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Nutrition Nugget: Managing the Neurodivergent Brain with Nutrition

Neurodivergence, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)  or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) all describe people whose brain processes, learns, and/or behaves differently from what is considered "typical'. While traditional treatment options often involve medication, nutrition can also play a role in managing neurodivergent symptoms. Glucose, vitamin B, iron, and fish oil are four key nutrients that can be especially beneficial for those whose brain processes differently.

Glucose is a primary source of energy for the brain. There is evidence to suggest that low blood sugar levels can contribute to atypical symptoms such as trouble concentrating and irritability. By maintaining stable blood sugar levels through a diet that includes complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and fruits, those with atypical brain processes may be able to mitigate these symptoms.

Another key nutrient in the management of atypical brain function is vitamin B. This vitamin has been shown to support healthy brain function and improve cognitive performance. In particular, vitamin B6 has been linked to improved attention span and reduced hyperactivity in children. Good sources of vitamin B6 include poultry, fish, whole grains, and spinach.

Iron is another important nutrient for brain function. Low iron levels has been linked to decreased cognitive function and mood disorders. While iron supplements may be necessary to address iron deficiency anemia, it is also possible to increase iron intake through dietary changes. Red meats, poultry, beans, and dark leafy greens are all excellent sources of iron.

Finally, fish oil has received a great deal of attention as a dietary supplement for brain function. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil have been linked to improved focus, memory, and reasoning skills. While the precise mechanism of action is not yet clear, there is evidence to suggest that omega-3s can reduce inflammation in the brain and promote healthy neuron function. Omega-3s can be consumed through fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines.

While medication may be necessary for some people with atypical brain function issues, nutrition can also play a role in managing symptoms. Healthy glucose levels, vitamin B, iron, and fish oil are four key nutrients that have been shown to be especially beneficial in the management of these issues. By focusing on a diet that includes these nutrients, those with brain functioning issues may be able to improve their cognitive performance and reduce symptoms such as hyperactivity, inattention, and mood disorders.

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