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Nutrition with Kate Arnott

Interesting Articles, Nutrition

The Gut-brain axis and its relationship to ADHD 


ADHD is classified as a neurodevelopmental disorder and is characterised by behavioural deficits such as trouble paying attention, impulsive behaviours, hyperactivity, anxiety, forgetfulness and poor time management to name a few.

People with ADHD may also have trouble in relationships, struggle with low self-esteem and general performance. While some schools do support these children, many still place much emphasis on a ‘model child’. As a result, children with ADHD are often prescribed medication to assist in the management of symptoms which may result in a host of undesirable side effects.

The effects of this system can last well into adulthood, oftentimes preceding addictive behaviours, anxiety disorders, depression and poor health. This could also be due to alterations in neurotransmitter systems (dopamine, serotonin, GABA) specifically associated with ADHD.

Gut-brain axis and ADHD development 

While evidence for the pathophysiology of ADHD is still limited, emerging research in both human and animal models supports the potential role of neuroinflammation in the development of ADHD.

Throughout the human body are trillions of microorganisms which function together to support the life of their host. Without them, we simply would not be able to sustain life on earth. The gut is lined with part of the microbiota which serve to protect us from pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract.

In addition to this, the gut microbiota also play a role in influencing the neurons which connect to your brain. Hence, the gut-brain axis. This is a bidirectional relationship and stress has been shown to influence the composition and function of the gut microbiota.

Your microbiota also play a critical role in modulating the immune system which affects the inflammatory response within the body and as mentioned above, increased inflammatory markers have been associated with ADHD.

The composition of microorganisms is passed onto the child from the mother. Birthing methods and environmental factors during the natal period and post birth can affect the child’s microbiota composition, which have been associated with ADHD developmental risk.

In summary, the state of the mother’s gut microbiota affected by stress and various lifestyle factors might increase the risk of her child’s neurological development due to the profound influence these microorganisms have on the entire system. Thus, the importance of gut health.

Diet, lifestyle, gut health for ADHD symptom management

I don’t believe that ADHD is a disease that needs to be ‘cured’. It is simply a manifestation of the current environmental state, lifestyle choices and stress that humans are under. It is therefore, a condition that we should become curious about and question how we as individuals can make an impact to support people who might be struggling with the symptoms associated with the ‘disorder’.

Where might we be placing unnecessary stress on our children? 

Where might you be placing unnecessary stress on yourself? 

Are our educational systems supporting these individuals?

Are aspiring parents being supported holistically?

Are you aware of your toxic exposure in products, foods and environment? 

Can you make better food choices that support the health of your gut?

Are you aware of the impact routine antibiotics and other medications might have on your microbiota? 


Diet plays a key role in modulating inflammatory responses within the body. While everyone responds differently to various foods, there are some foods that generally tend to cause inflammation especially if that individual is already compromised in their gut. Foods to be mindful of:

  • Processed sugars and carbohydrates
  • Chemical additives, flavourings, colourants
  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Alcohol
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Processed foods
  • High omega 6 and grain fed meats/ eggs
  • Saturated fats and fried foods
  • Spicy foods

Foods that may assist in modulating inflammation in the body are:

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Avocado
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes
  • Wild caught fatty fish

*Note: it is recommended that you first activate any grains, nuts, seeds, legumes that you consume by soaking overnight before consumption/ preparing

CBD support 

ADHD has also been linked to insufficient dopamine availability. CBD has been shown to improve dopamine transmission in the brain (HauBermann et. al, 2017) in addition to naturally decreasing anxiety levels and inflammation.

Nature’s Relief CBD Calm or Focus would be a suitable supplemental addition to the dietary and lifestyle adjustments in order to support mood and anxiety which are common symptoms of ADHD.

The Nature’s Relief CBD focus is formulated with a blend of terpenes particularly geared toward enhancing alertness and minimising distraction. CBD regulates brain dopamine levels associated with memory, focus and mental awareness.

Nature’s Relief Neuropro Nootropic blend is formulated to assist with enhancing cognition and mental clarity. This unique blend is made up of three ingredients (300mg nano CBD, 3000mg cacao extract and 4500mg Lion’s Mane extract) which work synergistically to support the reduction of stress and anxiety and help to increase alertness. It also contains neuroprotective properties.

When beginning a natural regime it is important to understand the importance of HOLISTIC treatment. Supplements, dietary and lifestyle adjustments all work synonymously to support the individual. Please consult with a qualified practitioner who understands a personalised approach to healing in order to formulate a protocol that is best suited to you and your stage of life.

You can reach out to myself, Kate Arnott, via my website for online consultations or Nature’s Relief who offer free consultations with their clinical homeopath in-store and virtually if applicable.

Durban Branch

68 Adelaide Tambo Drive, Durban North, KwaZulu-Natal

+27 79 884 8588

Olivedale Branch

17 President Fouche Dr, Olivedale, Randburg, 2158

+27 63 502 2974

Nature’s performance enhancers



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