’s fermented using a combination of bacteria and yeast with milk proteins and complex sugars.  Made from cow’s milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or rice milk.  Kefir is a good choice if you’re lactose intolerant, because the lactose it once contained is broken down through fermentation.

Buttermilk– Made with strains of lactic acid-making bacteria added to regular pasteurized milk.

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Raw Milk- Maybe only five states in the U.S. actually allow the sale of raw milk and there are debated health risks, but raw milk drinkers swear by the stuff because of all the good bacteria.

Soy Milk- Must say “contains active cultures” on the label.

darkchocolateDark Chocolate- Certain types of high-quality chocolate contain probiotics.  Dark chocolate is also a source of antioxidants!

Miso- A staple of Japanese cuisine, miso is made with fermented soy, barley, wheat, or rice with a fungus that produces a red, white, or dark brown salty paste.  When cooking with miso, add it to hot foods at the end of cooking to preserve the probiotic cultures as much as possible.

Tempeh- High in proteins and minerals, tempeh also promotes intestinal health.  Tempeh originates in Indonesia and is made with cooked soybeans and an added fungus culture. It’s then fermented into a thick, meaty block.

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Natto- typical Japanese breakfast dish


N
atto- Made from fermented soybeans with a distinctive flavor, smell, and sticky texture.  Also a stap

le of the Japanese diet.

Kimchi- A pickled Chinese dish of cabbage, eggplant, or other vegetables fermented with red chili and other spices for at least a month.  Kimchi is full of fiber, vitamins, iron, and various types of probiotic bacteria.

Sauerkraut- German for “sour cabbage,” sauerkraut is made from fermented, finely shredded, salty cabbage and contains a variety of heathy bacteria.  Buy fresh sauerkraut that contains lives cultures, versus some commercial brands of sauerkraut.

Pickles- These crunchy treats contain lots of probiotics.

brew_dr_kombucha_smKombucha Tea- This Asian drink restores energy and aids digestion.

Olives- Olives in brine are probiotics, because the brine allows probiotics to survive and thrive.