Probiotics and ADHD: A Holistic Treatment Approach
ADHD is a complex disorder that affects the brain. People can have hyperactive ADHD, inattentive ADHD, or a combination diagnosis where they experience the symptoms of both types. Many people are prescribed stimulant medications such as Adderall or Ritalin to treat their symptoms. Some people find these drugs helpful, while others prefer to use natural treatments. Regardless of whether you take prescription medications, growing evidence suggests that a holistic approach to treating ADHD is the optimum choice. A holistic approach may include medications, non-prescription stimulants and supplements, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Taking probiotics is one way of maintaining a healthy brain and combatting ADHD symptoms.
Probiotics and ADHD: What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are fermented foods and drinks that contain a type of healthy bacteria. Popular fermented products include kefir, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso paste, and tempeh. You can buy these foods in many supermarkets, or make your own by fermenting milk, sugared tea, or cabbage at home. Fermenting your own probiotic products is a good way to ensure you get the maximum health benefits, as in processed foods most healthy bacteria are killed in the preserving process.
How Do Probiotics Work?
Probiotics affect gut health and are often used to treat stomach problems. There is a strong link between gut health and cognitive health, and studies have shown that probiotics can have a positive effect on ADHD symptoms. It is not clear exactly why probiotics have a positive effect, but it is thought that consuming probiotics can help with dopamine production. People with ADHD have dopamine deficiency, so increasing levels of dopamine in the brain helps to treat symptoms. The science behind this may become clearer as more studies are conducted in the future.
A Practical Option
For people with ADHD, making significant dietary changes can be challenging. Dopamine deficiency often causes people to binge on sugary and carbohydrate-rich foods and can lead to substance abuse disorders. It is easy to say that somebody should eat a healthy diet with lots of protein and avoid sugar and saturated fats, but in practice, this isn’t always practical advice. Consuming a probiotic product such as a kefir yogurt drink or portion of sauerkraut once a day is an easy way to help combat ADHD symptoms. If you struggle to remember to consume probiotics, create an alarm on your phone like you would with medications.
It is unlikely that probiotics alone will alleviate all ADHD symptoms, but they can be used as part of a holistic approach to treating the disorder. Probiotics are safe for most people, but those with compromised immune systems should be cautious and seek medical advice as probiotic products contain live bacteria. Probiotics have also been linked to improved mood regulation, which is something many people with ADHD struggle with, so including probiotics in a holistic treatment plan may also help with anger management and mood swings.