ADD ADHD - What Kind?

We are, as you are without doubt aware if you check in regularly, busy using a series examining the impact of diet on the effects of ADD ADHD. We've got already looked at the desirability of an Low-GI diet; this was accompanied with a discussion about nutrition and thinking processes. The last few articles inside the series dealt with the negative impact of ‘sugar rushes’ and what we can do to prevent them from occurring.


While using next few articles we are going to delve a bit deeper into the issue of how your diet can make a real difference in the act of conquering ADD ADHD. Before we can easily do that, however, we will have to take a brief glance at the issue at the heart of ADD ADHD: Attention.

We are sometimes so used with an acronym that we completely forget what it stands for. I suspect that is often the case with ADD ADHD. It is a pity since the acronym accurately describes the challenge that we are dealing with, an issue with paying attention, an ‘attention deficit’. The problems that people dealing with ADD ADHD experience when it comes to attention lies in two related but distinct areas:

• Some people discover it very difficult to focus

• Other people see it very difficult to cope with distractions

So what is the difference between these two types of ‘attention deficits’? With the first the primary problem is that someone believe it is very difficult to ‘zone in’ on a particular topic, object or behavior regardless of physical environment. He/she would find focusing equally difficult in a very crowded room or perhaps a bare cubicle. Using the second type the outdoors environment is the determining factor. Individuals with a distraction problem usually see it almost impossible to concentrate when they are placed in lively environments but not do better when they are put in more ‘neutral’ settings.


The distinction made above between the two basic kinds of inattention may seem trivial nevertheless it cuts to the heart of how the brain pays attention and it is therefore a vital bit of the puzzle when it comes to dealing with ADD ADHD. It implies that different people will need different things to improve their attention:

• Some people will have to learn how to ‘tune’ in'. This is compared by placing magnifying glass over a physical object. Everything will remain fuzzy and soon you manage to place the glass at just the right distance and angle.

• Other individuals will have to learn how to ‘tune out’. I am a frequent flyer and i also always take a pair of top quality noise cancelling headphones beside me when I fly. Their effect borders for the miraculous. One flick of a switch and it is as though the outside world ceases to exist. This is a great analogy of the kind of ‘tuning out’ that some people must learn to, the filtering out of distractions to the extent that they can become almost irrelevant.

There are numerous differing theories about ADD ADHD, but one thing that almost everyone is agreed on is that at least some of its effects could be traced back to neurotransmitters in the brain not fulfilling their function properly. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that are responsible for carrying ‘messages’ between brain cells and it does not please take a genius to work out that failures in this area could have serious consequences. Some consequences are perhaps too familiar to you: inattention, impulsiveness, daydreaming and hyperactivity. Other great tales. The interesting thing is always that brain scientists are starting to discover that failures of neurotransmitters associated with the types of inattention mentioned above (lack of focus and distractedness) occur in different parts of the brain.

Your brain pays attention by 50 percent basic ways and you can perhaps already do you know what these two ways are. The foremost is top down (or willful goal oriented) attention. That's where set out to concentrate on completing a particular task (like looking over this article for example). This sort of attention is centered in the prefrontal cortex (the so-called ‘executive centre’) of the brain.

The opposite type of attention has to do with the response of the brain to outside stimuli or distractions. It is usually called bottom up (reflexive stimulus responsive) attention. This is when the brain ‘snaps to attention’ due to the influence of something within the environment. This type is centered inside a totally different part of the brain namely the parietal cortex for the back of the brain.


This insight, namely that a variety of attention emanate from completely different parts of the brain, has interesting implications. This means, at the very least, that we will need to pay much closer attention (!) on the kind of ‘attention deficit’ that we are dealing with when discussing a certain case of ADD ADHD. I am going to profile this issue in a bit more detail in the next article by discussing ways in which we can identify different types of inattention. I'll also begin to look at the role that nutrition can begin to play to combat them. Help you then!


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