Protein and ADD/ADHD Brain Power
Proteins affect brain performance by providing the amino acids from which neurotransmitters are made. Neurotransmitters are biochemical messengers that carry signals from one brain cell to another. The better you feed these messengers, the more efficiently they deliver the goods, allowing your ADD/ADHD child to be alert at school and you to be more on top of things at work.
Two amino acids, tryptophan and tyrosine, are precursors of neurotransmitters, the substances from which neurotransmitters are made. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid. The body does not make it; it must be supplied by the diet. The body can make tyrosine if there is not enough in the diet.
These amino acids influence the four top neurotransmitters -- serotonin, which is made from the amino acid tryptophan, as well as dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, which are made from the amino acid tyrosine. “Because the body makes brain-awakening neurotransmitters when you eat protein, start your day with a breakfast that includes protein,” says Laura Stevens, M.S., a nutritionist at Purdue University and author of 12 Effective Ways to Help Your ADD/ADHD Child. “Also look for ways to slip in lean protein during the day, as well.”
“Protein helps keep blood sugar levels steady, and prevents the mental declines that come from eating a meal containing too many simple carbs,” says ned hallowell, M.D., author of Driven to Distraction.