This article is hard to write. I’ve spent the past 6 years teaching my son strategies to manage his ADHD. I’m subscribed to major ADHD publications like Understood.org and ADDitude Magazine. I listen to podcasts, read articles and books, watch youtube videos and even took my son out of public school this year. My goals are to teach him how to manage his time, focus his work efforts, take ownership of his learning and improve his condition through self-advocacy and self-discovery.
But what if we could cure him? What if we could get him on the right probiotics and prebiotics, change his diet and lessen his symptoms by almost 75%? In fact, what if depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD and even Autism could be improved SIGNIFICANTLY by addressing the bacteria balance in our gut and our bodies? Is that real? Or is it science fiction?
The Hard Knocks of ADHD Life
I know my readers would do anything to help our ADHD kids. It sucks for them. It sucks as a parent. You question everything you do because your kid just doesn’t listen! You feel like the Shittiest Parent in the World Award has your name on it, every damn year. And your child has school anxiety. Or maybe she plays class clown to divert attention from her lack of focus and therefore lack of understanding. Life is harder for her and you.
Neuroscience’s Newest Claims-It’s all about the Gut
My purpose in writing this blog is to show parents there are ways to manage ADHD. Your child is NOT doomed to an adult life riddled with bad choices and consequences. There are many ways to help. But, can we solve these brain problems forever? Most of the ADHD community believe we have the condition for life. However, there is newer neuroscientific research conducted since 2010 which shows an unmistakable correlation between gut health, certain strains of bacteria, brain health, and the production of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. It’s not your brain that isn’t producing the chemicals you need to feel calm and focused, it’s the bacteria IN YOUR GUT. These bacteria signal the brain to produce the necessary chemicals. If certain strains are missing, or overtaken by other, “bad guy” strains, we can’t focus, feel sad, have less energy and more.
Dietary Changes Take 1
There are dietary changes we’ve made to help our ADHD, in the past. There are 2 articles I’ve written about our experiences. This latest dietary change will be more severe. My son and I need to repopulate our entire microbiome. Let me start at the beginning.
Essential Oils Protect the Microbiome
My essential oils journey led me to the world of the human microbiome. We actually have many different bacteria, fungi, and viruses living in and on our body at all times. These bacteria in the womb, the strains in breast milk, the ones in the mouth and especially those of the gut are all paramount to our health. If the bacteria of our microbiome are unbalanced and become “unchecked” by other, opposing strains, your body is ripe for cancer, neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, and autoimmune diseases.
Think of it this way: there is always a battle going on in our bodies. The question becomes: are you feeding the good guys or the bad guys?
If you’re feeding the bad guys you’ll crave foods like pizza, crackers or french toast with maple syrup. And you’ll crave those foods because the bacteria in your gut communicates with your brain. The vagus nerve runs directly from the brain to the gut. Your brain receives the bad bacteria’s message, fulfills the gut’s order and you’re now eating the 3rd piece of french toast, wondering why you’re still hungry.
If you want to read more about gut microbiota and brain connection, get The Brain Maker by Dr. Perlmutter. It’s opened my mind to new ways of thinking about brain disorders, gut health and diet. Here is an audible link.
I actually listened to the book in 3 days. Then spent the past two weeks doing my own research on his claims. They’re well-supported. Here is one research article with insights on ADHD. Perlmutter claims the same diet that helps depression, anxiety, and ADHD also improves ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) symptoms. His ASD case studies, in particular, were fascinating.
The Better Poop Diet
This post got really long, but I’m setting you up for my next one. My son and I will start the “Brain Maker” diet. It’s similar to the ketogenic diet, but more balanced with healthy carbohydrates. We’ll be making a series of YouTube videos to chronicle any brain improvements as well demonstrate what we’re eating. Here’s an article about the type of changes we’re making by Squatty Potty. A little down and dirty poop talk for your Sunday afternoon. Happy Gut, Happy Brain!
For thought: What are psychobiotics and how are they related to antibiotics?