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Diet for ADD and ADHD

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A number of different diets are used to help reduce symptoms of hyperactivity (ADD and ADHD) in children. One well known approach to dietary treatment of ADD or ADHD, is the Feingold Diet Program - an eating plan free of all food additives such as artificial colors and artificial flavors. Feingold supporters claim that hyperactivity symptoms such as: asthma, bedwetting, ear infections, eye-muscle disorders, seizures, sleep disorders, stomach aches, and other symptoms typically respond to the Feingold diet method.


Nutrition Foundation Review of Feingold Diet

In 1980, the National Advisory Committee on Hyperkinesis and Food Additives to the USA Nutrition Foundation conducted a somewhat negative review of the results of Feingold's diet program. Some reviewers considered that the percentage of children who may become hyperactive in response to food additives is very small.


In a recent clinical study (Altern Med Rev. 2003 Aug;8(3):319-30) researchers compared one group of hyperactive children treated with Ritalin (anti-hyperactivity medication) to another group which was treated with a mix of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, amino acids, essential fatty acids, phospholipids, and probiotics. Both groups of children displayed significant and largely identical improvements in symptoms. The study concluded that the findings: "support the effectiveness of food supplement treatment in improving attention and self-control in children with ADD/ADHD and suggest food supplement treatment of ADD/ADHD may be of equal efficacy to Ritalin treatment."


Diets For ADD and ADHD - Elimination Diets

Clinical studies in the US and Australia indicate that almost 75 percent of ADHD-diagnosed children show significant improvements in symptoms when following diets that eliminate dyes, preservatives and foods commonly associated with allergic reactions (cow's milk, wheat, soy, eggs, corn, chocolate, yeast, orange and apple juice). These hypoallergenic (oligoantigenic) diets are another common form of dietary treatment for ADD and ADHD.


Diets For ADD and ADHD - Sugar-Free or Low-Carb Diets

Some hyperactive children have problems with glucose metabolism. Usually, as we eat, certain hormones (eg. insulin) are released to keep the glucose we ingest within safe levels. Research evidence shows that some ADHD children release only about half the normal amount of these regulatory hormones. As a result, their blood sugar levels fell too low and the children suffered significantly decreased brain activity. To counter this metabolic difficulty, diets low in refined carbs are often used to treat ADD and ADHD children.