Along with autism, many people (experts and parents alike) think they know a thing or two about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Some will even insist that they know what causes it and how to cure ADHD, which is a developmental disorder characterized by hyperactivity and attentional problems that arise in young children, but can follow them throughout their adult life. But at this point, despite the myriad of theories that swirl around ADHD like a perturbed leaf pile on a blustery afternoon, everything is just conjecture.
However a new theory being floated about holds some true promise to coping and, possibly, dismantling the ADHD cycle. Over five million children ages four to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD (about ten percent of the children in the U.S.), so a viable solution to this vexing problem is welcome news, especially if the treatment is attainable for all. Dr. Lidy Pelsser of the ADHD Research Centre in the Netherlands, and lead author of a study on food and ADHD, holds true to the idea that ADHD is assuredly easy enough to regulate through a particular, but not unreasonable, diet. As reported in the British journal The Lancet this past February, it was discovered with a restricted diet alone, many children experienced a significant reduction in ADHD symptoms. Pelsser insists that 64 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD are actually experiencing a hypersensitivity to food.
For those that are curious, the diet that Pelsser is advocating is hardly challenging or even expensive. The fairly strict diet utilized in the study consisted of water, rice, turkey, lamb, lettuce, carrots, pears and other hypoallergenic foods – all of which were free of additives, preservatives, or artificial ingredients. According to author Kristin Wartman, writing for the website Civil Eats, There are a multitude of credible scientific studies to indicate that diet plays a large role in the development of ADHD. One study found that the depletion of zinc and copper in children was more prevalent in children with ADHD. Another study found that one particular dye acts as a “central excitatory agent able to induce hyperkinetic behavior.” And yet another study suggests that the combination of various common food additives appears to have a neurotoxic effect—pointing to the important fact that while low levels of individual food additives may be regarded as safe for human consumption, we must also consider the combined effects of the vast array of food additives that are now prevalent in our food supply.
To be clear, Pelsser, and advocates of her findings, are not insisting that drugs like Ritalin, commonly used to treat ADHD, should be wholly dismissed in favor of a few turkey legs and a serving of salad. But modifying a child’s diet should be the first measure taken in dealing with an ADHD diagnosis or symptoms. Some children may not respond at all to the elimination diet, but according to this new data, many will.
Do you think it is enough to change up a child’s diet, eliminating questionable foods and introducing an array of whole foods, or do you think ADHD is a serious disorder that should only be dealt with using psychopharmacology? Is diet really the link to many developmental disorders, not just ADHD?