• Tricia Thornton

ADHD - From a Different Lens...

What are you Feeding your brain?...


This is the second article of the series...ADHD as we know comes with positives and challenges. Daily, an individual faces a variety of situations that cause a reaction. Because of their type of ADHD, that child or adult will face the need to handle emotions and events with discretion. As in the first article, we are breaking down the acronym a bit differently. Earlier, I went over the A of ADHD, looking at the anger and aptitude. This article we will learn about the first D of ADHD. As we all know, it really stands for Deficit; however, I challenge you to look at it from a different lens. How about we study the devotion and destruction that a person with ADHD faces.


The "D" of ADHD - the devotion


As the question above states..."what are you feeding your brain?". I will get to that point when I discuss the destruction. First, let's look at the the devotion part of ADHD. Many people with ADHD have a heightened sense of emotions. So, when they set their mind to do something, they go for it! Typically, the high energy level helps this individual to achieve most what they put their mind to as long as they can focus their attention to do the activity to completion. As a child or an adult begins to learn to channel their attention to staying on task, their devotion to succeed blossoms. Their hyper-focus then will create a drive to exceed expectations. Sometimes the impulsivity of the ADHD individual will cause them to make quick decisions, maybe even with quite a lot of zeal. When properly directed, this individual's excitement and high energy will lead to wonderfully creative results.


The "D" of ADHD - the destruction


For the destruction of ADHD, we are going to focus on what exactly is going on inside the brain.  I will also share about what we are feeding our brain that may be adding to the destruction. Here is a great web site with two videos going over the details of the brain development of a child and an adult with ADHD.

https://adhd-institute.com/burden-of-adhd/aetiology/neurobiology/

The main points about the ADHD brain are two-fold. 1 - the ADHD brain is underdeveloped in key areas and 2 - deficiencies in neurotransmitters. The web site, https://www.additudemag.com has a wealth of information about ADHD, and this specific article spells out what I am about to share, https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-neuroscience-101/.


1 - The underdeveloped areas of the ADHD brain -

There are four areas that are underdeveloped

  • Frontal cortex - this region houses the synapses that are responsible for executive functioning, attention and organization. When there this part is under-functioning, then those three areas are effected.

  • Limbic cortex - this region is responsible for regulating our emotions. When this area of the brain is underdeveloped, one may have a more erratic response to a variety of emotions.

  • Basal ganglia - these neural circuits are the transmitting information to all parts of the brain. When there is a deficiency, the information being sent can cause a short-circuit effect resulting in a lack of attention and impulsive reactions.

  • Reticular activating system - or commonly called RAS - this area is like a filter helping your brain to not deal with more information than it can handle. It is the relay system helping to give messages to your your five senses except for smell which is handled by the limbic cortex, the emotional center. A deficiency in the RAS can result in inattention and impulsivity.

2 - Deficiencies of neurotransmitters of the ADHD brain-

So these four areas of the ADHD brain are underdeveloped or deficient therefore can cause destruction. There is another component with each of these areas is what is happening with the neurotransmitters. The main neurotransmitter associated with the ADHD brain is norepinephrine. In the above mentioned article, by Dr. Silver, ADHD Neuroscience 101, it states, "Like all neurotransmitters, norepinephrine is synthesized within the brain. The basic building block of each norepinephrine molecule is dopa; this tiny molecule is converted into dopamine, which, in turn, is converted into norepinephrine."

Here is a playful (but excellent) video explaining about norepinephrine and dopamine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgUm0xXzSLc In a very easy-to-understand way, the ADD coach explains the role of each of these neurotransmitters. In general, in the ADHD brain, the connectivity of the the neurons is impaired or even missing so there is lack of or deficit of these neurotransmitters. Therefore, messages in the 4 above regions of the brain are inhibited causing destruction in the brain.


So, what can we do to help feed the brain to help with these deficiencies?

Here is a great article outlining what to eat and avoid for the ADHD brain. https://www.additudemag.com/best-foods-for-adhd-diet-nutrition/

We all know that certain foods can either help or hurt our brain's function. It is even more important to feed an ADHD brain well! Interestingly, our guts are key to regulation of our emotions. In fact, 95% of the neurotransmitters to control emotions are effected of what is in or not in our gut. Foods high in protein can directly effect the level of dopamine. Small amounts of protein throughout your day can increase the level of dopamine. LOTS of water! 80% of your brain is made up of water, so staying hydrated is key. Also, make sure you are eating clean, meaning as much as you can free of chemicals. Green leafy vegetables like spinach is also very important. Lastly, avoid as much sugar as possible. I know this is a tough one, however, it can be toxic to your gut and therefore to your brain. There is so much information out there about what to eat and not eat, but try not to overwhelm yourself. I will be sharing more articles in the future about nutrition, but for now, keep it simple.


Overall, an ADHD brain can be seen through a different lens, with strengths and challenges. The devotion of an individual with ADHD can be endearing and positive. However, what we feed our brain can make the opposite occur and become destructive. Then, not allowing the positives of high energy, a hyper focus, and a drive to succeed to occur. In the next articles we will explore the H and the other D in ADHD. Stay tuned...





Tricia Thornton, MA, LPC, RPT

615-212-9977

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