Monday, March 14, 2011

ADHD and diet

I hope this study gets a lot of attention.

Study: Diet May Help ADHD Kids More Than Drugs

Kids with ADHD can be restless and difficult to handle. Many of them are treated with drugs, but a new study says food may be the key. Published in The Lancet journal, the study suggests that with a very restrictive diet, kids with ADHD could experience a significant reduction in symptoms.

The study's lead author, Dr. Lidy Pelsser of the ADHD Research Centre in the Netherlands, writes in The Lancet that the disorder is triggered in many cases by external factors — and those can be treated through changes to one's environment.

...According to Pelsser, 64 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD are actually experiencing a hypersensitivity to food. Researchers determined that by starting kids on a very elaborate diet, then restricting it over a few weeks' time.

Someone made an insightful comment that the title of the article should be "Diet May Help Misdiagnosed ADHD Kids More Than Drugs?"

I just cringe when I here a parent report that their child has ADHD, as if that explains everything behavior or learning challenge. It seems like every problem at school is the result of ADHD.

This article has more information about the particulars of the study:

Healthy diet may reduce ADHD symptoms

Since some children have negative physical reactions to certain foods - such as eczema, asthma and gastrointestinal problems - that affect different organ systems, it has been suggested that foods may also affect the brain in a way that results in adverse behaviour. To test this theory, the researchers recruited 100 children from Belgium and the Netherlands. The children were between the ages of 4 and 8 years, and all had been diagnosed with ADHD. Most of the children were boys. The children were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group was placed on the restrictive elimination diet, and the other group served as a control group and received advice on healthy eating.

The restrictive diet (containing no processed foods) began with a diet called the "few foods diet," which included just rice, meat, vegetables, pears and water. The researchers then complemented this diet with certain foods, such as potatoes, fruits and wheat. The restrictive diet lasted for five weeks.

....Forty-one children completed the restrictive phase of the diet. Of those, 78 percent had a reduction in their ADHD symptoms, compared with no improvement in the controls. Nine children (22 percent) didn't respond to the diet. On an ADHD symptom scale that ranges from 0 to 72 points, with a higher score indicating more severe symptoms, the average reduction was 24 points.

This is a great reminder that I need be vigilant about what we all eat. Homeschoolers have a leg up on this kind of thing. We have more control over what our children eat. It would be very hard to even monitor what your children eat if they spend 6-8 hours a day away from home.


Robert M. Lindsey said...

My mom told me about a kid that was something like ADHD in the 1970s and his parents did some diet, I think called The Goldman Diet, and she couldn't believe the difference. I've believed that nutrition affects us greatly ever since.

The Good Doctor said...

I am reading about the GAPS diet, because I am trying to cure my RA. Apparently, it can help many disorders, even autism. I would imagine that ADHD or ADD could be greatly improved by diet. I like how the author of one book wonders why many doctors take ingested non-food items into account, but do not take ingested food items into account, when it comes to our health.

The Good Doctor said...

Sorry, I didn't notice that my sons google account is logged in, instead of mine. No, he is not a doctor. He just loved the Dr. Who series. I wanted to clarify, so that it didn't look like a doctor had commented on a post about doctors and nutrition.

Carletta said...

Thanks for sharing this info! I do think it might be great for kids if we would stop looking at them as having ADHD and start looking at their symptoms and what is causing them (ie. lack of sleep, poor nutrition, allergies, etc.). But, it is a difficult subject to address without stepping on toes.

Amy said...

The world around us changed dramatically in the past decades. We eat differently, we spend most of the time behind computer desks, the air is mostly polluted , our water contains chemicals and more. All of those factors have a tremendous effect on the disorders we see in our kids. There is so much we can change in our lifestyle to make it better though. Pay more attention to healthy nutrition, spend more time outdoors , getting enough sleep and more.