ADHD diet study data doubted by pediatricians

Can a proper diet cure ADHD symptoms? CC by NIMH/Wikimedia Commons

Diet treatments for ADHD as an alternative to medication have raised hope as well as controversy. Researchers in the Netherlands published a study Thursday on the subject. They found that diet had an impact on some children as far as improving their ADHD condition. But attention deficit hyperactivity disorder experts question the study and say parents of ADHD kids can’t rely on diet alone to mitigate the disorder.

What was learned with the ADHD diet study

The Lancet released a study on Thursday that stated ADHD might be treated with an elimination diet. ADHD symptoms were reduced 64 percent in children in a study done by Dutch researchers that took away all food that would normally cause food allergies. In the ADHD diet, there is rice, white meat and vegetables. Over the five weeks of the study, 41 children got the diet change. It was shown that 32 of them had clear ADHD symptom improvement. In the second phase of the study, the children were fed what are assumed to be ADHD trigger foods and most of them relapsed. A control group of 50 children ate a standard healthy diet and no reduction in hyperactivity was noted.

Adding to the study from pediatricians

The results of the ADHD diet study led the researchers to suggest that an elimination diet could become part of the standard treatment regimen for ADHD. Most of the pediatricians don’t agree, though. They say that it isn’t worth trying the diet out. An ADHD diet could also make children subject to nutritional deficiencies. Because some children with allergies show ADHD-like behavior, pediatricians commenting on the study said the improvements documented were likely allergy-related. There weren’t any independent observers of the ADHD study, which means many pediatricians questioned how the methodology of the study was carried out.

Allergy connection to ADHD

Processed foods high in sugar have long been suspected as ADHD triggers, but according to the National Institute of Mental Health, no concrete evidence supports that assumption. Many think that food allergies might have a brain chemistry reaction instead of physical effects like asthma, skin rashes and diarrhea that other children get. These questions couldn’t be answered by the Dutch study or to tell you which foods to avoid, considering it was only a five week study. The individual child is taken into account when it comes to “standard” care for ADHD though.

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