Caffeine and carbs consumption in people with ADHD
The link between risk for substance use and ADHD has been known for a long time. However, I have been able to find little on sugar and caffeine. Long before I actually discovered my own ADHD I read that sugar increases the risk for ADHD. In a 2019 review of studies, researchers went over the literature on the relationship between dietary patterns and ADHD. Results of the analysis showed that “unhealthy” dietary patterns, like a high intake of refined sugar or saturated fat, may increase the risk of ADHD.
However, I am wondering if the researchers might not have got the causality backwards: ADHD increases the risk of increased sugar (and caffeine) consumption. Why should this be the case? I got my first clue a while ago when reading Adult ADHD: How to Succeed as a Hunter in a Farmer’s World . Hartman hypothesised that hunter types may need more coffee to get through a routine (farmer) work day than most (farmer) people.
Scores of ADHD adults reported how they drink pot after pot of coffee every day, consuming thousands of milligrams of caffeine as a way of making it through the day.
Hartman only distinguishes between hunters and farmers, while I have hypothesised that the classical four temperaments are hunter, gatherer, farmer and (semi-nomadic) pastoralist. I am a gatherer type and my genetic report indeed indicates increased consumption of caffeine as well as addictive substances and addictions in general:
While I am fortunate enough not to be addicted to any major drugs, I have long been addicted to caffeine and carbs, basically exactly in order to get me through a long work day and it may exactly have to do with my programming for energy expenditure. Foragers work much less than farmers, to begin with (about half the weekly hours). Another huge difference is that foragers work irregularly or intermittently whereas farmers tend to work over long periods of time. Farmers tend to have big meals in regular intervals to provide them with the necessary energy. I, on the other hand, can’t eat big meals and I tend to get tired more quickly. My two quick fixes are, of course, caffeine and sugar. Both of them are, of course, counterproductive strategies, as more caffeine means less sleep (and more caffeine intake on the next day) and surplus sugar merely gets stored as fat.
I guess this process is something that many forager types struggle with. One gatherer type recently told me that she needs eight cans of energy drink to get through the day. Unfortunately, I have been able to find much scientific research on different types of energy expenditure based on subsistence strategies. However, I have found interesting indications in Ayurvedic doshas, which include, food intake, sleep habits and body fat distribution.
It should be clear from the patterns that vata corresponds to forager types, pitta pastoralist types and kapha farmer types. Moreover, vata types are often described as being easily fatigued.
Vata is the moving Dosha. Those with a high amount of Vata in their system can easily become fatigued when their routine is disrupted, when they travel a lot or when there are a lot of changes in their life. More rest, getting to bed on time, a regular routine and taking regular breaks is essential. ( )
Voilà, while I have been overweight for a long time, my basic constitution otherwise corresponds 100% with vata. I have also come across reports that said that living foragers and people whose recent ancestors were foragers often consume tea or coffee with high amounts of sugar. The food preferences of modern Inuit remind me very much of my own:
Forager types (or hunters in a farmer world) are often split into two different food preference groups: those who like me indulge in a lot of junk food and those who are into healthy diets like Keto. I suppose there is a lot of research that could be done in this area. If doctors, parents and schools are made aware of the potential risk groups a lot of prevention could be done. Also, some studies could be understood in a different light:
Coffee might just as well have no anti-obesity properties. It may be just that skinnier people (=vata) may consume more coffee. I am looking forward to seeing more research in this area. In the meantime, I have a hunch that high caffeine and carbs consumption may be quite a good indicator of ADHD/a hunter-gatherer personality type.
For more on different evolutionary types check out my
Originally published at http://the-big-ger-picture.blogspot.com on June 11, 2022.