Diet and ADHD: Is There A Connection?
Is there a link between diet and ADHD? Some people swear there is; others believe that’s hogwash.
In an effort to put an end to the debate once and for all, researchers at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago undertook a comprehensive review of 70 studies that have used diet and supplements as treatments for ADHD.
Among the diets reviewed were those that restricted sugar; avoided additives and preservatives (the Feingold diet); eliminated foods associated with allergies; and adding Omega-3 fatty acid supplements.
Their conclusion? According to healthpop, the CBS News blog:
The Feingold Diet, which says to avoid foods like apples, grapes, luncheon meat, hot dogs, cold drinks, and anything else with orange and red dyes, was not proven to be effective by other studies, the researchers said.
What about sugar? On the surface it seems giving a kid too much sugar can boost hyperactivity, but the researchers said the majority of studies it looked at failed to demonstrate that a diet high in sugar or artificial sweeteners had an effect on a child’s behavior or cognitive function, thus questioning the importance of a low-sugar diet for kids with ADHD.
Supplementation with Omega-3 and Omega 6- fatty acids, often found in fish oil supplements, helped some children reduce their ADHD symptoms and get higher grades at school. But the benefit was not clearly demonstrated across the board.
Other studies suggested a reduction in ADHD symptoms from the “hypoallergenic” diet, which cuts out some common allergy-inducing foods like cow’s milk and cheese, nuts, wheat cereal, and chocolate, and replaces them with hypoallergenic foods like lamb, potatoes, tapioca, carrots, and pears.
Ultimately, the authors concluded that a healthy diet where the mainstays are fish, fruit, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains “seemed to improve symptoms of ADHD.” In contrast, one Australian study found that kids who ate the so called “Western Diet” with the emphasis on animal protein, fast foods, and high-fat dairy products, were more likely to have ADHD than kids who ate the healthy diet.
Just a little food for thought.