Proteins are important for a healthy brain.
And a healthy brain – especially an ADHD one – functions better.
Why is protein important for optimum brain health?
For starters, a good portion of the weight of our bodies is made up of protein. Only water accounts for more body weight than protein.
The neurons in our brain are responsible for communication. Not just communication as in talking to someone, but very basic communication like telling your arm to move when you want it to, or making sure your heart keeps on beating. Kinda important stuff.
What you eat affects your brain and therefore how well you do or don’t function.
Have a few alcoholic drinks at lunch and see how much you get done that afternoon. Or feast on a high carb meal and find yourself feeling sleepy and sluggish all afternoon.
But when you eat a meal high in protein (lean protein, please), you will feel energized, alert and ready to go.
Eating protein raises the levels of an amino acid called tyrosine in your brain, which in turn produces norepinephrine and dopamine – chemical messengers that promote activity, alertness, and energy.
Sounds good, right?
Now this isn’t to say that your diet should consist entirely of proteins, or that you should eat them all the time.
I think an ADHD brain would certainly benefit from some protein at breakfast – eggs, milk and yogurt for example – and protein at lunch as well, perhaps a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread.
Most Americans have their biggest serving of protein at dinner even though that may be the least optimal time for it in terms of brain function. For anyone doing work after dinner, such as a child doing homework, a little bit of protein at dinner might actually help.
Meats, beans, dairy products (ice cream doesn’t count), soy, and salmon are all sources of protein. At least 6 grams per serving is recommended.