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  • Grokstars with ADHD: nutrition advice?

    So, I'm a 32 year old gal and I have chronic moderate depression and ADHD.

    I take a cocktail of wellbutrin, ritalin, trazodone, PEA, various amino acids and a few vitamins (B complex, C, sometimes D) to control it. And this is working out pretty well. I'm satisfied with the effectiveness of these drugs, and I think they're giving me as much symptom relief and daily ability to function as I can realistically expect from pharmaceuticals.

    To be clear, I am not at all interested in getting off these meds. I know lots and lots of people are, but that's not my goal.

    However, now I'm starting to think about how diet is affecting me. I recently took the plunge and went through low carb flu (which is absolutely for real.) And it worked, I am now very nicely fat adapted. I do just fine on 30-50g of carb from raw mostly green veggies. Everything else is protein or fat. That has helped my brain chemistry a LOT, just because I'm not having sugar crashes all day.

    So now I'm curious. Have other people here with ADHD or depression found some nutritional quirk that really improved their symptoms? I hear tons and tons of conflicting advice on this out there in the world from doctors and nutritionists and google. So I'm thinking I'll get the most relevant tips from people here, who are already inclined to shun grains/sugars/high carbs and don't have a vendetta against saturated fat.

    So, any thoughts?

    If at all relevant, here are my nutritional stats:
    I'm 5'6, 120ish lbs and this is a decent weight for me. I have a medium to light build.
    I mostly go for long walks daily, sprint when I feel like it for short distances, do some suspension training and mild weightlifting when I feel like it.
    I eat about 1800kcal a day, sometimes either 1600 or 2000 depending on how much exercise I get.
    I generally shoot for 50g carb, 100-110g protein, and whatever fat to make up the rest of the calories.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    I started taking fish oil 4 years ago because I had some pain in the thumb joints. Within 6 months of taking it I decided to go to college (I was 40 ish at the time). A short time after that I was watching a "brain" doctor on PBS (can't remember his name) and he was saying how it helps with ADHD - I completely agree. It didn't do much for my physical hyperactivity but it did a lot to help my mental focus. Also my "ADHD" is self diagnosed, partly because of that tv program. When I went to my doctor she referred me to specialist for testing but then my health insurance refused to pay. At first I was pissed but I'm thinking in the long run they did me a favor.

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    • #3
      I think you're definitely on the right track. I have ADHD combined type. When I was first DXd I was very sluggish and figured that I was PI but diet and meds (Dextro, fairly low dose) have actually lifted a lot of the fog (I don't get so worn out dealing with the day to day anymore) and I can see that it is actually combined. I agree that fish oil is helpful. Keeping your Omega 6/3 ratio in balance is important and I've found staying low carb is as well, not just fro a nutritional standpoint but also we tend to have issues with reward and carbs can make it that much harder to delay gratification. And exercise, which I haven't been getting nearly enough of lately. I was doing a lot of walking, and I still go out with the dogs, but I've found solo walking to be much more beneficial as it helps me focus by allowing my brain to work off excess energy.

      Supplements I take, although not all for ADHD:
      Fish oil
      CoQ10
      Turmeric
      Zinc
      Magnesium
      D3
      K2
      Buy house, Demolish house, Build house.

      Comment


      • #4
        Fasting has improved my mood and clarity by quite a bit. I also take Alpha GPC (Choline) but I'm not sure if it's doing anything other than supplementing my B-vitamins.
        Currently dabbling in: IF, leangains, Starting Strength, 5/3/1

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        • #5
          A slice of the strongest most expensive cheese you can find whenever the depression hits. I recommend either Kerrygold's Dubliner or Balderson's Extra old.
          In all of the universe there is only one person with your exact charateristics. Just like there is only one person with everybody else's characteristics. Effectively, your uniqueness makes you pretty average.

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          • #6
            Also, stop thinking. Thinking leads to depression.
            In all of the universe there is only one person with your exact charateristics. Just like there is only one person with everybody else's characteristics. Effectively, your uniqueness makes you pretty average.

            Comment


            • #7
              I noticed a lot of improvement just getting my diet clean in the first place. Eliminating gluten was huge. Also, food colorings can really make big difference too. My kids would go nuts on certain colors, so that would be eliminated as well.

              I'm sure there are other things you could do, but honestly, just going Primal will probably help more than you would think.
              Durp.

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              • #8
                My husband is diagnosed with ADHD, and has a rx for dexedrine, which he tries to take sparingly, only when he can't function without it. We've tried experimenting with every food/supplement we could think of that had any remote connection to ADHD, but we've never noticed an improvement.

                However, there is a huge connection between his sleep and his ADHD - when he has poor quality or not enough sleep, his ADHD is significantly worse.

                You mentioned that you are taking a variety of amino acids and supplements - I'm assuming you've tried phenylalanine+tyrosine? I've noticed a significant improvement in mood and depression, likely due to low dopamine (as you know, a common issue for folks with ADHD), after taking this combination.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks everybody for the advice.

                  Some specific comments/questions:

                  You mentioned that you are taking a variety of amino acids and supplements - I'm assuming you've tried phenylalanine+tyrosine? I've noticed a significant improvement in mood and depression, likely due to low dopamine (as you know, a common issue for folks with ADHD), after taking this combination.
                  I am indeed using 6000mg of tyrosine every day, and it is the most crucial one for me. My biggest problem is, in fact, low dopamine. I combine this with DLPA (I'm assuming you were referring to LPA, this is both the DPA and LPA forms in one), also 6000mg per day. I take 1000mg of both every two hours, in fact, starting from the moment I get up in the morning and ending at early afternoon, when I switch to 5htp/tryptophan. Incidentally, black coffee will enhance the effect of tyrosine, so I use that as well.

                  I would also second the sleep comment you made. Sleep is so crucial to me that anything short of 6-7hrs means my brain won't work period the next day. Naps do help, though. But yeah... SLEEEEEEP. lol

                  Also, food colorings can really make big difference too. My kids would go nuts on certain colors, so that would be eliminated as well.
                  This one, oddly, doesn't seem to make any difference to me. I use koolaid, which is probably the evil lord satan of awful food colorants, to make stevia slushies in my ice cream maker. My inner child enjoys drinking something neon red or blue, I guess? I've tested it extensively and it seems harmless for me. But I'm also an adult, which is different from a growing child.

                  Also, stop thinking. Thinking leads to depression.
                  YES. lol. Well, I'm only half kidding, since I literally do stop thinking when I'm drawing or painting, at least in a left-brained/language part of the brain kind of way. Proven by SCIENCE! (and it is, google it if you don't believe me.)

                  I also second the cheese idea. Blue cheese is my current favorite, but I also like swiss. Coconut oil is pretty wicked too.

                  Fasting has improved my mood and clarity by quite a bit. I also take Alpha GPC (Choline) but I'm not sure if it's doing anything other than supplementing my B-vitamins.
                  Fasting raises dopamine, and I think Mark wrote about that directly in one of his 'why fast?' posts recently. It makes me clearheaded too. I tend to IF daily from the early morning until 10am or so, which is right when my brain should be getting off it's early morning dopamine rush anyway. I also avoid carbs entirely until 4pm, since they shut off dopamine and raise serotonin. But at late afternoon, I want to get serotonin up and dopamine turned down anyway.

                  Never tried choline, but I've heard stuff about it. I might check it out.

                  I agree that fish oil is helpful.
                  Ok- question!
                  I eat sardines, salmon, etc daily. I live on the pacific coast, so fresh seafood is available all year at ok prices. Is this good enough for fish oil, or do I need to take an actual supplement?

                  I also have recently discovered tumeric, and find that it does more for digestive health, but hey. Ginger root is good too.

                  It didn't do much for my physical hyperactivity but it did a lot to help my mental focus.
                  You know, oddly... now that I think about it, I did notice that fish oil supplements would actually give me insomnia at times. But this was back when I was on Zone and doing about 120g of carb and 80g of protein.. and not very much fat. I was also prediabetic and undiagnosed/untreated for both ADHD and depression. So I was a biochemical mess. But I guess it stimulates dopamine in some way? I think coconut oil does a bit too. weird.

                  Oddly? Raw unsweetened cocoa is helpful too. I think for serotonin support, as well as a big whack of magnesium.

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                  • #10
                    I've read some very interesting things on ADHD being a type of personality that just does not respond well to our current structure of teaching, and that many symptoms reduce significantly upon graduation. Do those of you with this diagnosis find this to be true?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Neckhammer View Post
                      I've read some very interesting things on ADHD being a type of personality that just does not respond well to our current structure of teaching, and that many symptoms reduce significantly upon graduation. Do those of you with this diagnosis find this to be true?
                      You have to keep in mind that there are three distinct subtypes, mainly hyperactive, mainly inattentive and combined type, none of which function particularly well in a school setting. Our current structure of teaching isn't all that different from previous classroom settings in that both would have required sitting still and paying attention. Major differences, though, was that there were other options for for kids who couldn't function in these settings, like learning a trade, and it was permissible to hit kids and throw them out of the class for disrupting in the past. It's quite misleading to say that modern classrooms are the problem. It's just that kids kids really need an education to function in society these days so they're kept in school for longer.

                      Which isn't to say that ADHD isn't a personality type, per se, but certain aspects of personality are showing to be determined by genetics. Brain scans of those with ADHD show very real differences, which researchers are still trying to figure out the cause for, whether it's strictly genetic or some environmental factor has a strong influence on. And scientists have discovered genes that are responsible for empathy.

                      As for symptoms reducing upon graduation, in some cases sure, and hyperactivity is known to diminish for some with age, but ADHD is a lot more than just hyperactivity. Many aren't diagnosed until much later in life, especially women who tend more towards inattentive. I was 41 but not being obviously hyperactive and being able to bluff my way through a lot of life. Many women aren't diagnosed until their children are or until it becomes a major problem. When I was younger I was able to get away with being "irresponsible" but as I got older trying to keep it together got much harder. That plus I drank and did a lot of drugs (self medicating) which masked the cause of my problems.

                      It's thought that the reason that the genotype for ADHD is also what makes some of us more adventurous, more prone to explore and seek out new and novel experiences, which is why it hasn't been selected against. But keeping the total number of people with ADHD to a relatively small number is also important, otherwise life would be utter chaos. In many ways it's much harder for women with ADHD, because we've been the traditional organizers, housekeepers, child minders, etc. and those are all tasks that people with ADHD are particularly bad at most of the time. But up until recent history women were just "lazy, flighty and not very good wives/mothers." So, to answer your question, yes and no.
                      Buy house, Demolish house, Build house.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Blackcatbone View Post
                        You have to keep in mind that there are three distinct subtypes, mainly hyperactive, mainly inattentive and combined type, none of which function particularly well in a school setting. Our current structure of teaching isn't all that different from previous classroom settings in that both would have required sitting still and paying attention. Major differences, though, was that there were other options for for kids who couldn't function in these settings, like learning a trade, and it was permissible to hit kids and throw them out of the class for disrupting in the past. It's quite misleading to say that modern classrooms are the problem. It's just that kids kids really need an education to function in society these days so they're kept in school for longer.

                        Which isn't to say that ADHD isn't a personality type, per se, but certain aspects of personality are showing to be determined by genetics. Brain scans of those with ADHD show very real differences, which researchers are still trying to figure out the cause for, whether it's strictly genetic or some environmental factor has a strong influence on. And scientists have discovered genes that are responsible for empathy.

                        As for symptoms reducing upon graduation, in some cases sure, and hyperactivity is known to diminish for some with age, but ADHD is a lot more than just hyperactivity. Many aren't diagnosed until much later in life, especially women who tend more towards inattentive. I was 41 but not being obviously hyperactive and being able to bluff my way through a lot of life. Many women aren't diagnosed until their children are or until it becomes a major problem. When I was younger I was able to get away with being "irresponsible" but as I got older trying to keep it together got much harder. That plus I drank and did a lot of drugs (self medicating) which masked the cause of my problems.

                        It's thought that the reason that the genotype for ADHD is also what makes some of us more adventurous, more prone to explore and seek out new and novel experiences, which is why it hasn't been selected against. But keeping the total number of people with ADHD to a relatively small number is also important, otherwise life would be utter chaos. In many ways it's much harder for women with ADHD, because we've been the traditional organizers, housekeepers, child minders, etc. and those are all tasks that people with ADHD are particularly bad at most of the time. But up until recent history women were just "lazy, flighty and not very good wives/mothers." So, to answer your question, yes and no.
                        Yep, this. All of this.
                        Durp.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Ok- question!
                          I eat sardines, salmon, etc daily. I live on the pacific coast, so fresh seafood is available all year at ok prices. Is this good enough for fish oil, or do I need to take an actual supplement?
                          Oh no, you're doing it right. I need to concentrate on getting it through my diet. Whole foods are always better and because it's O3 you have to be careful of oxidization so pills are always suspect in my opinion.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Neckhammer View Post
                            I've read some very interesting things on ADHD being a type of personality that just does not respond well to our current structure of teaching, and that many symptoms reduce significantly upon graduation. Do those of you with this diagnosis find this to be true?
                            I do think there's merit to this. Traditional societies may well have had more room for ADHD adults. Though, oddly, I was a straight A student right up until depression destroyed my concentration around age 19 or so.

                            But I am a girl, and girls are socialized to sit down and shut up, do what we're told, etc etc. As a child, I don't think I was any less hyper than I am today...somehow, lol. But I do remember being basically terrorized into daily, visceral fear with a capital F. I blame Catholicism for this, naturally. Catholic schools are kind of... no. But that's also how my parents, both of whom show ADHD symptoms (imo, they have zero interest in pursuing it), were raised. There was no malfeasance on their part. It was just kind of what you DO, when you have a kid who wasn't just naturally obedient and 'normal'.

                            Actually, I suppose fear = adrenaline, and adrenaline makes me very focused.

                            My symptoms got significantly worse as I became an adult, though. I'm not sure why. Maybe I was protected biochemically somewhat by being a growing child as opposed to a static adult, or maybe the food supply/distraction monsterness of modern life got significantly worse around 1998 or so. I do recall that this was just when the internet was starting to break through.

                            I have no idea how today's ADHD-prone kids ever get anything done, with crap like twitter et al. I feel for my poor 2 year old niece, who is already mirroring her aunt's... uh... interesting! lol... personality. My sister's a staunch vegan, too. Carbs actively make me crazy, and have all my life. I watch my niece eat a whack of grapes and vegan zerofat cookies and maybe a few lentils for 'protein' and five minutes later she's having a temper tantrum. Aaaaand, given that I'm officially nucking futs and have zero credibility to my very sensible sister? Yeahhh.

                            As an adult, though, I can design my lifestyle and career to work with the ADHDness more so than a kid stuck in any school. And maybe my sister will put her in one of those Montessori thingies. They might be more attentive to ADHD-styles of learning there.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Typical ADHD kid, here. Raised on Macaroni and cheese and kool-aid and ritalin. Always angry, head spinning, etc. Weightd 82 pounds from the age of about 10 to 14, then gained 100 pounds in one year on Powerbars (covered my skin with boils, and I had no idea why!) Later on, after my teens, I tried welbutrin, celexa and a few others. My wife wanted to see me without pills before we got married, so I stopped taking celexa. This was around the time I also began to fix my diet. I have no way to tell you how much it helped, how much was age, etc. But after 23-odd years of insanity, everything began to clear up. Alcohol rehab helped. I let them tear me apart and retrain me to think correctly - because I knew I had it wrong. Angry white trash like me usually ends up dead or in prison, and I did not want that. So there was that, the life skills, which helped me find a real job and become a stable person. I still felt pretty flighty until I started proper nutrition, though. Now I have too much energy sometimes, but even more focus than I've ever had in my life! Well, in some areas, like work and fitness. Not so good at house chores...

                              So, I'm a 32 year old gal and I have chronic moderate depression and ADHD.

                              I take a cocktail of wellbutrin, ritalin, trazodone, PEA, various amino acids and a few vitamins (B complex, C, sometimes D) to control it. And this is working out pretty well. I'm satisfied with the effectiveness of these drugs, and I think they're giving me as much symptom relief and daily ability to function as I can realistically expect from pharmaceuticals.

                              To be clear, I am not at all interested in getting off these meds. I know lots and lots of people are, but that's not my goal.

                              However, now I'm starting to think about how diet is affecting me. I recently took the plunge and went through low carb flu (which is absolutely for real.) And it worked, I am now very nicely fat adapted. I do just fine on 30-50g of carb from raw mostly green veggies. Everything else is protein or fat. That has helped my brain chemistry a LOT, just because I'm not having sugar crashes all day.

                              So now I'm curious. Have other people here with ADHD or depression found some nutritional quirk that really improved their symptoms? I hear tons and tons of conflicting advice on this out there in the world from doctors and nutritionists and google. So I'm thinking I'll get the most relevant tips from people here, who are already inclined to shun grains/sugars/high carbs and don't have a vendetta against saturated fat.

                              So, any thoughts?

                              If at all relevant, here are my nutritional stats:
                              I'm 5'6, 120ish lbs and this is a decent weight for me. I have a medium to light build.
                              I mostly go for long walks daily, sprint when I feel like it for short distances, do some suspension training and mild weightlifting when I feel like it.
                              I eat about 1800kcal a day, sometimes either 1600 or 2000 depending on how much exercise I get.
                              I generally shoot for 50g carb, 100-110g protein, and whatever fat to make up the rest of the calories.
                              The more protein I eat, the better I feel. Male, 30Y.O., 5'9", 172 lbs.
                              I carb cycle, but many days are, indeed, below the 50 gram mark.
                              Average around 2800 calories per day lately. Riding my bike more.
                              I find liver, eggs and bacon all make me feel really happy. Especially raw liver.

                              I thought I would always need pills, too. Now I take nothing. I'm not special. I just live in the wrong civilization. People don't care that I can hear dog whistles, have a lot of asperger's traits, can run fast enough to catch an animal, or any of that. They want to see me make numbers. So I make stupid numbers happen for them, and then they leave me alone long enough to play and feel alive.

                              Almost forgot, my drug of choice -



                              At least three cups a day. So I guess that's my medication. But Neanderthals were often living with piles of psychoactive plants, so it's not surprising that white people love coffee so much.
                              Last edited by Knifegill; 08-23-2012, 10:39 AM.
                              Crohn's, doing SCD

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