A ‘few foods’ diet could be a recipe for relieving ADHD symptoms – Consumer Health News

TUESDAY, Jan. 4, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Can eating a highly restrictive “low-food diet” relieve classic symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children?

New research suggests that a short-term dietary intervention, which tests whether certain foods trigger ADHD symptoms through the process of exclusion, may make a difference.

European researchers said ADHD can lead to inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, and nutrition can play a role in managing symptoms.

In the case of this study, the most stringent diets were rice, turkey, vegetables (cabbage, beets, cauliflower, sprouts, and lettuce), pears, olive oil, ghee (refined butter), salt, and drinks with the addition of calcium and water. During the first two weeks of the diet, other foods were added, including lamb, butter, small portions of wheat, corn, potatoes, some fruits, and honey.

The authors explained that the eating plan eventually leads to a personalized diet that excludes only those foods that the patient reacts to, which can be food containing allergens or any everyday food. Other studies have shown that children often react to more than one food.

“This knowledge underscores the importance of applying a [few-foods diet] As a standardizing intervention in further research on the effect of food on ADHD, authors Sarti Huntelis and Tim Stobernack and colleagues from Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands wrote.

The study involved 79 boys between the ages of 8 and 10 who had ADHD. Parents completed the ADHD rating scale before and after the boys switched to a low-food diet for several weeks. The researchers also performed MRI scans of the brain before and after the diet.

The team found that 63% of the children had at least a 40% reduction in ADHD symptoms after following a low-food diet. Some of the symptoms they looked at included:

  • Avoiding tasks or having trouble finishing project details,
  • boycott ,
  • to be distracted by other things or people,
  • Having trouble remembering appointments or commitments.

In addition to seeing symptom relief, the researchers reported that whole-brain analysis showed an association between improvement in ADHD symptoms and increased activation in a brain region associated with visuospatial processing.

ADHD experts in the United States have studied the challenges of such a restrictive dietary plan.

The improvement in ADHD symptoms is consistent with what was reported in previous studies of [the few-foods diet], which indicated the magnitude of the strong effect,” said Mary Solanto, MD, professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York.

Solanto noted the study’s lack of a control group and said it did not reach its primary goal of discovering critical biomarkers for improving this behavior.

The diet is also long and arduous for parents and children, she added, and may not be feasible in general practice.

“Further study of potentially critical biomarkers may allow a more rapid and direct identification and elimination of offending foods,” Solanto said.

She noted that the results of this study are consistent with a previous review of six meta-analyses of a reduced-food diet in revealing a strong effect in reducing core symptoms of ADHD.

Solanto said stimulant and non-stimulant medications, behavioral therapy, and a combination of the two remain the preferred treatments for ADHD.

The study suggested that prescription medications are not effective 24 hours a day and can cause sleep problems, decreased appetite, headaches and stomach pain, so it’s important to find alternative treatments.

The results were recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Carrie Heller, a psychologist from Maryland who works with people with ADHD, said he’s always skeptical of studies looking at diet for ADHD.

“Eating as healthy as possible for most people will make things at least somewhat better, but I think… when there is an emphasis on this diet or this diet for ADHD, sometimes it creates this misunderstanding of why ADHD, or this diet could be a proven treatment mechanism without anything else.”

However, Heller said that the way parents help manage ADHD in their children and their environment can affect their symptoms.

He said best practices include behavioral therapy, such as psychotherapy or ADHD coaching, along with medication. Heller said behavioral therapies can help some gain important tools for controlling their symptoms.

Suggest that parents have good contact with their child’s healthcare provider, and always talk before starting a new treatment or approach.

“Everyone is different in terms of what’s best for them,” Heller said.

more information

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on ADHD.

SOURCES: Mary Solanto, Ph.D., Department of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Cohen Children’s Medical Center, New Hyde Park, NY; Carey Heller, PsyD, Psychology, Heller Psychology Group LLC, Bethesda, Md.; Scientific Reports November 12, 2021

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