I recently received an email from a Paleohacker with ADD who asked me to summarize what I've learned/discovered so far as a paleo with ADD. My response is below. The goal of this post is to get critical feedback and suggestions from others with similar experiences. I've said much of this stuff elsewhere on Paleohacks, but I think it will be helpful to discuss it all together in one place.
My question is: What is missing?
Sub-questions include: What should be added? What should be questioned?
I recently switched from Adderall to Vyvanse, which causes fewer side effects. Most importantly, my sleep has significantly improved. As you probably know, sleep affects numerous things like cortisol, belly fat, and leptin sensitivity.
I found that ZMA (zinc and magnesium) enhances the effect of Adderall, and thus cannot be taken at night. This is a problem because ZMA competes with VD3, which is best taken in the morning (with K2). I have two solutions: (i) alternative ZMA and VD3 every morning (with VD3 you can take double one day and skip the next without affecting absorption bc the body knows how to store excess); or (ii) take ZMA 3-5 hours after VD3 and K2 but 4-5 hours before bedtime.
Rhodiola also enhances the effect of Adderall, but the result is unpleasant so I don't mix them. I like to take rhodiola on days when I am not working and thus don't take my medication.
Since I read that PQQ and Ubiquinol can interact with Adderall negatively by muting its effect, I take these at the end of the day when most of my work is done.
Vitamin C is probably the best way to turn off the effects of both Adderall and Vyvanse. You can tell if you are taking too much because it will cause diarrhea. From this I can tell that I never take too much, and I eat 500 to 1000 mg a night (in chewable pill form). If your joints crack when you move suddenly - as mine used to frequently, and sometimes still do - it may be a sign that you need more VitC. My experience suggests that amphetamines deplete VitC, and as the Jaminets have argued, paleos are susceptible to VitC deficits.
Another sleep aid I use is melatonin, but only a few times a week so that I don't disrupt my natural melatonin production.
I also use Kava Kava about once a week to help fall asleep (on days when my additional stimulant use beyond Vyvanse is high, from either supplementation with small amounts of Adderall or large amounts of coffee or tea), but I limit my usage because the bottle warning implies that it taxes the liver. Folks on an ADD forum reported that Kava mixed with Adderall feels like marijuana that you can study on. The idea is that, when combined, Adderall provides focus, while Kava takes the edge off, resulting in better studying.
One huge advantage of Vyvanse over Adderall is that - for the first time in my 30 year life - I am able to wake up at 7:30a every morning and thus maintain a consistent sleep schedule that promotes productivity. It feels great! The only challenge is that I have to make sure to take my once-a-day Vyvanse before 11a, but I usually take it around 9 or 10a depending on my responsibilities that day.
If you are prone to smoke while on Adderall, then I suggest flax seed. I ground up 3 tbs of whole flax seeds in a coffee grinder every morning and eat it with yogurt, cinnamon, lemon flavored fish oil, honey, and sometimes (when I don't feel like cooking meat and eggs) Optimum Nutrition protein powder. I haven't experienced the anti-smoking effect on Vyvanse, but I've only been on it for two weeks, and I remain optimistic.
Some people report that dairy worsens their ADD symptoms. Since I've never experienced this, one of my favorite meal hacks is to eat a ball of mozzarella cheese as a meal on the go. It has over 40g of both protein & fat, and is full of vitamins and minerals. For over 60g of protein, you can eat the meat and cheese out of three McDoubles from McDonalds (the clearest verbiage while ordering is to say 'plain with just cheese' if you don't want them to add ketchup and mustard). Granted, the meat is CAFO, but for the most part this is just an omega-6 issue, which is not something I have to be too worried about given my typical omega-3 rich breakfast. These high protein hacks are crucial to ADD paleos because they allow us to stick to the diet with greater ease. I'd rather eat sub-optimal lacto-paleo than face a situation where hunger might lead me astray. Fasting is no problem for me, but when I'm studying, for some reason, it can be unpleasant.
So, Palehoackers with ADD or knowledge of any of this stuff, what is missing? What should be added? What should be questioned more critically?
asked byEric_S (5002)
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on November 02, 2011
at 03:26 AM
I have a really serious case of ADD and have even had it diagnosed by a brain scan. I also have a former diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder and chronic depression.
Paleo cut the depression to about 40% of what it once was, the anxiety to about 30% of what it once was and the ADD to about 75% of what it once was. Staying away from processed food and eating a higher protein diet seem to be cornerstones. Ive eaten low carb for about 2-3 yrs now and I notice that I can now better handle carbs when I do eat them. Ive also healed my leaky-gut (avoiding food allergies, eating lots of bone broth) and quadrupled my testosterone in the meantime so Im sure that factors in.
Zen Buddhism cut the rest out (well all to within very controllable ranges). You can be atheist, muslim, christian or a jew and still be buddhist so Im not pushing religion. However the retraining of the mind was verrryyy powerful for me. That being said I dont think that I could have done it without first going paleo and paleo gave me a strong base. Taoism and Stoicism are similar philosophies that also help. The only thing is to try and add some meditation in somehow.
Other tips that I use when it does come up (still have it but can now control it).
ADD people can hyper focus. Ive found that getting started is by far my biggest challenge so I set a 10-15 minute timer on my phone and just start working. I find that ill reset the timer when it goes off, then reset it again, then again, then Ill be in such a groove (hyper focus) that Ill just turn it off and work.
As for the hyper focus that leads to inflexibility and obsessiveness, mindfulness training helps me recognize it and stop it. I tend to hyper focus over many things (especially politics) so this has been very helpful for me.
Ive also found that fresh air and sunshine are important to me. They help me to "reconnect" and reset.
Sleep is huge. Protect your sleep.
The internet even though it is a miracle in helping me get healthy can also make ADD and anxiety worse. It is a known dopamine booster so I wouldnt be surprised if it disrupts it. I made a rule for myself that I wont do any personal internet surfing until 3:00pm every day and have found that this rule has made me much more productive and focused. I downloaded a free habit app on the iphone to help me implement this new habit.
Try to focus on the things your passionate about. Many people struggle doing things they dont have passion for but people with ADD it has been shown that their brain literally starts to shut down. I think Ive overcome a lot of this once again from eastern philosophy and retraining the way I look at situations but I still try to lean on my strengths instead of obsessing over my weaknesses.
I also exercise which I think boosts self-confidence more than any other real benefit (people with ADD tend to have low self-esteem).
But also make sure that you try to surround yourself with up lifting and positive people. ADD people tend to be creative and think a bit outside the box which some people like to come down on.
Sooo...???Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounding yourself with assholes.??? ??? William Gibson :)
on October 22, 2011
at 10:40 PM
didn't read the whole post, a lot of info there. Read the book Primal Body Primal Mind. it has an entire section on ADD.
Hope your plan is to get off the meds eventually.