Did you know that our gastrointestinal (GI) health has an impact on our mental well-being? Considered the body's second nervous system, the GI system produces 95% of the serotonin in our body and hosts 60% of our immune system. It is also the home of a complex ecosystem of gut flora – over 400 species of good bacteria that aid in digestion and nutrient absorption, and filter out toxins and harmful substances. The GI tract also contains some bad bacteria, but these are normally kept in check by high numbers of good bacteria. But when a person experiences stress, or eats something he or she is intolerant of, the bad bacteria outnumber the good, placing the GI tract in a state of dysbiosis. This prevents the good bacteria from performing its filtration function; instead of keeping toxins out and letting nutrients in, it does the exact opposite. This condition is also called leaky gut syndrome and is very common in children with ADHD.
There is an entire protocol involved in treating gut problems related to ADHD. The first step involves removing all allergenic food substances and medicines that may be overburdening the GI tract. This might mean going an ADHD diet like the gluten-free casein-free diet or the Feingold diet. The next step involves repopulating the gut with good bacteria through fiber and probiotics. Probiotics are essentially live bacteria similar to the good bacteria found in the GI tract. They are available as supplements or in food like yogurt, miso soup, soy milk, and fermented milk.
Treating gut problems with probiotics is known to benefit ADHD sufferers for several reasons. In the first place, they bring back balance to the population of good bacteria in the gut and eliminate the problem of poor nutrient absorption. Using probiotics also protects the body from toxins, which are known to trigger hyperactive and inattentive symptoms. Finally, probiotics assist in repairing damaged intestinal mucus, reduce inflammation, and re-establish immune tolerance.
As part of a complete gut healing protocol, probiotics can help reduce the symptoms of ADHD. To find out if a gut problem is behind your ADHD symptoms, consult a holistic doctor or a doctor specializing in functional medicine.