Several years ago I put together a program that is designed to help you manage your ADHD symptoms naturally, without the use of medications. (Those of you who use medications can supplement them with this program as well.)
Today is Part 1 in a series about managing ADHD naturally. In this series, I will be sharing the entire contents of the e-book portion of that program. (I couldn’t resist the urge to edit it a little. I always think I can improve on my writing.)
I hope that you find it useful.
Med Free with ADD
A key component in The Med Free with ADD program is lean protein, because protein is an essential part of a balanced diet and contributes to brain health and function.
Almost everyone knows that much of your body weight is water, but did you know that protein accounts for a significant part of the rest? Muscles, organs, and the immune system are all primarily protein.
In addition, your body uses protein, in one form or another, in order to function.
One of the most important uses of protein is in regards to the brain.
Neurons are nerve cells that carry signals from the brain to different areas of the body and back again. They give us messages from our senses, send information to and from our muscles and glands, and of course, help us think.
The neurons themselves are made mostly of a fatty substance, but the other component is protein.
Protein that comes from our diet allows communication to take place. Neurotransmitters – the messengers – are made up of amino acids from protein.
Protein works in our brains in other ways as well.
When your meal includes protein, it prompts your body to release chemicals which in turn trigger the production of chemical messengers that help cognitive processes such as learning and attention.
It’s also important to note that stress and lack of sleep can deplete your supply of these chemicals, which can lead to depression, and that sugar, alcohol, and caffeine can also adversely affect some of the neurotransmitters in your brain.
Sources of Protein
Protein should be eaten 2, preferably 3 times a day, and should account for about 10-15% of your total calorie intake.
Another guideline that might be easier to follow is to eat about 7 grams of protein for every 20 lbs of body weight. Eating protein at each meal gives the brain a steady supply and helps maintain optimal brain function.
Good sources of protein include:
Meat, of course, is an excellent source of protein. Be sure that it’s mostly lean, and preferably not processed. Bologna, for instance, or hot dogs, are sources of protein, but not good ones. Chicken, ground sirloin or ground round, and lean pork, like pork chops or tenderloin, are much better choices. Also be sure to
prepare it in a healthful manner – grilled chicken without the skin is much better than fried.
Wild game is another excellent source of protein. Deer, elk, moose, caribou, and antelope are all lower in fat and calories than beef or pork, and have higher contents of Omega 3 oils and polyunsaturated fat (good cholesterol).
Fish and seafood is another excellent choice for diets rich in lean protein, and many have the added advantage of providing Omega 3 oils. Once again, be careful with processed foods and cooking methods.
Soy is also a good source of protein. Tofu is probably the most common, although soy milk is readily available now, too. In general, tofu has more protein than soy milk.
Eggs and dairy products such as milk and cheese can be good sources of protein as well. Choose low fat varieties of dairy products, and if cholesterol is a concern, you can opt for egg substitutes, which provide protein with lesser calories.
Beans offer a great deal of protein as well as fiber. They’re inexpensive, low in calories, and can be a wonderful addition to a healthy diet.
Check out options such as protein shakes, protein bars, and cereal bars for a portable and easy snack. Make sure the ones you choose have at least 6 grams of protein, and are low in sugar and fat.
Nuts and nut butters are also a good source of protein, although they are also higher in fat than many other options. However, much of this fat is polyunsaturated (good cholesterol). Check the label on your peanut butter jar before assuming that it is a healthful choice.