Before we ponder further about various ADHD Diets out there…let’s first discuss whether diets works for ADHD.
So Do ADHD diets help?
In March 2011, FDA started looking into science review of the relationship between ADHD symptoms and food colorings. Until now there are no conclusive studies or research to show that any diets are effective in treating any symptoms of ADHD.
Science or myth?
So science is telling us “no, ADHD diets do not help”. But interestingly, many referrals I received are parents of children with newly diagnosed ADHD, and would like to try diet first before starting ADHD medications.
Do parents know something intuitively?
If you change your child’s diet in a good way and you notice improvements in his behaviors, then who cares what the study said.
In my opinion, after working in the healthcare field for over 10 years, scientific studies and researches only prove, at their best, what is most likely to happen to a certain population. Just because 70% of the studied population response to a certain treatment does not mean the other 30% possibility does not exist.
We all need to remember each of us is genetically different in some minor ways, that is, each of us interpret taste and smell differently, react to food and chemical differently. Thus, it makes sense that it is possible that some children are more sensitive to certain food coloring and preservatives used in processing food, and some of us just have a harder time excreting environmental toxins in our food supply.
Some of these claims of ADHD diets have to be legitimate for people to continue to talk about it and trying it despite inconclusive scientific results. Especially with how fast news spread nowadays. If none of these ADHD diets work, we would have heard enough of it by now. Besides, I have seen enough patients in my practice to say that I believe in dietary approach.
If you are willing to accept the challenge of a new diet and lifestyle and know what you are doing or have a registered dietitian, who is knowledgeable in these ADHD diets, willing to work with you, why not give it a try. That's the only way to know if it works for YOU or YOUR children, not some research done on other children or adults.
So let’s get started in exploring different diets that may help with alleviating some ADHD symptoms.
We need to start with basic…is your child eating a well-balanced diet with 3 meals and 1-2 snacks throughout the day?
Always remember to start with a good nutritional foundation for your child. Otherwise, you'll be just running in circles with all these ADHD treatment options.
Ensure that your children are well-fed in the morning with a champion high protein breakfast. No one can focus and think well on an empty tank. This is the simplest thing you can do to help your child start the day out right. Give them fuel for their brains so they can focus.
To understand how and what diet works for ADHD, we need to understand the Causes of ADHD – abnormal physiology of the ADHD brain or premature prefrontal cortex, systemic oxidative stress, poor food and nutrition intake, leaky gut as a result of candida overgrowth, food allergy or sensitivity and environmental toxins.
Please refer to Causes of ADHD
Based on the possible causes of ADHD, our diet needs to be nutrient-dense, free of toxins and allergens,, and rich in antioxidants that promotes detoxification, enhance immune system and reduces inflammation.
Wow…is there really a diet that does all of these?
In fact, there is...
Eat a Plant-based Whole Foods Diet
Watch Food Matters
The plant-based diet is nutrient-dense, free of toxins and allergens, and rich in antioxidants that promotes detoxification, enhance immune system and reduces inflammation.
In a plant-based diet, nutrition comes mostly from plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds.
Unprocessed whole food from various plant sources are naturally rich in antioxidants that promotes the nutrients our body needs to function optimally, supports detoxification process, reduces inflammation and immune-enhancing.
Animal products (dairy, eggs, meat, pork, seafood) are restricted as they induce inflammation, and not to mention filled with antibiotics and growth hormones. Excessive cooking or overcooking of meat produces carcinogens that are harmful to our body.
Not to mention…the plant-based diet is also animal-friendly.
Processed foods and fast foods are avoided because these are loaded with toxins ingredients, such as artificial sweeteners, food coloring, and preservatives that damage brain cells.
In fact, some food colorings and high fructose corn syrup are banned in some European countries due to the documented hyperactivity in children after consumption. We are so behind in the United States.
Organic options are emphasis to ensure the both natural ingredients without toxic pesticides and genetically altered species.
Read Plant-based Diet
What about the Gluten-free Casein-Free Diet that You Hear Everyone’s Bragging About?
Well…I would say it doesn’t hurt to try it for a while along with the plant-based diet. After all, many children with ADHD and even adults have problems with dairy and gluten.
In fact, dairy products are not even good for our body, and we don’t need dairy in our diet to get calcium.
In the book China Study, Dr. Campbell reveals that the whole dietary recommendation to have daily intake of dairy product is a scam. In fact, countries that consume the most dairy products also have the most incidences of osteoporosis and osteopenia.
Dairy products can also cause liver cancer.
In my practice, I see so many constipated kids. And many parents can pinpoint the cause to dairy products.
So, yes to casein-free or better yet dairy-free diet.
Gluten-free diet is a little tricky.
I would say eliminate gluten only if your child is sensitive or has reaction to it.
The Feingold Diet is the first ADHD diet known. It focuses on eliminating artificial food colorings, preservatives and natural salicylates (a cousin of aspirin).
The Candida Diet focuses on treating the underlying leaky gut, which is the result of candida overgrowth. It emphasizes on low simple sugar and low carbohydrate intake to starve off the yeast population. Antifungal medications or herbs may be used together to facilitate the eradication of yeast.
While starving the yeast to death, you also bring in new residence, probiotics (good bacteria) and a non-pathogenic yeast, into the picture.
The Body Ecology diet encourages fermented vegetables and beverages, such as kim chee and kefir, to re-introduce beneficial bacteria in the intestines.
The Specific Carbohydrate diet introduces beneficial bacteria through a homemade goat’s milk yogurt.
Low FODMAP Diet maybe used to reduce symptoms of gas, bloating, cramping and/or diarrhea as a result of excessive fermentation of fructose, lactose, fructans, galactans and polyols. FODMAP is an acronym for “Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols”. FODMAPs can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine and are then fermented by gut bacteria to produce gas. Current research strongly suggests that this group of carbohydrates contributes to irritable bowel syndrome and functional gastrointestinal disorders.
Interest in juicing has exploded in the last decade due to a number of books, videos that claims the extraordinary healing power of juicing or juice fast.
Documentaries such as Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and Beautiful Truth have increased the awareness that many disease can be cured by simply changing one’s dietary habits. Drinking freshly made juices daily is advocated to cure many currently considered “uncurable” diseases and illnesses, such as cancer (including end stage), fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue symptoms, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
Are You Ready for a Change for the Better?