A growing number of
experts say certain foods and food additives can indeed be to blame
for the increase in ADHD symptoms, and propose a
as a way to calm behavior.
Twenty years ago when a
child was bouncing off the walls, parents had a simply explanation.
“It’s from too much sugar,” they would say while clearing the
dessert plates off the table.
In today’s culture, people are more apt to jump to ADHD as the
conclusion for a child’s restless behavior.
Let's look at a general overview
of the research pertaining to the hyperactive diet connection. There are eight risk
factors often associated with Attention Deficit Disorder and ADHD.
Six of the eight are directly related to diet;
Food and additive
Essential fatty acid
Heavy metal toxicity
Benjamin Feingold, M.D.
first introduced the concept of food additives causing behavioral
problems in the 1970s. He based the presentation on the experience
of 1,200 people whose behavior disorders were linked to food
additives. Feingold believes that 40 to 50 percent of children are reacting to a sensitivity to artificial food colors,
flavors, preservatives and other hyperactive diet factors.
A slew of studies followed that looked at diet as an
treatment. Some supported Feingold's claims. Others
did not. This left the medical community largely divided. A 2007
study from Great Britain swayed that tide.
Researchers at the University of Southampton tested nearly 300
children over a six-week period by giving them drinks containing
artificial food coloring and preservatives. The drinks were similar
to those commercially available. Based on teacher and parent
evaluations, researchers found that children given the mixtures with
additives were noticeably more hyperactive and had shorter attention
Food dyes and additives are just on area of focus when it comes to
the study on food, hyperactive diet factors and
medicine. Other studies indicate
that adding certain foods and nutrients to the diet can improve the
symptoms of Attention Deficit and hyperactivity.
One study (George
Washington University School of Medicine) found that children
with hyperactivity who ate high protein meals did equally well,
and sometimes better, in school than non-hyperactive kids.
(Oxford University, England) evaluated fatty acid
supplementation and hyperactivity. The hyperactivity in children
receiving essential fatty acids supplements significantly
improved while the children in the control group receiving a
placebo did not receive the same improvements.
Disorder and hyperactivity was first connected to low EFA
(essential fatty acid) in 1981. Further studies examining
essential fatty acid blood levels in children with behavioral
problems in 1983 confirmed the hyperactive diet connection.
In 1987 researchers
again documented the EFA deficiency tie to Attention Deficit
Disorder. A study in 1995 study again examined the EFA
connection by comparing levels in ADHD boys against a control
group of boys without ADHD. Researchers found significantly
lower levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in the ADHD group.
A 1994 study (Purdue
University) found that boys with low blood levels of Omega-3
fatty acid DHA have a greater frequency of hyperactivity and
Attention Deficit Disorder.
A 1996 study found
that children diagnosed with ADHD often have low levels of zinc.
A 1997 study stated
that of the ADHD children tested, 95 percent were magnesium
The most recent study
concern the effects hyperactive diet factors came from the Netherlands.
Researchers of this 2009 ADHD Research Centre study tested the
effectiveness of diet elimination on the symptoms of ADD and ADHD.
Researchers found that a strict elimination diet yielded a 50 to 70
percent reduction in symptoms after 9 weeks on the diet.
Providing foods to boost brain power and removing unhealthy food
from the diet is the kindest and most healthy way of
changing the diet – by either eliminating offending foods and/or
adding brain-boosting foods – you provide the foundation for solid
nutrition and may avoid using prescription medications.