Improve mind with Diet Change
- Take a 100% multi-vitamin every day. Studies have reported that they help people with learning and help prevent chronic illness.
- Eliminate caffeine from your diet. It interferes with treatments and sleep.
- Get 30-45 minutes per day of intense aerobic exercise. At Amen Clinics, brain health is very important to us, so please make sure kids have safe exercise outlets and wear helmets when appropriate. When nothing else is available, go for long, fast walks.
- Turn off the television and video games, or limit them to no more than 30 minutes a day. This may be hard for kids and teens, but it can make a huge difference.
- Food is a drug. Most people with ADHD do best with a diet that is high in protein and low in simple carbohydrates. Dr. Barry Sears’s book, The Zone: A Dietary Road Map, is a good place to start learning how to make this diet work for you.
- Do not yell at people with ADHD. Many people with ADHD seek out conflict or excitement because they like the stimulation it brings them. They can be masters at making other people mad or angry. Do not lose your temper with them: if they are able to get this reaction out of you, their subconscious, low-energy prefrontal cortex lights up and makes them feel great. Never let your anger be their medication—they can get addicted to it.
- Test ADHD kids and adults for learning disabilities. They occur in up to 60% of people with ADHD. The local schools are often set up to do this for school-age children.
- Apply for appropriate school or work accommodations.
- Take a high-quality fish oil supplement. Adults: 2,000-4,000mg per day. Children: 1,000-2,000mg per day.
- Never stop seeking the best help for your brain.
Why drugs don’t work, and fish oil does
With severe brain trauma, the usual response of the physician is “we just have to wait”. The reason why is because there are no drugs that can cross the blood-brain barrier to put out the inflammation in the brain. That is not true with omega-3 fatty acids. They can easily enter the brain if there are high enough levels in the blood. What is the correct level in the blood? The AA/EPA ratio will tell you. Not only should the AA/EPA ratio be between 1.5 and 3, but also the EPA levels should be greater than 4% of the total fatty acids in the blood.
When using high levels of fish oil even if it is pure and potent, you still have to emulsify it to reduce the size of oil droplets for better absorption. One of the best methods to emulsify liquid fish oil is to mix it with either a seaweed or an aloe vera product to reduce the size of the oil droplets to increase the absorption into the blood.
You also have to provide extra anti-oxidant protection to protect the omega-3 fatty acids from oxidation. The best way is using polyphenols to be mixed with the fish oil before administration. Adding extra virgin olive oil is a good choice. Adding highly purified polyphenol extracts to the liquid fish oil is a better choice.
What to expect
Each case is different. Based on my experience if you are using the correct amount of omega-3 fatty acids, you should see the beginnings of a response within 60 days. In Grant’s case, it was two days. If you do, then continue the same level of fish oil since putting out the inflammatory fire is only the first step of the process. The next step is rebuilding the brain. I would suggest monitoring the AA/EPA ratio every 30 days for the first 60 days and then every 60 days thereafter to make sure you are giving the right amount of fish oil.
Most importantly, this is not a Mr. Wizard home experiment. You should always be working with your physicians, not against them. They will also need education in the use and safety of high-dose fish oil, but this short summary is a good start.
Don’t expect any reimbursement from your insurance company for the use of the fish oil or AA/EPA testing. It may seem expensive, but compared to the human suffering of not trying to rebuild the brain, the costs of both the fish oil and AA/EPA testing are minor. I would also consider using flexible- spending health-care accounts if you have access to them to lower the overall cost, since they are based on pre-tax income.
Taking fish oil and following an anti-inflammatory diet is key
One of the reasons for Grant Virgin’s rapid progress was the fact that he was already taking moderate doses of fish oil for a medical condition. This meant he already had some reserve capacity in the body and the brain to reduce the inflammatory burden caused by a hit-and-run accident. You never know when brain trauma will occur. Maintaining a relatively low AA/EPA ratio in the blood is your best insurance policy for protection against future brain trauma if it does strike. You don’t have to be as aggressive as in the treatment phase, but aim for keeping the AA/EPA ratio between 5 and 10 in the blood. For comparison, the average American has an AA/EPA ratio of 20 (12). When dealing with brain trauma, an ounce of prevention is worth pounds of cure.
Finally, to accelerate the healing and rebuilding of the brain, you want to be following an anti-inflammatory diet (13-15). An anti-inflammatory diet is one that reduces the production of AA that drives inflammation in the brain. The less AA you have in the blood, the less AA gets into the brain. Try to keep the AA level in the blood to less than 9% of the total fatty acids. This takes more work than simply giving fish oil, but the more you reduce the levels of AA in the blood, the less high-dose fish you will need to maintain the AA/EPA ratio required to accelerate the healing and rebuilding process in the brain.
This information was taken from Dr. Barry Sears is a leading authority on the impact of the diet on hormonal response, genetic expression, and inflammation. A former research scientist at the Boston University School of Medicine and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Sears has dedicated his research efforts over the past 30 years to the study of lipids. He has published more than 30 scientific articles and holds 13 U.S. patents in the areas of intravenous drug delivery systems and hormonal regulation for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. He has also written 13 books, including the New York Times #1 best-seller “The Zone”. These books have sold more than 5 million copies in the U.S. and have been translated into 22 different languages. I highly recommend his books.
Balanced Meals. Faye Berger Mitchell, a registered dietician from Bethesda, Maryland, has a nine-year-old daughter who received an ADHD diagnosis two years ago. While her daughter takes stimulants to control her ADHD symptoms, Mitchell concluded that a pill is not enough. She finds that when her daughter eats a well-balanced diet, including vegetables, complex carbohydrates, fruits, and plenty of protein, her behavior tends to be more consistently under control.
Ned Hallowell, M.D., founder of the Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health, in Sudbury, Massachusetts, and New York City, advises all of his ADHD patients to think about their plates when preparing a meal. Half of the plate, he recommends, should be filled with fruits or vegetables, one-fourth with a protein, and one-fourth with carbohydrates.
Hallowell also advocates eating several servings of whole grains, which are rich in fiber, each day to prevent blood sugar levels from spiking and then plummeting.