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Doping or Diet? ADHD Might Be Easily Conquered By Good Food

Doping or Diet? ADHD Might Be Easily Conquered By Good Food

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?

Read more: ADHD, Children, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Family, Mental Wellness, Parenting at the Crossroads, Teens, , , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


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11:17AM PDT on Apr 13, 2013

I am not sure that diet could "cause" or "cure" ADHD, but I have heard that food additives, such as the one in red dye, increases short-term hyperactivity. When I worked at a summer camp, red Koolaid was banned for a while because it apparently made campers "hyper." I thought it was just a funny camp legend until I heard the reports about red dye.

Again, I'm not sure about long-term effects. I think there definitely needs to be more research done.

4:49PM PDT on Apr 4, 2013

I think diet plays a crucial role, you are what you eat.

4:39AM PDT on Apr 4, 2013


10:47PM PDT on Apr 3, 2013

Fruits, veg and loving care will not cure all but it will go along way.

9:36AM PST on Dec 4, 2012

After having been indiagnosed until I was nearly 40....and then many more years before the diet piece of ADHD became clear to me... Bear in mind that as humans the poor overly proccessed food we tend to eat tends to exaggerate our condtions.. My Wife has begun adopting a near complete Vegan diet and has seen a lifetime of Sleepnesses and bouts of depression vanish... As well as overeating tendancy.. My ADHD is SEVERE...and Diet modifcation has played an enormous role is improving my QOL

8:53AM PST on Dec 4, 2012

Thanks for signing .. we need as many signatures as possible in the least amount of time ... Educating school teacher and staff about ADHD

Thank you for taking action

10:10PM PDT on Oct 20, 2012

Why does it have t be the expensive food?

3:42AM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

Diet is really important but it will not improve concentration or organisation skills. Try reading Lost at School by DR Ross Greene that does really help.

12:16PM PDT on Jun 10, 2012

I would add to this excellent piece, check family Tree /history and I'll bet strong history of obesity, alcoholism, drug addiction, depression plus likely other mood behavioral issues are present in either 1 or both family trees ( mother & father ) My father's tree had alcoholism, depression,,mothers had obesity, depression.. Both sides have long lines of Cancer,heart disease, stroke ,, I suffer from "off the charts ADHD" and have had lifelong battles with career obesity, depression....because of it.. My diet is improving but am now reasonably controlled by meds.

2:08PM PDT on Apr 4, 2012

Wouldn't hurt to try.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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