018 - Inflammation & Attention Issues

Post date: Nov 11, 2015 9:07:21 PM

Counselor Notes 18

February 20, 2014

Inflammation & Attention Issues

People don’t tend to think of cellular inflammation being a contributor to children’s attention issues, but could it be a factor in some cases? It may be time to consider the possibility.

Psychology Today http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-the-zone/201107/adhd-inflammatory-condition reports:

“There two types of inflammation. The first type is classical inflammation that hurts. The second type is cellular inflammation that is below the perception of pain. Although this type of inflammation can be measured, it tends to be ignored since there is no associated pain. It is this type of cellular inflammation that causes disruption in the cellular signaling networks in individual cells that are required for the body's organs to run at peak efficiency. If the inflammation is in the fat cells, the result is increased accumulation of body fat. If the inflammation is in the brain cells, the result is increased neurological disorders, including ADHD.”

Other sites seem to agree:

Recently studies have suggested involvement of cytokine pathways in those with ADHD. There is accumulating evidence that catecholamine and indolamine imbalances may be a cause or result of inflammation. Cytokines are key mediators of immune function and can be either pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory. Therefore, ADHD may be linked with other systems in the body including the immune system, endocrine system, gastrointestinal system and biochemical pathways. Effective treatment for ADHD should address one or more of these underlying biochemical components. http://www.integrativepsychiatry.net/adhd.html

“When regions of the brain are chronically inflamed it signals the primitive regions of the brain to be on overdrive. This inhibits frontal lobe function which is the region responsible for concentration and emotional stability. The primitive regions on overdrive include the reticular activating system and limbic system. When this primitive brain is imbalanced it leads to poor concentration and emotional outbursts.”


If a parent wants to look at the possibility of cellular inflammation being a factor in a child’s attention problems, they may start with looking at the child’s diet. Livestrong https://assets-livestrong-org.s3.amazonaws.com/media/site_proxy/data/35506370a2126d3306050a05817e2ad31a6d1852.pdf (retreived 2-18-14) notes:

Diet plays a big role. The following foods can contribute to cellular inflammation.

  • Poor quality or too much fat

  • Poor quality or too much sugar

  • Too many calories

  • Too many or poor quality animal foods

  • Foods with a high glycemic index

How to avoid cellular inflammation:

  • Avoid trans fat

  • Keep your blood sugar stable

  • Eat less processed and packaged food

  • Cook more often; eat out less

  • Eat more plant proteins

  • Eat more oily fish (salmon, sardines, herring)

  • Eat more healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil)

To avoid inflammation, http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20705881,00.html advises eating:

  1. Fatty fish

  2. Whole grains

  3. Dark leafy vegetables

  4. Nuts

  5. Soy

  6. Low fat dairy

  7. Peppers

  8. Tomatoes

  9. Beets

  10. Ginger and turmeric

  11. Garlic and onions

  12. Olive oil

  13. Berries

  14. Tart cherries

This site http://www.bulletproofexec.com/real-superfoods-that-destroy-inflammation-in-your-brain-the-body-response-that-may-change-your-mental-health-forever/ advises drinking coffee and eating butter, vanilla, and chocolate to help ward off brain inflammation.

These sites also comment on ADHD and inflammation:




I am not advocating anyone doing anything extreme, only work more healthy foods into their child’s diet and phase out as many of the potential problems foods as possible.

Doug Muha Ed.S.

School Counselor

Waverly Elementary School