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  • Dana Chapman

Nutrition and Neurodiversity

Have you ever wondered if your neurodiversity is driving your eating behaviours, or is preventing you or someone you care for to be a "fussy" eater?

There are a number of links with neurodiversity and diet or nutrient balance, and I'll share a few with you here.

1 - Neurodiversity and interoception

Individuals who are neurodiverse often have poor interoception - this is a sense that helps you understand and feel what is going on inside your body. This includes the feeling of being hungry or full. Hyper focus is one of the traits of individuals who have ADHD when you are in that hyper focused state you may forget to eat. Only to stop and realise you are starving and raid the kitchen for anything to eat, often seeking foods that are high in fat and or sugar. You may also then not realise, through poor interoception, that you are full, leading to overeating.

This cycle of not eating when you may be hungry and eating too much because you don't realise you might be full may lead to being overweight which can place a burden on your health.

Throw medication into the picture and you may have an even worse scenario with medication suppressing appetite even further.

2 - Neurodiversity and nutrient deficiencies

Individuals who are neurodiverse often have nutrient deficiencies and or imbalances. We all love to live in igno

rance expecting our bodies to work by magic, but they don't. Our bodies need nutrients to work, not calories.

It is no different in neurodiversity, and often there are higher nutrient requirements due to the "always on" neurodiverse brain which depletes key nutrients in our bodies such as vitamin C, zinc, B vitamins and iron which are all essential for brain health and brain function.

Research has shown that individuals with ADHD often have a copper and zinc imbalance. High copper levels in the blood drive zinc levels down. Zinc is a key nutrient for brain health and brain function - so low zinc is going to mean sub-optimal brain function.

Magnesium is also another key nutrient that is often low in individuals with ADHD and Autism. I love referring Magnesium to as nature's tranquilliser - helping us remain calm. Magnesium is a power mineral, and is needed in over 300 processes in the body. Our soils are also fairly depleted in this nutrient, so even if you are eating magnesium rich foods daily (dark chocolate, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds) you may still be deficient, especially if you have high amounts of stress.

So what can you do?

If you think you may be lacking in certain nutrients due to poor diet, stress, having ADHD then why not consider testing? I ofter this in my clinic, I love using an informed approach, and test results help achieve this.

If you know you have poor interoception, try have meals at the same time each day, try not skip a meal, and when you are eating take your time. Stop, smell, chew - this is the best way for your body to absorb the nutrients from the food that you are eating.

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