Cognitive Positive Diet
A ParentWhiz Guide from Auerhammer Professional Services
We hear a lot about diets. Usually that means an eating pattern that a person is following with the expectation of some form of benefit. That benefit could be weight loss, managing diabetes, fitness, overall health improvement or maintenance. This Cognitive Positive Diet diet is designed to support neurocognitive functioning for anyone with atypical neurology such as ADHD, learning disabilities, or dysregulated behavior problems.
Neurocognitive functioning encompasses everything the brain does including focusing, remembering, learning, regulating emotional reactions and moods, thinking, problem solving, judgement, and sleep.
Details about nutrition need to come from a professional who works with food management as it interfaces with mental health, or a nutritionist. However, research does support some basic dietary recommendations that support good neurocognitive functioning in anyone.
High Protein/High Complex Carbohydrate Diet
The brain devotes a tremendous amount of energy to management of glucose, the main “food” for the brain, and simple sugars overwhelm the brain. Glucose for the brain comes from the digestion breaking down healthy foods, not simple sugars or simple carbohydrates.
Simple Sugars, like white or brown sugar used for cooking or at the table, create many problems in the body. They break down quickly and surge to the brain where they disrupt neurocognitive processes. Avoid them. This sugar is also found in junk foods, candy, white breads and many brown breads, pop, juice like drinks, many granola bars, and many more. Read food labels.
Chemical Sweeteners, such as NutraSweet and Saccharine, are well known for their negative impact on the brain so they need to be avoided entirely. Pure honey makes a great sweetener and supports the brain’s effort to regulate its glucose well.
Complex Carbohydrates include whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat, oats The body breaks these down to create the healthy glucose, which migrates to the blood stream and then to the brain where it serves all brain functions. Simple carbohydrates, like white flour, break down into simple sugar.
Lean Meats and Other Strong Proteins help the brain regulate the glucose, in a good way, and need to be emphasized at every meal and for snacks. Also include good cheese, plain whole milk yogurt, eggs, nuts and seeds, legumes like lentils, pinto beans, or other beans. Eliminate or avoid processed meats such as hot dogs, sausages, SPAM etc.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables provide high levels of nutrients in general and natural fiber. These foods aid digestion and help eliminate constipation if it is a factor. Try for at least four servings a day.
,Food dyes don’t cause conditions like ADHD but they do agitate the brain. Red dye especially appears to cause problems while other colors are not quite so well noted. Avoiding dyes in general, as much as possible, is strongly recommended for best neurocognitive functioning.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids, preferably from fish, support brain health and growth according to research. A recommended amount is 1,000 mg to 1,200 mg per day. Children can easily get this amount from Barlean’s Omega Swirl. This comes in countless tasty natural fruit flavors and goes down easily from a spoon or mixed in a fruit smoothie. While not a cure for ADHD or other cognitive challenges, Omega-3 fatty acids can help minimize symptoms.
Vitamin D Children suffering from ADHD and other neurocognitive syndromes tend to have lower levels of measurable vitamin D in their blood. This also occurs in other mental health conditions including depression. Giving children with ADHD vitamin D supplements might modify symptoms. It might also keep depression, a common co-occuring condition, at bay. Barlean’s Omega Swirl has Vitamin D in it.
In Summary This diet won’t cure ADHD, or any other cognitive syndrome, and some children benefit more than others. Like many parenting interventions, it works best as part of a bigger plan that includes strong parenting, therapeutic support through counseling, school interventions as needed, and possibly medication.
Read More Read more in this related post, A Cognitive Positive Diet Can Improve Neurocognitive Functioning
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