Our ability to concentrate is key to our well-being. Concentration occurs
when the body and mind become one with the environment or an action that
needs doing. It’s being able to come back to ourselves and to the present
moment. Our ability to concentrate is something that is always in flux,
and it’s a skill that can be honed.
It has become increasingly difficult to concentrate in a world filled with
so much distraction and stimulation. There are enticing adds on every
street corner and on the phones in our pockets.
Sound pollution from air transportation, construction, etc., is a public
health issue that has been linked to learning disabilities in students.
Given today’s hectic lifestyle and constant social media notifications,
it’s not hard to understand why we’re having a harder time concentrating.
Supplements and medicinal plants aren’t cure-alls, but when they are paired with a healthy lifestyle, they can have significant benefits. Concentration and cognitive skills are currently a popular topic in research, and there is lots to consider.
Multivitamins and minerals
There are many reasons to believe that nutritional supplements can have a positive impact on mental health, since there is a well-established correlation between nutritional deficiencies and mental health issues. For example, zinc and folate deficiencies have been linked to depression.
A 3-year randomized study showed that a multivitamin and mineral
supplement had a positive impact on the overall mental health of adults
and improved episodic memory and executive function.
Some multivitamin and mineral formulas contain adaptogenic plants like
Ashwaghanda, that may have an even more significant impact on brain
function, according to its use in traditional medicine.
The benefits of Omega-3s are well established. They have been studied for quite some time now! Some studies show that children with an omega-3 deficiency are at higher risk for concentration problems. There is a correlation between the severity of omega-3 deficiency and ADHD symptoms. According to some studies, a supplement with an EPA/DHA ratio of 2:1 improves concentration.
Fish and seafood are the main dietary sources of omega-3s, and for adults and children who consume fewer than 2 servings per week, omega-3s supplements are worth considering.
Known for its medicinal properties, this mushroom has been studied for its effects on nerve growth and its positive impact on neurons. Despite there being few studies to date, there is interest in the possible benefits of Lion’s mane for the nervous system and for cardiovascular health, as the mushroom reduces inflammation thanks to high levels of antioxidants. Some studies suggest that this mushroom could be used to prevent neurodegenerative diseases. More to come on this topic!
In addition to the possible cognitive benefits, Lion’s mane contains beta-glucans, valuable soluble fibre that nourish and balance the intestinal flora or gut microbiota. The link between intestinal flora and the nervous system is now widely recognized. They two are linked and have an effect on one another!
A healthy lifestyle
What we eat plays a big part in our ability to focus. Artificial additives and dyes have been shown to have a detrimental effect on attention levels and hyperactivity in children with and without ADHD. Candy, rainbow-coloured cereal, commercial pastries, nitrites (found in cold cuts and cured meats) are just some examples. It is important to eat as little processed food as possible and to check product labels.
Another major factor is screen time and the type of content being consumed! Often, a significant amount of time is being spent in front of one or more screens at school or at work. An approach that is rooted in a healthy lifestyle focusses on balancing that time with various activities such as walking, sports, drawing, and other manual activities. There are activities that allow us to interact with our immediate environment and help us be present.
In recent years, there has been more and more discussion in the media and elsewhere on attention span and concentration disorders, including ADHD.
A report by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) announced a steady increase in ADHD cases in the population in 2019. Quebec is one of the provinces that prescribes the most psychostimulants, particularly to children under the age of 18.
When people have difficulty concentrating, it affects their well-being and quality of life. According to statistics, adults with ADHD are less satisfied with their social, personal, and professional lives. Affected children and adolescents were 2.7x more likely to drop out of school. In roughly one third of cases, individuals with ADHD also have anxiety disorders.
Despite what seems to be an increasing number of cases and a high use of prescription medication, which in many situations is necessary, the good news is that the effect that a healthy lifestyle can have is increasingly being recognized and taken into account when managing these issues.
Josiane Landry and Catherine Turnbull, Naturopaths and ÉESNQ graduates
École d’enseignement supérieur de naturopathie du Québec
The health and medical information published or presented in this article is the opinion of the author only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Readers should use their judgment. It is their responsibility to independently verify the information provided in the article. The contents of this article are for discussion and informative purposes only and should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. A medical professional is the only person who can evaluate your health and give you advice following a medical examination. Rachelle-Béry will not be liable for any of the information presented in this article or in any associated links, nor the use or misuse of the information.
Sources et références :
Schab, D. W., & Trinh, N. H. T. (2004). Do Artificial Food Colors Promote Hyperactivity in Children with Hyperactive Syndromes? A Meta-Analyses of Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.
Nigg, J. T., Lewis, K., Edinger, T., & Falk, M. (2012). Meta-analysis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms, Restriction Diet, and Synthetic Food Color Additives. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
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Jeffrey A Stanley, Heidi Kipp, Erika Greisenegger, Frank P MacMaster, K Panchalingam, Jay W Pettegrew, Matcheri S Keshavan, Oscra G Bukstein. Regionally specific alterations in membrane phospholipids in children with ADHD: an in vivo 31P spectroscopy study. Psychiatry Res. (2006 Dec 1).
Baker LD, Manson JE, Rapp SR, Sesso HD, Gaussoin SA, Shumaker SA, Espeland MA. Effects of cocoa extract and a multivitamin on cognitive function: A randomized clinical trial. Alzheimers Dement. 2023 Apr;19(4):1308-1319. doi: 10.1002/alz.12767. Epub 2022 Sep 14. PMID: 36102337; PMCID: PMC10011015.
Centre de sensibilisation au TDAH, Canada. https://caddac.ca/fr/informations-generales/, dans la section « TDAH et éducation ». Consulté le 25 juin 2023