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Functional Testing and ADHD

Updated: Apr 15, 2023

Emerging evidence of a link between bacteria in the gut and ADHD has encouraged researchers to explore this area in detail and given rise to the potential for new alternative future treatment options.

Evidence suggests that people with ADHD may have a different composition of bacteria in the gut compared to groups without ADHD. There is already compelling evidence to suggest that the trillions of microbes living in our digestive system may influence our physical and mental health through the gut-brain axis and the nervous system.

Larger, more comprehensive studies are needed, but current research results are very promising.

It is also true that an altered gut microbiome can lead to problems such as constipation, diarrhoea, wind and tummy discomfort. In fact, we see higher levels of digestive problems reported by adults and children with ADHD, including irregular bowel habits, incontinence, IBS and food intolerances.

The good news is that we can adopt many protocols to support better gut health, including making specific dietary changes and recommending probiotics and other supplements. But getting this approach right for the best possible outcomes is essential.

The benefits of a gastrointestinal test in cases of digestive issues include helping to identify the cause of the symptoms. Stool testing can also identify parasites, intestinal worms, bacterial infections, and fungal infections like candida and viruses.

Stool tests can also provide an insight into the abundance or lack of helpful and unhelpful bacteria in your gut ecosystem! We know that having a healthy, balanced community of commensal bacteria is vital for overall health.

Other very important signs of digestive tract issues such as bile malabsorption, pancreatic enzyme insufficiency, gut immune health and inflammation can also be identified, as well as signs of Inflammatory Bowel Disease such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

So, how useful are the results and when is it worth considering having a test?

It is essential to look at test results in the context of the person's symptoms and medical history. Many factors can impact the microbiome and gut health, including diet, stress, sleep and exercise. If you have digestive issues alongside your ADHD that are persistent and problematic, it may well be worth investing in functional testing. A conversation with your GP or a registered nutritionist can help you decide whether a test will help to identify the root cause of your discomfort and talk you through the options.

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