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ADHASA has many times seen how symptoms of ADHD can be ameliorated or sometimes eliminated simply by making a few lifestyle changes. We support the following approaches:

1. Exercising

The “good stuff” that our bodies produce when we exercise includes two brain messengers (neurotransmitters) which make us feel good and able to think “sharp”… that’s when we notice and focus and can learn.

2. Drinking water

6 to 8 glasses spread out through the day – so important that even if you do everything else, without enough water you may battle to concentrate.

3. Watching what you eat

Don’t do synthetic colourants, flavourings and preservatives in your food. Mind out for “trans-fats” and never eat margarine. Do a test that checks which foods you are sensitive to because they get into the brain and disturb its working. Join ADHASA and get the list of foods that have been found to be acceptable to most people – it will save you a lot of experimenting.

4. Eating the right foods

Stay away from fast foods and use your own stove. Have some protein and carbohydrate with each meal – eat often if you feel concentration slip. Reduce sugar, caffeine, cold drinks and white flour products, because they all cause spikes and dips in blood sugar levels, making concentration very difficult.

5. Lowering stress levels

Stress is one of the major contributors to ADHD because, to cope with increased stress levels, we use up vitamins and minerals that are meant for carrying out other important functions. Stress also makes it more difficult for messages to travel from one neuron (brain cell) to the next.

6. Taking supplements of essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals

“Essential&”  means that the body cannot make them and we must get them through the food we eat. Your grandparents did not need supplements because the nutrients were in the ground and so in their food. Not any more. Now the nutrients are depleted through poor agricultural practices. Most of us must supplement or we suffer.

7. Making your home (or classroom) a place you all want to return to each day

This will reduce stress levels all round. No one can think clearly and work things out when they are angry or upset. Don’t shout. Say “lets talk about this” – we need to use our thinking brain to work out emotional issues.

8. Growing spiritually and emotionally

Our children are the biggest challenge to personal growth that we will ever experience. Learn to deal with your challenges. You be the one to make the first move for reconciliation and understanding as you try to see things from your child’ point of view.

9. Learning how to respond differently to an ADHD child or partner or learner

A person with ADHD has challenges and opportunities on a different scale to ordinary people. Don’t go on doing what you know doesn’t work (if it hasn’t worked so far it’s less likely to work in the future). Definitely don’t listen to the neighbours and others who know nothing of what we live through. Rather learn about the unique problems that your child or family member faces and needs to work out, and support them.

10. Medicating

May be crucial to use in a crisis and we need to know the potential side effects of each medication. Furthermore, medication only helps with the symptoms, and does not deal with the many causes of ADHD. It is becoming more and more obvious that lifestyle has a powerful effect on ADHD and this means that changing our lifestyle can do a lot towards reducing the challenges of ADHD.

Robin Vanderplank (retired psychologist and ADHASA KZN coordinator)


Article Courtesy of:
ADHASA (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Support Group of Southern Africa)