Nutritional Approaches to Improving Attention & Focus

by 4 Organics

improving focus attention

There are different types of attention disorders so it is important to identify which type you have before attempting to address it. Researchers currently list seven forms of disorders, but  the classic form of ADD, also called ADHD, is the most common.

To identify if you have this type of attention or hyper-activity issue, ask the following questions, and if you answer yes to more than 3, then this article is for you.

1. Do you have a short attention span? (Cannot focus one task for extended periods unless you really enjoy it.)

2. Are you easily distracted? (Overly sensitive to your environment?)

3. Do you struggle with procrastination and follow through? (Require deadlines or pressure to get things done.)

4. Do you struggle with organization? (Often messy or disorganized.)

5. Do you lack impulse control? (Eat too much, spend too much, do not supervise oneself well.)

First, let's consider some of the major contributing factors in environment, lifestyle and diet.

1. Media - TV and video games can be a major cause. Passive activities that are also sedentary in nature often take up far too many hours and set a standard for input (excessive stimulation) to the brain that contributes to long-term concentration disorders.

2. Lack of exercise - Compounding the modern media-saturated world is the sedentary lifestyle that clearly exacerbates focus problems.

3. Poor sleep - Over-stimulation, stress, and poor diet all make sleep a difficult proposition for some people and this is another major factor in poor attention and focus.

4. Poor diet - The modern western diet is typically deficient in key nutrients that play a role in attention and concentration. Overconsumption of processed foods, dyes and preservatives, simple carbohydrates, and chemicals from pesticides and hormones, all contribute to improper brain health and consequent poor focus.

Addressing the resulting disorders has been all but surrendered to doctors and their drugs, which may assist in certain cases but should really be a last resort, rather than the first choice. In fact, prescription rates for Ritalin have increased by more than 700% over the last decade.

At the root of the classic form of attention disorder is brain neurochemical imbalances. Classic adhd is also called adrenaline deficit disorder because insufficient production of adrenaline results in problems with focus, and this is why stimulants are useful in treatment, dealing with both adrenal and neuro-chemical production. However there are many concomitant problems arising from stimulant drug use.

Clearly, the smarter approach must be before you take the radical road, try addressing the problem from a lifestyle and nutritional standpoint, which may not only help, but will also militate against serious problems that result from psychoactive stimulant drug use.

We know that there are three major neurochemicals that play a role in proper attention and brain health - dopamine (influences focus and motivation), serotonin (influences mood and sleep), and GABA (influences calmness and relaxation.) And we know that certain nutrients are deficient in people with these issues.

By making some judicious changes to our diet, we may be able to balance these neurochemicals and thereby help bring proper focus and concentration.

Follow these dietary steps to help maximize your focus, control and attention:

1. Remove problem foods - It is well accepted that foods like sugar, gluten, corn, soy and dairy all have a negative effect on focus. Try removing these from your diet for at least a month and see how your attention improves.

Avoid preservatives, dyes and colorings, which contain high levels of salicylates, compounds linked to attention difficulties. The National Institute of Mental Health reported in a 2001 study that as much as 10% of all children are sensitive to salicylates and may play a direct role in attention difficulties.

Food intolerances may be a major causal factor in attention difficulties, so it makes good sense to start by identifying possible problem foods. British researchers concluded that in a study group, 80 percent of the children had food sensitivities that were the direct cause of hyper-activity. They determined that as many as 48 foods were triggers.

2. Add protein to each meal to help balance blood sugar levels and improve focus.

3. Eat more often in smaller amounts to again help balance blood sugar levels and improve focus.

4. Add key nutrients and supplements to benefit attention and focus - Studies found that diet and supplementation often greatly benefited people with add / adhd. Vitamins like B-6, B-12 and D, minerals like zinc and magnesium, DMAE, phosphatidyl serine, and particularly healthy fats like fish oil (EPA & DHA) all have known positive impacts on focus and attention. A study at Purdue University concluded that people with adhd typically had a deficiency of long chain fatty acids, so supplementing with fish oil or flax seed oil may be an immediate benefit to some people.

If you are struggling with attention / focus problems, or hyper-activity, you may try a nutritional focus support complex that is scientifically balanced with the right amount of nutrients and just enough natural stimulants to help with focus and impulse control.

Content and other information presented on the site is not meant to constitute medical advice or be any substitute for professional advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard professional medical or mental health advice from your physician or other qualified health provider. If you are making changes to your regimen, always consult your doctor first.


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