ADHD, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a common syndrome seen in many children worldwide. It is a chronic condition that can continue to adulthood. Common symptoms, usually seen before seven years of age, include inattention, impetuous behavior, and hyperactivity. Researchers believe that the most plausible reason behind ADHD is heredity – that is, it runs in the family. Studies have shown that ADHD may also be caused due to altered brain function and anatomy, and exposure to environmental or chemical toxins before or after birth.
Children diagnosed with ADHD may be poor performers at school, and may suffer from low self-esteem and problematic relationship with peers. Treatment of ADHD does not completely cure the disorder, but can alleviate the occurrence of symptoms. The process of treatment usually involves a combination of prescribed medications and psychological counseling.
Although it has not been scientifically proven that a particular diet can help ADHD, some assume that certain food, such as sugar, cause an adverse effect on the condition. Too much sugar presumably makes ADHD symptoms worse, as many children with ADHD are hypersensitive to sugar or other foodstuff with high sugar content. Food additives and preservatives, such as artificial coloring, are also believed to make ADHD worse.
ADHD diet is a specific type of diet meant to lessen the symptoms of the disorder. The diet is, of course, supplementary and must be combined with medications and counseling sessions. The diet may include foods that are known to help ADHD patients, and restrict the ones that may cause reactions. There can be three possible diets recommended for ADHD. These are – Overall nutrition diet for ADHD – This diet basically includes everyday food items, and comprises of food that is good for the brain. This diet includes high protein foods such as cheese, eggs, nuts and meat. Protein-enriched foods help to improve condition and give the ADHD medications more time to work on the brain. It is recommended to eat more of complex carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables, and less of simple carbohydrate such as candy, honey, corn syrup, sugar etc. It is also a good practice to start eating fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon or tuna. Nuts like walnuts and Brazil nuts, and oils such as olive or canola, are also good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Supplementation diet for ADHD – Vitamin and minerals are essential for the proper functioning of the brain and the body. And therefore, taking nutritional supplements along with regular food ensures a balanced diet, and may help symptoms of ADHD. Protein or colloidal mineral supplements are recommended, but should be taken only after consulting the physician, as many ADHD patients may not be tolerant to mineral supplements.
Elimination diet for ADHD – An elimination diet puts restriction on foods that are responsible to worsen the symptoms of ADHD. Common stimulants of worsening the condition include sugars and food preservatives. Artificial food colorings, especially the reds and yellows, are also best to be avoided. Food additives such as MSG, or monosodium glutamate, are also known to worsen ADHD syndrome.
Certain provision outside these diets, such as caffeine, supposedly helps children with ADHD when given in small amounts. Care should be taken though, as caffeine may also be harmful to children.
Because the degree of symptoms and the level of the ADHD condition vary from person to person, it is always better to custom design an ADHD diet based on the tolerance and effectiveness with certain kinds of food. However, no matter what type of diet is being followed, it should be consistent with the medications that are being prescribed and, therefore, it is necessary to consult with the physician before beginning on a particular ADHD diet.