View Full Version : Lack of nutrition & ADHD symptoms


Fuzzy12
03-22-12, 10:53 AM
I'm sorry, this post is so long again. I know, I really need to learn to express myself briefly. I'd appreciate some inputs though. I've bolded the actual question if anyone wants to skip the introduction and other blah.

I've been wondering what else could cause my ADHD symptoms (if I don't have ADHD). The main suspect, I suspect, is depression. The next would be that maybe I really am just lazy, irresponsible and lack will power (whatever these terms mean).

My ability to focus and concentrate, in particular, have been almost non-existent since end of January. I mean, I've always had problems and the last 6-7 years have been very bad but since January, I've hit rock bottom in terms of focus and concentration. I wonder what has changed in the last 2 months. The last couple of months have been quite stressful and I've been very anxious, so that might be a factor. This period also coincided with me joining ADDforums, so I thought the constant distraction might have been another factor (no offense :o). Maybe I have an internet addiction instead of ADHD.

Another thing that I've just realised is that this time period also coincides with me drastically reducing my food intake. Initially, because of the anxiety, I think. I have a bit of an eating disorder and use food to a crazy extent to control my mood and actions. When I'm anxious is pretty much the only time when I can't eat and don't think about food. The anxiety sucks but it was just such a relief after roughly 18 years to not have to think about or deal with food in any way.

Last month, I started taking anti depressants and they seem to have caused a complete loss of appetite (and constant anxiety). I've lost 5 kg this month so far. I know, it's not a huge amount but considering that normally I lose even with dieting and exercising rarely more than a couple of kilos (at least since I've hit my thirties :rolleyes:) it seems like quite a lot. Also, it seems like a just can't eat. I've had an apple today so far and I really had to force myself to eat it. In a way, I'm a bit thrilled. No strike that. I'm over the moon. I definitely can do with losing some weight, and even better I don't even have to fight the constant appetite. The eating disorder part of me is actively promoting and lobbying for this state. I almost don't want to think about this (or write this post) because I'm worried it will bring back the appetite or make me binge eat.

I know, it's not healthy and what's worse, I'm wondering if this is what is making my ADHD symptoms worse (Yay, I've finally come to the point :yes: :doh:) I'm used to water fasting (not long term: usually 36 hours, the longest was 5 days) and the thing that always struck me was how little food I needed to keep physically going. I don't even feel tired. I once spent 12 days drinking only water and had one glass of buttermilk every day with no big drop in energy (though I was a lot younger then).

Anyway, my thinking power, concentration and focus always take a huge hit when I'm fasting. The brain's primary fuel source is glucose and I think malnutrition is supposed to cause problems with concentration as well. I've got enough fat reserves to live on for a very long time ( :rolleyes: ) even if it's not healthy but I'm wondering if this is what has been causing this extreme inability to focus for the last couple of months.

Yes, I've had big problems before this current loss of appetite but then I've struggled with my eating habits since roughly the age of 15. For 18 years, I've constantly been either fasting, starving myself, bulimic or binge eating. Maybe it's the huge blood sugar changes that are causing ADHD like symptoms.

I guess, the best would be to somehow try to increase my food intake again and see if that helps. I know, it sounds really, really stupid but I really don't want to. Or maybe I should start exercising again so I don't have to worry so much about putting weight on. And yes, I know, I need to go to a psychiatrist to see what the hell is wrong with me, anyway.

I was just wondering if anyone else has experienced a sudden increase in their ADHD symptoms with a reduction of food or has any other input.

:thankyou:

KCTang
03-22-12, 11:54 AM
In short, yes.

Maintaining brain glucose is crucial, and done in the right ways

When concentration is important, I fuel myself with:

-Good protein to carb ratio (proteins are building blocks of neurotransmitters like dopamine)
-More complex carbs, less sugars & simple carbs (read up on glycemic index. I avoid the bagel/donut breakfast.)
-Minor amounts of caffeine (coke, chocolate) if a need a little boost in thinking at end of day
-I've started on Omega 3 supplements and its quite helpful, when combined with meds

Reducing amount of sugars and starches is important for me when I eat before and during work.

Sugars and simple carbs like starches are digested quickly, flooding the blood with glucose. This releases a big shot of insulin into your bloodstream, which makes you tired or groggy. If you've ever felt this way after a big meal or after pasta or rice, now you know why.

That groggy feeling hampers my thinking on top of my ADHD, so I'm fighting 2 battles. Complex carbs like greens, anything with good amounts of fibre, are slower to digest, thus don't cause that insulin spike. Another good method is eating the proteins in your meal before you touch the starches on your plate. They are also slower to digest, so it gets your digestive system working on that first.

Fuzzy12
03-22-12, 06:50 PM
Thanks a lot. That's really interesting!!!

-Good protein to carb ratio (proteins are building blocks of neurotransmitters like dopamine)

I didn't know this. I thought the brain utilised mainly carbs.

I'm a vegetarian and apart from huge fluctuations in the amount of food I eat, I guess, I don't really get much proteins. Hm, actually, my protein intake would have been on the lower side ever since early childhood, which could explain why the ADHD like symptoms set in only later. :scratch:

What's a good proteins/carb ratio? 1:3?

Fuzzy12
03-22-12, 07:03 PM
I should probably dig up relevant publications. Anyway, here's a random link:

Not sure how legitimate the source is. It's quite an old link as well.

http://www.medhelp.org/user_journals/show/14818/Foods-That-Increase-Dopamine-Naturally

Foods That Increase Dopamine Naturally
Jun 26, 2008 - 18 comments

Foods That Increase Your Dopamine
And Norepinephrine Naturally!
What we eat affects the formation of neurotransmitters,
and some diet-related neurotransmitters have a significant
affect on our mood, our appetite and our cravings.

This in turn causes the brain to communicate in the form of an impulse (craving for certain foods) the need for certain neurotransmitters that it requires to restore balance.
While many other factors influence the level of these chemicals, such as hormones, heredity, drugs, and alcohol, three neurotransmitters—dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin—have been studied in relation to food, and this research has shown that neurotransmitters are produced in the brain from components of certain foods.

When our body has enough Dopamine we're blessed with feelings of bliss and pleasure, euphoric, appetite control, controlled motor movements, and we feel focused.

When we are low in Dopamine we feel no pleasure, our world looks colorless, we have an inability to "love", and we have no remorse about personal behavior.

The brain cells which "manufacture" dopamine use l-phenylalanine as a "raw material" (precursor.) Phenylanine is an essential amino acid found in the brain and blood plasma that can convert in the body to tyrosine, which in turn is used to synthesize dopamine. Sources of phenylanine are high-protein foods such as meat, cottage cheese, and wheat germ.


10 Foods That Help To Increase
Dopamine And Norepinephrine Naturally!

Apples: A compound found in apples called "quercetin' is an antioxidant that studies have shown may not only help in the prevention of cancer but may also play an important role in the prevention of neurodegenerative disorders.
There may be something to that old saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away . . ."


Banana: A banana is a good source of tyrosine. Tyrosine is the amino acid neurons turn into norepinephrine and dopamine. Norepinephrine and dopamine are excitatory neurotransmitters that are important in motivation, alertness, concentration and memory.

Beets: Betaine, an amino acid naturally present in certain vegetables, particularly beetroot (beets), is an antidepressant of the first order. Betaine acts as a stimulant for the production of SAM-e (S-adenoslmethionine). The body cannot do without SAM-e, which it produces.
SAM-e is directly related to the production of certain hormones, such as dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of well-being and pleasure.


Chicken: Chicken, like eggs, contains complete protein that increases levels of the excitatory neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine. Chicken is also a good source of coenzyme Q10 (Co Q10), which increases the energy generating potential of neurons.

Cheese: Cheese is a well known protein food . . . Protein provides amino acids, which help produce dopamine and norepinephrine.

Cottage Cheese: One of the “must eat” foods on every expert’s list, cottage cheese is recommended as a substitute for other soft cheeses and dairy products. Cottage cheese provides the protein that can help boost mood and energy levels, without some of the fat of hard cheeses.

Eggs: Research from the University of California, Berkeley suggests that people who suffer from depression have low amount of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine in their brains. One natural antidepressant is to increase dopamine by eating protein-rich foods. such as eggs for this purpose, because they are versatile and appeal to some people who choose not to eat meat.

Fish: Omega-3 fatty acids are found in seafood, especially mackerel, salmon, striped bass, rainbow trout, halibut, tuna, and sardines.
These fatty acids may have many jobs in the body, including a possible role in the production of neurotransmitters. Fish have easily digestible protein, many trace nutrients, high quality essential fatty acids, low cholesterol levels and low saturated fat levels.

French scientists have shown that rats deficient in omega-3 fatty acids had more receptors for the neurotransmitter serotonin and a corresponding decrease in dopamine in the frontal cortex.


Watermelon: Watermelon juice is fat free and loaded with vitamins A, B6, and C! Vitamin B6 is used by the body to manufacture neurotransmitters such as serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine. Vitamin C also enhances the immune system while protecting the body from free radicals.

Wheat Germ: Wheat Germ is a good source of Phenylalanine. Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid found in the brain and blood plasma that can convert in the body to tyrosine, which in turn is used to synthesize dopamine.
A healthly, balanced diet is rich in whole “natural” and unprocessed foods. It is especially high in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds and nuts. Fruits are vegetables are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants that protect the body cells from damaging. They also help raise serotonin levels in the brain.

Beans and legumes are rich in protein and are healthful boosters of both dopamine and norepinephrine. Also, Protein Meat, Milk, Eggs, Cheese, fish and other seafood are very healthy, high-protein, dopamine-and-norepinephrine-booster food.

Spacemaster
03-22-12, 07:06 PM
Lately I have been drinking protein shakes in the morning because I want to get in the habit of having breakfast, mostly for weight loss reasons. I just mix a scoop of protein powder (available at any major stores) with a glass of milk.

I noticed that not only am I not hungry and irritable all morning, but my overall symptoms have HUGELY improved. Cure? Nope. But much much better. It must be the protein, as there is 25 grams in each serving.

silivrentoliel
03-22-12, 07:24 PM
I used to have protein smoothies in the mornings, until I bought frozen fruit from a different place and now it tastes weird... plus the no citrus thing w/ Zoloft, blah, ... but that seemed to really help my concentration w/ my meds... I felt more alert than I do w/o them. I eat pb&j in the mornings now, and it does OK til about midday... then I'm in pain hungry again... *shrugs*

Fuzzy12
03-22-12, 07:29 PM
I used to have protein smoothies in the mornings, until I bought frozen fruit from a different place and now it tastes weird... plus the no citrus thing w/ Zoloft, blah, ... but that seemed to really help my concentration w/ my meds... I felt more alert than I do w/o them. I eat pb&j in the mornings now, and it does OK til about midday... then I'm in pain hungry again... *shrugs*

What's pb&j?

silivrentoliel
03-22-12, 07:31 PM
What's pb&j?

oops, sorry :giggle: i think it's an American colloquialism? and I'm a lazy typer tonight,

peanut butter & jelly!

pechemignonne
03-22-12, 07:56 PM
Increasing amount of produced dopamine or norepinephrine might not help necessarily- that's why anti-depressants are re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI- selective seratonin reuptake inhibitors), because usually it isn't a matter of not producing enough, it's that it is being removed too quickly to be used.

silivrentoliel
03-22-12, 08:04 PM
is that what they do?

fracturedstory
03-22-12, 08:11 PM
Well, certain foods help with how well your brain will function. My problem is trying to expand my very limited diet. It is a healthy one though.
I start with a high protein/fibre cereal, snacks are fruit or yoghurt or both. I fill up my calories with a Nutella sandwich or go much healthier with peanut butter and honey or jam (because I'm Australian and jelly is a cold sweet treat kept in the fridge - jello).
Chicken stir fries with rice get me a bunch of nutrients.
I've started eating almonds too as a healthy snack.
Fish and green leafy vegetables and avocados are probably the best for me.

I pretty much self medicate with food. I know that pizza will make me feel brain dead and chips actually do make me lose focus. A very little bit of chocolate can make me focus, but dark chocolate is better for reading.
I don't drink soda, am allergic to oranges so orange juice is out, and on meds apple juice make me feel loopy - apples can actually break up the medication quicker and it wears off - I eat them to avoid the crash.

Milk and cheese can actually make my symptoms worse. Not only that but I get a runny nose and bloated, so I think I have an intolerance.

Wow Fuzzy, I eat all those 'foods that increase dopamine/ norepinephrine.'

Apples and Bananas make a good snack; bananas when on meds, apples when they wear off. My house mates make a lot of beans, usually with chilli and whatever is in Dahl - I should know this as I've seen it made a whole bunch of time. I love eggs. I know after I eat eggs I can be energised for most of the day. If I eat too many my appetite increases though and I'm cholesterol conscious.
All I do is eat meat like chicken and chicken. I sometimes have fish which usually makes my hyper focus out of control. And I love cottage cheese.
Like I said bread (white bread - I know, bad) fills in those much needed calories.

I have a sweet tooth though when I watch my sci-fi. Chocolate and chips. Although lately it's been salads and vegetables and pastries.

Don't forget water too which is basically all I drink. I read an article about all its goodness. Maybe someone can find a link. And add some exercise and you get temporary relief from symptoms. I get so much clarity of mind it's strange, but it only lasts an hour.

Most times I have to eat a certain amount of food not just to keep my brain in top shape but for...ahem...digestive issues.

fracturedstory
03-22-12, 08:18 PM
Increasing amount of produced dopamine or norepinephrine might not help necessarily- that's why anti-depressants are re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI- selective seratonin reuptake inhibitors), because usually it isn't a matter of not producing enough, it's that it is being removed too quickly to be used.
When I was on SSRIs I didn't have an interest in anything. I had zero anxiety but I didn't have any personality. I was like this wandering lobotomy patient. Also, I hardly remember being on them, just really short scenes. I remember not being afraid to cross roads, not needing routines or being as intense with my interests.

Then one day, where there just happened to be strobe lights, they stopped working and I was left with increased light sensitivity.

Anyway, it is kind of interesting to learn that the dopamine/ norepinephrine gets removed too quickly. I thought it was a matter of not enough/ too much. Irregular levels.

Lisa_Mac
03-23-12, 04:11 AM
Fuzzy, I find that if my blood sugar is kept regulated I am much better in all areas, ie concentration, focus and mood. Because I am ADD I will always have the symptoms, but for years, before I started taking Methylphenidate, I found that my blood sugar levels affected me A LOT and made my symptoms much worse.

If you're not eating regularly, that COULD be your problem.

L

Fuzzy12
03-23-12, 01:33 PM
Thanks a lot everyone for the inputs. This is really helpful!! :)

Another thing I'm wondering about is if my problems with concentration are caused by a lack of nutrition (instead of ADHD), wouldn't I ALWAYS struggle with concentration irrespective of what I'm doing?

I mean, even now I can concentrate on a few things (like posting on this forum :rolleyes:). If I understand ADHD right, the problem is really with executive function and self regulation and that causes problems with concentration or focussing unless you are very interested or there is some kind of immediate consequence.

So does malnutrition (and I use the word malnutrition losely, I'm not withering away) also cause a problem with executive function?

I mean can malnutrition exactly mimic the symptoms of ADHD?

Lisa_Mac
03-23-12, 02:04 PM
According to Patrick Holford it can. You need to read his book The Optimum Nutrition Bible and there's another one which is very interesting called Optimum Nutrition For The Mind.

Lx