Today I have another post from a guest blogger for you all. This is a really interesting article about how food and ADHD work together. If you have a child or a friend with ADHD definitely share this with them! Enjoy!
How Nutrition Affects ADHD
It seems there’s always something or someone talking about Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and what kids who suffer from it should or shouldn’t eat. This isn’t new. As a matter of fact, the link between nutrition and ADHD is something that researchers have been looking into for years and years now. Unfortunately, even after all of this time and research, the jury is still out on whether or not nutrition is the best way to treat ADHD. Whether or not it’s the best way might not matter as much as whether or not it can help a parent whose child has ADHD though, even if just a little.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a chronic condition that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC), affects a reported 6.4 million U.S. children. The condition, that starts in childhood and persists into adult ADHD, is made up of a series of issues such as hyperactivity, problems keeping attention, and impulsive behavior. As you can imagine, this can have a negative impact on a child’s performance in school that may continue on to affect their work life when they get older. It can also interfere with relationships and wreak havoc on one’s self-esteem. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for ADHD—only ways to manage it.
The Nutrition Connection
As mentioned, there’s been much debate over the nutrition-ADHD connection, with studies having been done on everything from diets and certain foods for the treatment of ADHD to the link between food additives like dyes to the condition. The results have been mixed and though more research needs to be done in order to come up with anything conclusive; parents have been managing their children’s ADHD with special diets and nutritional changes for decades. One of the most popular and oldest diets used to treat ADHD is the Feingold Diet.
Since there is as much controversy surrounding drug treatments for ADHD, like Ritalin, as there is with diet, it really comes down to the parents and child working with their doctor to come up with a treatment that they’re comfortable with. Since most of us don’t like to give our children drugs unless we have to, a lot of parents are opting to try nutritional changes to treat ADHD.
The Feingold Diet program, which has been around since 1976, is based on eliminating certain additives and chemicals from the child’s diet to see if they are triggering certain behaviours. This diet in particular tells you to eliminate foods containing: dyes (Red 3, Red 4, Blue 1 and 2, Yellow 5 and 6, and others. It also recommends removing foods containing artificial flavors and sweeteners, BHA, BHT, and TBHQ which are preservatives, and a chemical called salicylate.
Some parents opt instead to keep track of their child’s diet and behaviors rather than following an elimination diet and seeing instead if they can come up with a connection or list of possible triggers and then changing the diet accordingly. Others simply try their best to have their child eat healthier foods while restricting their intake of caffeine and sugar—though limiting sugar doesn’t seem to help much, according to the Mayo Clinic Website. Then there’s been some evidence that you can treat ADHD with caffeine. Again though, the evidence isn’t yet sufficient enough to make this a conventional treatment and many doctors still maintain that increasing a child’s caffeine intake is dangerous.
So what can a parent do? What all parents want to do and that is to encourage the healthiest lifestyle possibly, be patient, and learn as much as they can about ADHD and their treatment options. Not all children are the same, so the nutritional changes that work for some may not necessarily work for others. You can learn more about ADHD and the latest research, as well as get information about the Feingold diet and other ADHD diets at Healthline.
Adrienne is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and fitness for more than a decade. When she's not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking about her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.
· Mayo Clinic Staff. (2013). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on February 18, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adhd/basics/definition/con-20023647
· Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). (2013). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on February 18, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/features/key-findings-adhd72013.html
· A Parent’s Guide to Diet and ADHD. Center for Science in the Public Interest. Retrieved on February 18, 2014, from http://www.cspinet.org/new/adhd_bklt.pdf
· What is the Feingold Diet. (2013). The Feingold® Association of the United States. Retrieved on February 18, 2014, from http://www.feingold.org/what.php#.Uwe-ifldVqV